Albany church teaches importance of staying away from gangs

Published: Jun. 28, 2012 at 2:44 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2012 at 2:45 AM EDT
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In an effort to keep children and teenagers off the streets and out of gangs, an Albany church invited law officers and first responders to speak to young people during its vacation bible school.

River Road Church of Christ sponsored events each night this week dedicated to preventing youth from making bad decisions.

Tonight's challenge… staying out of gangs.

Sergeant Duron Thompson with the Albany Police Department spoke to a sanctuary full of kids, teens and adults about the importance of staying away from gangs.

He doesn't want to see these young people go down the same path as Anthony Mackey, who joined a gang at a young age.

"It was a lack of fatherhood. Basically I was mad at the world, mad at family members and didn't have any type of support," said Mackey.

"This is where the gang members are trying to attract them, mostly at this age. We feel that if we can get them first then maybe we can make a world of a difference to them," said Sgt. Thomson.

This is the third year in a row that River Road Church of Christ has used its vacation bible school, not only to teach the way of the Lord, but also the importance of being a responsible citizen and staying away from illegal activity.

"That's our goal to educate our young people so they can make better decisions and they can be productive citizens of this society," said Antron Patton.

Mackey has since put his old ways behind him, leaving the gang and is now a student at Albany Tech. He has a word of advice for those being pressured to join a gang.

"I know it's hard in this community, I know life can be tough, but try to put yourself in an environment where you can at least love yourself and the people around you," said Mackey.

He hopes his words touch the youth of Albany, so they won't make the same mistakes he has.

Sergeant Thompson also had tips for parents.

He says you should be aware of your children's clothing, hairstyle and unusual symbols, handshakes and gestures that could be signs of gang activity.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.