"You prevent kids from joining gangs by offering after-school programs, sports, mentoring, and positive engagement with adults. You intervene with gang members by offering alternatives and employment to help redirect their lives. You deal with areas of high gang crime activity with real community policing. We know what works."
Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries
Date of Event: Tuesday, August 30th 2022
Time of Event: 9:30 AM — 1:30 PM PST
Place of Event: Webinar
Approximately 33,000 street, motorcycle, and prison gangs are active and violent in the United States today (FBI). These gangs utilize violence in order to “protect” or “control” neighborhoods that ultimately increase their illegal money making activities. On Tuesday, April 26th, 2022, six members of the East New York gang knows as “Bamalife” were charged with “racketeering conspiracy, violent crimes in-aid-of racketeering—including attempted murder and murder conspiracy—firearms offenses, drug-dealing and fraud” (Department of Defense). Similarly, on the following day, April 27th, 31 gang members and associates of the Orange County Mexican Mafia were charged in racketeering indictments along with murder, attempted murder, drug, and gun charges (US Department of Justice). Back before both of these cases, on April 20th, a 20 year old male was charged with “racketeering conspiracy, racketeering, and related violent crimes in aid of racketeering, connected to his participation in La Mara Salvatrucha, a transnational criminal enterprise also known as MS-13” (USDJ). This trial was three-months long and was focused on “four brutal murders committed by MS-13 in 2017, including two murders in which the defendant personally participated” (USDJ). This gang is a “national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador and other central American countries” that is one of the largest street gangs in America (USDJ). No matter the size, location, racial makeup, ages, all street gangs promote violence and utilize racketeering.
“In FY 2019, OJJDP awarded $7.4 million to support communities as they work to deter and suppress gang activity and provide services and treatment to victims of gang-related violence and crime” (OJJDP). Lots of money was also awarded and given to different areas working to prevent and intervene in youth gang membership. The government often looks at gang from a top-down strategy, focusing more on the adult gang life. However, research conducted by David Pyrooz shows that looking at issues of gangs can also be viewed from a bottom-up strategy to break some of the stereotypical views on gangs and make better decisions to help young people who end up joining a gang. In particular, law enforcement, education, and healthcare need to avoid these stereotypes and work on creating better invention and prevention services that are accessible to gang members of all ages.
The OJJDP says that “in most distressed neighborhoods, schools, churches, and other community agencies and institutions do not provide adequate gang prevention and intervention services.” Efforts to create alternatives to turning to a gang for reasons such as protection, money, respect, and more are very important to creating opportunities. One example of a business that aims to break down barriers and help end the cycle of gang violence is Tru Color Brewing in Wilmington, NC. Looking into other business opportunities that can help promote a safe space for economic growth is worth considering from a policy standpoint to promote legal businesses, over racketeering, that still provides a feeling and sense of belonging. Localized efforts are just as important and national efforts to help with the OJJDP’s five core strategies to reduce and prevent youth gang violence: Community Mobilization, Opportunities Provision, Social Intervention, Suppression and Organizational Change and Development.
Providing a platform for experts to discuss the several components and disciplines involved in combating gang violence in America is very important. Coming up with different policies and efforts that agencies, NGOs/INGOs, business equity and equality efforts, governmental bodies, and more can take to curb the levels of gang violence should be heavily considered without stereotypical views. This panel will provide the opportunity to learn more about the existing issues and how to approach working on mitigating the impact of gang violence on potential members, those involved and directly impacted by gangs, as well as civilians in areas heavily concentrated with gang crime.
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