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Increasing violence at downtown library raises safety concerns

A number of incidents at the Buffalo library downtown caused hours to be reduced. The library will close at 3 p.m. now on weekdays.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Looking for books in downtown Buffalo's Central Library was easy and simple until a few months ago, according to library Director John Spears. 

"We want to make sure this is as safe as possible, and so we changed these hours in an attempt to keep something truly horrible from happening," says Spears.

Spears says there wasn't one specific incident causing the change. It's the small fights and big brawls between teenagers that did. 

"We didn't want to wait until there's a serious incident for us to take action. We took this step so that serious incident wouldn't happen," Spears said.

So the library's downtown branch has new hours; 8 a.m. to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. Programs after 3 p.m. are still available, but you have to go to the Washington Street entrance. 

"They're Not Done Yet" because Buffalo's Peacemakers are also stepping in. 

"We are community people. We're just not anybody. You know, we're not law enforcement in some uniform that oftentimes triggers our young people," says Pastor James Giles.

Pastor James Giles, President of Buffalo's Peacemakers, plans to be a mentor and a familiar face with the teenagers. 

"They don't know them. Just like if you and I hanging and we all come from the same hood as you, you go deal with me a little differently than you would with someone coming from City Hall trying to tell you something. Right? They wonder why it doesn't work because they haven't given you permission to speak into their life," says Giles.

Spears tells me fights would start on the upper level and then end downstairs at the Ellicot Street entrance. He says it's upsetting a few regular library users.

"It shouldn't be as much as going on down here as it is. You can't stop it," says Jerwan Stone.

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