Wednesday, March 22, 2006

There are no gangs here stupid...

Read this:

Gang symbol found burned on student's chest

Sign represents one of America's biggest street gangs, but police play down incident as attempt to be 'cool'


A police officer was called to Lincoln High School's nurse's office Monday to examine a 5-inch-long pitchfork-shaped marking burned into a student's chest.

The student accuses five juveniles of using a hot knife to burn the symbol onto his flesh. Charges had not been filed as of Tuesday afternoon.

The shape is a sign for the Gangster Disciples, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, police said.

The student told the officer he could hear his skin sizzling as the others put him through the initiation act. After he was burned, they poured alcohol on the wound.

A report of a gang initiation ritual in Sioux Falls during the weekend isn't a sign of organized crime establishing itself in the city, police said.

"It's a group of kids, wayward delinquents, and they will love to see their names in the paper," said Doug Simmons, a Sioux Falls Police officer who specializes in gang prevention training.

Sioux Falls' gang population is "very, very small," he said, estimating that at any given time the city is home to fewer than 15 people who could be considered gang members.

Gangs in larger cities exist for criminal enterprise, but in Sioux Falls, gangs are less organized and form more for social reasons.

"It ends up being a lot of kids who have supervision problems," Simmons said. "Their goal is to just do stupid things. They're not out here selling crack cocaine or stolen property.

"Police take a proactive approach to the groups anyway, he said, because they don't want them to evolve into criminal organizations.

"We let them know we're watching them," Simmons said. "We keep tabs on who they hang out with."

Dan Avenarius, chairman of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, said the Internet makes it easy for kids to find information about gang colors and symbols.

"Are there kids out there who would come across this and think it's cool? Sure. It happens all the time," he said.

Avenarius said an incident such as the reported initiation wouldn't automatically indicate the existence of a gang. Officials should look for other signs in deciding whether a gang problem exists.

Simmons said parents should be aware that burning is commonly used by gangs to mark its members, and if they notice unusual burns on their kids, they should ask questions.

Students at Lincoln High School, where the victim attends, said they do not see a gang threat at school.

"It's never come up," said Jay Engberg, 17, a junior, who said he and his brother Jon, a freshman, try to avoid situations where they might encounter gangs.

Marcus Ribas, 15, a freshman, said students talk about gangs, but he mostly assumes they're exaggerating.

"Some people will brag about it, how they're part of a gang," he said.

Chris Hill, 17, a senior, said school administrators tend to overreact to students who claim to be gang members.

"The school likes to treat them like major gangs," he said.

Lincoln High School Principal Valerie Fox is confident the school does not have a gang presence.

"This isn't gang stuff like you or I would think about gangs," Fox said. "This is a wannabe, stupid act."

First you have to realize that in the past cities across America sometimes refused to acknowledge a gang problem because it hurts the chances of people getting elected. What do I mean? What politician wants to admit that there is a gang problem (especially in the early deniable stages) so that it looks as though he / she has limited control? Anyway you can look all day long on the net and find where denial and claims of "wannabe" activity provided a fertile environment for gang growth. You deny cancer long enough and it will kill you.

Let's look at the contradictions in the story:

"It's a group of kids, wayward delinquents..."
A gang is a group. And in the street gang definition they are considered delinquents.

" any given time the city is home to fewer than 15 people who could be considered gang members."
Ok so they admit there are "real" gang members present in the community.
So what happens when some of these "real" gang members encounter this so called "wannabe" kid and ask him about his affiliation? If he cannot answer the question to their liking...he becomes a target. Does it make sense to just dismiss this as "stupid behavior" or a potential danger?

"It ends up being a lot of kids who have supervision problems,"
Hello??? Read this blog...supervision problems are key to gang membership. If a parent will not supervise them a gang leader will. Interestingly enough the same ecology factors, the same drivers for gang activity are almost identical to the drivers for "general delinquency." The only difference is you need a gang leader to group them together under a "flag."

"This is a wannabe, stupid act."
No offense lady...but you need to learn about gangs. Wannabe kids are the MOST likely to become involved in real gangs. They are also more likely to be dangerous (this comes from real gang member's testimony) because they try so hard to prove they are serious about gang membership. Yeah it is a stupid act.

Just about as stupid as knee-jerk comments and denial about gang activity from people who lack the training and experience to even know what a gang is, how it forms, and how it spreads.

Maybe these authorities / officials are right. I hope they are. I hope this kid was just mutilating himself for "fun" or to be "cool". Even though he has a lifelong gang image branded into his chest. I hope this isn't an attempt at damage control. I hope this isn't a reflection of people who are not qualified to identify a gang. But really it doesn't matter if this kid is a card carrying member of the Gangster Disciples or not. He is now marked as one. And if he ever runs into a real one he is going to get hurt...and bad. That in and of itself is cause for concern.

About 30 plus years ago the Crips were considered "wannabes".

When are we going to stop being so stupid?

Author's note: The image featured at the top of this article is NOT the young person referenced in the news article. He is a real Gangster Disciple...who just so happens to have a pitchfork and Star of David tattooed on his body to represent his loyalty to the GDs.