Getting the courts involved in keeping gangs out of Five Points
Tue, 22 Oct 2013 23:12:54 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) - Mayor Steve Benjamin flew to Washington D.C on Tuesday to discuss with the U.S Department of Justice the possibility of issuing injunctions.
Those injunctions would essentially prohibit gang activity from four areas in the Midlands known as "high-crime hot spots". One of those high crime hot spots is right in Five Points.
"Gang injunction have been used very effectively out west and you're seeing more and more cities and communities across the country using them to seriously discourage gang activity." says Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.
An injunction is basically a court order saying a certain group of people cannot do a certain type of activity.
"An injunction is a civil action in which a party applies, in this context it would be the city of Columbia presumably. They would apply to a court, ask for an order enjoining people from doing something, like gang activity." states attorney Joe McCulloch.
But Benjamin's mayoral opponent Moe Baddourah thinks the injunctions do not address the true problem.
In a written statement, Baddourah states that: "Our absolute highest priority should be the hiring of a police chief...Preferably a chief with experience fighting gangs. We can, and should, make it our next order of business."
Some USC students shaken by the recent shooting in Five Points think an injunction prohibiting gang activity would be too difficult to enforce.
"I think trying to target simply gang members and looking simply are you in a gang, are you not in a gang is going to be difficult because how are you going to say this person's in a gang, that person's in a gang? Or this person's in a gang or this person's not in a gang? And so I think that would be a hard decision." USC student Brittany Caldwell says.
But Benjamin says the ultimate goal of an injunction would be to protect the Midlands and preserve our youth's future.
"It's about us all working together to keep our community safe. Being unapologetic about cracking down on violent and repeat offenders and then also doing the things that a smart, thoughtful community does in creating opportunities for young people to do great things that we know they can do." concludes Benjamin.