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Gang violence will only worsen in a society that won't speak up
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No doubt, the people living in this county and those neighboring us are all too aware of what seems to be shootings every week in the communities of our region. In these shooting events, persons are gunned down to death or left with serious injuries. There are also beatings and other forms of physical violence that do not receive the same publicity.

The common denominator of this violence is that the majority of it is taking place between rival gangs - and sometimes within the gangs themselves. Most of the conflict arises out of drug territory conflicts, but a fair amount is simply the result of young gang thugs playing their tough guy roles. And the common reason they use for shooting each other is based on gang members "violating" each others' turf by entering areas or neighborhoods that are claimed by one or the other. This behavior is not entirely new; "gangs" have been around for many years, but until more recent times, they were typically an inner-city phenomenon, and most of the conflict was based on neighborhood pride, territory, etc.

Sociologically speaking, these behaviors are a manifestation of both man and animals that are rooted in the earliest time of our existence. Further explanation of this would require more space than afforded in this publication. But the one major differences between the types of gang fights that were common particularly during the late 1940s, the 1950s and into the 1960s, is that instead of using fists and an occasional club, the combatants use deadly force, and are fully intent on killing. They also have no care about any innocent victims that might be hit by stray bullets or for the people who are affected by witnessing the carnage.

It is a considerable law enforcement challenge these days to investigate and achieve justice with these modern-day gang killings and other serious assaults. In the 1970s, the various gangs began a trend of imploring their members to maintain a code of silence. It was (and is) considered weak and unacceptable to cooperate with the police and the courts. They are to settle matters themselves, and because they consider the law and the rules of society to be irrelevant, gangs choose to conduct the affairs within their social milieus on their own. In effect, they have their own justice systems, their own rules and their own set of punishments for what they leaders deem to be "misconduct." And if one gang is attacked by another gang, they will settle the matter by returning the deadly assault in kind - but usually with some escalation. This kind of gang activity is a form of tribal basics; the rule of law comes from the head gang member and organization leadership. Governmentally-established rule of law has no bearing on their sense of right or wrong, nor does the prospect of landing in jail seem to have a significant deterrent effect on them.

The well-established gang doctrine of non-cooperation with law enforcement and the courts appears to be contributing to the rise in violence crime among gang members. And this may be one of the main reasons they are becoming so bold and brazen. It is also likely that these gang members, many of whom served in the military at one time, have taken cues from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the gang-related violence in Mexico, and are now engaging in kidnappings, torture and other terrorist-like behaviors. The more violent gangs become, the less likely neutral witnesses will be to testify in court or give any kind of information to the police as they investigate drive-by shootings, murders and other forms of violent crimes. It is completely normal these days for a "victim" who has survived being shot up by a rival gang member [likely] known by him, to tell the police that they have no idea why anyone would attack them, have no suspects in mind and saw nothing. When a society allows this to happen, either by remaining silent to the issue or by simply ignoring it, the system will break down and gangs and drug lords will have an increasingly greater presence and influence on the communities in which they live.

There is not much that the government can do about this alarming trend. The elements that have brought this carnage into our society now have a strong foothold here. And while law enforcement has managed to keep the innocents from encountering a great deal of direct harm from the gangs, I believe that it will not stay so for long. Our law enforcement techniques and the laws that now exist are either inadequate or not being used to their full extent.

If we keep doing the same thing, we will have the same problems, all the while growing in scope until we have community situations that are not entirely different from downtown Baghdad. The violent and most ruthless gangs must be viewed as the terrorists they are - and we need not look much further than our own southern border with Mexico where the gangs run rampant, certain cities have become almost completely lawless, the police and other government officials are routinely gunned down and the innocent inhabitants live is a state of constant fear, never knowing if it is safe to go outside their homes.