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Area leaders to initiate anti-violence movement

ALBANY -- As with many places, violence is a growing problem in Albany. Now, community leaders are getting together to push back against the trend.

A male summit has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 9 outside Dougherty County Judicial Building on Pine Avenue for the purpose of jump-starting a local anti-violence movement.

"This is a city call of all men to come together to stop the violence," said Bishop Frederick Williams of Gethsemane Worship Center.

Williams has personal reasons for putting out this call for action. His sister, Johnnie Williams, was killed at her Whiting Drive home last month.

While his sister's death changed his perspective on the situation, it is a cause that Williams says has always been close to his heart. "I've always tried to empower youth," he said.

The summit is expected to include guest speakers and musical artists, some of whom are coming from Atlanta and out of state. After the summit is over, there will be several committees ready to go to work as part of an ongoing movement to address the issue of violence.

"This is only the beginning of what we are going to do," Williams said.

A good deal of enthusiasm has been shown for the movement thus far, which is leading those directly involved with a hope that there will be an overwhelming amount of support for their cause.

"It (the Jan. 9 event) is looking to be a powerful gathering, maybe 500 to 600 men," said Bishop Victor Powell of Rhema Word Cathedral.

One of the critical elements will be to gain support from all walks of life, those close to the cause say.

"We are hoping it will cross racial lines; this is not a black thing or a white thing," Williams said. "We are hoping we can come together as a community.

"We want people to consider this a safe place. Our goal is to change the mindset."

Powell echoed the importance of eliminating a racial divide.

"We want to break race barriers and social barriers and attack the issue," he said. "We've got to come together as a community and stop the divide of race."

There is also an objective to target the area's younger citizens.

"There will be a mentoring piece," Williams said.

The summit is designed to focus on males 12 and older in the Albany

and Dougherty County area, although women are not excluded.

"One of the key reasons (for the summit) is awareness, to speak out

against violence," Powell said. "It's time for the community to attack this issue. It's affecting all of us."