Community rallies to fight crime and gang violence in Lanett - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Community rallies to fight crime and gang violence in Lanett

Posted: Updated:
LANETT, AL (WTVM) -

A historic gathering is taking place in Chambers County to fight escalating gang activity and violence. 

Lanett's police chief Angie Spates says leaders are joining her to proclaim that gangs are a serious problem and they have a plan to stop the violence.

Dozens of Chambers County and West Point law enforcement leaders, pastors, mayors and councilors are uniting to take their communities back from gang violence and crime.  They are turning to the Almighty and the community for help.

"We are fighting for change, we are fighting for our community, we are fighting to bring our streets to where our kids can go outside and play again," said Spates.

The first call to action is for individuals and families to gather at a prayer vigil Friday night, July 11, at Pilgrim Baptist Church located at 420 North 12th Ave. in Lanett.  

"To all pastors, every religious leader, every entrepreneur, every political and city council person, every person in the community that is concerned about what is going on, we ask that you come out and bring your young people, bring your children, and let us begin to saturate the atmosphere with prayer," said Pastor Carmen Avery Walker, with Opelika's Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

City mayors are strategizing economic, educational and mentoring opportunities to combat poverty and crime, specifically in public housing areas like The old Jackson Heights Complex where both gang related shootings happened last week.

"We had a great meeting yesterday about the instigators of poverty and violence that exist throughout the community, and how to solve the problem," said West Point Mayor, Drew Ferguson.

Chief Spates believes 500 plus gang members roam Chambers County, and 300 of those members in Lanett. As the first law enforcement officer to speak openly about the rise in gang activity and violence, she's pleased to find support in both Chambers County and in Montgomery with Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

"I applaud Chief Spates for taking this on, and for acknowledging the existence, and being willing to step forward and do something about it," said Speaker Hubbard. 

Investigators say Alabama desperately needs lawmakers to enact gang statues similar to Georgia's where an extra 5 or 10 years of mandatory jail time can be added to sentences for a known gang related crime.

"We will very seriously take a look at this issue, talk to the experts, ask for their recommendations and a look at what other states are doing that have worked and we will get something done," Hubbard said.

This effort officially kicks off on Friday night, July 11, at 7 p.m. EST at Pilgrim Baptist Church with a prayer vigil and community meeting. The church is located at 420 North 12th Ave. with parking also located on Cherry Dr.

Leaders are hoping for a huge crowd.  If you are concerned about the violence in your area, and are ready to be a part of the solution, you are urged to attend and invite everyone you know.

Copyright 2014 WTVM. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow