WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Hundreds of people piled into City Hall in downtown Wilmington Monday night to begin an open discussion about stopping the gang violence plaguing the Port City.
Before the group work could begin, Brandon "Bigg B" Hickman told the crowd to trade seats so that more people could interact with folks from different walks of life.
"I think it helped us to understand our situation just a little better," said Robin Colbert, of Communities in Schools.
Colbert said she joined Monday's discussion in hopes of helping the city heal.
"A lot of people are getting hurt," she said. "We can't just enjoy our city like we used to."
Topics for the small group work at each table included family, education and economics. Organizers asked people to share their thoughts on how these aspects contribute to a person's choice to join a gang.
Tom Harris, owner of Front Street Brewery, said he's been expecting an open community forum about gangs for the last three years. He's already hired one former gang member, and Harris said other business owners should do the same.
"If a small business like mine can create a job for somebody who needs employment, then other businesses can too," said Harris.
While each sector of the city of Wilmington works on its own way to improve the gang situation, forums like the one Monday will continue to develop ideas, plans and solutions.
"If I can sit down at a table with a person that I don't necessarily agree with, but we can find a resolve," said Kevin Spears, of Peace for the Port. "Then maybe that's a model for people that are acting in different ways."
The next forum is scheduled for Wednesday November 13 on the campus of UNCW.
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