DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — One community in the Circle City gathered city, school, and community to talk about an issue that has increased over the past couple of years, gun violence.
Leaders gathered for a town hall meeting at Parks Chapel AME Church to create a vision to put steps in place to stop gun violence in 2023.
“The community is tired, we are frustrated,” Director of Equally Yoked Community Outreach, Derrick Oliver said. “When I say community I am not talking about thugs and gangsters. I am talking about law-abiding citizens. Those that pay taxes and those of us who want to raise our kids.”
“If one of our sons and daughters in District 2 is hurting. Then the whole city is hurting,” Dothan Mayor, Mark Saliba said. “Don’t let that escape you because that is the truth.”
Realistic goals to combat the rise in shootings. Whether the shootings involve adults or children.
“I do believe that violent crime in our youth is increasing,” Saliba said. “It’s disturbing. Very disturbing for us.”
Ideas such as more churches getting out into the community to help, parents being involved in their child’s home and school life, giving kids opportunities to work and succeed in extracurricular activities, and ways to better communicate with law enforcement were thrown out to those in attendance.
About how to take the first step.
“Research shows that no police department in this world and in this community can solve these problems without the help of the community,” Dothan Police Department, Major Will Glover said.
“We deal with kids that have some real trauma,” Dothan Preparatory Academy, Principal James Williams said. “When someone dies and we don’t sit down with the children and say, ‘Yeah, your momma died or your grandaddy died and this is how you process death.’ Then they come to school and act out. Well, we have to figure out what is causing the child to act out. So trauma is real in these children’s life.”
Officials say that this meeting is not the end goal, but the start of finding a way to bring all of the community facets together to put an end to a problem that is impacting so many families in the area.
“So if we begin to get on the same page, the same thought pattern, the same goals, the same target. That’s how we bring about change,” Event Organizer, Derrick Tiller said. “We are the answer. We are the answer.”
Organizers look forward to holding more town hall meetings in the future and all entities working to take down a nationwide problem within their city limits.