Sunday, March 06, 2005

Gang Violence

Recent Long Beach Press Telegram Front Page showed a woman who at a local community gathering was displaying some anger towards the Long Beach Police Department. Other parts of the paper outlined how the police department is pushing for an expanded budget and increased salaries in order to attract more applicants.
The community activists in the affected communities are accusing the police of inaction in confronting the growing gang epidemic. It was a typical response to any calamity or problem afflicting our society today. Point the finger at anyone but yourself.
The woman in the picture should not only be yelling at the police for their inaction, but also at her fellow residents for their apathy and complacency in dealing with their own fellow community members (gang members). Gangs do not arise because of the actions of the police department. Rather they are a product of the community and that community's culture. In our depressed neighborhoods where poverty and crime are rampant, local community leaders have continually re-elected the same people to office who make the same excuses for their community's problems and their own inability to effectively deal with it while demanding others to fix their problems. It is time for the members of these affected communities to stand up and deal with this problem by electing leaders, not activitists. They cannot continue to point the finger at the government and other establishments while continually condoning the actions of their own.
As for the police department, they inturn seize this "opportunity" to ask for a raise when they should be asking for more support "intelligence" from the afflicted communities and more latitude from supervisory bodies in dealing with gang violence. Other efforts that should be spearheaded by the police department and city hall should be the creation of community partnership programs where local churches, schools, and police work together to patrol local communities. Additionally, the police need to be given the freedom to deal with these urban terrorists in a manner that is commensurate with these criminal's violence and actions.
Confronting gang violence requires a state and ultimately national effort. We need to apply the same determination, resources, and manpower to confronting and defeating this form of domestic terrorism just as we are confronting the terrorists in Iraq. Infact, much of the expereince gained in Iraq can and should be applied to confronting our own urban terrorists (gangs). Local governments have a responsibility to their tax-paying residents to maintain our infrastructure, manage our schools, and keep our streets safe. When the situation has deteriorated to the point where the problems have surpassed their resources, will, and ability to deal with them, then it is the responsibility of the state government to get involved.
It has reached the point where our local governments are unable to deal with this disease. Perhaps it is because of resource scarcity or maybe just lack of will and determination. Whatever the excuse is, they have failed but more importantly the community has failed. This failure does constitute a reason to retreat, rather it is a reason to bring more resources and manpower from the state level. Utlimately if the state is unable to defeat this problem, then the federal government should confront it. We have taken this route before with the rise and ultimate defeat of the Italian Mafia. We need to repeat this nationwide effort in confronting our urban street gangs.
Our leadership must take the first step and set the example with action rather than the typical "pray for peace" and "carrot" approach. We need "sticks" and we need big ones to crush these gangs who apparently have no problem killing children in broad daylight. Gangs rule through fear and intimidation. It is time to deal with these criminals in the same light. We as a nation have defeated empires who possessed the most terrible and lethal of weapons. We have confronted nationwide economic depression and fought a four-year war between eachother. We have also invented the greatest of technologies and have spread a culture of tolerance, enlightenment and freedom throughout the world. It is reasonable to assume that we can defeat these street gangs.


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