Gangs? I thought we only had “wannabes” here in Caroline County, along with some other thoughts on gang denial.

Does anyone remember the Caroline County constitutional officers debate back in 2007 at the Bowling Green Town Hall? Perhaps when the question of gangs and gang crime came up to the candidates for Sheriff? Tony Lippa stated that we only had “wannabes” in the county.

Here are some pictures that were taken of graffiti found in Port Royal in mid-July (photo credit: My brother, Garrett Watson; shameless plug: check out his own two hate-blogs, On The Right and Orange, VA Independence Day Tea Party):

Here’s some information about the graffiti from my brother as well:

This is the second time there has been gang graffiti in Port Royal, about 2 years ago there was Bloods graffiti in the trailer park in the western end of the town. Now this is on the town square. […] The graffiti is at the intersection of King and Middle street in Port Royal.

Judging as far as the graffiti goes, it is from the Traveling Vice Lords, or TVLN, TVL, a gang unified under the People Nation. The gang started in Chicago. They are united with Bloods and the United Blood Nation on the east cost. The heart symbol in the graffiti is a Vice Lord symbol, the upside down 3 pointed pitchfork is a disrespecting symbol to the Folk Nation, the rival to the People Nation, Vice Lords, and Bloods in the area. The name “duece” is most likely a street name of the writer of the graffiti or could be another Vice Lord clique that the TVL are affiliated with. If the “duece” is the gang members street name, the 2 under the two hearts means he is a 2 star Lieutenant within the gang.

He sent that information to several people in the Sheriff’s Office and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and never got a response. So much for that ‘community policing’ the Sheriff’s Office is supposed to pride themselves on. Thankfully, at least the property owner, or someone else, had painted over the graffiti by the next day.

And it get even funnier when you read Portsia Smith’s “Caroline Crossroads” blog, where she notes the events for last night’s National Night Out:

Ladysmith Neighborhood Watch, the Attorney General’s Office and the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office will host “National Night Out” August 4 at the Ladysmith Village Residents Club starting at 5:30 PM.

At 6:30 PM the Attorney General’s Office will discuss gang prevention, and screen an award-winning educational video, The Wrong Family-Virginia Fights Back Against Gangs.

Wait a second, I thought we only had “wannabes”! So, do we have gangs or a gang problem or not in this county? And where do I go to get a straight answer to that question?

Then we have someone else involved in the criminal justice system in Caroline County — who shall remain nameless — that says we don’t have gangs, we have “different groups” which commit crimes.

That’s right, different groups. That commit crimes. Let’s review the definition of a “criminal street gang” in Va. Code § 18.2-46.1:

“Criminal street gang” means any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, (i) which has as one of its primary objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal activities; (ii) which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol; and (iii) whose members individually or collectively have engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts, at least one of which is an act of violence, provided such acts were not part of a common act or transaction.

What constitutes a “predicate criminal act” and an “act of violence” are also defined in the same section.

Looks like these “different groups” that go around committing crimes are pretty close to the definition of a “criminal street gang”, if they don’t meet the requirements already.

Other sections of the Code of Virginia provide for increased punishment for crimes that are committed to the benefit of the gang, such as recruitment, as well as for gang activity in school zones, and provides for civil asset forfeiture for the proceeds of gang crimes.

But this problem isn’t restricted to just Caroline County. A couple of years ago, a Virginia State Trooper who worked in Fredericksburg stated to a room with 30 people in it, “Fredericksburg does not have a gang problem, it has a gang presence.” To which anyone with a brain or a sarcastic bone in their body would think: Isn’t the presence a problem? (The Trooper also stated that there was no gang graffiti in the city, and any vandalism that you saw was the work of “taggers”. Um, yeah, sure.)

To demonstrate how absurd that comment is, think about this: Would anyone state the following?

“We don’t have a mafia problem, we have a mafia presence.”

“We don’t have a serial-killer problem, we have a serial-killer presence.”

“We don’t have a terrorist problem, we have a terrorist presence.”

Heck no. And if anyone stated that privately — much less publicly — they would be kicked out of their organization faster than you can say “gang problem”. But that doesn’t happen in this case, of course, because the Trooper is just repeating the company line.

One thing I want to make clear, however,  is that I’m not advocating for a ‘moral panic’ liked what happened in Las Vegas and Nevada from the late ’80s to the early ’90s. (If you want to learn more about that, read The Political and Organizational Response to Gangs: An Examination of a “Moral Panic” in Nevada [PDF] by Richard C. McCorkle and Terance D. Miethe.)

The problem here is that people in the government — state or local — refuse to acknowledge and accept the reality of the situation. And while gangs may commit the same types of crimes that individuals do, there are support systems, tools (some of which I outlined above), and strategies that can used specifically against them. If the police and prosecutors in the area refuse to acknowledge the existence of gangs in their jurisdictions, those support systems, tools, and strategies are useless.

There’s also another possibility: The police and prosecutors know full-well that there are gangs and/or a gang problem in their jurisdictions and they just choose to lie to the public while simultaneously refusing to use those support systems, tools, and strategies.

Someone tell me which option is worse: Willful ignorance or lying to citizens?

Cross-posted at Virginia Virtucon.

Are the Virginia State Police (VSP) extremely gullible or what?

There’s a text message that has been going around that says there will be several people shoot at a Wal-Mart as part of a gang initiation. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia State Police are advising people to pay no attention to a text message that claims there will be a gang initiation at Wal-Mart stores sometime this week that may involve a shooting or other criminal activity.

Police say the message is a hoax.

This claim that the message is a hoax, which it probably is, seems to conflict with a general advisory that was sent to all Virginia State Police units in the Culpeper Division (which includes Spotsylvania, Stafford, Culpeper, Fauquier counties, as well as the city of Fredericksburg) the other night via their radio system. According to the dispatcher, a teen reported a text message that had been forwarded to her which contained the information to a sheriff’s office in Texas. VSP apparently thought it was legitimate enough to broadcast to all those units in the Culpeper Division (and possibly broadcasted across the whole state as well) the other night.

A simple Google search would have revealed a page which shows that this hoax/urban myth has been going around since 2005 in various forms.

Do you know that there are no gangs in Washington, D.C.?

Yeah, I was shocked too. The Washington Times:

When is a gang not a gang? When it’s based in the District.

D.C. officials insist on describing groups of young males as “crews,” rather than gangs, even when they are held responsible for violent acts such as the wave of killings in the city last weekend. But police officials in other cities say the distinction is counterproductive.

“The very first step in dealing with gangs is denial,” said Capt. Charles Bloom of the Philadelphia Police Department. “Then you get to the point that you can’t deny it any more.”

D.C. police, lawmakers and community activists say the groups are not gangs because their members are mostly teens who band together for personal protection. That, they say, distinguished them from conventional gangs, which are created for a criminal enterprise such as drug dealing.

Personal protection is one of the main reasons that people join gangs in the first place (American Street Gangs, p. 112).

Capt. Bloom said Philadelphia quit trying to make such distinctions two years ago. Although they once described such bands as “loose groups,” they now use the term “gang-related” for any group that engages in criminal violence.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier acknowledged this week that crews appear to be connected to some of the 10 homicides in the past two weeks — including four this past weekend. And they are connected to hundreds of shots fired and a dozen shootings late last year in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Northwest, officials say.

Orwell would be proud.

Lanier definitely needs to go at this point.

Or as the Fredericksburg PD et al. would put it: “That isn’t gang graffiti, it’s those damn taggers!”

H/t: Michelle Malkin

It them video games’ fault! Oh! And rap music!

Don’t forget that devil music which them kids call “rock ‘n’ roll”.

From The [Delmarva] Daily Times: Reality of violence hits Wicomico:

When Dan Dougherty sat down to listen to rap music lyrics for the first time, he was appalled.

“They talked about sex and killing cops,” Dougherty, the Wicomico County Gang Resistance and EXILE director, said Monday night. “Now you turn on the TV and see carnage … Extreme raw violence is making an impact on our young people, and we’re growing an acceptance for it.”

Dougherty spoke — at times shouted with fury — to a packed Delmar Town Hall, where about 40 residents and Wicomico Neighborhood Congress members received a non-sugarcoated view of their county.

There are nearly 500 known gang members in the county who have helped Wicomico earn the second-place ranking in the state for violent crime per capita. Wicomico County only trails Baltimore City. Dougherty blamed violent lyrics and excessive violence on television and especially in video games.

“In Grand Theft Auto, you score points by killing cops, stealing cars and beating prostitutes,” Dougherty said and cited cases in Maryland where kids re-enacted scenes from the game. “In the ’80s and ’90s, you didn’t have video games, you didn’t have the violence in the media, you didn’t have the Internet. It creates a lack of respect for life and makes violence acceptable.”

This moron is supposed to be preventing gang crime when he knows absolutely no history of gang formation or crime in the United States?

Here’s a brief history for this moron:

1969: The street gang the Crips is formed in Los Angeles.

The number one single that year: The Beatle’s “Get Back”.

Highest grossing film: The Love Bug.

In television: The Brady Bunch and Sesame Street premiere.

In video games: Nothing. They didn’t exist yet!

1971: The street gang the Bloods is formed in Los Angeles.

The number one single that year: John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Highest grossing film: Fiddler on the Roof.

In television: Masterpiece Theatre; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; and Soul Train premiere.

In video games: The United States Patent and Trademark Office received a patent for “television gaming and training apparatus”.

1978: The Folk Nation (an alliance of already existing gangs) is formed in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The number one single that year: the Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive”.

Highest grossing film: Superman: The Movie.

In television: Dallas, WKRP in Cincinnati, and Diff’rent Strokes premiere.

In video games: The arcade game Space Wars is released.

This ignoramus should be nowhere near a government office, much less involved in gang prevention.