Approximately 175 people met in City Hall on Nov. 4 for the first of several community conversations about gang violence in Wilmington. Attendees heard first-hand from reformed gang members who are trying to help the community, as well as others who are mentoring at-risk youth.
Citizens representing agencies such as non-profits, law enforcement, business, churches and education were invited to attend the meeting and broke into small groups to discuss the issues they think need to be addressed, as well as what organizations they think need to be engaged to identify solutions. Subsequent sessions will focus on what those solutions are and how to implement them.
From these sessions, a series of recommendations for action by public policy makers, including elected officials and leaders of private corporations and non-profits, will be generated.
Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham said, “There are many efforts going on right now to find ways to address gang violence in our community. Law enforcement efforts have been stepped up, but that’s only one part of the solution. What we are trying to do is help coordinate efforts from all sectors of our community and focus their resources to help stop gang violence where it starts.”
The second community conversation on gang violence focused on education and took place on Nov. 13 at UNCW.
to see moving testimony the reformed youth provided at the Nov. 4 meeting.