Stopping the crime and violence in Southwest Georgia â" that's the focus of a unique summit held today in Albany.
"We are trying to impact the young men to deter them from crime and bad behavior," said Bishop Frederick Williams. Williams called the turnout for Saturday's Male Summit at Gethsemane Worship Center "overwhelming."
Hosted by the organizations Taking Authority and Stop the Violence, the summit seeks to change the mindsets of the young men of Albany. "We're going to give them some life skills," said Williams. "We're going to continue to work as a community to bridge the gap between childhood and manhood."
"Violence is everywhere and what we're looking for today in our young people is trying to save them," said Nathaniel Jefferson. Jefferson sees young men everyday that desperately desire guidance.
"They're reaching out for help but they don't know how to really get that help," added Jefferson.
City and community leaders, educators, and members of law enforcement led a forum discussing the high rates of gang activity and incarceration among the city's young people. Williams sees the panelists were also meant to serve as examples of achievement. "A lot of people don't know the opportunities they do have because they don't have that structure to push them in the right areas," he said.
One of the messages organizers hope people take away from Saturday's event is that crime is not a problem that's limited to just one segment of the community. It's an issue that affects whites, blacks, and everyone in-between. And it's going to take all those people working together to find solutions.
"There are so many people not engaging, not being involved â" until it knocks on your door," said Williams. "What we're trying to do is put a preventive method in place that is working."