CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – A Mecklenburg County organization is going neighborhood by neighborhood in hopes of preventing escalating violence in the Queen City. The Mecklenburg County Council of Elders started a “no shooting zone” campaign late last year.
Organizers looked at zip codes across the county that had high levels of violence and approached neighborhood associations about installing “no shooting zone” signs, which are now being enforced by CMPD officers.
“I for one, as a citizen of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, am not going to hide behind my door, unless behind my door is where everything is happening,” said C. Maria Macon, the Founder of the Mecklenburg County Council of Elders.
Macon and others members of the group met with new CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings soon after he was sworn into office back in July 2020.
“We were brainstorming and talking and everything and I said what if we had signs up that just said no shooting zone and he said I never heard of that,” said Macon.
The idea came from signs seen in other cities, but these signs that are in about a dozen neighborhoods are more than just talk. Each sign also has a QR code that links to a graphic, but honest video showing how shootings can ruin lives.
Jennings also agreed to take the signs seriously.
“Our police officers can enforce it if you tell us what you’re doing and let us know where you are putting the signs,” said Macon, when describing what the chief told her.
Shootings in recent weeks outside areas where the signs have been placed are also leading to research on who is behind the violence.
“Based on what the police reports say that they have given us, you have 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 18-year-olds shooting,” said Macon.
Asiah Figueroau, 3, is just one victim of a senseless shooting. He was killed when more than 150 rounds were shot into his home. Three arrests have been made, but police believe more suspects, possibly teens, are involved.
“Shortly after the incident we talked about how we believe there is a connection to local high schools and we still do believe that there is a connection,” said CMPD Public Information Officer, Tom Hildebrand.
The signs themselves also have a connection to neighborhoods. The hope is to create a sense of community pride.
“This is where you live, you don’t want to mess up where you live,” said Macon.
The program got off the ground thanks to a $5,000 safety grant from the City of Charlotte. Right now there are still 60 signs available for neighborhoods across Mecklenburg County.
To learn more about the program and how to request a sign, click here.