BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Downtown Buffalo’s Central Library reduced hours earlier this month after fights were breaking out almost daily. Now, a community group is stepping in to help keep the peace.

Those brawls of up to 30 kids forced library administrators to close on weekdays at 3 p.m.

Starting Monday, five Peacemakers will walk areas in the building where trouble was breaking out. Central’s hours will return to normal — Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Peacemakers Coordinator Pastor James Giles called his team “traveling mentors” for Buffalo’s youth.

“And now we are part of that solution,” said Pastor Giles. “So, we will be down there every day, right, and the library will continue to be a safe place and quiet place.”

“We’re going to help the youth begin to employ and use some of those things that the library offers. And that’s going to be a great relationship, a great partnership,” Pastor Giles. “The library is going to return back to that peaceful space it’s supposed to be.”

Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries Director John Spears told us he’s open to bringing in additional community groups to help.

“This wasn’t a group that we wanted to feel unwelcome and it was a group that just like any member of the public has the right to be at the library,” Spears said. “At that point then it’s on us to actually look at how we can provide services that would be of interest to these students.”

He and Pastor Giles both want everyone to feel welcome at Central, including Buffalo’s young people.

“We’re not really security. We don’t carry no guns, we’re not arresting nobody, we got no slapjacks — nothing, no protection whatsoever. We don’t carry no mace. It puts the training around mentorship and engagement is what helps us.”

Spears said he’s looking into installing metal detectors and changing how people enter the library.

“We’ll constantly be looking at what we’re doing,” Spears added. “Making sure it’s meeting the needs. Making sure that it’s, creating the library that this community deserves.”

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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