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Prayer, curfew are needed in city

Two efforts in Brookhaven are aiming to solve the same problem — violence. Police Chief Kenneth Collins has proposed a curfew to keep young offenders who act like adults off the streets.

It’s a great idea that the Board of Aldermen should consider.

Collins said too many minors are out on city streets when they should be at home and a curfew could curtail some of the criminal activity committed by children.

“They should be in the house. Somebody should be responsible for them,” he said.

He has studied the policy that Vicksburg has used since 1995. It allows for parents to be fined, starting at $25 for the first offense, and possible community service, if their child is caught breaking curfew. In Vicksburg, the curfew is midnight on weekends and 10 p.m. on weeknights, although there are a few valid exceptions like traveling home from work.

“I don’t know if a curfew will be the answer,” he said. “I don’t know what we need to do but something needs to change because they’re out cussing my police officers because they know you can’t do anything to them.”

Another tool in the city’s fight against crime and violence debuted Monday. Nearly 200 people gathered at Railroad Park to pray for a “violence-free community.”

The half-hour prayer event began as an idea by friends Shayla Edwards and Erin Smith, who forged their friendship in the days following the murder of Edwards’ 11-year-old son, Austin, a student at Lipsey School, who was killed with seven others May 28, 2017. Her nephew, Jordan Blackwell, was also one of those victims.

Edwards said she and Smith shared concerns for Brookhaven and the number of violent crimes that are being committed on a regular basis.

“We were talking, we were praying, we were crying,” Edwards said. “We were thinking about all the violence that was happening in our community and we wanted to make a difference. We didn’t know where to start. We didn’t know how to start. But we knew that something needed to be done for the community that we live in.”

They joined other women with a similar vision to form United in Christ Against Violence. The group plans to host a prayer meeting monthly.

Brookhaven is certainly in need of the kind of community-building prayer events that took place Monday.  We are hopeful that this effort, combined with a curfew, will help reduce violence in the city. We encourage everyone to support these efforts.