Montgomery clergymen work to stop cycle of violence in youth - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Montgomery clergymen work to stop cycle of violence in youth

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Montgomery recorded it's 35th homicide of the year Sunday night.  The city has already surpassed the number of murders in all of last year, placing it on track for a record violent year.  Now, some community members are weighing in, saying the violence is impacting our youth.

"The kids feel what's going on, and they want to talk about what is going on," said Bishop Roosevelt Crawford.  He is spearheading a movement, working to gets kids off the streets, while helping them cope with the violence around them.

"Some of the people that were killed and some of the people doing the killings, they know them.  And it bothers them.  But it helps to have a mentorship program, and so that is what we are trying to do here at the Center," Crawford said.

The Connecting Body of Christ Fellowship is re-energizing the Old Bellingrath Community Center as place of refuge and positive reinforcement for at-risk youth in nearby neighborhoods.

Monday afternoon, we found them partnering with the SAY NO, Inc group for mentoring about peer pressure.  Leaders say, no matter what the crime stats show, these kids feel the change in their community.

"The attitudes, the atmosphere, the feeling about how safe it is or how dangerous it is, they feel it," said SAY NO Executive Director Anderson Graves.

Program leaders say, there's not one solution-- that parents, churches, schools, businesses, and all community members have to make the decision to change the current path.

"Especially when it comes to crimes of passion, it takes some time to put things in place to change the mindset," said Crawford.

"This is a turning point in Montgomery.  If we can get it right in this moment, we can completely change the community in a positive way.  But if we get it wrong, this is only the beginning of how bad it will be," added Graves.

Bishop Crawford and Anderson Graves collaborated to begin this particular program this summer.  It will continue once school starts back, but only in the afternoons.  To volunteer or participate in programs at the Bellingrath Community Center, just stop in to the center on West Edgemont Avenue.     

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