COLUMBIA, SC University of South Carolina students may be on fall break, but efforts are underway to sustain momentum for change in Five Points.
The family of freshman Martha Childress, who was paralyzed early Sunday morning after being shot in Five Points, is planning a campus forum for students. Family representatives met with university officials Thursday afternoon to set a time, date and location for the event, said Steve McNair, a Charlotte developer who works with Childress family and is helping coordinate the forum.
Martha says, and her Mom has said, something good has got to come from this, McNair said. Were all connected to this university and this town.
Childress was struck by a random bullet while she was waiting by the Five Points fountain for a taxi to take her back to her dorm. The shooting was the latest episode in a string of violence and has led to community outrage and demands for change to the way the city polices the late-night party area.
USC student body president Chase Mizzell said he has been talking to students since the shooting. He is asking for specific ideas and encouraging students to participate in the conversation.
Students already were hosting a Monday forum for the three Columbia mayoral candidates. Five Points is likely to come up.
Its not only about sending a message but about taking action, Mizzell said.
Among the specific ideas Mizzell said he is hearing:
• Making the streets more pedestrian friendly
• Enforcing loitering rules
• Receiving help from other law enforcement agencies.
As for the forum hosted by the Childress family, they plan to create a plan of action after hearing from students, McNair said.
Whatever comes out of this will be because Martha endorsed it, McNair said.
Update on Martha Childress
Martha Childress family reported Thursday that the 18-year-old USC freshman remains in stable condition at Palmetto Health Richland hospital.
Childress, a graduate of J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, had a difficult Wednesday night as she continues to deal with damage to her liver and a kidney, said Steve McNair, a Charlotte real estate developer who works with the students stepfather. She was able to spend time Thursday sitting up, he said.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.