I have never seen such packs of teens and even 11- and 12-year-olds who roam the streets like the ones in my neighborhood, Wellington Heights. Of course, I grew up in a quiet part of Sioux City, which is pretty small. But I have enough reporting experience to know that when activity like that is afoot, gang and drug activity isn’t too far behind it.

Take the large fight in the 1600 block of Second Ave. SE on Tuesday night as an example. The fight broke out in front of Tasha Stamps’ house and involved her oldest son, Jahmal, and other kids he knew at Washington High School. Stamps called me today to tell me that this large group of kids, some with sticks and shovels, came on to her property to goad Jahmal into fighting them. “It’s probably some petty reason they don’t like my son,” she said. Which is true — kids can be awfully stupid. “I work for what I need and what my kids need, and if these kids don’t have the same things he does it’s not his fault, or mine,” she said.

Stamps runs Tasha’s Hair Salon on First Avenue. Her sons, she said, are into sports. They aren’t the type who usually get into trouble. Their family didn’t have these kind of problems when they lived in the southwest quadrant, she said. “What is he supposed to do when they come up on our steps? He had to protect himself,” Stamps said. Jahmal ended up being the only one who got arrested in the fight. Nothing happened to the kids who provoked it in the first place.

Another Wellington Heights resident e-mailed me today and told me this is a pretty common occurrence in the neighborhood. But why? If they’re just kids, why haven’t police done anything about it? How did this kind of intimidation become such a huge problem?

Check The Gazette for more on this issue next week.

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