Gang Activity in Grand Rapids; Parents say Enough is Enough

9:13 PM, Apr 15, 2007   |    comments
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Concern is growing for the safety of the city's children as gang violence becomes more prevalent. Saturday night there was another report of shots fired with possible gang ties. No one was hurt, but some neighbors say their fears are becoming reality. Club Revolution is a teen dance club on Summer near Bridge Street. It was the latest place gangs have targeted; this time it put kids as young as 14 at risk. "She wrote me a note, saying can I please, please go," says Karl Riechert, father of 14-year-old Meghan Riechert. "I've heard tons of bad stuff about this place and I thought, you know, my wife's always saying you have to be more lenient, so I said okay." Club Revolution is a teen dance club exclusively for kids 14 to 19. No parents are allowed inside. "Basically people just go, and dance, and have fun," says Meghan. Saturday night, Karl went to the club to pick up his daughter. Shortly before they closed, "We hear, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang," says Karl. Police told witnesses that shots were fired that night around 11 p.m., just outside of the club. "They said that it was one gang firing shots to warn another gang," says Meghan. Now, incident after incident, fears that Grand Rapids is becoming a more dangerous city by the minute, some say, are coming true. Several reports of gang-related shootings or stabbings have come out since the Kentwood fun-spot shooting that killed 16-year-old Kenneth Dear. Parents say enough is enough. Karl Riechert says something needs to be done. "We need to sit down with our commissioners and our local officials and say ‘Look, we want this stuff solved, we elected you guys to office, it's not just all about downtown grand rapids, it's about our neighborhoods, about our city.'" It's also affecting those just trying to have fun. "I don't want to go there, my parents said I can't go, but I wouldn't want to go anyway," says Meghan. The questions remaining now, what are the real issues behind these incidents? Are they all individual occurrences, or, are they all related? Police say they'll be having a meeting in the near future to figure it out, and hopefully determine how to stop it.

Nick Monacelli

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