Wilmington City leaders hold community discussion on recent violence

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington is on track to see one of its most violent years on record with the 20th homicide in 2020 reported Thursday.

Reacting to the news, city Councilman Kevin Spears organized a community discussion with Mayor Bill Saffo and fellow councilmember Clifford Barnett.

“What we’re asking the community, especially young people in the community it please, don’t take things into your own hands, don’t take the law into your own hands and go hurt somebody else,” Mayor Saffo said.

Saffo, Spears, and Barnett were joined by a couple dozen community members Thursday night, and formed a socially distanced circle behind the ‘Black Lives Do Matter’ art installation near Jervay Park.

“We want to move past it, we want to be better than this, we want everybody here to feel safe,” Spears said.

One of the most vocal members of the discussion was Rashawn Hines, a man once labeled one of Wilmington’s worst offenders by former Police Chief Ralph Evangelous.

“It took me a while,” Hines said. “It’s sad to say that certain prison terms after prison term after prison term helped me realize, like this ain’t what I wanted.”

Hines, who back in 2014 was arrested and thrown in jail on charges of attempted murder, now views himself as an advocate for change.

“I overcame the old way of life and now I want to make a better impression on the younger generation,” he said.

Hines says violence in lower income areas of Wilmington is not just attributed to gangs.

“Violence, robbing, stealing, killing, that just goes on in the hood,” he said. “It could be a cause of ‘oh I like your shoes, I want them.'”

He believes the city needs to provide more resources to at-risk youth to discourage them from getting involved in gangs and crime to begin with.

“Find a program that can teach people about managing money, give them jobs that can pay their bills and have money to feed themselves afterward,” Hines said. “You can’t expect for change just because you’re going out there preaching.”

Mayor Bill Saffo says the city and county already support non-profits that aim to help those groups and they will continue to look for additional opportunities.

“We’re going to do whatever we can on the city side to make certain that the resources that we’re spending and where we’re spending them are impacting people and helping them find opportunities so they don’t have to join a gang or possibly do criminal kind of activities,” Saffo said.

WWAY tried to get an interview with police chief Donny Williams and instead we were sent this prerecorded message.

If you have any information about violent crimes that have occurred or might occur in the future, please call Wilmington Police or use their app to remain anonymous.

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