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Anti-violence rally coming to Hayneville

By EASON FRANKLIN
The Lowndes Signal
Violence is a problem that plagues nations, cities, communities and families. A local group is aiming to spark community awareness to stomp out violence altogether.
Stop the Violence is a program to raise community awareness about the various forms of violence communities experience and create fellowship between citizens of those communities.
Lowndes County will be host to a Stop the Violence rally on the Hayneville Town Square Aug. 14 from 5-8 p.m. This will be the first time the event has been held in Lowndes County.
People attending the event will have the opportunity to hear from Carolyn Johnson Turner, the keynote speaker for the upcoming rally.
Turner founded the Parents Against Violence Foundation, Inc (PAV) and is the author of the book “Who Killed My Son” where she tells the story of her son Rodreckus DeAndrew Johnson who was shot and killed at a birthday party Nov. 22, 2003 in Birmingham.
Guests will also be entertained with gospel artists Sounds from Heaven, Pillars of Fire, The Wright Brothers & Insamous Drill Squad and a special appearance by Lady Freedom of the WBFZ 105.3 radio station.
The Stop the Violence program was formed under the Safe Haven Center which was formed to shelter young men and women coming out of prison, according to CEO Michael Bowen.
“The Safe Haven Center acts as a shelter for young men and women,” said Bowen. “We decided to start this because young men and women needed a place to go and someone to speak to.”
Bowen has been with the Safe Haven Center for about three-and-a-half years and helps host the Stop the Violence rallies all over the state.
The cities of Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham have all been witness to these programs and have continuously drawn a large amount of support from members of the community, according to Bowen.
Most recently, the rally was held in the city of Selma where an estimated 350 people turned out to show their support of the program, according to Bowen.
“We need to uplift and onset an awareness of violence even though we may not see it,” said Bowen. “People have a tendency to shut the door and hope the problem goes away.”
Bowen said violence can be stamped out by members of the community continuously coming together as a fellowship.
Stop the Violence holds about 10 rallies per year in the state of Alabama and Bowen added the program is beginning to target areas within the Black Belt. Bowen said he hopes to revisit Lowndes County in the future.