Saturday, June 7 over 200 people enjoyed the information and entertainment at Stop The Violence Rally in Woodland Heights Park. Due to escalating violence happening in the community, Walter Wallace brought in motivational speakers to offer solutions to the public on various subjects. Sponsored by Woodland Heights neighborhood Association, several participants such as the Shiners, Commissioner Lumon May, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department, and Mayor Ashton Hayward came as well. At the event, Robin Reshard, mistress of ceremony, gave a moving speech to the young people as to how violence can damage not just the people involved, but the community as well. She also engaged some of the youth in a dance contest. Chief of Police Chip Simmons, also gave information to the public on how to avoid violence and learning to just walk away.
There was live entertainment and food, music, jumpy jumps provided by Truth for Youth, and other events that took place during the event.
However, the focus was truly on violence being prevented in the community. When asked if there would be a program for the students when going back to school, Mr. Wallace replied “No, our focus is on keep the kids safe during the summer, because more violence happens when they are not in school. We want to make this an annual event because something has to be done to help the community and our children,” he stated.
With a population of over fifty-two thousand people in Pensacola the murder crime rate has risen from 1 in 2004 to 7 in 2014. Just a 10 year span we have more than tripled in crime. So, it’s important that something is done within each community to stop the violence. When asked “What else can be done to create awareness? His response was, “Having more events like this to create awareness and also getting involved in your neighborhood watch and help prevent crimes in your area”.