Crime prevention forum draws two dozen to Second Missionary Baptist Church

Crime prevention forum draws two dozen to Second Missionary Baptist Church

January 18th, 2014 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Sherman Matthews, near left, cited numbers of incarcerated people of color to attendees at Thursday nights Unity Group forum held at the Second Missionary Baptist Church on East Third Street. The open discussion dealt with crime and drugs in the community. City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem, center, and Attorney Yolanda Mitchell listen.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

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Speak no evil

About two dozen people gathered Thursday at Second Missionary Baptist Church to brainstorm solutions to crime in their community.

Residents participating in the "Community Crime Forum: The Voices Speak" tossed out ideas ranging from a need for better, more focused prevention programs to more employment opportunities.

Roger Thompson, a UTC professor and chief departmental adviser for criminal justice, talked about the importance of later school day start times. He said that urban schools should institute morning start times as late as 9 a.m., arguing student academic performance likely would improve.

The Rev. Bethel Hendricks Jr. suggested there should be more emphasis on God when trying to help people avoid or leave a life of crime. Jackie Thomas asked about prevention programs targeting children, especially those whose fathers might be incarcerated.

Quenston Coleman talked about the need for jobs in communities hardest hit by crime.

The forum was a community-based follow-up discussion to a Chattanooga Times Free Press conversation on race and reconciliation held Dec. 19.

Resident Johnny Holloway told the audience that instead of focusing on individuals, the group should focus on changing the system.

"You can't change the system by talking. You have to organize," he said. "If we can get together then we can vote together."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com.