Parents say they now see Fort Myers leaders acknowledging gang violence

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Families in Fort Myers are ready for transparency after years of violence and denial of it by those who serve the community. Bombshell documents after multiple arrests in the 2016 Club Blu shooting show in detail gang-related violence that’s gone on for years.

Moms and dads affected by gang violence say leaders in their community denied the dangerous and costly activities for years. The City leaders we spoke to also agreed with the parents.

Families we spoke to said they are now noticing a change. It’s a change a mom told us families in Fort Myers are desperately in need of, or moms like her will lose more children to crime.

Angela McClary has seen her community living through gang violence.

“We don’t want to see any other parent lose their child, especially me,” McClary said. “I don’t want us to see a parent have to feel the pain I feel, the grief in the heart brokenness.”

McClary works with the Fort Myers Police Department violence intervention team to stop the kind of violence that cost her son’s life. McClary son was killed in a drive-by shooting. Six years later, she is celebrating what would have been his 40th birthday this December, and she continues to work toward justice.

“You don’t want your parents to see you lying in a casket,” McClary said. “It’s hard, and for us to see him lying there, it just broke my heart. It really did.”

Mayor Kevin Anderson was an officer with the FMPD for years.

“Homicides in the city were high. That at the same time, there was a denial that there were gangs or that there was gang activity,” Anderson said.

The mayor says people might have downplayed the violence because the groups here didn’t always fit the highly organized stereotype of a gang.

“Back then, it was more of that loosely-nit criminal activity,” Anderson said.

Councilman Johnny Streets says the time is now to name and tackle the gang problem.

“We didn’t know who was among us that created such heinous crimes. That in itself is a relief for the community,” Streets said. “However, there is still a lot of people among us that have committed murders that have not been brought to justice.”

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