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Community gang forums end, but what’s next?

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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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