Safety meeting held in Selmont

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

A community action meeting was held last night at Spirit of Comfort Church in Selmont to address and to begin to solve the problem of violence in Selma.

The gathering also met to offer support and prayers for Roderick Prince, accused in Friday night’s shooting on Gaines Avenue and presently held on $2 million dollars bail.

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Four men were arrested Friday night after Selma’s SRT police team cruised Gaines Avenue around 11 p.m. in an unmarked van and car in their mission to patrol high-crime areas.

Which parties shot first is not known.

Prince’s mother, Barbara Cunningham, spoke to thank the gathering for their support and to say that her son told her, “Mom – I wouldn’t put none of you through this if I was guilty. Tell everyone thank you for their prayers.”

Cunningham said her son doesn’t own a gun nor does he know how to use one.

“I’m not going to let them railroad my son.”

The meeting was chaired by Alabama New South Coalition President Rose Sanders, who asked:

“One young man with a gun and a past conviction gets a $50,000 bond on this, while this young man, with no record and no gun has a $2 million bond?

What’s going on? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. They’re charging Prince because he was shot.

They have to cover up and pretend he did something wrong to defend themselves.”

Sanders mentioned a gang rape that allowed accused rapists $20,000 bonds and a killing in Valley Grande whose accused killer was given a $250,000 bond as further evidence that the bond set was extreme.

Sanders encouraged the gathering to take responsibility for change.

“The leadership has to come from the community,” she said.

“Say this: I have the power.

God has given me the power to make my community safe.

And I have that power to make my community safe.”

Sanders met with Prince on Wednesday and said Prince “is in good spirits.

Even the people at the jail tell what a good spirit he is.”

She told the gathering:

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t solve violence.

Boston is much bigger and they decided to solve the violence and they did.

All of us have created this mess.

God works in mysterious ways.

It took a young man who was innocent to get us together.”

“Prince told me to tell y’all: we’ve got to get rid of these guns.

After he was shot, he told the police: I don’t have a gun!

Please don’t hurt me!

And the officer said: You threw it away – you’re lucky we didn’t kill you.”

Sanders related some details from a meeting with Chief Jimmy Martin.

“Chief Martin took a statement from the woman who saw Roderick walk out of the house without a gun.

The police spent five hours searching the area after the shooting.

No guns were found.”

Action steps decided on at the meeting: bringing people together from differing gangs for dinner – “people seem to get along when they’re eating,” Sanders said – bringing children indoors at nightfall/a curfew until violence is ended, self government so no one has to be policed, community building a basketball court and a playground, classes to run meetings on conflict resolution.

Another meeting towards more peaceful communities will be held at Amosa at 6 p.m. today.