CAVEAT trying to make a difference in Selma

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2005

A group of Selma citizens have chosen to devote themselves to honoring and praying for victims of crime, and reminding everyone that they should care about their community.

The small group of men and women who make up the Citizens Against Violence to End Area Terrorism (CAVEAT) began hosting prayer vigils at sites around Selma where acts of violence have occurred. Their first site was GWC Homes, where they walked around the community praying and singing hymns.

“We are laying the spiritual groundwork,” said Prince Chestnut, a member of the group. “We are trying to send the message that when you commit a crime against an individual, you are committing a crime against the whole community.”

Email newsletter signup

Corey Bowie, another CAVEAT member, said the group uses its presence to take a more proactive approach to combat crime in Selma.

“We do these vigils to let people know we are here and we can provide a safe haven,” Bowie said. “If we can change one individual, we can change the whole community.”

Each vigil begins with prayer, then walking in circles around a neighborhood or particular area.

CAVEAT member Cliff Albright said during the first vigil last month, residents mostly watched as the group prayed and walked, with a few joining in the singing.

“We are already seeing the effects of vigil,” said the Rev. Terry Armstrong. “More people in the community are taking notice and asking questions like ‘what is this all about,’ then becoming a part of it.”

The group is planning another vigil on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

They will begin with the car wash on Jeff Davis Avenue at the corner of Church Street.

Albright said there will be a short prayer for the family who lost a loved one there recently and then a walk around the stalling area three times in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The group will then proceed down L.L. Anderson Street and continue to Union Street, where they will stop near railroad tracks where a woman was killed for a moment of silence.

“We want people to join us in the vigil,” Albright said.

Armstrong added he wants to see the small group grow into a much larger spiritual force.

“All you have to do is just walk and sing if you want,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot except for concern.”