5:00 PM- Two teenagers were involved in a fight on Sunday night that resulted in one man’s arrest. The brawl took place at the Georgia Square Mall between rival gangs in Athens, and police say gang fights are becoming a growing problem.
According to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, young teenagers becoming members in local gangs join fights as a problematic trend. Major Mark Sizemore says there is evidence of an increase in teenagers joining gangs. He says protecting young teenagers from joining gangs is a job for the commuity, not just the police.
“It’s important these 13- to 15-year olds or even older to keep an eye on them,” Sizemore says.
Tia Riedlinger has heard stories of students joining gangs. Riedlinger works as a youth group leader for some students at Cedar Shoals High School. She says one of her kids in her group last year was in a gang. But she says kids join a gang because it’s what everyone does.
“It affects that community. I think it’s just something that they know,” Riedlinger says. “It’s just something that happens because that’s just how everyone does it. You join a gang for either friends or protection.”
And Riedlinger adds changes need to be made to stop the recruitment of teenagers to gangs.
“I think that to get rid of gangs, you would have to fix the whole system,” she says. “Because right now that’s the only way they can make money or maybe they can have friends.”
We have reached out to Cedar Shoals High School and the Athens-Clarke County Board of Education, but both declined to comment.
10:47 AM- Reporter C.J. went to the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to get the police report and speak with Major Mark Sizemore.