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Community leaders discuss the 'cycle' of gang violence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After hundreds of gunshots have been fired throughout 2013, former gang members sat shoulder to shoulder with local politicians to say they’ve had enough.

"It's a battle we're fighting and I don't wish the pain on anyone,” said Cherelle Dailey, who lost her cousin Joseph Williams in a drive-by shooting.

As the family members of Joseph Williams held a peace march to honor what would have been his 19th birthday former criminals and community leaders came together at Wilmington City Hall to try and address a growing problem.

"I didn't think that the blacks and the whites could come together on such a common ground,” said Raheem Nelson. “We all have the same ideas. We're all looking to make a difference and to make a change."”

At the center of the discussion were four areas that event organizers say may contain the answers as to why someone turns to a life of crime: family, education, economics, plus health and human services. But some in the audience say those categories need to be expanded.

"There were two other areas that were left off,” said Steve Lee. “One was the criminal justice system and the other was how in Wilmington we still live with the remnants of slavery, oppression, and disparity of opportunity between black and white."

All agree that to break down that barrier the Cape Fear needs more jobs, and not only for white collar college graduates.

"Give incentives for hiring a convicted felon because that generates money,” said Raheem Nelson. “That puts money back into the community and that drops crime."

If you missed the Monday night meeting Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan is holding another community meeting to discuss activity on November 13th on the campus of UNCW.

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