Business as usual in downtown Winston-Salem a week after fights

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(Aaron Glancy/WGHP)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It was business as usual Friday in downtown, a week after an incident involving hundreds teens, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Patrons filled restaurants and bars on Fourth Street, many of them eating and drinking at sidewalk tables.

Families and small groups of teenagers walked along the streets.

“It is very calm and quiet in downtown (Friday night),” City Manager Lee Garrity said.

Garrity said more police were on patrol than last Friday, when 300 teens gathered downtown and several fights broke out. Police used pepper spray to stop the fights.

Two teenagers were arrested. Officers took four juveniles into custody and later released them to their parents.

After the fights ended, about 200 teens gathered at Winston Square Park, under the eye of about 50 police officers. Police cars lined Marshall Street, blocking some traffic. Most of the teens left the park around 10 p.m.

Garrity said last week that city officials were caught off guard by the large numbers of teens. Teenagers typically come downtown toward the end of June or early July, he said. As summer wears on, the number of teenagers downtown usually declines.

On Friday night, Marquise Crews, 18, sat in the amphitheater at Winston Square. He said he noticed how quiet things were, compared with last week.

“It’s less people here now,” Crews said. “That’s because there are more cops in the park.”

Friday night also ushered in the first Teen Night activities at three city recreation centers.

About 100 teens total went to 14th Street Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center on Pittsburg Avenue and Polo Park Recreation Center on Polo Road.

At each center, teens could get free food and drinks. They also could play video games and basketball. Teen Night, which started at 6 p.m. and ended 10 p.m., will be held Fridays through Aug. 1.

Tim Grant, the city’s director of recreation and parks, said that his staff didn’t know how many teens would come to the rec centers, but planned to accommodate 100 teens at each location.

The city didn’t expect to spend any extra money on the Teen Nights. The money is coming from the recreation and parks budget, Grant said.

Several parents had called the recreation centers during the week, saying they were glad that city had a place for their teens to go, Grant said.

At the King Recreation Center, Octavius McCoy, 14, played Madden 25 with Fred Cole, 13.

Octavius said he liked Teen Night because “it keeps us out of trouble.”

Tami Perry, assistant supervisor at Polo Park, brought several pizzas for the 15 teens who attended the Teen Night there.

She said she wasn’t concerned about the low attendance.

“This is the first week that they are out of school,” Perry said. “They will turn out.”

The city is hoping more teens will come to the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds when Fairgrounds Fridays starts June 27. That event will run every Friday except July 4 through the end of July.

Some of the fairgrounds events include a BMX bike show, free indoor skateboarding, a deejay with music, free arcade games and free water.

The teen events are open to teens ages 13-16, city officials said.

Christina Gilliam, 16, played basketball at the 14th Street rec center. She said Teen Night is a good idea.

“Teens can come and have fun on Friday,” she said. “But there can be no drama — the teens should just have just fun.”

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