A large group of residents descended on the Montgomery City Council Tuesday to rail against rising crime rates after an innocent bystander was left paralyzed in a Friday shooting.

On Friday, a Montgomery woman, Amy Dicks, was struck by a bullet in a crossfire while driving down Atlanta Highway. Dicks was rushed to the hospital, where she was treated for her wounds. On Monday, the family announced that Dicks was paralyzed from the chest down as a result of the shooting.

Dicks's injuries drew fierce outrage across social media from friends and Montgomery residents, bashing the state of crime in the city and the lack of administrative action to address growing violent crime.

Many friends of Dicks and other concerned residents swarmed the Montgomery City Council, one after another taking time to lament the current state of the city and the perceived lack of leadership on behalf of Mayor Steven Reed.

The first speaker, Ja'Mel Brown, garnered significant applause from the attending crowd.

"We should not have to live every single day in fear of our lives that somebody is going to get hurt," Brown said.

Before Brown continued, Council Chair Cornelius Calhoun told the crowd to "keep the claps down so we can get through this."

Calhoun's admonishment gained jeers from the crowd.

"It's one of two things going to happen, you going do what I ask you to do or I'm going to ask you to leave," Calhoun retorted.

In an emotional recounting, Amy Dicks’ mother, Frieda Owens, detailed the events on Friday, including recalling a harrowing call she received from Dicks right after her shooting.

"At 1:12 p.m. on that Friday, I answered my phone, 'Momma, momma, I've been shot," Owens recounted her daughter saying, "'I'm going to die. Momma, momma, I've been shot. I love you. I can't move. I love you.'"

"Crime has overridden Montgomery, Alabama," Owens continued. "It is out of control. I pray each of you, as elected officials, will do your job to the best of your ability to find a solution to this problem. I pray each of you will be proactive with this challenge. The shooting was senseless. [It] impacted not only Amy but a husband, a daughter, an aunt, and many other family members. This shooting has impacted Amy and left her family financially for the rest of her life. The crime situation in Montgomery, Alabama, is unacceptable, and I join with the citizens who are represented here this evening and call for action now, immediately."

Other speakers ranged from friends of Amy Dicks’ family, medical professionals, local business owners and concerned citizens. Attendees spoke at length about the crime statistics, residents leaving the city, personal experiences of violence, robberies and a general feeling of unsafety while living in Montgomery.

Keith McCormick, a Montgomery resident, joined other speakers who called for Reed's resignation.

"Montgomery, in 2020, we had 200,000 residents," McCormick said. "In 2022, we dropped down to about 197,000. So in those two years, roughly 3,000 people have left Montgomery under your [Reed's] leadership."

He continued, "You are the CEO of this city, and you have lost control of this city from a crime perspective. In any organization or program where the CEO has lost control of the area of their responsibility, the good CEOs step down because they're just not cut out for the job."

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Reed took the podium before the public comment period to discuss the recent rash of violence in the city. He drew a contrast between the typical types of violence in Montgomery and the shooting that paralyzed Dicks.

"This weekend, there were several shootings in our area," Reed said. "Two of these attacks ended in a homicide; another left a bystander seriously wounded. Most of the shooting incidents in our community are happening between people who know one another. "…They result from tempers flaring, conflicts that spill over into fighting, and other senseless, stupid acts, such as trying to send a message or show someone how tough they can be. That's likely even true for some of these incidents this weekend."

However, tragically, this time, one of the victims was literally just going about her way and doing what she would do on a normal day when she was caught in a crossfire. "…she was not the target. Still, she was hit. Life changed, family changed by an errant bullet. Irrevocably changed the course of her future and that of her family and friends. As a result, she is paralyzed. This sort of behavior must stop."

Reed went on to praise Montgomery for solving "nearly half" of the city's 19 murders this year. He also addressed the 57 weapons confiscated by police that had a connection with violent crimes, saying 15 of them had been modified with a "switch," which he claimed modifies them into a "semi-automatic weapon." However, a switch, also called a "Glock switch," converts semi-automatic weapons into automatics.

Reed also lamented the financial burden violence has had on the city.

"Every shooting in our community costs approximately $604,000 per injury," Reed said. "Now, we can't put a price tag on injuries, but when you look at the costs associated with it, from public safety to healthcare to the court system, $604,000 per injury is significant. Every homicide costs more than $1 million. The numbers rise if there's more than one shooting, as we see far too often in our community."

He continued, "The adoption of effective intervention strategies will not only save lives but also produce massive savings that can be applied to other city needs, such as more accessible and affordable childcare options, more and better community centers and libraries, before- and after-school activities, not to mention more investments in affordable housing, workforce housing, infrastructure needs, police, fire, wraparound services, etc."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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