The meeting lasted for more than three hours and was attended by local law enforcement officers, community leaders, school officials and residents of the South Lumberton area. It was held in response to the shooting death of Eric Floyd, 17, of Lot 13 in the School View Mobile Home Park, on March 31. Timothy Brown, 19, was shot in the arm and abdomen on the same day at Parkview Apartments. Police said both shootings were gang related.
Greensboro police Detective Ernest Cuthbertson told the attendees it's their job to stop gang violence.
"Do not be afraid of these young people," Cuthber-tson said. "They cry just like you and hurt just like you. It's sad that if a young kid uses any smarts in school, they're an outcast. Don't wait until gang violence impacts someone of importance to react."
Angela Hugie, a training instructor for the Department of Justice, said residents need to get to know and talk to the children within the community.
"We don't know our neighbors anymore," she said. "We've lost our sense of community."
Hugie said adolescence is a transition from childhood to adulthood, and that parents must refocus on disciplining children in the home. She said children today often look to outside influences for acceptance, and that parents need to fill that role.
"We have to take time for our children," she said.
Cuthbertson also suggested looking at the negative influence that mass media, including television and video games, has on children.
"Our kids have a hard time telling the difference between fact and fiction," he said. "The biggest devil you'll ever see is the television."
During a question-and-answer session, Cuthbertson warned parents and residents not to assume a child is in a gang because of the clothing they wear. The uniforms are constantly changing and some children may not be in a gang but wear the colors to be fashionable, he said.
Afeni Shakur, mother of slain rapper Tupak Shakur, grew up in South Lumberton. She struggled to hold back tears as she spoke about gang violence here, calling it a "small" crisis.
"This town is too small for us to say we have a gang," she said. "We're not having that. That's why I came back here, because they don't play that here."
Mike Floyd, a resident of South Lumberton who grew up in the Lumbee Homes community, said that things can change if people start caring more about what goes on in their community.
"We, as parents, need to go out in the community," he said. "Open your eyes, talk to your youth."
Floyd said people shouldn't assume two or more kids standing together on a corner or sidewalk on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive are involved in a drug deal or committing a crime.
Cuthbertson stressed working together within the community to get to know the young people.
"As adults we're turning our backs," he said. "It's not the responsibility of the police or the mayor. It's the responsibility of the everybody to come together on this issue.
"Find the leaders of the gangs and charge," he said. "If you don't, they will destroy your community. The police cannot do this alone. It takes a whole community to stop this level of violence."