‘Gang bangers’ still banging-up and terrorizing neighborhoods

6 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Seattle, like many cities is defined by its geography. A description of the geographic divide in Seattle is found in the 2011 post, The divide between Seattle schools by Linda Thomas of KIRO 7 News:

Seattle Schools released their report cards on each of the 82 public schools in the district and rated them, for the first time, on a scale of 1 to 5.

On this scale, 5 is tops. Your school is rockin’ if it’s a 5. If your school is a 1, there are serious problems based on test scores, attendance rates, average class sizes and advanced placement classes, and other factors.

Without even looking at the data, I could have guessed that if your school is toward the top of the scale, you live north of the Ship Canal bridge. If your school is a 1 or 2, you live in the southern part of the city.

The facts confirm my guess. The easiest to sort through the district’s comparisons of their schools is to scroll to page 5 on this PDF. Schools scoring the highest – the Level 5 schools – are Catherine Blaine K-8; Bagley; Coe; Hay; Lafayette; Loyal Heights; McGilvra; North Beach; Schmitz Park; Thornton Creek, View Ridge; Wedgwood. No high schools score a 5. Garfield and Roosevelt are Level 4.

Those are north end schools. With the exception of Northgate elementary, the lowest-rated schools are in the south end.

Level 1 schools are: Aki Kurose Middle School; Dearborn Park; Dunlap; Emerson; Gatzert; Hawthorne; Highland Park; Leschi; Madrona K-8; Martin Luther King; Northgate; Roxhill; West Seattle. There are no Level 1 high schools.

I first wrote about the great divide in Seattle Schools two years ago for Seattle’s Child magazine (excerpts from both articles are below). What has changed since 2008? Not much. The reasons for achievement gaps at schools are complex, and the district is still trying to improve the same under-performing schools.http://mynorthwest.com/category/news_chick_blog/20101110/The-divide-between-Seattle-schools/

People not only purchase homes on the basis of home price, but their perception of school quality and their perception of the level of crime in the neighborhood. There is a real perception that much of the criminal and gang activity occurs in the south part of Seattle. That may be one of the reasons the powers that be have not tuned in to the urgency of Seattle’s gang problem. Seattle’s power structure is not the only ruling group with its head up an orifice.

Moi wrote about Chicago’s gang problem in That stranglehold of P.C. And ideology: Political party culture is stuck on stupid https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/that-stranglehold-of-p-c-and-ideology-political-party-culture-is-stuck-on-stupid/

John de Leon is reporting in the Seattle Times article, North Seattle home targeted in drive-by shooting:

Someone opened fire on a North Seattle home early this morning, but no one was hit.

Police said a woman who lives in the home called 911 shortly after midnight to report hearing 10 to 12 shots coming from a veicle that drove north on Dayton Avenue North at North 103rd Street.

Responding officers found several shell casings outside as well as a couple of bullet holes in the woman’s home.

She told police she didn’t know why her home had been targeted in the drive-by shooting. She said that her son had a problem with a gang member, but that was some time ago. http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/10/north-seattle-home-targeted-in-drive-by-shooting/

Seattle, like many cities has had a gang problem for years.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a study of youth in Seattle regarding traits that likely lead to gang affiliation. Seattle Gang Study This 2001 DOJ study found the following predictors:

       1. Neighborhood risk factors

Availability of marijuana

Neighborhood youth in trouble

Low neighborhood attachment

           2. Family risk factors

One parent only

One parent plus other adults

Parental attitudes favoring violence

Low bonding with parents

Low household income

Sibling antisocial behavior

Poor family management

           3. School risk factors

Learning disabled

Low academic achievement

Low school attachment

Low school commitment

Low academic aspirations

           4. Peer group risk factors

Association with friends who engage

in problem behaviors

5. Individual risk factors

Low religious service attendance

Early marijuana use

Early violence

Antisocial beliefs

Early drinking

Externalizing behaviors

Poor refusal skills

Lt. Ron Wilson of the Seattle Police Department participated in a question and answer session which was printed in The Seattle Times. Q & A on Gang Violence Among his comments was the following exchange:

What are the different street gangs fighting over?

Lt. Ron Wilson: What we’re experiencing in Seattle that’s different perhaps than what you see down in L.A. or on the East Coast, is the dynamics of the gangs we’re dealing with. We’re dealing with a lot of youth now, as opposed to the 1990s and 1980s, when we had a lot of older individuals and the drive at that time was the drug market, crack cocaine. There was a lot of tension there and a lot of conflict between gangs in the ’80s and ’90s over marketing of crack cocaine.

Most of the time, when we’ve had shootings involving young people, it’s usually a matter of disrespect. It’s not about turf. It’s not necessarily about marketing drugs or any type of other illegal crime. It’s a matter of disrespect where they handle the conflicts between them with firearms.

He states that kids are looking for affiliation and a sense of belonging. Among the risk factors in the DOJ study for gang recruitment and membership is a level of dysfunction in the child’s home. According to Lt. Wilson there are about 60 active gangs in the region. Because gang members in this region tend to be young, schools have to protect students both from active gang membership and from recruitment efforts by gangs.

What Might Work?

In the June 22, 2009 New Yorker, there is an essay about David Kennedy’s “ceasefire” strategy.” The article is assessable to registered users at New Yorker Registered User Kennedy, a professor of anthropology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has been invited to speak in Seattle. The “ceasefire” approach was tried in Cincinnati.

Ceasefire begins with the fact that a small number of hardened criminals commit a hugely disproportionate number of serious violent crimes. Kennedy explained that, in Cincinnati, the police would identify gang members who were on parole or probation and compel them to attend a meeting. There, the cops would demand that the shootings end, and promise that, if they did not, the punishment would be swift and severe and target the entire gang. The city would also make life coaching and job counseling available to those who wanted out of the thug life.  

Once gang members were identified, the researchers mapped out gang interactions and individual gang members. “Among the facts they discovered about the gang members was that a third of them had ten or more felony charges, and ninety-one percent had a prior arrest for a violent crime.” The Cincinnati program was a joint effort of a number of stakeholders. Kennedy’s approach has been tried in about 60 cities with various degrees of success. One criticism of the program is that it has not been subjected to independent analysis.

According to the New Yorker, Gary Slutkin, employs a slightly different approach. “Slutkin’s strategy employs community members to mediate potential shootings while also pushing for behavioral change in high-risk individuals and communities.”

Another approach that might work is the Homeboy Industries model of creating small businesses to employ gang members. The Homeboy motto is “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Information about Homeboy can be found at Homeboy Industries

It may take a village to raise one child, but it is definitely going to require the coordinated effort of all stakeholders in the larger community to stem the tide of gang violence and to stop the flow of blood.

Sticking your head in the sand does not prevent the tide from coming in.”
K.J., Impaired Ocular Acuity and Other Demented Synapses

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