Columbia, SC (WLTX) - After seeing video of one of the fights over the weekend in Columbia's Five Points, two USC seniors have begun a grassroots movement to deal with the violence using a high-tech microphone.
"Fight Back for Five Points" is a Facebook group that thousands of people have joined in just over a day and the group's organizers are hoping that it gives a voice to students and Five Points residents - one that law enforcement and city officials pay attention to.
"A lot of students work for law firms, one student mentioned that he works for the mayor," explains Paige Sharkey of those who have posted on the site.
It's a group of people that USC seniors Liz McIntyre and Sharkey might not have had access to any other way. But it's one they think can make changes in Columbia's Five Points. "Everyone has an opinion and people didn't know where to voice their opinions. So this is kind of, like she said, we're joining our resources together. Everyone knows people, everyone knows how to go about doing something a different way," says McIntyre.
"Fight Back for Five Points" gained more than four thousand members in its first 24 hours of existence. One of those members wrote an online petition to City Council, asking them to take a look at policies in place and change them. Says McIntyre, "We're not disrespecting the police force. That's not what we're trying to do, whatsoever, at all. We just want to redirect the efforts of the police force somewhere, not other than underage drinking, but to the root of the problem, which is actually not the underage drinking." Adds Sharkey, "Surveillance cameras, more police around every corner in order for people to feel safe is our goal."
Other members have posted correspondence they've had with city officials and ideas for solutions. "It's really interesting the opinions that we've been getting because, obviously we have our own opinions, but also looking at the group and monitoring it, it's kind of like, 'Wow, I didn't think about it this way. I didn't see it in this light," McIntyre explains.
They're opinions that they hope will continue to grow. Says Sharkey, "We're really just fighting back for the entire town, just against violence in general."
An event-planning class has volunteered to help Fight Back for Five Points hose a fundraising event. Organizers want to donate any money raised to buying more surveillance cameras for the Five Points area.