COLUMBIA (WACH) - After a weekend of violence in Columbia's Five Points, an online petition and Facebook Group are bringing people together to help stop unwarranted violence in the area.
Paige Sharkey and Liz McIntyre are students at the University of South Carolina. In four years, they have spent many nights in Columbia's Five Points. Last weekend's violence, that included gun shots and two assaults in the entertainment district, sparked the girls' decision to take action.
"After watching the video Liz kind of looked at me, and we knew we needed to do something," said Sharkey.
They started the Facebook group "Fight Back for 5points."
"People are actually doing something, and change is happening," said McIntyre.
The students were hoping to gain around one hundred members in the group, but their expectations were quickly exceeded. More than 6,000 people have already joined the group.
Sharkey and McIntyre believe social media has played a major impact in raising awareness of the situation in Five Points.
"People saw an actual crime, saw it with very graphic video, and I think everyone decided they're going to move forward and make change," said Sharkey.
"We've heard of violence for the last four years. It's no lie that it's happening, but now it's more prevalent," said McIntyre.
The dangerous weekend also hit home with USC Graduate Eric Heineman. He created an online petition also called "Fight Back for 5 Points."
After the petition received 600 signatures, Heineman linked Mayor Steve Benjamin's email address so he will see the commitment of the community.
The petition has more than 1,600 signatures currently.
Heineman says people want to be part of the solution.
"People just want to help and really care about this city," said Heineman.
The Fight Back for Five Points groups don't necessarily believe underage drinking and over-consuming are causing the problems, but they want to work with officials so future students can create lifelong memories in Five Points without the fear of violence.