By Tiffany Martinez
With the recent rise in crime rates, residents of Lawton have begun a movement in an effort to bring awareness to the community.
25-year-old, Brandon Ramirez created the movement, “Stop the Hate in Lawton,” after receiving the news that a close friend of his had been shot and killed. The news, he said, inspired him to take a stand.
“It was shortly after Christmas,” Ramirez said. “I was fed up, I was angry. I was tired of seeing such a great loss of lives in this city.”
Ramirez said he learned there were others who had, like him, lost someone close in a violent manner.
“I vented about it on Facebook, and realized other people felt the same way,” Ramirez said.
It was then that Ramirez joined forces with a friend, Amanda Saltiel, to begin what would become a city-wide movement.
Saltiel played her part in the group to ensure a safe town for her son.
“I have a 2-year-old son,” Saltiel said. “I want to make this a better place for him. I don’t want him to be afraid to walk down the street, or be afraid to go places in this town. I just want Lawton to be a safer place for our children.”
“Stop the Hate in Lawton” is now in the process of becoming a non-profit organization. President Ramirez, and Vice President Saltiel lead the fight in an effort to establish a more secure environment for Lawtonians.
“We want to bring the crime rate in our town down and we want to bring a better sense of community to Lawton,” Saltiel said.
Through social media and word of mouth, “Stop the Hate in Lawton” is making a statement around not only Lawton, but the entire state of Oklahoma. Ramirez is pleased with the group’s spread.
“We’ve been interviewed on different radio stations, featured in newscasts and magazines,” Ramirez said. “I think people are finally beginning to realize that something needs to be done.”
Annette Wiseman-Vaughan, treasurer of “Stop the Hate in Lawton,” was instantly moved Ramirez’s efforts.
“When I saw Brandon and what he was trying to do I thought it was great,” Wiseman-Vaughan said. “And I knew that he would need help, he would need a team.”
According to Wiseman-Vaughan, the officers and board of representatives for “Stop the Hate in Lawton” were recently decided upon.
“We have liaisons to be able to target various areas of Lawton at one time. We have a military liaison, a civic group liaison, a neighborhood liaison, and a liaison for Lawton Public Schools,” Wiseman-Vaughan said. “This is a brand new group, so we are just getting the ball rolling, but all of us have come together because we believe in our community and we care about our town.”
Ramirez is set on making the group work, despite the difficulties of establishing a new organization.
“The first couple meetings our often the toughest for new groups starting out,” Ramirez said. “But we are growing quickly and we are here to make a change. We aren’t going anywhere.”
Future plans for “Stop the Hate in Lawton” include establishing a youth mentorship, organizing community parties, and educating people on crime prevention. Group meetings are open to the public and held every fourth Thursday and Saturday of the month at the Lawton Public Library. Additional information can be found at www.stopthehateinlawton.com.