Peer Mentoring Group Reaches Out to Influence the Community

By:Brittany Tonkin

brittany-tonkin@utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop)- The Brainerd High School Peer Mentoring Group addressed the Chattanooga City Council on April 5th with their concerns regarding safety at Coolidge park.

Alexis Moore, student and Vice President of the mentoring group, believes that a stricter curfew needs to be enforced at the park, due to the recent increase of violence after dark. By enforcing a stricter curfew Moore feels that gang violence will decrease and stop affecting those in her community and school.

Moore said, “I have personally lost loved ones due to the curfew not being enforced.” Alexis Moore Speaking

Display of City Ordinance in Coolidge Park

Moore was not alone in her concerns. Fellow mentors and classmates also addressed the Council with their concerns regarding community safety in the park ,such as requiring a search of each person upon the entrance to all events, requiring security at all teen parties hosted in the park, certifying the hired security and limiting “street gatherings.”

The students also addressed the Council with possible programs that could be enacted to reduce the number of teens participating in violence, such as reviving an old program that helps provide summer jobs for at risk teens and potentially incorporating a class in local high schools to educate teens about the risks of guns, violence, and gangs.

Jenelle Thom spoke to the Council to advocate an incorporation of gun, violence, and gang education in high schools throughout the area.Thom believes that changing the way teens think is the key to reducing violence.

Thom said, “It only takes one person or one thing to stop events like this.”

Councilman Russel Gilbert said that the Council will review the curfew and potential code changes in a future meeting.

Minors Need Supervision While at Chattanooga’s Coolidge

By: Shawna O’Neal

shawna-oneal@mocs.utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA, TENN. (UTC/TheLoop)-Minors will now need adult supervision when visiting Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park at night.

The hours of supervision are between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. after a 7-2 vote by the City Council Tuesday March 29.

The vote was a result of yet another shooting that took place at the park March 19.  The first shooting that occurred nearly a year ago was said to be the result of gang violence. This time around, a brawl broke out involving hundreds of teenagers that involved shots being fired.

The Chattanooga City Council met March 29 to decide whether or not to pass the new city ordinance. Councilmen Russell Gilbert and Andrae McGary were the only two opposed to going forward with the new

Coolidge Park

restrictions.

Councilman McGary said that he doesn’t support the legislation. He said that it has taken shootings for them to pass something concerning Coolidge Park.  He also stated that if the Council knows that the issue is with curfew and truancy, that the faulty legislation should be fixed before they create a new one.

“You do not plug a hole in a faulty sink by buying a new sink,” he said. “You fix the faulty plug in the sink!”

Councilman Russell Gilbert said he could not vote in favor of the new ordinance simply because there have been numerous shootings in his district and there was

Coolidge Park

never a conference to discuss them.

“It took two incidents to happen in one area and all of the sudden we need to do something,” he said. “But there are other people who have been killed in other areas and it’s like ‘one of those things’.”

Heather Sivley, a 23-year-old UTC student, was allowed to speak pertaining to the issue in front of the Council. . She thanked the Council for their involvement in making the city what it was today. But she also said that she felt they put a blanket age restriction, they would unfairly deny reasonable and responsible young people access to some of the things that makes the city of Chattanooga beautiful. She added that it also discourages them from taking part of their community on the simplest level. Click here to listen to Heather Sivley’s Speech.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, police officers are not likely to approach teenagers as long as they aren’t causing any problems.

Sources:

-Chattanooga Times Free Press

-Minutes from the meeting on March 29

Chattanooga City Council tries to squash violence in Coolidge Park

By Sarah Wagner
sarah-wagner@utc.mocs.edu

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/TheLoop) —Chattanooga’s scenic Coolidge Park was once considered a beautiful and safe place to exercise, spend time with family, or just enjoy oneself. In light of somewhat recent events, though, it has become a place known for flash mobs, gunfire, and violence. The Chattanooga City Council, however, has made a recent change they hope will regain the park’s positive image.

According to Brittnee Reece, a UTC junior from Murfreesboro, a family place such as Coolidge Park should have never gotten so bad. “A park like Coolidge should be a safe environment,” she said. “Not a shooting range for gangs or other criminals.”

The violence in Coolidge Park began a year ago on March 27. In that incident, guns were fired and five people were injured—three adults and two juveniles. They were all shot in the legs with none of their injuries considered life threatening. That event, however, wasn’t the last one like it.

Coolidge Park

More recently, on March 19, 2011, a similar incident happened. Hundreds of teenagers were in the park that Saturday when fights broke out and gunshots were fired. Although once again, no deaths resulted, several arrests were made.

All this violence in such a popular area has some of the Chattanooga locals worried. Ashley Quarles, a 22-year-old resident born and raised in Chattanooga, said that Coolidge Park was once her favorite area in the city, and now it is ruined by violence. “If it’s not during the day, I feel like I can’t even go there,” she said. “I just do not feel safe there at night anymore.”

The Chattanooga City Council and the Chattanooga Police department have taken measures to reduce violence in the park. On Tuesday, March 29, the council approved 7-2 an ordinance that will ban minors from Coolidge Park without adult supervision between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Further, they stipulated that “adult supervision” was to be a parent, legal guardian, or an adult aged 21 or over.Click here to listen to the Chattanooga City Council approve the measure.

Although this ordinance was put in motion in order to help the violent situation, some Chattanooga residents are highly skeptical of how much it will help. “There has been a lot of violence going on recently in Chattanooga, and it hasn’t just been minors involved,” Quarles said. Some local residents are also unhappy with the ordinance because they feel that it sends a false message. There is violence going on all over the city, not just Coolidge Park, they said. Some have asked for a blanket ordinance for the whole city like the one put in place for the park, but nothing has happened with that yet.

As for the minors who disobey the ordinance and are found inside the park without adult supervision during the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., a detention facility is in the works. Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 that violate the curfew will be picked up by an officer and taken to the former police precinct attached to the South Chattanooga Recreation Center on 40th Street in St. Elmo. Parents will be contacted and the teenagers will be held until an adult picks them up. Teenagers won’t face formal charges for ordinance violations, but they will be referred to Juvenile Court, where their parents could be fined $50. Children 12 and under will be referred to child services if they’re picked up, and their parents could be charged with child neglect.