EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- T
aking the first step in fighting back against gangs in the Eugene-Springfield area, citizens came together Saturday to work towards a plan for a large scale “gang symposium.”
Symposium organizers held their first of three forums on Saturday, April 14th, 2012, to talk about questions and ideas for the upcoming event.
Right now, organizers are hoping to hold an October 2012 symposium to talk about solutions to gang issues in the Eugene-Springfield area.
"Community, tell us what you think we need to do, and then come to the table with us and lets come up with solutions,” says James Manning Jr., co-chair of the gang symposium project and a citizen member of the Eugene Police Commission.
About a dozen people took part in Saturday's forum.
The symposium's organizers are looking for a different and unique solution to address gangs growth. The idea of gangs might sound odd to some, but numerous groups, including Eugene Police say there is already a presence of gang activity in Eugene.
In late 2011, Eugene Police made several arrests in two different gang related crimes spanning back to 2010.
In December 2011, 18-year old Daniel Sotelo of Cottage Grove was arrested for his alleged role in an attempted murder. EPD says Sotelo tried to shoot a rival gang member in the Trainsong neighborhood of West Eugene.
EPD also arrested 20-year old Barry Hasty in late 2011 for an alleged drive-by shooting of a neighborhood whistleblower's home in West Eugene's Trainsong Neighborhood. The shooting left several bullets in one home, with one bullet almost hitting an infant.
Participants in Saturday's forum agreed that solving gang issues is a community effort that not only involves the police, but also schools, non-profits and neighborhoods who are willing to intervene.
Preventing kids from getting involved is another focus, along with giving those involved in gangs a way out to education and job skills.
"We don't want kids to develop habits that will send them in to the penal revolving door and such, we want to give them the opportunity to education,” says Manning Jr.
“A lot of these kids that are involved are perhaps neglected, need some type of mentorship, may need some type of help period. how do you get that? Well, that's what this symposium is going to be designing,” says Manning Jr.
Organizers are hoping to get former, reformed gang members involved in the upcoming symposiums, along with other community groups.
Ultimately, the group says it will have immediate, deliverable solutions to Eugene-Springfield's gang issues.
If you want to get involved in the two remaining gang symposium forums organizers will hold meetings at the Eugene Public Library's Singer Room on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012.
The first meeting is from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. The second meeting will be on the same day from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.