Monday, July 7, 2008

Failure To See Beyond The Anger

For years now, the right wing, led by the hate-talk radio, have taken a rather simplistic view of the gang-related crime in the Milwaukee area. They feel that all is needed to address the issue is to call the gangsters thugs, gripe about the "Stop Snitching" motto of some of the gangsters, and throw them all in jail and losing the key. (Never do they mention how they are going to pay for all the incarcerated people.)

Obviously, name calling isn't going to solve anything. It only makes them ineffective and closes off any hopes of communication.

The right also refuses to acknowledge that there is more to people's silence than adherence to some gang philosophy about snitching, which in itself is merely a bastardization of the honor principle.

People might remain silent out of fear of retribution. Even the city leaders recognize that fact and have created ways for people to report what they know anonymously. There are other reasons as well. Marie Rohde, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, shares an example:
Last week, I overheard a conversation on an elevator in the courthouse that presented a different take on the issue.

A 20-something woman, pushing a stroller with a sleeping toddler got on the elevator with an older woman, who looked as if she could be her mother, and a third woman dressed in a suit, who looked like a lawyer.

"I'm glad he's not snitching," the younger woman said. "At least he'll get out of jail and not be killed."

The other two women nodded grimly in agreement.

It is also irksome that the right find it so easy to dismiss these people as thugs, and never look past that to find out why there is such a prevalence of gangs and gang violence. Many people that join a gang don't do it voluntarily, but are bullied, threatened and coerced into joining. Some do it out of self-preservation. Some do it to fill holes in their lives that their families and other loved ones just aren't filling. And minorities aren't the only ones that join gangs. In my years of social work, I have worked with any number of people that are in a gang, or gangster wannabes, and they come from all races and social backgrounds.

Oh, granted there are some that are just socially maladjusted and are plain mean, or evil if you will, but by no means are all of them.

But no matter the cause for the prevalence of gang-related violence, and the seeming endless supply of gangsters, sitting around and calling them names will not help the situation. A well-devised plan to deal with not only the existing gangs, but to prevent further gangs, is needed. And for the plan to be thoroughly thought through and effective, an understanding needs to be in place first.

For more information on why kids join gangs, and ways to prevent this from happening, please go here.


  1. You're kidding. Right?

  2. OK, Caps. Here's my question. How much more is this going to cost? I assume you'd file this under the 'war against Poverty', as poverty is supposed to be one of the main causes, right? We've thrown so much money at this since the 60's and, if anything, it's gotten worse. Especially in the Minority community. In the Hispanic community, I think a lot is due to illegal immigrants. In the black community, I think you MUST address the state of the black family. The out-of-wedlock birth rate, lack of responsible fathers, etc. It's a societal thing. Today's society has become so accepting of almost anything, and that's just a recipe for the disaster we're seeing now in many families, minority as well as non.

  3. billiam, what's the solution?

    Part of the problem is, there is no easy solution to all that ails so many of our cities.

  4. FP-

    The newspaper reported that the brothers who were the leaders of this gang were recruiting members while in prison. While I believe that criminals should be sentenced according to the law, simple incarceration isn't enough. It's like treating a fever, but not the infection that is causing it.


    Gangs have been around for centuries, and Latinos and African-Americans are by no means the only gang-bangers around. There is the Aryan Nation, the KKK, the Mafia, etc.

    There were gangs in the Dark Ages and before. There were gangs in the Wild West. There were gangs in the roaring 20s and in the 30s. In the days of our youth, their were greasers and skinheads.

    The other issues you addressed, including family structure, was in the link I provided.

    The cost? I have no idea. But I do know that it would be cheaper than doing nothing, or just staying on our current course.

  5. capper...

    The men and women who work for the MPD are cops, not social workers. I want them, as cops, to enforce the laws. When some thug is spraying the streets with bullets killing people I could give a damn as to "why" he "feels" the need to murder. I want him apprehended and thrown in prison until he is tough talking and acting cops. You are only asking for disaster when you expect cops to act like social workers, and the people who will suffer from such a policy within a Police Department are the good and law-abiding citizens.

  6. FP-

    What you are saying is very valid, except that I never, ever mentioned the police, much less blamed them for what was going on.

    I agree that the police need to act like police. I also believe that they should follow the nice-not nice-nice rule that I believe is part of most departments' training nowadays. The rule is an officer should be nice until it's time not to be nice anymore. Then after the situation is back under control, they go back to being nice.

    As for the locking them up...I've mentioned already that these two criminals were actively recruiting members while they both were IN jail. We have to take away their power as well as their freedom.

  7. Well, thank God for small favors... ;)! Sorry, I misread the post. I guess I am used to the left always complaining on the blogs and in the JS about the police being too mean...yada, yada, yada. I'm am glad you weren't criticizing the police this time.