COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Columbus branch of the NAACP is calling on the community to implement change following the chaos at the 61st Annual Heritage Bowl.

The organization held the press conference Saturday afternoon. It served as a conversation starter. The speeches shared one phrase: It takes a village.

“It’s going to take that same village to work towards solutions to stopping the crime perpetrated by the youth in the community,” said Columbus NAACP President Wane A. Hailes.

On Aug. 25, an incident broke out during the 61st annual heritage bowl game between Spencer and Carver high schools, causing patrons and football players to duck for cover. The highly anticipated game abruptly ended in the third quarter.

Georgia State Representative Teddy Reese was in attendance with his wife handing out scholarships to one player from each team. Representative Reese says he almost brought his 7-year-old daughter with him to the game but is thankful he didn’t. 

“I found myself over there with the Carver Band trying to console some of the students that were over there, just terrified, afraid, calling for mama, calling for Daddy, But Mommy and Daddy couldn’t come get them because everybody was trying to find a place of safety,” said Rep. Reese.

President Hailes is calling the community to come together to implement change.

“It’s important that we coalesce with other organizations,” said President Hailes. “It’s one thing to talk the talk now.”

Reverend Johnny Flakes hopes to set a plan in motion. The NAACP wants to place mentors in schools to support students. They believe there is a disconnect with parents and kids.
They plan to address the mayor and council asking for guidance. The question remains: could this have been avoided?

“We’re not blaming anyone,” said President Hailes. “The key is who’s responsible? Who is responsible for serving this community, during football games?”

The Muscogee County School District will not be using the AJ McClung Memorial Stadium for the rest of the football season. They say they can’t staff it safely.

On Sept. 30, the local chapter of Lambda Iota of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is hosting a workshop forum geared towards parents, educators and students. The purpose of the workshop is to inform parents of the resources available to them and create a dialogue regarding the development of their children. The free event will be held in the Spencer High School auditorium at 9 a.m.