Houston County To Host Gang Forum | News
When Amber Terry went to Northside High School in Warner Robins, she says gangs were a big problem.
"You have to watch what colors people wear. You have to watch what color you wear. If you wear too much red, too much blue, or black, they'll ask "are you down for a gang," "are you ganging?"
It's part of the reason the Houston County Gang Task Force will be hosting a community awareness forum Thursday to bring light to the issue of gangs in the area.
For the last 16 years, the event has been sponsored by the Union Grove Baptist Church.
Deacon Jerome Stephens says he came up with the idea 16 years ago after seeing news stories on gang activity in Houston County. He went to his pastor, who partnered with local law enforcement and other officials to host the forum.
He said when he began, there were at least 20 organized gangs in the county, and while that has declined, he says there is still activity.
"I think people would be surprised to know that there is a gang presence in Houston County," says Houston County Chief Assistant District Attorney Erikka Williams. She says it's because law enforcement has worked with the community to "squash" the issue that it hasn't been as high as other cities.
The event hopes to show parents warning signs that a child might be involved in gang-related activity. "Our child could be an A student, but yet still influenced by someone else," says Tammy Carpenter, and a elder in the church and parent of Houston County students.
The event will be held Thursday at Northside High School's cafeteria at 6 p.m. The event rotates every year at other high schools in the county.