Pastors gather with city leaders to solve gun violence crisis

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Dozens of pastors and city leaders came together in Ellis Square today to speak out as they work to put an end to gun violence in the city.

“We stand in purpose, committed in heart and open in mind to seeking solutions to this crisis that affect every segment of our community,” Da’Henri Thurmond, Sr. says.

The Savannah Alliance of Pastors is hoping to reduce the number of murders overall. But pastors aren’t the only ones working to make the city a safer place to call home.

“We need to make sure that we do anything we can do as a government to help facilitate this,” says Mayor Eddie DeLoach. “It will only help us in our charge to eradicate crime in our city.”

Getting rid of gun violence is no easy task. Savannah has reached its 33rd homicide for 2017. The 30th was 15-year-old George Akins Jr., who was shot and killed on the Southside of Savannah.

Akins was shot just minutes away from his home when his friends got into an altercation that he was caught in the middle of.

“It’s very sad and tragic that they resolve to a different aspect of violence,” says his father, George Akins Sr. “And I would say that I pray my son’s life would end it.”

But it hasn’t ended yet; this is why so many are fighting for a change.

Senior Pastor, Otis Shipp, Jr. says additional programs in the city may be a solution, “And we need to have more understanding of what programs are available.”

Many parents, including Akins’ father, agree that there aren’t enough programs to keep their children off the street.

Now, the pastors and leaders are looking for solutions.

“What needs to happen is that the pastors need to speak to their congregations and begin to educate,” Pastor Shipp says.

Shipp says he is hopeful we’ll see another side of Savannah in the next five years.

“[One] where we will be able to stop the gun violence, bring peace, bring jobs, educate, promote, family — all of these things are very important to us,” Shipp says.

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