News 12 at 11, August 5, 2007
AUGUSTA, GA---The recent rash of violent crime has community leaders joining together to take back the streets. A summit Sunday night focused on that goal.
The landmark event was aimed at pulling the community together by gathering civic organizations, law enforcement and city leaders in one place to work as one larger group to stop the violence and save today's youth.
Richmond County is in a state of emergency. That's what several local leaders are saying, and that's why they're fighting to take back the streets.
"Now, we've come together, it's strength in numbers, strength in unity, and that's what we're trying to do for this community," says Sgt. Richard Roundtree, Violent Crimes investigator for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
It's a message that hopefully comes in time to help some parents, but is five months too late for mother Von Daniels and her son Corey Joseph. "I want to do something to honor his name. I don't want him to be just a name out there as one of the dead in Augusta."
Joseph was a twenty-one-year old with his life devoted to the right track, not violence. But in March, Augusta's crime problem hit his family's front door step when he was shot and killed after giving a stranger a ride. "It doesn't have to be this way."
That's why she was at the summit, lending support to other parents fighting the same growing crime problem before it's too late for their families. Families like Prancine Price's. "I am really concerned because i have an 18-year-old son. I have three grandchildren and I wouldn't want them going out there and committing a crime or someone harming them when it could've been something avoided."
Panelist Christopher Garris knows all about crime that could have been avoided. He spent much of his teenage and early adult life as a Zooloo Nation gang member in New York. A lifestyle he escaped unharmed, but his daughter Aneesha did not. "My daughter was a gang member, she was a blood. She got killed in June of 2002. She was shot six times in the back by a rival gang member."
That's why Garris says he's proud to sit side by side Augusta's leaders, helping to spread the message that crime doesn't pay and that gangs aren't the answer. "You fell out of momma's womb by yourself. You're going to do your time by yourself. You're going to lay in the coffin by yourself. You can't let someone else influence your decisions on life because the life that you may save or the life that you may give is yours. " says Garris.
Next, a music festival is planned for later in August to help promote the cause.