Sunday, September 26, 2004
Peace At Home: Gangs, Domestic Terrorism, and Three Strikes
Take note, this morning's New York Times featured a very important article: "Tattoed Warriors", that is likely to reopen the discussion about gangs and gang violence, perhaps even as a campaign issue.
William Bratton, LA's top cop, has called gangs "domestic terrorists" and has restored the same gang task force units that led to the Rampart scandal. Gang Injunctions, a legal strategy that failed miserably a decade ago, have been making a comeback.
Gang violence dropped dramatically during the nineties, but since Bush has been in office, it has climbed sharply every summer in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. Except in those cities, the media has been largely silent about the surge of gang violence. Is it because the rise has been directly related to the failure of Bush's domestic and economic agenda?
The recent rise in gang violence has been an urgent issue largely for street activists, community organizers, social workers, and sociologists. That hasn't been entirely a bad thing. In Los Angeles, for instance, two major peace summits have been held in the last 6 months, and peace workers are making strong headway in the community. It's possible they've been able to do this precisely because Bratton's alarmist, reactionary approaches have as yet failed to win national attention.
This year's ballot in California features Proposition 66, an act to amend the 10-year-old Three Strikes Law to include only violent offenses as a third-strike. Right now polls show a solid majority of Californians ready to do the right thing and pass this initiative. It would be a shame if Bratton's pronouncements brought back the hysteria and scapegoating of the early 90s, which led to so many of these horrible laws being instituted in the first place, just at a point a grassroots movement for change is on the verge of moving gang members and citizens in the right direction. The people working for domestic peace don't need wild emotionalism, they need popular support.
posted by Zentronix @ 1:35 PM
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