Politics & Government

Ellis calls for seniors to help stop youth crime

Former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis called Tuesday for senior citizens to share their wisdom with young people as part of an effort to stem gun violence.

“Have we failed them? They are our children, our grandchildren,” he said.

Speaking to about 60 people at the Macon-Bibb County Senior Center near Tattnall Square Park, Ellis referred to several recent shooting deaths and said more should be done to keep guns out of the hands of people already known to be criminals.

He said people protesting violence can’t focus on the deaths of several black men at the hands of white police nationwide while ignoring other deaths resulting from black-on-black crime.

Ellis said he and other local residents protested the 2012 killing of Sammie “Junebug” Davis, who was black, by a white police officer, but he said most violent deaths of black men in Macon are caused by other black men. Twenty years ago, that happened to his own younger brother, following an argument over a card game, he said.

Ellis urged older residents to engage younger people and talk about the long-term consequences of momentary anger or irresponsibility.

He said there should be tighter background checks for gun purchases, especially at pawn shops. Too many gun crimes are committed by people who should already be barred from gun ownership, Ellis said.

“I am not anti-gun at all,” he said. “I am anti-criminals with guns.”

Ellis also said a planned new center for senior citizens should get more funding than the $2 million allocated by the special purpose local option sales tax. Describing it as “the biggest debate” now going on locally, he said it should get at least as much as the new animal shelter, which was allocated $3 million from the SPLOST.

Macon-Bibb County commissioners are considering a proposal to make an expanded Bloomfield community center into the new senior center, also making use of the $2.5 million set aside for improvements at Bloomfield.

Though Ellis referred to the next mayoral election in 2016, he denied he was “playing politics with our current mayor.” Ellis, mayor of Macon from 1999 to 2007, has to Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert in the past two mayoral elections.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.