Emotions were running high at Saturday's "Break the Silence, Stop the Violence" rally at the Boys and Girls Club. Concerned citizens packed the gym and asked questions to a panel consisting of Mayor Cheri Barry, Police Chief James Reed, pastors, and a 911 operator. Those in attendance came out because they say that they want to be part of the solution.
Mary Johnson says that, "I'm concerned about our youth in Meridian, Mississippi. I want them to know that I really came out to support them today."
"Community, the word spelled itself is Comm-unity, so we all need to come together, not just a couple of pastors in a little group, not just a couple of people from the west side or the east side of town. We can come together as a community and we can be stronger and we can stop the violence," says Cynthia Johnson.
Labrandy Moore says, "As a single parent, I know it starts at home. I have two kids who I'm training up the right way, so when they get older they will not depart from it."
One 21 year old girl in attendance knows people on both sides of the crime problem and says the answer is love.
That girl, Precious Griffin believes that "The main issue is with the young people. and understanding that we young people need love. If you aren't showing them love, and they don't understand that love, then they're not going to listen to what you have to say."
Mayor Cheri Barry announced earlier this week that $100,000 is being redirected from other city budgets to the police department to hire more officers and increase patrols, but she says that's just the beginning of fixing the city's crime problem.
"We will keep looking for other avenues to pull more money into our police budget so we can continue putting our thumb to the nail for the protection of the citizens of Meridian."
More Stop the Violence Rallies are scheduled for different areas in the community.