Consequences of Taft shooting: Muskogee NAACP deals with gun violence, mental health after shooting |

In a community where everyone knows everyone, losing one of your own can feel like losing a part of yourself.

And when several others were injured in the center of the community at once, the pain remained long after the accident.

This is how most members of the Taft community feel after Sherika Bowler was killed and eight others were injured in a shooting at the festival on Remembrance Day weekend in the city center, and two weeks after the shooting, a local civic organization straight does what he wants can put the pieces together.

“Even the smallest gestures in times like these help people understand that you care,” said the Rev. Roger Cutler, president of the NAACP Muskogee branch, which is initiating programs in Muskogee County to make their communities more safe. “We want to make sure that (Taft) is not lost in the stirring.

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The NAACP will focus on gun violence and mental health, the first with a gun repurchase program in partnership with local law enforcement and community leaders, and the second with an upcoming mental health forum with the Muskoghi County Health Department.

Project Rescue Muskogee County, a gun repurchase program, is a long-term initiative that partners with the Muscovite County Sheriff’s Office and the Muskogee Police Department, which we hope will make Muskogee County communities safer, Cutler said. who hopes to prevent even one life from taking away violence with a gun.

“If we take even a gun out of the street, it can save lives,” he said. “We believe what Dr. (Martin Luther) King said:” It’s always the right time to do the right thing. This is one of the greatest opportunities we can give the people of Muskogee County to do the right thing. “

The Rescue Muskogee County project, which is still in its early stages, will be completely voluntary and anonymous, Cutler said, and organizers hope to raise enough money to pay $ 100 for each gun and $ 250 for each assault rifle. “.

The second initiative, the Mental Health Forum, is scheduled for Thursday and will bring behavioral health professionals to the area at the Martin Luther King Center, 300 W. Martin Luther King St. in Muskogee to discuss trauma in children after major incidents and the stigma surrounding mental health in black communities.

Cutler said organizers had been planning the forum for some time amid national tragedies, but that the Taft shooting has accelerated the need for it.

“Our main focus was on the stigma of mental health, especially in the black community,” Cutler said. “We’ve been taught that it’s just a part of life, but it’s actually something we need to pay attention to and focus on.”

After the Taft shooting, where many children saw bullets raining down on their families and even other children, Cutler said it was imperative to deal with the trauma symptoms in the children.

“The children were injured because bullets were fired at Taft,” Cutler said. “We want our children to feel safe and secure so that they can still go out, have fun and participate in life and not be afraid to live in their own community.

Inspired by King again, Cutler said the Muscogee NAACP is doing its best to make sure Taft residents and victims of the shooting know they matter to someone.

“Dr. King said it best when he said, ‘Our lives begin to end when we are silent about what matters,'” Cutler said. “Our children matter. Taffeta matters. I can not wait; we are dealing with these things now because people’s lives are being affected now. “

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