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Gang involvement will be the focus of a two-day event intended to unite and motivate youth this weekend.
Beat the Streets is a two-day conference that will address gang issues in Lancaster, Chester and York counties. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Friday and Saturday at the Baxter Hood Center on the campus of York Technical College in Rock Hill.
The conference is sponsored by YouthNet, an arm of the S.C. Department of Mental Health that provides various services to children and their families in the tri-county area.
"Lately, we've been hearing about the gang issues in all three counties," said Antoine Knox, public information coordinator for YouthNet. "It's been affecting everybody from businesses to schools and families."
Friday's events, which run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., are geared toward adults. State and local officials will talk about the history and culture of gangs, the ways gangs recruit, school safety and specific gang activity in the area.
Speakers include Louise Johnson, director of Children and Family Services for the state Mental Health Department, and Robert "Bobby" Kipper, former executive director of the Gang Reduction Program in Richmond, Va.
Saturday's focus is on the youth.
Speakers will touch on the dangers and downfalls of gang involvement and alternative options adolescents can take.
Vendors will be present and entertainment will be provided by the Catawba Indian Nation, two local step teams and a gospel rapper from Charlotte.
Saturday's events will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Lancaster Police Department, Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, Lancaster County Department of Juvenile Justice, Lancaster County School District, the Learning Institute for Tomorrow and Lancaster County Community Powerhouse are local sponsors of the conference.
"It will help increase awareness within the community about gang activity," said Capt. Harlean Howard of the Lancaster Police Department.
Howard said she hopes attendees leave the conference knowing the signs that indicate someone may be affiliated with a gang, the reasons people join gangs and measures to prevent youth from joining.
For details about Beat the Streets, call Knox at (803) 366-3391, extension 105.
Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or email@example.com