Belvedere neighborhood coming together to fight gang violence
Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:57:57 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Diane Wiley has lived in Columbia's Belvedere neighborhood for more than 30 years.
She says morning, noon and night gangs are wrecking havoc near her home.
"You're sitting on your porch and you're scared that a bullet is going to hit you, ya know bullets don't have names," said Wiley.
Wiley is no stranger to gun shots, the neighborhood association president had a recent summer afternoon cut short, when she says men were shooting at each other from rooftops of a near by abandoned building.
"All you can do is go in the back part of your house or the middle part house and hide, but I'm not going to be doing that, I can't do that where I have to pay bills," adds Wiley.
Wiley is supporting a new effort by Mayor Steve Benjamin that would get the gangs away from her home
Benjamin says civil injunctions are similar to restraining orders and known gang members would face a judge, who will decide if they are allowed in certain areas of the city.
City leaders telling WACH Fox the belvedere community would be considered a safety zone.
Wiley pointing out gangs aren't the only problem.
The neighborhood watchdog says the road leading to Burton Pack Elementary school has no street name, no speed limit and only one light leaving children walking in the dark.
She's taken her laundry list of problems to city leaders and is seeing action.
"Once we're mad aware of any sort of issues where any property that may be a hub for criminal activity we're trying to be proactive in eliminating those areas. And eliminating that blight i n the community," said councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman .
"These are retired people up in age and they tired now, they tired you know they would love to leave but where can you go, every community is going through this," concludes Wiley.
City leaders are working on a plan to tear down old Gibbes Middle School and their hoping a new park and a gym will chase criminals from the community.
Wiley is also fighting for better businesses, she says at a recent city meeting she learned there are 24 liquor stores in a two mile radius of her neighborhood.
She believes reducing that number would help curb crime.