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'Give them a belonging': Milledgeville pastor devises plan to lessen crime in the city

He says there have– thankfully– been no homicides in the city of Milledgeville this year, but he says something must be done before it's too late.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Some people in town, including a local minister, are stepping up and putting their foot down after the latest spike in gun violence.

13WMAZ’s reporter Jessica Cha spoke with Pastor Tony Fraley, a longtime activist.

He says he has a plan that could help prevent gun violence from happening before it's too late.

“People are afraid to sit on their front porch and this must be addressed,” he says.

Pastor Fraley has led the Vaughn Chapel Missionary Baptist Church for 17 years. He says the latest gun violence, a weekend mass shooting that wounded five people has affected his members and him personally.

"I was sitting in my yard Sunday evening, and I heard the gunshots Saturday evening. My granddaughter was a participant in the block party, and she had to leave running. Several of her friends got shot at this gathering,” Fraley explains.

He says there have– thankfully– been no homicides in the city of Milledgeville this year, but he says something must be done before it's too late.

"Give them a belonging so that they can develop a belief or help them develop a belief so that they can belong to a positive.”.

Together with Ocmulgee District Attorney, T. Wright Barksdale, Fraley is developing a class that targets youths called Total Community Involvement (TCI). 

"It will be a critical thinking class to bring out of them what is troubling them. You have to catch them at an early age because of the worldview,” he says. 

Fraley says the goal of the project is to change the negative behavior in troubled individuals by building trust and relationships with them. He says the program will at first rely on referrals of juveniles in the community that could use the help. 

He says this'll work because the change starts with community leaders like him.

"We cannot expect for the younger generation to change their behavior unless we are willing to ask ourselves what are we willing to give up in order to bring about peace,” Fraley explains.

DA T. Wright Barksdale told us he wanted to work with Fraley on this project because he has his heart in the right place, and has been working a longtime to improve the community.

Pastor Fraley says that the classes will be twice a week for an hour and a half, and it is open for anyone to come and have a safe place to learn. He says he hopes to have classes up and running by the end of the year. 

City leaders are planning on having a news conference Wednesday, 3 p.m., to discuss their plans on addressing violence in the community.    

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