Sunday, January 29, 2006

Proselytizing for Death

Cradles to Graves

“Give me a child until he is five. And he is mine forever…”

Recruitment of youth from various segments of society by deviant groups has been an ongoing phenomenon across the globe. We are used to seeing extremist groups like Hamas in the Middle East posing with pictures of their kids dressed in full battle gear, bomb belts included. But that’s not a far cry from seeing a toddler wearing full blown gang colors and being made to throw up a gang hand sign. There is no easier way to spread hate and bring others into your demented ideology than to get them when they are young.

In my experience with gang youth there has been a consistent rumor that so called Nation gangs (large gangs such as Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, or Latin Kings),often send out recruiters during the summer months, (when youth are out of school and thus more accessible), into smaller communities.

Like members of a religious group proselytizing for new members, these recruiters are said to show the youth the things that they can easily acquire by living the gangster lifestyle. Cars, jewelry, fine clothes, and easy money are there for the taking once the youth is introduced into the gang and into the profit making aspect of the culture…i.e. drug sales. While I cannot confirm this with certainty I’ve had enough gang kids from different areas report this that it certainly seems to be one aspect of gang proliferation.

Whether gangs form as the result of outside “gang missionaries”, transplanted gang members looking to run their own gang, or self evolved from the local community they continue to keep our mortuaries busy. The bottom line is gangs are reaching out to the young people and with success…whereas the community, family, and churches are seemingly failing. I have lost count of the number of neighborhoods where gang graffiti is visible from the front steps of the local church. That should never be. Though it is hard to counter the intrigue of easy money, the youth are primarily seeking a family unit to belong to. The youth have a void in their lives…and the gang is attempting to fill it because others will not.

In the process the adult leaders of the gang are using the youth to make money, distance themselves legally from crime, and increase their own personal notoriety. What the young people see as brotherhood is nothing more than a bloody business for the adults running the gangs.