Church and City Leaders in Greensboro, North Carolina Come Together to End Teen Violence

4798 For the next two months, unsupervised youths 17 and younger will be barred from downtown after 11 p.m.

Joseph Frierson (right), staff coordinator at The Beloved Community Center and youth pastor at Faith Community Church makes a point during a community meeting in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. City council representatives, city staff, Greensboro Police, religious leadership and others attended the meeting to discuss solutions to helping teens find safe places to gather while not at school. (NELSON KEPLEY/News & Record)
City and community leaders said they want to tackle the underlying problems that led to recent teen violence in the center city, and for now at least, impose a downtown curfew.

Councilman Zack Matheny played a cellphone recording at Wednesday's emergency City Council meeting to address that incidents late Saturday and early Sunday morning.

The sound of a gunshot and people screaming rang out.

"Did you hear that?" Matheny said. "That's gunfire. We do have a situation. It did escalate. I don't know how much more it's going to escalate. We've got teens firing guns downtown."

Police say they aren't sure who fired a shot in downtown Greensboro. But in response to crowds of teens fighting there over the weekend and at least 11 related arrests, the council has reinstated a teen curfew for downtown.

The council passed the measure 8-1.

Councilwoman T. Dianne Bellamy-Small cast the dissenting vote.

She said the process is moving too quickly and that the community, not city government, has to deal with the underlying issue of unsupervised teens.

"You cannot legislate parenting," Bellamy-Small said. "You just can't. We can put all the laws on the books that we want."

Several council members agreed that a wider community effort will be necessary to address unsupervised teens.

Still, most of the council said, something immediate needs to be done to prevent a repeat of teen violence over the July Fourth weekend.

Matheny, who represents downtown, pushed for a curfew in 2010 after a series of violent incidents around downtown nightclubs. The issue is different today, he said -- unsupervised teenagers gathering and becoming violent as summer begins rather than club violence. But something has to be done, he said.

The council briefly discussed making the curfew citywide.

Source: News Record | Joe Killian
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