Community and Law Enforcement Join Forces to Stop the Violence

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PANAMA CITY-- About 50 community members gathered on a rainy Saturday morning to preach three words: "stop the violence."

Several law enforcement officers joined the community as they walked about 30-minutes down Cove Blvd.

Organizers say they want to bring awareness about this summer's surge of gun violence and work as a community to develop solutions.

The walk ended with speeches from Bay Co. Sheriff Frank McKeithen, Souther Christian Leadership Conference members and families and individuals personally affected by gun violence.

"I'm sick of the violence. We want our streets back. I have a child. I want her to grow up and walk the street like I grew up doing and not have to worry about if she's going to get shot, if she's going to get kidnapped, is she's gonna end up somewhere she doesn't need to be. I'm sick of it," Allycia Thornton, whose cousin was killed in May, said.

"We must take care of home. This is our Emerald City," National SCLC Board Member Jeremy Ponds said. "This is our Gulf coast. We gotta take care of our jewel. We gotta rise above what's setting us back, but I think we can do it.

"We're trying to save our streets. We're trying to stop the violence. We're trying to bring Panama City back to a family safe place instead of a crime rate," Thornton said.

Ponds says the SCLC plans to hold a free non-violence leadership seminar the last weekend in August.

He says he also hopes to create long-term non-violence programs with Bay County schools.


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