ONLY ON 3: Critics say WPD underestimating gang problem
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We told you last night about a fight on 12th Street in Wilmington involving about 50 young people.

Many neighbors told us the fights were directly related to gangs and they happen every day, but a Wilmington Police spokeswoman said the fight was not gang-related.

"We certainly should be aware that Wilmington is among the top of the cities in this state who have gang-related crime, homicide and injuries to our youth," said Community Boys & Girls Club CEO Wayne Lofton.

Lofton says he is on the ground every day working with kids from the community. He says though many folks like to pretend there is not a gang problem in our area, he knows there is.

"I would say to those pundants who feel there isn't a heavy gang infiltration moving in this community that they're misinformed," Lofton said. "All they have to do is ride out amongst the kids in the community and within the inner city areas that are low income and impoverished, and they'll see a heavy presence of gang activity."

Atiba Johnson is a Youth Specialist at the Boys & Girls Club. He says gang members are as young as elementary school age. He says the kids learn by example and are just trying to fit in.

"It's not just high school students," Johnson said. "They're not just acting out. This is not a game. This is real life."

With already one gang-related death in wilmington this year and numerous incidents that are linked to gangs, Johnson says if the community does not address the problem, the violence will continue to rise.

"If the road and the path that we're continuing on right now stays the same, it's going to be a long hot summer with a lot of unnecessary and unfortunate incidents," Johnson said.

Incidents Johnson says prove the community needs to be proactive and not just look the other way.

We wanted to talk with Wilmington Police today about the gang problem, especially among younger children, but the department refused to make any of its gang experts available.

The folks at the Boys & Girls Club say the department's refusal to talk underscores a lack of acknowledgment to how serious the gang problem in Wilmington is.

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I can guarantee you that this was gang related. It is all over Facebook. The kids are all talking about it. There were more fights at the school today than ever. There were people getting jumped. Way to go the new cameras catching everything. Should have spent the money on books. The kids who want to learn are mad that the 'adults" chose to spend the money on cameras than books. What a shame.

Didn't you read the comments on the original story? This had nothing to do with gangs. There aren't any gangs in da hood. People start crying "gang" when three people get together....and they've made a LOT of improvements in that neighborhood. (For example, they made the Jervay Housing much nicer for the lifelong public housing residents and their gangster children/grandchildren....and notice I said "gangster" and not "gang member.")

There are no gangs in Wilmington. Fifty kids and adults fighting is perfectly normal behavior isn't it?

Maybe they were rehearsing for a local production of "West Side Story."

(Spoken rap, not sung) "When you be a jet you be a jet all the way from your first Kool king-size to you last dying day."

you need a hobby

I'm an active member of the N.R.A...

...telling the truth.

Being a member of the NRA is not a hobby. Golf, sailing, painting, writing, sewing are hobbies. You're just a hillbilly with nothing better to do. Usually people in the NRA are making up for "short-comings" in other parts of their lives.