Salisbury Teens Offer Alternative Solutions to Proposed Citywide - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Teens Offer Alternative Solutions to Proposed Citywide Curfew

A group of concerned citizens attend Wednesday night's meeting about a proposed citywide curfew for teenagers in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC) A group of concerned citizens attend Wednesday night's meeting about a proposed citywide curfew for teenagers in Salisbury. (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md. -- Salisbury officials are holding a series of public forums to discuss enforcing a citywide curfew for teenagers after three fatal shootings in an 11-day span.

Some residents say it's a necessity while some city leaders don't think it begins to solve the real issue.

A small fraction of Salisbury's community gathered Wednesday evening at the St. Francis de Sales Parish Center off of Riverside Drive to talk about the specifics of the curfew proposal.

Wicomico County's State's Attorney Matt Maciarello attended the meeting to discuss how crucial a curfew is to protecting the city and the property of residents.

"It's not a fear tactic, it's reality," said Maciarello. "Your cars will be broken into. Your homes will be broken into because the juveniles, they just don't have the self-control and the discipline."

Maciarello added the same juveniles engaging in criminal activity around Salisbury are also being victimized by gang members.

"They're being preyed upon additionally, so the curfew will help them from being victimized," Maciarello said.

Some residents who did not attend the forum, including 31-year resident Jay Messick, said a curfew will help stop violence in the city.

"It should be good for everybody," said Messick. "Have a curfew for certain children that are just out and about and need to be in."

At the meeting was community leader Mark Thompson with the Wicomico Board of Education, who quickly pointed out the predominantly white residents are discussing a curfew that's been prompted by violence in the city's black community.

"We're bringing separation and division about how we're having this meeting," Thompson said. "This is a city issue on how we're going to address the issue of our families who are struggling. They're in crisis. Instead of trying to penalize them for being in crisis, why don't we pool all of our stakeholders together to go into these communities and get the families? Put our arms around them and say, 'How can we work with you?'"

Some teens in Salisbury's affected neighborhoods said a curfew would be a target for certain children.

"It's a demographic that curfew may fit rather than others," said 19-year old Erius West. "So with that being said I feel like it would cause more run-ins with others than it will for some."

Instead of a curfew, some teens have their own suggestions to keep them out of trouble.

"A free community space," said 18-year old Tyja Hill, who recalls something he would've liked to have had access to as a younger teenager in Salisbury.

"Where everybody can come and play basketball, get in the pool, just socialize. Have a little place where they can get something to eat. Everybody would, I think, mesh real well," said Hill. 

West said he would've liked to have had a mentor in the community when he was younger, and wants to see that in his neighborhood for the next generation.

"Having more leaders in the community I feel like that's where it all starts. They have their own fresh, new ideas," West said.

Thompson said more leadership in the city's affected neighborhoods is critical to helping the youth and their families in Salisbury. 

"But it can't be the so-called leaders that we elect or that we say, 'You're just a leader because you're a status in the community,'" Thompson said. "No. Go into the neighborhoods and talk to those informal leaders. They're the ones who know how to get things done."

Those informal leaders, Thompson said, would be church leaders, sports coaches and other role models who have daily hands-on interaction with pre-teens and teens in the affected neighborhoods.

Several community forums on curfews are scheduled for later this week. The next forum will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20 ,at St. Paul A.M.E. Church at 410 Delaware Ave. Another meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Chipman Cultural Center at 325 Broad St. in Salisbury.

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