Church to host meeting on ways to curb violence

Published 10:15 pm Friday, February 21, 2014

Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church will host a three hour community meeting Saturday, giving members of the public a chance to voice their opinions on how to solve a number of issues including a recent rise in gun violence in Selma.

Benson Webb Sr., a member of the church, said the December shooting death of Selma High School student Alexis Hunter was the moment he decided a public meeting was necessary.

“It kind of prompted me to get involved in this,” Webb said. “The city and law enforcement can’t solve this alone, and we need to have some community involved to alleviate the problems.”

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Webb said the meeting, which will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the church’s 120 Division St. building, would feature a panel of community leaders offering their thoughts on a variety of issues facing Selma residents.

“We tried to get a cross section of people who are involved in the community now to share what they consider to be issues in our area,” Webb said. “And from that we will see what we can do, as a community, to address those problem areas.”

While the panel, which is scheduled to feature Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson and Selma Mayor George Evans among other community leaders, would have their time to speak, Webb said the opinions of community members would be the main focus.

“We are faced with so many issues; we have a lot of unemployed people, and people that are on drugs, people that are giving up hope on life getting any better,” Webb said. “We’ve just got so much going on, and a lot of people are like myself and just have the attitude that we need to get involved.”

Evans said Saturday’s meeting is something he is looking forward to, and he hopes the discussion between citizens and panel members can result in a plan of action for everyone involved.

“I’m happy that the community is getting involved,” Evans said. “And having a panel like we’ve got for this event certainly adds value.”

Jackson said he hopes events like Saturday’s meeting can become commonplace in Selma year-round.

“I’d like to see something like this go on all year,” Jackson said. “Not just when we have a high-profile murder. I think anytime a church and people from the community get together to cure problems with violence, it’s really a good thing.”

For more information about the meeting, contact Webb at 498-6601.