Anessia Martin lost a son to gun violence; now she’s working to save other children.

Published 1:59 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The city of Vicksburg’s ad hoc Youth Violence Prevention Committee has met over the past few weeks to come up with strategies to combat juvenile violence in Vicksburg and Warren County.

The committee was created by Mayor George Flaggs Jr., as a response to the murder of 13-year-old Carleone Woodland on Jan. 30. Flaggs appointed 10 members of the community involved in different aspects of youth activities, including leaders of charitable organizations, education specialists and religious leaders.

One member, Anessia Martin, was appointed to the committee in part due to her witnessing firsthand the ramifications of gun violence in the community. Having lost her own son, Kameron James Logan, in a shooting a few years ago in Warren County, preventing violence among youths is particularly important to her.

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“I lost my son, Kameron, on Dec. 10, 2019. To my understanding, the case is still open. It hasn’t been a closed case yet. I lost him to gun violence,” Martin said. “And I have a vested personal interest in this because I hate to continue to see so many children that are being lost to gun violence, or just being lost because it’s really hard on a mother to have to bury a child.”

The committee to which Martin was appointed is tasked with providing preliminary input for a plan to create a centralized location for youth services in Vicksburg and Warren County. Many of the services are already available to youths and their families, but housing them in a central location will provide easier access for those who can benefit from them.

Those services include things like family counseling, intervention, parental coaching, and mentoring. Bringing those services, which are run by different local organizations, under one roof would help them more easily work together to find the best approach for helping a child, Martin said.

“(We’re) trying to gather the services that will need to be offered to the children that may come from the detention center or children that may be referred from the school district,” Martin said. “And to have the various entities offer the different services on an as-needed basis. Basically, to cater to what it is that child is dealing with at that time.”

Martin also said that the key for the plan to work will be the dedication from all parties involved to consistently work together.

“The way I see this being a success is if there is consistency; consistency from both ends, from our end (and) consistency from the parents’ end. But if we do not have consistency, it won’t be a success. because you have to find out the denominator of what is going on with that child,” she said. “You can’t just assume it’s one thing and it’s actually something a little bit deeper.”

Martin added that another key to the success of the program will be for the organizations providing resources to stay connected with the children and families they are helping as long as they need.

“Several people that I’m associated with have lost their child to gun violence, and with all these shootings, it just breaks my heart to see not just the children losing their lives, but also the parents losing their children,” Martin said. “Because that is a hard road to travel, losing a child and having to bury a child; my heart goes out to mothers that have to bury their children. It’s not an easy feat. It’s not an easy journey at all, whatsoever.”