East Albany marchers in the community march “Crime ... Everyone Pays” crossed the Oglethorpe Boulevard Bridge, went up Front Street and began marching west on Pine Avenue where they were met in front of the Government Center by the marchers from North, South and West Albany as part of a Stop the Violence campaign Saturday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Community marchers met downtown to shout “Stop the Violence” at a Saturday rally in front of the Government Center.
Organized by the Stop the Violence organization, community officials, ministers and others, the “Crime ... Everyone Pays” march emphasized that the entire community pays for crime.
According to rally leaders, the loss of job opportunities, higher health care prices and the payroll for law enforcement are bills that come due to the entire community, not just the victim of a crime.
Speaking before an excited crowd, Vincent Alston, of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce said that the city is number one. Number one in poverty. That can change with the work of the residents, he added.
“We can be number one in the rate of poverty going down,” Alston said. “We can be number one in the crime rate going down. We can be number one in empowering families.”
The speakers from the Stop the Violence board such as Bishops Victor Powell and Frederick Williams and others asked people to remember that no matter a person’s biological race, they are all one community.
Williams brought two black men, two white men and two Latino men to the front of the crowd that filled the square at 222 Pine Avenue. The men smiled, shook hands and stood in line, shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart before the crowd.
“Look up Albany, this is your community,” Williams said. “All races can be together, sit together and talk together. When they do, this is what you get. A crowd of people hungry for a change.”
To change the crime atmosphere law enforcement leaders had strong suggestions. Albany Police Department Chief John Proctor didn’t mince words. He called black on black crime a severe problem.
“We’ve got to stop doing what we are doing to ourselves,” Proctor said.
A change of mindset is needed to fight it, Proctor said. The snitch mentality must change.
“We have to get away from the notion that we are not going to call. Stop talking about being a snitch,” Proctor said. “Today’s snitch is tomorrow’s victim. You know what to do — call us. Ten percent of the community commits all crime. You need to call about them.”
There are tools that the community can use to fight crime in their neighborhoods, said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul. Sproul echoed Proctor and said calling Crime Stoppers is a way to remain anonymous when giving valuable information of crimes and criminals.
Joining the Stop the Violence organization and a neighborhood watch, Sproul said, can do much to strengthen the community and fight crime.
Strengthening families was a topic everyone seemed to touch on. The family is the basic unit where children can learn values that could lead them to good lives. Without the structure, love and mentoring in families or from volunteers who can add a positive role model a child could look for acceptance in other areas. That is how gangs recruit.
Stop the Violence meets at 10 a.m. Tuesdays at the Gethsemane Worship Center, 529 10th Ave.