Answers sought in aftermath of shootings
by Clay Neely - Clay@Newnan.com
In the wake of gun-related violence last week, the emotional turmoil of the community has caused many leaders to postulate on just what is happening and what can be done.
Pastor Jeremy C. Tuck spoke at the prayer vigil Wednesday at St. Smyrna Baptist Church. He was stunned to hear about Saturday’s shooting.
“I’m almost speechless,” Tuck said. “I was hoping the recent travesty would have sparked a sense of humility in our youth. It seems like everytime we move forward, we’re taking two steps back, but we’re determined to forge ahead.”
Tuck hopes to meet with other leaders in the community to further open the lines of dialogue in terms of what can be done to stop the violence.
“We want to do every possible thing we can to prevent another senseless act like this,” Tuck said. “It comes down to the importance of problem solving and finding that resolution that lies beyond the gun.”
As one of the founders of United We Stand For Positive Results, Clarence “C-Bo” Bohannon feels the rash of violence is merely the symptom of a bigger problem.
“As tragic as it is, what we really have to do is examine the culture that is surrounding these incidents,” Bohannon said. “The cure to this problem relies on not just telling folks what they need to do, but ask them why they’re hurting.”
Bohannon feels that a more comprehensive approach is needed, and placing an emphasis on communication is paramount.
“We have to push further into the communities and talk to those who want to talk, but, more importantly, we need to listen to those who need a voice,” Bohannon said. “Our communities are hurting.”
“Imagine living in a neighborhood where someone got shot,” he added .“You have to think about the people in the community. How do they think about letting their kids come out and play in all of that stuff, and what happens if they witness something like that?”
Citing the outrage over the shootings, he contends that all the warning signs have been in the community for a while.
“But we wait until it shows up on the evening news and then we act surprised,” he said. “Rallies are fine, but what I think is more important is what you do the next day and then the day after that. There is a lot of fear in these neighborhoods and we have to get people to start loving and forgiving each other.”
For Bohannon, there is no shortage of guns in the community, but certainly a lack of peace and tolerance.
“You put a gun in someone’s hand and they might do something they wouldn’t normally do in a moment of anger,” Bohannon said. “You ruin lives forever, and unless something changes, you’re going to start seeing kids get shot.”
Former Coweta County Commissioner Robert Wood agreed.
“A gun gives a person a whole lot of courage that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Wood said. “We’ve got to stop this.”
Wood feels that attacking the problem of violence in the community is like treating a wound on a body. If you don’t clean it up, it will simply spread.
“People are going to have to sit down and realize we’re all on this planet together ,and when you look at a community like Newnan, and especially within the African-American community, we are doing too much damage to each other,” Wood said. “It’s not helping anybody.”
While many in the community may feel that more police on the street is the answer, Wood doesn’t think so.
“What happens when you get more police out in these neighborhoods? They start to profile these guys and then they’ll call it racial profiling. These kids don’t know how to talk to the police or authority figures,” Wood said. “The second something bad happens, the police will become the bad guys.”
More police and more guns will only escalate the tension, according to Wood.
“If you want to stop people from killing folks with guns, you’ve got to control the flow of weapons. You can’t sit up and allow people to have any kind of gun they want based on the second amendment. You just can’t do it,” Wood said.