Hundreds turn out for gang seminar in Aiken

By  | 

December 5, 2006

It's widely known that gangs are a big problem in Richmond County, but what about in Aiken?

Tonight the Aiken NAACP hosted a seminar for the community, offering information about gangs and what signs to look for.

A research study from the University of South Carolina found that gang activity is up across the Palmetto State, including Aiken County.

So tonight a big crowd came out to confront the gang problem head on.

Hundreds of people--young and old, black and white--came together to learn about gangs.

"This is a community problem, be it black, white, Hispanic, red, green, brown, it's a community problem," said Aiken NAACP president David Walker.

"I am concerned about our youth here in the city of Aiken and around the country," said Aiken resident Willa Shelby.

"I am a grandmother and a mother, and I am concerned about children in general," said resident Carolyn Ross.

The first step is to become more aware of gang activity.

Resident Lily Ford said she came "To learn how to recognize a gang, and hoping to learn, if I do recognize a gang, what to do about it."

Graffiti seen in Aiken in early 2006.
"I am not currently up on all the signs in the gangs," said Ross. "There are some things that you hear through the grapevine, but we need to hear them from some more adverse who knows more about it."

A detective from Orangeburg offered a crash course on the two main groups nationally: the Folk Nation and the People Nation, commonly known as the Crips and the Bloods.

They can be identified based on what color they wear and images they use, such as the Crips' six-point star, versus the Blood's five point star.

"It's a dangerous problem, a scary problem, and while it is not a problem in Aiken yet, we want the community to know so we can stop it before it gets started," said Walker.

It may be a little too late for that.

Earlier this year, News 12 showed you some of the evidence of gang activity in Aiken, including video of some gang symbols that have turned up around town.

At that time, Public Safety estimated there were already two dozen gangs in the Aiken area actively recruiting members.