CLIC considers solution to youth violence at vacant Wilmington fire station
WILMINGTON –– After seeing an increase in youth violence on the streets of Wilmington over the past year, a local nonprofit is coming up with solutions that it hopes will help misled teens out the right path.
Leading Into New Communities (LINC) recently reiterated its interest in leasing the vacant fire hall at 3933 Princess Place Drive in town. For $ 1 per year, the organization would host a boarding school on the site with cohorts of 10 to 12 young men, ages 16 to 19. Residents would sleep in the fire hall at night and work during the day to earn their GEDs and learn job and tech skills.
LINC would partner with Cape Fear Community College for the proposed 14-month program.
According to the city, staff are also proposing to use the space for affordable housing, a council priority. The Board examines and discusses the two options at a future meeting.
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LINC Executive Director Frankie Roberts believes an on-site residential school could help reduce growing violence in Wilmington. He suspects it is the result of teenagers who were out of school during the pandemic, “wandering aimlessly in the hood with nothing to do.”
“They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” said Roberts.
Police chief Donny Williams also blamed the pandemic for the spike in crime. In 2020, the ministry reported 34 more violent offenses than in 2019 and nearly double the number of murders.
Roberts said teens tend to crave adrenaline, often drawing low-income teens into an unfavorable lifestyle. He explained that taking risks can be turned into positive experiences.
“Like most middle-class families can afford to do with their teenage boys,” Roberts said. “They can afford to hike, canoe and skydive, and [for] most of the young African American men in the neighborhood – that kind of risk that will solve their risk-seeking – they can’t afford. “
Roberts told boarding school, LINC would take the boys out on adventurous activities, like horseback riding, two weekends a month.
The school would be modeled after existing programs, such as the Laurinburg Institute, a historic African-American prep school in southern North Carolina. It would be an extension of the culturally specific Education Initiative (LITE) virility program, which provides job training, academic support and case management services to young black men with disabilities. criminal record.
LINC made a first official request to lease the station in January 2017. At the time, the city did not have a process for disposing of facilities that were no longer needed. The council is now expected to make a decision on the use of the property soon.
Roberts said he looked for other locations, but the firehouse layout is ideal for the boarding school as it already includes dormitories, a dining room and classrooms. Although this will require renovations. The ground floor would house vocational training. In addition, it is in the community where many potential candidates live.
The school would be funded through grants and contracts, in the same way that LINC operates its 45-bed residential campus near the airport, which helps people returning from prison re-enter society. This program is approximately 90% funded by state and local contracts.
LINC has worked with ex-inmates since 2000 and started the Youth Development Program in 2007. Recently, Roberts said there was an increase in “street capitalism,” the term he prefers to use over people. gangs.
Earlier this month, Roberts shared with city council that his 19-year-old grandson, who is not involved in “street capitalism,” was in attendance at the filming on Kidder Street. Three people died and four others were injured in the gunfire. (At this time, Wilmington Police are not releasing details on the cause of the shooting and whether gang activity is suspected.)
The fatal event came after two consecutive incidents in which minors fired shots in Wilmington, which led the district attorney to organize a press conference in early March, denouncing armed violence.
Last week, Roberts asked for more than $ 35,000 in annual funding from city council, part of which would go to a new late-night program that LINC hopes to reduce violence. The program, which takes place during the hours when most filming takes place, would invite men into the LINC classroom on Princess Street to play video games and make music in a studio on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday night.
After about three or four weeks of relationships, LINC plans to launch professional development courses to guide men from “street capitalism” to American capitalism.
“Come sit down; play some games; let’s do some music; let’s talk a little. We’re going to try to influence them to sit up and fly right,” Roberts said. “Because we have to do something. thing.”
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