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'We need your support': Baldwin County community voices concern over youth violence

"Instead of people coming to us, we decide that we're going to go to the people," says Lisha Bly, one of the organizers of Saturday's community event.

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Folks in Milledgeville are coming together to address the crime and youth violence happening lately.  

This comes just days after 18-year-old Syee Devon Havior was shot and killed when two people broke into his home in Baldwin County early Thursday.

"We don't want our kids to be dying, and if we don't do anything about it, then what outcomes do we expect,” says Lisha Bly. 

Bly is owner of New Vision Youth Services– an organization that helps disadvantaged youths that fall through the cracks in the foster care system. 

She says she’s working to address crime and youth violence by creating spaces like Saturdays. 

"Instead of people coming to us, we decide that we're going to go to the people. So, we're giving them a forum to talk about what's bothering them. What do they want to see happen in their community,” she explains. 

Bly says the tragic death of 18-year-old Syee Havior is a big reason why they do this. Owner of Anchor Youth and Development Center and another organizer–Shirley Johnson– says these deaths affect everyone. 

"It just breaks your heart, and just because it isn't your child doesn't mean you shouldn't care,” Johnson says. 

Bly says folks are experiencing gun and domestic violence, poverty, crime, and mental health issues. 

Shidonna Soloman says that's why events like this are essential to have. 

"It's so important for the community to come together and try to save our children," she said.

Soloman lost two of her children to gun violence. Jyeel Soloman in 2017 and Jemontay Soloman in 2020. 

She says she feels the communities' pain. 

“I think the reason why it's so bottled up is because no one cares to ask how are you doing,” she says. 

Soloman says several leaders were invited to attend this event, but almost none showed up. She says she feels the city has failed them in an effort to curb violence. 

"We need your support. You're in leadership, we need you for a reason. It's just time for change,” she states. 

County Commissioner Kendrick Butts, who represents District 2, was there. 

"This is my passion to make my county safe,” he says. 

Butts says he wants to hear out what his constituents need. 

“They say they need jobs, opportunities, education, and to stop the violence,” he explains. 

He says leaders need to be held accountable, and wants to create safe spaces for people to come and express their concerns. 

“Engage them, set up a committee where they can come in and talk with us. Or maybe we can meet quarterly and talk with them and ask them what it is that they want and maybe we can implement a plan,” he says. 

Johnson says they're planning on more events like this in the future. She says her organization Anchored Youth and Development LLC are asking for donations like books, shoes, essential toiletries to donate to the kids in the area who need it. 

She says you can contact her at 478-387-8698. 

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