By Morgan Bryce
In response to Sunday’s shooting incident in Opelika, an anti-violence rally was held Thursday night at the Covington Recreational Center, located on Carver Ave.
The rally was the idea of Opelika resident Rodnique Ambus, who said she is concerned about the amount of violence going on in the city.
“The death that happened Sunday, it did something to me,” Ambus said. “I’m just trying to save the streets because kids are growing up without their fathers, and mothers are losing their children. They are tired of burying their children, and that’s how I came up with this event.”
After having the initial plan, Ambus and her friend Alexis Mennifield contacted W.F. Burns Middle School principal Dr. Frankie Bell, who told Ambus that she would be more than willing to help her out with the event. Sponsors like the Opelika Housing Authority, Dad’s League and Way2Serve Ministries also contributed to the event.
The rally started with an invocation from Bell, who challenged both the parents present at the event and those in the community to step up and become better parents.
“Some of these kids at my school that I discipline are raised with the attitude that ‘you ain’t gotta respect her, and it makes me wonder – is it really the children we need to be reaching, or is it the adult?” Bell said.
Mattie Clark, a prison ministry leader in Tallapoosa County, spoke on the condition of prisons where she works, and how a lack of a father or paternal-like figure affects the lives of today’s youth.
“I ask every prisoner one thing, and 90 percent of them say they didn’t have a father or father-like figure,” Clark said. “As a parent, you can’t be concerned about just your child, you gotta be concerned about every child. So fathers, men – step up and be men.”
Jarnataka Holmes, one of the attendees of the rally, spoke on how her life has been impacted by the violence in Opelika.
“I’ve been on both sides – I have a brother in jail right now who is serving time for murder. When someone dies, it affects both sides,” Holmes said. “It all starts with the youth. You’re going to have to make up your mind if you will be the person to cause conflict or harm or be the person who walks away.”
Antione Harvis, the fatherhood coordinator of the Opelika outreach organization Dad’s League, said he is optimistic about the rally’s impact.
“I hope that those who are concerned in our community will move to action and connect with all the positive things that are already happening in our community,” he said. “Where we can get people to engage with our youth, one another and support all the positive things that go on in our community.”
Ambus said she was not sure about future rallies similar to this, but hopes that positive events like this will put an end to the violence in Opelika.
“I want the violence to stop before it’s too late, because if we wait too long, we might be caring when it’s too late,” Ambus said.