By: Bill Schammert
It may seem like gang violence is on the rise, but one local activist says the violence is nowhere near what it used to be.
Lincoln police say two rival gang members are dead and more are behind bars after several unrelated incidents this weekend.
"We are bound together as a community," Police Chief Jim Peschong said in a news conference on Monday. "We need to ensure that gangs do not get a foothold in our comm unties."
Reverend Don Coleman remembers when gangs first game to Lincoln. He says it was in 1993 as gangs were moving from West to East, after they had already moved into Omaha.
He had retired from the military on a Friday, three days later he was asked to start the Lincoln chapter of M.A.D DADS.
"Kids were 10 or 12 years old, running around because their parents didn't care," Rev. Coleman remembers. "Found a lot of kids that were wannabe's, found a lot of kids that were starting out on drugs."
He and a large group of volunteers began combing the streets; maintaining a presence. They started by removing graffiti and hosting several after school events to keep kids away from violence and drugs.
"There was and is a lot of gang presence, but you have to give a lot of accolades to the police department because they jumped on this thing right away."
The walls of M.A.D DADS in northeast Lincoln are lined with two decades of memories, and of course there's the bikes.
Right now, more than 300 bikes are ready to be worked on for the 15th annual holiday bicycle program. Rev. Coleman says it started as a way to give something to the kids and keep in touch with at-risk youth.
When asked about how gang activity has changed, Rev. Coleman was quick to respond.
"So much for the better, so much for the better. We have better resources and more safe houses now."
M.A.D. DADS is also one of several organizations with rec centers open after school for children to play and hangout. But, like many non-profits they're in need of your help.
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