Columbia, SC — Some of my best memories happened in Five Points. Then it was a place for college students and young adults. Now it seems to be a place for gangs. Gangs like dark places that are gritty.
Bright lights are the enemy of gangs because they don’t want to be seen and recognized by trained officers, such as the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s trained gang squad.
Please go online to view Knoxville’s Market Square. No cars. Lights. Having spent time there, I can tell you that the Knoxville, Tenn., police department’s first priority was apparently not busting underage drinkers but the safety of the people. People were encouraged to sit outside. Bands played. Street musicians were not arrested or run off; they were welcome and encouraged to come play for people.
University of Tennessee students were not the enemy and not a source of income for Knoxville by arresting and fining them. Every one likes to gather together for fun and companionship, so why not make it easy, safe and profitable to do that? Make it not just about drinking in Five Points after dark.
Maybe, just maybe, one of the biggest changes needs to be in the attitude of Columbia’s Police Department toward the college students; they are not the problem or the enemy — and they shouldn’t be a source of income.