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Community gang forums end, but what’s next?


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After a summer of violence Wilmington City Leaders decided a community effort was needed to try and end gang violence, but after six meetings in four months some are asking when we are going to start seeing results.

“People want to see more action instead of just coming to the forums and talking about issues they want to see action,” said Chappelle Green. “I really believe that this forum is going to start some kind of motivation.”

While some who have attended the Wilmington gang forums are looking for wholesale changes others look at success stories like Jonathan Hering, a former gang member who is now in school full time at Cape Fear Community College, volunteers in two youth mentoring programs, and works two jobs.

"The minority male mentoring program shows that you can be a minority, and a male, and make good grades and go to a four year colleges and do everything else that other people can do,” said Jonathan Hering. “I'm working, and I'm going to school, and I feel like me going to school can help encourage somebody else."

Since the forums have started the Wilmington City Council has invested thousands in numerous programs such as LINK, which gives felons the skills they need to succeed in a professional environment.

Despite the steps which have already been taken panel members say they feel like city leaders are more focused on building downtown parks than community centers that could help solve the problem.

"The chamber is already committed to raise money to support closing the achievement gap for those students who would not otherwise be in a learning environment during the summer,” said Sterling Cheatham. “We've seen an increase in volunteerism and we've seen more people come out and want to mentor our kids and I think all of those are positive signs."

The Wilmington Police Department is holding a youth event on Sunday, March 16th, at Jungle Rapids where kids who say they’re in the Safe Teen program will receive a discount.

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You're shovelling sand against the tide

Wake up call! You are NOT going to solve "the gang problem." Drugs, crime, and violence is a Pavlovian response to the society we have built, and WPD/NHCS cannot undo fifty years of training over three generations.

1. It started fifty years ago when AFDC demanded no males of working age in the home. Bye, daddy! Who needs a responsible, hard-working role model? The illegitimate birth rate among Black Americans is now just a bit under 72%. That means almost three of every four Black children born in this country are being raised by single mothers. Actually, thanks to drug abuse, about a quarter of them are being raised by their grandmothers. In either case, the link between child-rearing by single mothers and poverty is is the link between poverty and crime.

2. It continues to this day in concentrating single mother families into urban public housing, where peer pressure fills the void left by absent fathers. Ignoring the "T" in TANF simply adds to the problem, as does the totally unrestricted breeding of future gang members thanks to no restrictions on Medicaid prenatal or obstetric care. Here's a quote from a DSS worker in Craven County, given to a woman who already had four illegitimate children: "Gee, if you have another baby, you'll qualify for a larger apartment."

3. Our criminal justice system provides no real negative consequence to committing crime. Make structured sentencing a bit more Draconian and you may get somewhere. If a young man knows that he'll face a mandatory twenty years, he may decide that armed robbery is not a wise career choice.

4. Our obsession with drug laws takes time away from legitimate criminal investigation and destroys too many lives too early in life to ever recover. I want the burglar locked up for many, many years; not the pot- or pill-head. Legalize drugs and most of these gangs would go bankrupt, with no source of income. Just treat them like criminals (instead of addicts) if their drug usage leads them into criminal activity.

5. That said, our thirst for drugs has destroyed even more lives. Don't cry about your son and wonder what went wrong when he was watching you smoke crack when he was six years old. Don't gripe about the police doing nothing when he sees you telling an officer, "I didn't see nuthin', man."

The solution to gang violence can't be found in Wilmington, it has to start in Washington, in our national will, and in the hearts and minds of an inner-city Black community that has been placed in this hellish situation by well-intentioned but ignorant politicians. The chains of government dependence are just as strong as any chain the slave-owner used, and as we see weekly in the news, come with just as heavy a price tag to the individual family.

God forbid our local leaders spend money on recreation

No pools, no rec centers like other counties. No place for kids to go or do sports and you wonder why they are restless and fat. New Hanover county does not have facilities like most counties in the land. I wonder what those leaders do with the money. Oh yeah, they stuff it in their pockets and into their cronies pockets. I hope the gangs and justice system stop turning on themselves and go after the biggest thug of them all, John Mack of Morgan Stanley. He has the biggest house in New Hanover County and has gone unprosecuted for his crimes.