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Citizens Brainstorm Gang Problem
Tuesday, 26 January 2010

January 26--  Vidalia police estimate there are about 65 gang members in Vidalia and about 40 percent of those are school age, according to the Concerned Citizens Coalition.

Monday night Coalition members and interested citizens got together to discuss ways to prevent gang membership and to stop gang activity in the community.

Jeffrey Williams from Solomon Tabernacle Baptist Church has been on the streets talking to gang members.  He believes many of the gang members join up for a sense of belonging due to poor or no family life.

"The primary reason people join most groups is for a sense of belonging.  We've got to show them they can graduate high school and they can go to college, a trade school, the armed forces or even the academy.  I remember when I graduated from high school, nobody told me all the things I could do. I was always told if I didn't do this, what was going to happen, and it was always negative.  We've got to let them know all the positive things that can happen if they do all the right things they are supposed to do," he said,.

Williams grew up in Vidalia and returned home after 22 years in the miliary. He believes some of the gang members would like to have another chance to attend high school and that a group of concerned citizens should liaison on their behalf with the school system. 

"They're babies.  Unfortunately for them, they've been brought up in an era where a lot of their parents are younger and they just don't know.  It's an educational process that's got to happen so these kids will know there is something other than the streets and drugs and hustling.

"We've got to be a liaison with the school because the school doesn't really know completely the environment and the situation these kids are in.  However, once we all start trying to work together, we're going to fix this problem," Williams believes.

Members of the Concerned Citizens Coalition discussed ways they can organize an outreach program to parents, gang members, schools, churches and the city to, as they said, keep "wannabes from becoming gonnabes."

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