By Brionna McCall, Intern
Ro Tyus has been doing great work in her community working to prevent violence within it. She currently works with The City of Montgomery’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), which is a department that offers various programs that support community safety.
According to The City of Montgomery’s OVP, the department puts effort into reducing the risk of violence through partnerships with government, non-profit, neighborhood, and faith organizations by utilizing data-driven programs to address community needs and implement violence intervention.
Ro Tyus, whose full name is Rochelle Tyus Hollyfield, is a mother of four kids and five siblings including her. She attended Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery, Alabama, and is a community organizer and community advocate.
Tyus is the organizer and founder of the Stop The Violence team that they have for the city of Montgomery. According to Tyus, Montgomery was getting too much crime, too many homicides, too much domestic violence, and much more.
“We organized our street team that’s called ‘Stop The Violence’ campaign team, and that was back in May 2021,” she said. “We organized that when the crime got high in Montgomery, and what our street team does, we go out into the neighborhood where the most homicides took place, and we knock on doors, and we talk to the kids about whatever resources we could give to them at that time.”
Tyus has always been an advocate for stopping the violence in the city. She always attended a lot of rallies and protests, so the OVP was a perfect fit for her.
She stated that when you know many people in the community, it’s easy to be accessible as she is with the Office of Violence Prevention and on the street team. The OVP aims to prevent domestic violence, homicides, drugs, and whatever they can do to help an individual to prevent not just crime because there’s no problem too big and no problem too small.
“We deal with all types of crimes, from the smallest to the biggest. Everyone benefits from the OVP. The people that we’re helping, they’re getting what they need and want, and we’re also feeling good about helping them and getting them to what they need and want.”
Currently, the OVP is working on a couple of programs, and one is called Tips, where they go into the schools and they talk with the young people that may have academic problems, behavior problems, attendance problems, and just problems in general. The principal identifies those students, talks with them every week, and helps them with any resources they may need.
“My goal for the next few years is to reduce gun violence. I pray for us to reduce gun violence and to work with our youth, and to provide them with everything they will need besides guns because right now I think that’s our biggest problem,” she said. “We just want the young people to focus on getting their education, better themselves, and realize that they need to put the guns down. Guns can get you time and can get you killed, so we want them to enjoy their life because they are the future. We just want our youth to be able to be youths again.”
According to Tyus, her journey in advocating for her community has not been easy and it is not for the weak.
“On this journey, you got to have the passion for what you do, and you got to love people, and you got to love kids. You can’t just do it for the money, so my journey has been good for me, and it has been challenging as well, but to know what I know, with my help and with other people’s help, we can succeed,” she said. “On the journey, you see so much and hear so much when you’re standing in mothers’ homes who have lost their kids to gun violence. It has been very challenging, and it can be very stressful and depressing, but you got to be built for it, and you got to have the passion for saving people, and that’s all people.”
Tyus prays and hopes that our culture finds other ways for conflict solutions besides picking up a gun, and it is going to take a village to help them take back their city and community.
“I pray and hope we can return to where we used to be. I do it every day, and my phone ring every day and night, people call me, and they inbox me. I’m not a big talker, I’m a doer. The main thing about this work is that you got to be real, and I’m as real as they come. The thing is, I get the job done, and you got to love people. If you don’t love people and you’re doing this for money, then you’re not going to succeed.”
Since Tyus works around violence daily, some days she just does not know how to cope with everything, and some days she just tries to keep going by praying.
“I pray most of the time. Sometimes to get my mind away from everything, I turn off all my phones and just relax. I go back and look at my phone, but it’s hard because even when I hear about the kids fighting at the schools, I’m there,” she said. “By me being so well-known, I grew up in Montgomery, so I know who they are, I know their parents, I know somebody. The main thing dealing with violence and kids, somewhere along the way somebody was lost, and if I can’t help that parent, I can at least help that child find their way back.”
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