Two newly formed community activist groups are teaming up, hoping their combined message and steps toward ridding Greenwood County of gun violence will lead to peace.
Mothers Commanding Cease Fire and the Pastors & Ministers Fellowship of Greenwood and Vicinity hope to supplement their use of prayer with an action plan that will bring new recreational facilities to an as-yet-determined community.
“Basically what we decided was, we can’t make anybody do anything. If somebody wants to pick up a gun or do a crime, we can’t physically or emotionally will them not to do it, so what we’re going to do is focus more on the positive so those that are doing things they’re not supposed to do can see the positive is outweighing the negative,” said the Rev. Adrian Wideman, pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church and president of the ministerial organization. “We have to come up with resources and ideas that’s going to sway them to want to change, because if we proposition them to change and they don’t want to, they’re going to revert back.”
On Tuesday, participating ministers met with representatives of Mothers Commanding Cease Fire, where an idea was hatched. From July 20 to Sept. 1, neighborhoods can vie for the chance to win a pair of basketball hoops installed at no cost.
Wideman said criteria are still being worked out, but they’ll include items such as hosting community meetings, picking up litter and other quality of life improvements.
“We know families are being hurt, but we’re trying to attach ourselves to those who are on the fence or want to come out and don’t have a place to go,” Wideman said. “We don’t have the answers, I wish we did. The biggest problem, unfortunately, is the people that know what’s going on aren’t talking out of fear or street loyalty so what we’re trying to do is just allow them to make their own conscious decision to want to change.”
Wideman said the newly adopted strategy came after his organization’s call for a 90-day cease-fire went unheeded. Since that June 10 plea, the region has seen four shootings and three deaths: On June 2, two women were shot in the leg at a Chipley Avenue residence.
Police on Wednesday charged 35-year-old Joey Reid in connection with the crime. He’s facing two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
On June 23, 24-year-old Johntavier Moss, Steven Tinch, 26, and Shirley Jones, 62, were shot inside her apartment. Elijah Ty Rez Head, 18, of Greenwood, was charged with three counts of murder and remains in custody.
Then on Tuesday, shots rang out at the H20 Ultra Lounge and struck an Oakhill Road home in Greenwood.
Shanna Childs, godmother of Cody Alex Hawkins and a member of Mothers Commanding Cease Fire, hopes the partnership with Wideman will bring change. Hawkins, 24, died on May 19 after being shot on Pearl Street.
“We want to make the community safe again. We grew up in a time where it took a village to raise kids, and we are the village, and we’re going to come back to the community to save these kids,” Childs said. “We want to make not just a one-time thing, we want to make it a lifestyle for the community. I think the consistency is what’s needed in Greenwood for the mothers and leaders to step up.”