Violence out of control, says resident

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 08/97) - A man who saw three assaults outside the Gold Range Hotel Friday night says youths are beating up people to get money for cocaine.

"This is definitely cocaine-related -- and the girls are just as bad as the guys -- they have no way now of getting money (for cocaine)," said "Jack," a man who doesn't want his real name used for fear of retaliation from the assailants.

Jack said that girls who at one time would get money by selling their bodies have recently lost some of their business, forcing them out on the street to steal money to support their habit.

"The cops have lost control," he said. "When a grown man of 200 pounds and six foot two is scared to walk the streets, you have a big problem."

Const. Glenn Henry said that police are doing the best they can with the manpower available.

"We're always around at the hot spots, but we can't be everywhere at once," he said. "To say we have an operative plan -- no, we don't. We don't have extra manpower."

And the beatings have continued, almost on a nightly basis, for a couple of weeks.

Jack witnessed three beatings Friday night when people who came out of Bad Sam's Bar at the Gold Range Hotel were rolled.

Two men were taken to hospital for treatment, one of whom received a slash to his throat when he was pushed to the ground.

"He was on the ground and they were laying the boots to him," he said. "His neck was cut by one of the bolts that was sticking out of a pole. As soon as one kid jumped on him, they all jumped on him."

But Jack said the situation will likely get worse as adults in the community begin to take justice into their own hands. It's already started to happen, he said.

"Saturday night was the first time I ever saw adults retaliate," he said. "Three men chased five young guys."

Jack said that a group of about eight guys and six girls are responsible for the rash of random assaults in the downtown area over the last few weeks.

"CIA -- criminals in action -- that's what they call themselves," he said. "The only way you can join in the group is if you beat up 10 people."

While Jack predicts things will get worse, he does maintain that the streets will eventually become unsafe for youths. And they'll all become suspects until it stops.