CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - People who live on South Street in downtown Charleston and the surrounding neighborhood held a press conference about their concerns with the recent block parties, and now a mass shooting. They say there have been three large block parties in the past few weeks, and they’ve felt it getting close to boiling over every time.
Now, they face the news that a shooting at a Monday night party left 10 citizens and three law enforcement officers injured, and a neighborhood on edge.
Stephen Bailey ,who lives in Eastside neighborhood, says he sees promotional flyers and videos for the large events and has sent them to the police.
“The cops knew all this. The cops knew about all these parties because I told them,” Bailey says.
He says if there were more regulations and better patrolling of the area, these things would not get out of hand. Neighbors agree, saying Monday night was the last straw for them, and they hope it is for the city as well.
Zhyldyz lives on Amherst Street about two blocks from the shooting. She says she called the non-emergency number and 911, but didn’t get through to a person either time.
It took hours to get her report in.
“I thought it was fireworks, then after 20 minutes when I spoke to my neighbors, it appeared to be shooting that happened. And I called 911,” she says.
Now, she’s scared to walk down certain streets outside at night.
“All night, I didn’t sleep. And there were a few nights after the noise disturbance, we’ll call the police and we can’t reach them. This is what our lives have become,” she says.
Now, the residents are demanding answers and action.
“South Street for too long has been a lawless place. We need to find the shooters and hold them accountable. We need an independent investigation on what the cops knew about these block parties,” Bailey says.
Officials with the Charleston Police Department say they don’t issue permits for parties on residential property because it’s private property. Therefore, there’s no regulations or level of security needed like there would be at a business.
However, they say those people are still required to follow the law. If a gathering blocks the right of way, spills into the street, is too loud or disrupting the police, that is in violation of city laws. The city’s noise ordinance requires that music louder than 70 decibels within 500 feet of housing must stop at 11 p.m.
People who live in Eastside say that’s not good enough.
They want to see the noise ordinance enforced in their neighborhood, but also something done about the large gatherings that draw too many people and often grow unruly.
Antonio Coaxum lives on Cooper Street and says this isn’t a new problem.
He say’s he’s seen loud crowds that get violent for years and worries for his nieces and nephews. While law enforcement have not confirmed this is a gang-related shooting, Coaxum says he has his concerns.
“Gang culture comes with the with the movement: a wave you got to follow, you’ve got a crowd, you get attention. And on the opposite side of that, we have no support for those kids that are trying to do something positive,” Coaxum says. “All it is, is save jobs that will lead you to the permanent underclass.”
Residents agree, the problems aren’t new to the area, but enough is enough and this time, they hope the city sees it’s gone too far.
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