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Kiwanis DoCo hears Bishop on Stop the Violence

Special to the Metro

ALBANY,GA - The brutal slaying in 2009 of Johnnie Williams at age 58 by an intruder who broke into her home in East Albany devastated her family, but from the tragedy grew an effort that has changed other lives

Williams’ younger brother, the Rev. Frederick Williams, Sr. coordinated and still leads the Stop the Violence movement in Albany. On July 8 he spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about the effort.

“A young man who had some mental challenges broke into her house and took her life,” Rev. Williams said. “It was such a shock to our family, a shock to the community. We decided, after we grieved for a while, to come up with an idea for helping other people with similar situations. One thing we came up with was Stop the Violence.

“We were able to bring together the heads of a lot of different departments as well as the spiritual leaders from all denominations (and) ask for their help to strengthen the community. As an African American man I became concerned about the neighborhood which we came up in. I am one of those who believe that a lot of problems have to be fixed from within.”

Stop the Violence has focused on a number of areas, including encouraging education,” but, Bishop Williams said, “Something else that has happened is a lot of people who were locked up, incarcerated, got out and could not find their way back into society. We took them, helped them with their GED. Some even got into college or technical school, found work, got their records expunged. We have tremendous return on that program.”

Initially, said the bishop, “We had a lot of opposition. Opposition from people who were in a position to cause the conditions that (threatened) our community. We kept thriving and working together until we changed (minds and convinced) people to take responsibility for their area.”

Stop the Violence, he added, “is not a race thing, it is not a particular area thing, it is a community thing, because when crimes arise in the city, we all pay” through the costs to citizens for security, law enforcement, the legal system, and housing inmates.

Bishop Williams, a father of six and grandfather of three, described his mother, who is now 84, as a “dynamic woman” who successfully raised seven children.

“What we want to do is show her that we pay it forward. We pay it forward for the people that have made bad choices. I am constantly surrounded by people that have made bad choices but should not be penalized for that for the rest of their lives. A lot of people have great potential, but they sometimes don’t get the opportunity to display it because of choices,” he said.

PHOTO CAPTION

Bishop Frederick Williams, Sr. describes how Stop the Violence began and how it carries out its mission as Kiwanian Sammi Harewood looks on. (Photo by David Shivers)