Fights have Allied community prepared for summer violence
Violence often spikes when summer temperature soars, says police
Two fights and three arrests this week have Madison police and neighborhood leaders planning for summer in the Allied Dunn's Marsh community.
A street fight Wednesday led to only one arrest because the participants scattered before police could find them. An officer stopped a disturbance from happening outside a convenience store overnight Thursday before eventually arresting two men.
"With this particular fight starting to brew, it's very likely something bad could have happened had the officer not been in the vicinity," Madison Police Officer Howard Payne said. "It definitely makes it difficult to manage that type of scene when you have 10-15 people moving about in different directions."
Derrick Jones, 27, and Eron Braggs, 24, were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and possession of a firearm by a felon after officers ordered them out of a vehicle at gunpoint, according to police.
Both men are from Dalton, Ill., on the south side of Chicago, a major concern for some in the Allied community.
"It may be my company or your company, but it's someone else coming from someplace else starting something," said Selena Pettigrew, the neighborhood association president. "Once it starts getting hot, these things start happening."
Pettigrew credits initiatives such as the neighborhood watch program for curbing violence in recent years, but acknowledged incidents will continue in the summertime weather.
Where the offenders came from isn't a concern to police, but stopping them from committing crimes while in Madison is a key, Payne said.
"In the last few incidents, there have been a number of individuals from the (Illinois) area that have been primary suspects in cases," he said. "But that could change as well, so we don't put a lot of stock in the respective city an individual comes from because that doesn't, at the end of the day, change the behavior that's happening in our city."
In the Allied community, Pettigrew said neighborhood leaders are trying to extend a successful girls' mentoring program to boys, but are having trouble finding men who will participate as mentors.
"We're struggling with it because a lot of the homes are single-family homes. They're mothers; they're women," Pettigrew said. "The majority of the people who come to the meetings are women. We don't have many men involved."
Pettigrew said she's asking the nearby Boys and Girls Club to offer late-night basketball, and is also looking to put together a neighborhood softball team and fishing program.
"I refuse to see it go back to what it was, because everybody deserves a safe neighborhood," she said. "Kids deserve to go outside and be able to play without being worried about bullets."
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