Police say they sent letters to several gang members in the area asking them not to attend this weekend's Dogwood Festival.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -
Dogwood Festival organizers and Fayetteville Police have put local gang members on notice to stay away from the festival this year.
Police say they sent letters to several gang members in the area asking them not to attend the festival. The festival takes place April 26-28 at Festival Park in Fayetteville.
Many downtown businesses love the festival and the crowds it attracts. Stephanie Bostock, an employee at shop So Chic Bebe, did not share an opinion about the letters, but she said the festival is an enjoyable time for friends and family. She said it is also a great opportunity for downtown business owners.
"I've enjoyed it for many years. It's a fabulous event," Bostock said. "The people who have their shops here look forward to Dogwood Festival every year because of the fact they bring so many people.
"Dogwood is a fabulous event for us to highlight our business and what we have to offer," she continued.
Lt. Todd Joyce, with Fayetteville Police, said his department recently became concerned that local gang members could be offering trouble at the festival. Joyce said police heard about some activity possibly planned for during
the festival, and law enforcement wanted to send the letters to particular gang members in hopes
of deterring that activity.
"[They were] folks being identified that may cause some kind of disruptive behavior that would show up to the festival and they were advised not to show up because of course they could be charged with trespassing."
Joyce did not elaborate on the specific concerns.
He could not say how many letters were sent to gang members, only that they were hand delivered by law enforcement officers.
"We want to be sure that no one who could be an innocent bystander gets involved in this. So we want to take precautionary measures."
The executive director for the Dogwood Festival Carrie King said she hopes the police action sends a message to the general public that the organizers are being proactive to keep the festival safe. King said ensuring that the festival is safe and enjoyable for visitors is the top priority. She said the letters were part of working with police to ensure that the festival is still safe and family friendly.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>