The Bradley County Sheriff's Office urges the community to become more involved with local youth so they won't feel the need to join gangs for acceptance and respect. The threat of gang violence has given civic leaders, officials, and law enforcement, the opportunity to work together toward a common goal. Deputy Espinoza also made handouts available with the slide show to provide more information on how to help prevent gang involvement. Some examples were getting involved in your child's school activities, knowing your children's friends and their family members, teach children how to cope with peer pressure, taking action in your neighborhood, such as starting an alliance or neighborhood watch, and more.
This is not something that is going to go away by itself. This is a real issue and it's in our community. The police can't do all the work themselves. They rely on concerned citizens to let them know anytime someone sees any kind of gang activity even if it's vandalism. Deputy Espinoza also pointed out, that some "tags" are put there by "taggers." These are people who may not necessarily be in a gang but want to "show their artistic abilities with spray paint." He stated that taggers can be identified by their "bubble letters."
Gang members currently residing in our community come from as far as California. They will move into an area like this for any number of reasons and eventually start recruiting and bringing people to increase their numbers. Gangs will try to claim turf, money from a certain neighborhood, and respect. This is another way officers classify gangs into types. They will fight for turf, profit and ideology.
Gangs will use almost any brand name, color, sports team name, just about anything, to identify themselves with. Not because they are fans of the team whose name they're trying to use, but because they want to try to claim as much as possible. They feel they can use these everyday symbols to identify each other but at the same time not be noticed by law enforcement. This is another reason gangs are so dangerous. If someone wears the wrong colors in the wrong neighborhoods, they could be in serious trouble. Deputy Espinoza displayed a few items that can be obtained in any store that gangs will use to represent themselves, from baseball hats, to book bags, to shirts.
The Deputy explained that all gangs have been classified, for the most part, into one of two categories; Folk Nation and People Nation. Gangs will fall into one of these two main categories if they have similar symbolism, colors, numbers used and orientation (if they are right-side oriented or left-side oriented). Gangs can also have a very structured hierarchy. Even in jail, leaders can give orders from behind bars to any number of members in their area and beyond. They monitor every activity on their turf and with their members.
This is another reason gangs are so dangerous. If someone shows disrespect to a gang member in any way, it can come back on them ten fold. If a rival gang member is in their neighborhood, they could get killed. If a member steps "out of line" it could be very explosive.
An example used is the film, American History X. It's the story of two brothers who join a white supremacist group. Eventually the older brother wants to leave but fears for his life and the life of his younger brother, not only because of rivals but from the gang they were trying to leave. Though this is a film made back in the 90's, the subject matter and problems are realistic.
Gangs are dangerous. They're a danger to the community as a whole, outsiders and insiders alike. This seminar attempted to prepare citizens with information to help minimize the effect of local gang activity.