NAN starts 12-month crime prevention initiative in North Charleston

Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - National Action Network (NAN) officials say they have started a series of meetings with local police, businesses and the community to tackle the violence and crime issues in North Charleston.

President of the local chapter of NAN, Elder James Johnson, says they held their first meeting on Monday.

There have been more than 21 people murdered in North Charleston this year, according to the North Charleston Police Department.

Residents say back in the day people use to fight it out if they had a disagreement, but today they see more people with guns and an intent to kill.

The community wants to put a stop to that with the help of local police.

If you take a seat in the co-owner of Carolina Kuts Barbershop, Antonio River's chair, you might get more than a haircut.

"We have conversation you know it can go anywhere it can go to sports, it can go anywhere," Rivers said.

He often encourages kids to stop the violence.

"In that moment, I'm just led on what to say," Rivers said, "I don't know exactly what I'm going to say, but I'm going to do my best to make sure I can get him to change what he's thinking at that moment."

He's concerned about the violence in North Charleston along with Elder Johnson who says something has to be done about the illegal guns.

"When you have a 14-year-old that's up for two murder charges we have a serious problem," Johnson said.

Earlier this month NAN asked the mayor to develop a plan to keep guns off the streets.

Since then the North Charleston Police Department has been posting when they make arrests for illegal guns on social media to make citizens more aware of what they say they have been and will continue to do to serve and protect the community.

"We appreciate what they are doing now, we want to work with them," Johnson said.

According to the North Charleston Police Department, in 2015 officers seized 519 illegal guns. Last year they seized 564. Since June of this year they've seized 386.

"That means more guns have been taken off the street, but that could mean also more guns could be coming into the community," Johnson said. "They may catch a perpetrator with 6 or 7, 8 guns in their trunk, but when you have 30 and 40 guns coming in every week in trunks and cars we need to go ahead and cut that off at the neck."

Elder Johnson is pushing for youth programs in the community to alert them to the dangers of crime and drugs. He's hoping by getting the message out to children at a young age it will deter them from committing crimes.

"Love, unity, prayer is missing," River said.  "That's the problem today."

Rivers says there's time when they pray over the youth who come in the shop and some of his customers will join in prayer too.

"We have guys that come back to the shop and tell us 'thank you, if it wasn't for you guys I probably would have been like this or that," Rivers said. "It's cool, it's a beautiful thing, it is."

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