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The educational campaign is centered on preventing illegal gun possession by young people

MACON, Ga. – A public service campaign aimed at educating young people on the consequences of illegal gun possession is underway in Central Georgia.

Presented by the Peyton Anderson Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., the Bibb County School District Superintendent, and the Bibb County Sheriff, the “Armed with Knowledge” video project depicts the story of Noah, a preteen youth facing life-altering decisions that lead to prison for illegal firearm possession.  Throughout the video, Noah learns hard truths and irreversible consequences through personal points of view from the perpetrator, victim’s family and federal court system.

The Peyton Anderson Foundation worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. on the project’s development and is partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., the Bibb County School District and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office on distributing the educational video and accompanying facilitator guide for screening in schools and youth programs throughout Georgia. The video is suitable for middle school viewers and older, although educators can choose to present the video to older elementary school children, as deemed appropriate. The Bibb County School District will be showing the video to students in the fall. The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office plans to utilize the video in its youth outreach programs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia will implement “Armed with Knowledge” as part of its own Successful Tips for Youth on Law Enforcement Encounters (STYLE) youth outreach program.

The video was the idea of Peyton Anderson Foundation Trustee Marc Treadwell. Judge Treadwell is a United States District Judge, serving in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia since 2010. Filmed entirely in Central Georgia by Big Hair Productions, the video features local actors, as well as Judge Treadwell, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. It also features a powerful scene with Tonora Jones, the mother of Ta’Shuntis “Tootie” Roberts, who was lost to gun violence in 2015.

“Many defendants, particularly younger defendants, are completely unaware of the severe criminal penalties that can result from illegal possession of a gun,” said Judge Treadwell. “If our young people are fully informed, perhaps they will choose a different path, a path that will save them, their families and their communities from the consequences of illegal gun possession.”

“Our hope is that this film will make a lasting impression on young viewers, and they will never forget that gun violence can cost them their lives, literally or through years in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “With this powerful video, the Peyton Anderson Foundation has provided educators, mentors, parents and community leaders a unique educational tool with the potential to reduce gun violence and gang activity. We owe it to our community to take full advantage of this opportunity by watching this film with the young people in our lives.”

“The overwhelming dream of our office is that this film will help young people, especially young men of color, to avoid mistakes that bring lifelong consequences. As a lawyer who has represented the indigent accused for over 35 years, I have seen the horrifying consequences that people of color and poor people face after making what many think are minor mistakes early on in life. I hope and desire that this film will empower youth to make better decisions to rebuild their communities which have been shattered by systemic racial injustice, destroyed nuclear families, and disenfranchised so many people,” said Christina Hunt, Executive Director, Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc. “Our belief is that by knowing the consequences early on, we will be able to rebuild a better place for all to live. We also want people to know that this Office stands to answer any questions any person may have on these matters and can answer those questions confidentially.”

“For too long, I have seen our students make bad decisions about guns. I hate seeing the consequences of those decisions and the hurt it causes; all because young children just don’t know,” said Bibb County School District Superintendent Dr. Curtis Jones. “The ‘Armed with Knowledge’ partnership is just the right proactive actions we need to tell our youth and their parents – Don’t Do It. Thank you for showing how an engaged community helps students develop and demonstrate the strength of character we want of them.” 

“‘Armed with Knowledge’ is a compelling video which will be an exceptional teaching tool which touches upon relevant issues that today’s youth are facing,” said Bibb County Sheriff David Davis. “The information a young person receives from this presentation will help them deal with peer pressure and making right choices. We at the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office look forward to adding this to our youth outreach options.”

“‘Armed with Knowledge’ is an impactful educational tool that, with outreach and guidance, can make a permanent imprint in the hearts and minds of young viewers, making them think twice when they, or someone they know, are faced with the decision to engage in a gang or other criminal activity,” said Karen Lambert, president of the Peyton Anderson Foundation.  

The trailer of the video will debut on August 5, 2020 on both the Peyton Anderson Foundation and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia Facebook pages, directing viewers to the ArmedWithKnowledge.org website for additional information and access to the full-length video. Organizations can request to use the video and its educational content from the website.

This partnership is in conjunction with Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This partnership also affiliated with Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.    

The Peyton Anderson Foundation was formed in 1988, in honor of Peyton T. Anderson Jr., owner in the 1950s and 60s of the Macon Telegraph and the Macon News. A highly successful businessman, family man, veteran, civic leader, and philanthropist, Anderson assigned the bulk of his estate for charitable purposes to benefit his hometown of Macon, Georgia. He maintained that the people of Central Georgia had been good to him, and he in turn, wished to be good to them. His instructions were simple: give to “good-doers,” instead of “do-gooders.” The Peyton Anderson Foundation carries out these wishes and serves as a lasting memorial to a man whose goodwill lives on long after him, investing over $105 million in Central Georgia and touching the lives of thousands of our residents. For more information, please visit PeytonAnderson.org.

For more information about “Armed with Knowledge” and to request access to the full-length video, please visit ArmedWithKnowledge.org. Questions for the Peyton Anderson Foundation can be directed to Jessica Walden at jw@jessicawalden.com or (478) 361-6998. Questions for the U.S. Attorney’s Office can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

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