The Daily Gamecock

Vehicle ban step in the right direction

After last weekend’s tragic shooting, the main concern of the city of Columbia is violence, especially regarding the Five Points area. City officials, the University of South Carolina students and staff and the businesses in the area are working together to propose potential prevention strategies to address the issue. The major setback is the conflict of impeding upon the freedom of individuals who frequent the area. It is necessary to find solutions that do not conflict with any prior laws or do not promote any type of discriminatory behavior. One suggestion that shows potential is the recommendation to close off the streets in Five Points, making it a pedestrian-only area. This plan, while it may elicit some concern, is definitely a step in the right direction from where we are now.

This plan would block off the streets to vehicles with the exception of one open lane for emergency vehicles and would require all visitors to enter by foot. One of the major benefits to allowing no vehicles in the area is that any people who are engaging in violent acts would be lacking their most easily accessible escape method, allowing the police a greater advantage for catching these criminals.

The proposal also would address the unwanted individuals entering Five Points on foot by stationing police officers at the various access points. These officers are specially trained in identifying gang members and would at their discretion impede those who they believe to be carrying illegal weapons. This condition has sparked immediate discussion of racial profiling. The involvement of race will forever be an argument in situations such as this; however, it is more important to address the real issue at hand, which is the violence. The police officers will be trained to know what to detect from an undesired character regardless of the individual’s skin color. The community should care more about weeding out these individuals to keep the law-abiding Five Points citizens safe rather than viewing a potentially successful proposition as a racial offense.

This scenario would be no different than the layout of the St. Patrick’s Day Five Points celebration. The police allow entry to those with the purpose of occupying the businesses and thwart those with ulterior motives. On St. Patrick’s Day, Five Points reaches a population of roughly 30,000 people, so clearly the road blocks do not scare away business. Those in opposition say this tactic does not address the real issue of gang violence; however, finding such a solution that can coexist with previous laws will prove challenging and require a great deal of planning. In the meantime, it is essential to take any small steps that could potentially aid this process to avoid any other tragic incidents from occurring and any more innocent people from getting hurt.