Outraged by the gang-related murders of two teenage girls, about 250 people gathered Thursday night to seek strategies for stopping such violence.
People who attended the town hall meeting at Shaw Middle School, 4106 N. Cook, said parents should have more authority over their children.
A police officer said cops should have a greater ability to help neglected children who are in violent, drug-abusing families.
The grandfather of one of Wednesday’s murder victims said the community needs to regain control of children.
“People should get the control back instead of letting kids control them,” said Reggie Davis, grandfather of Kendra Grantham.
The crowd applauded loudly and often during the emotion-filled meeting.
Davis said he wants to know how to prevent the violence that ended the life of his granddaughter and another girl.
“I wish I did because they sure as hell didn’t deserve this,” he said.
KXLY-TV held the forum, called “Drawing the Line on Crime,” in response to this week’s double murders.
Thursday, police arrested three teenagers in the killings. Police say all three suspects are gang members.
Police, public officials and residents discussed ways to keep children off the streets, including a curfew and the proposed opening of a Spokane School District 81 truancy center.
Kendra Grantham’s uncle, John Grantham, telephoned the forum - broadcast live on KXLY to say he supports a curfew.
“I think it’s really important that we think about these strategies,” said Larry Hersom, a deputy police chief.
But Hersom warned against believing that any one strategy will end violence among young people.
Spokane police officer Larry Saunders, a gang specialist, said fighting well-known gang members from California is simpler than fighting home-grown teenagers joining gangs.
He said home-grown gangs were responsible for this week’s killings as well as the December 1994 slaying of Felicia Reese, whose body was found near Upriver Drive and the Centennial Trail.
Spokane police officer Susan Mann said she feels frustrated by laws that give her little power to help young children in dysfunctional homes.
“As a police officer, I can’t get them out,” she said. “Those kids are the ones we’re dealing with as teenagers.”