A coalition calling itself “People United To Take Back Our Community” wants to rally residents to fight guns and drugs in North Charleston’s Dorchester-Waylyn neighborhood, where a young man was killed last week.
The group said it planned to hold regular walks through the neighborhood, film people buying drugs and work with residents to take back the streets from drugs dealers and thugs. They also want the state to boost penalties for illegal gun possession and to investigate where all the handguns in the neighborhood are coming from.
Elder James Johnson, a local activist, said he talked with residents who told him teenagers can get their hands on 9 mm pistols for as little as $40. Others told him they hear gunfire nightly.
Johnson said the first step toward rallying the neighborhood will come at a community meeting the coalition is working to set up next week at the old Brentwood Middle School.
“Our mission is to take back this community,” he said. “We know if we don’t do something it is only going to get worse.”
Pastor Thomas Dixon said the group wants to work closely with law enforcement and show residents they are committed to change. “It’s going to work,” he said. “We are here for the long haul.”
The group held a press conference on Saratoga Road, outside a home where a 23-year-old man was shot to death Thursday. North Charleston police have said the shooting might have stemmed from a prior altercation between the victim and the man charged with his murder.
Not far away, another man, 22, was gunned down earlier that same day outside Charley O’s nightclub at 4224 Dorchester Road.
Speakers at the press conference stood near a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers set up for the victim of the Saratoga Road shooting, They said the homicide should be a wake-up call for change.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.