Montgomery educators, residents protest violent crime at capital

Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Educators protested violent crime on the steps of the capital building on Sunday. Decked out in red, school officials proclaimed that Montgomery area shootings jeopardize the safety of students – with calls for peace.

“They need to feel that they are safe at school, at home, at play,” Brenda Coleman with the Montgomery County Board of Education said.

The relationship between students and teachers is an important one for Montgomery County Education Association president Tislam Ellis. He said educators love their kids, even the ones involved in criminal activity.

“We’re actually teaching these students who are committing the crimes,” Ellis said. “Once they leave us – they’re still our babies, they’re still our students. We just don’t give up our love and our affection for those individuals once they leave our presence.”

The Montgomery County Education Association hosted the rally. Speakers focused on the importance of mental health and extracurricular activities.

“I hate to say it, most children get into crimes because of lack of nothing to do,” Ellis said. He advocates for students get plugged in with sports, recreational hobbies and mentoring groups.

The protest follows action from the Montgomery Police Department and city leadership to curb gun violence. Authorities held a press conference Thursday to show 100 firearms confiscated off the streets.

City councilwoman Audrey Graham, who oversees District 4, was at the rally. She said the city plans to purchase ShotSpotters, a type of gunshot detection equipment, and more security cameras.

“I feel that we’re going to try to cover the whole city of Montgomery,” Graham said. “There might be small gaps, but for the most part, we going to get you.”

Within District 4 alone, Graham said cameras will cost around $75,000. Montgomery has nine districts.

She said more police vehicles will be bought, and within the upcoming budget, more officers will be hired.

She added that it is also a community effort to end violent crime.

“It’s so easy, as long as no one is saying anything, to continue to commit crimes,” She said.

“When we begin to share, when we begin to be together as a community,” Graham said. “That’s when we say ‘were not going to let it happen on our watch. And then, those criminals who commit those crimes, they think twice,” the councilwoman said.

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