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'Violence' summit to kick off

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- While most of the youth in Albany are enjoying their summer break from the classroom, one organization is stepping up its campaign to keep Albany youth on track and out of trouble.

At the T.A.K.I.N.G. A.U.T.H.O.R.I.T.Y. Stop the Violence Movement meeting Tuesday morning, members discussed the many programs the organization has planned throughout the month of July.

Bishop Frederick Williams, a movement leader from Gethsemane Worship Center, indicated at the end of the 90-minute meeting that the important work done by members of the non-violent movement is still needed in the community.

"It's going to take a year to see some real improvement, so we can't get weary," Williams said. "We will see the fruits of our labor. It is important that we get on top of this burglary thing and stand up and say, 'Enough!'"

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul also warned the organization's members that Albany neighborhoods are struggling with increased crime and citizens are steadily arming themselves.

"I have spoken to many in the community and they are up to here," the sheriff said indicating with his hand at his neckline how much the community members were stressed. "We're getting ready for hell in Albany, Ga."

One of the Stop the Violence Movement's largest undertakings will be the Back to School Fest Youth Summit -- a three-day summit at the Albany Civic Center that Stop the Violence members hope will encourage the city's youth to continue their education and empower their spirit.

"This summit is 90 percent education and the purpose is to empower our youth, but it is not all going to be fun and games; we plan to educate them as well and get them ready to go back to school," Williams said.

While the summit focuses on sharpening the minds of Albany's youth, Williams said the main source that oversees public education in the Good Life City -- the Dougherty County Board of Education -- has not responded to Stop the Violence's requests for support or inclusion.

"The school board is too political to help us and this is not political -- this is about the children and education," Williams said to other Stop the Violence members Tuesday. "We need to let them know that we are getting angry (about their lack of response)."

The bishop said the school board had previously promised support and appeared to be impressed with the idea of being involved in the youth summit, but have yet to respond to the organization's attempts to make contact.

"We are going to do it (the summit) and if they are not going to do it, then they need to stay out of our meetings selling us whoop-de," Williams said.

The youth summit is scheduled for July 29-31 and will include a step show, an art contest, a fashion show, a spelling bee, mentoring classes, cooking classes and etiquette classes among other scheduled events.

The Stop the Violence Movement will also be hosting an "Opportunity Workshop" where young adults can attend a free seminar dedicated to mentoring opportunities.

From 7 p.m.-8 p.m. on July 1 at the Amehr Center located at 610 West Oglethorpe Blvd., Aaron Muhammad will be demonstrating Aikido, a non-competitive Japanese martial art.

A 24-hour prayer wall is also scheduled for July 6-7 beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and ending at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Williams said everyone in the community is invited to join in the prayer wall, where every hour a leader in Albany's faith-based community will say prayers for the city, county, education, leaders and children and families.

The prayer wall will be held at the Gethsemane Worship Center at 529 10th Avenue.

The organization will also host a bowling fundraiser along with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Albany Police Department, the Dougherty County District Attorney's Office and several area pastors and ministers.

"It is going to be a challenge like the basketball challenge we've had before," Sproul said.

The Stop the Violence "Hoop Fest Extravaganza" was held in April to great success, Sproul said.

"We are hoping this will be a packed house and that we can bowl as many games as possible," said the sheriff.

Area law enforcement and members of the city and county's faith-based organizations are expected to compete against each other in the tournament scheduled for July 25. The tickets are $10 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Stop the Violence campaign.

To register for the challenge, call Chanel Oliver at (229) 436-0009 by July 16.