Sunday, January 23, 2022

After multiple shootings, Wilmington Councilman-elect calls for ‘truce’ and more city engagement

Community activist Kevin Spears is running for city council. (Port City Daily photo / NHC Board of Election)
Community activist Kevin Spears recently won a seat on Wilmington city council,and wants to get a jump on addressing recent gun violence. (Port City Daily photo / NHC Board of Election)

WILMINGTON — Councilman-elect Kevin Spears hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he’s hoping to get a jump on seeing more city engagement to help stop a string of shootings before they continue to escalate.

“We’re heading into the holiday season, we got Thanksgiving and then we’re headed into Christmas — this is not the time for this to get out of control,” Spears said. “I’m not saying there’s a preferable time for violence — we don’t want it at all. But I mean now, of all times, I hope we can come together and stop this.”

There have been five shootings in the last week, four in Wilmington. One, on Red Cross Street on Tuesday afternoon, was particularly concerning.

“You talk about the shooting on Red Cross, on Tuesday, at lunchtime — anybody could have been walking by, anybody could have been driving by. You’ve got a school that’s a block away, you’ve got restaurants, there are people out and about,” Spears said. “That’s problematic. That’s a big issue and we need people to understand that.”

The Wilmington Police Department confirmed Wednesday it is still investigating all three shootings. The department has no further information on whether the incidents are gang-related, although Wilmington police arrest validated gang member in Red Cross Street shooting.

Spears said that labeling the incidents ‘gang violence’ sometimes misses the point; he hopes he can bring the actual people involved in disputes to meet, before the situation deteriorates into more violence.

“You got people who call it gang-related, especially when you’re talking about Wilmington and when it’s in the inner city. How often is it a gang issue, and how often is it an ego thing. It’s personality-related,” Spears said. “So,

Spears, who recently won a spot on Wilmington City Council, said he’s hoping to transition the work he’s done in the community to an official platform; Spears noted that, in the past, it’s been uncommon to hear “official commentary” from the city on specific incidents of gun violence and the community often tries to “just sit tight and wait it out.” Spears said he wasn’t critical of the city, but hoped the city will be open to trying new approaches.

“I’m not saying we’ve done anything wrong, but if you’ve got a concern — a genuine concern — and you wanna see something different happen, let’s try something new,” Spears said. “Even when it involves people in gangs, it’s not necessarily a full-blown gang thing, and there’s a chance to stop it before it gets blown out of proportion.”

Spears says he hopes he’ll be able to facilitate bringing together community members with those “closer to the situation,” that is, those involved in the ongoing disputes that lead to violence.

“We need to impress upon them that what’s going on is bigger — it’s much bigger than them, it affects the whole city,” Spears said.

Asked if he thought he could get members of feudings gangs together in the same room, Spears said, “I’ve done it before. I think it’s worth the attempt — and I might not be the one to do it, but I wanna help get the ball rolling at least.”

“This is just me, trying to back up what I ran on, which was safe communities and better communities,” Spears said. “But now, having not quite been sworn in, saying it in an almost-official capacity and say, ‘we know these things are going on in our community and we need the help of the community to make it stop.'”


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001

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