Two perspectives on gangs, Greg Fischer’s and Jackie Green’s. But first, two perspectives on why youth join gangs, LA Police Department’s and gangfree.org’s.
LA Police Dept
. Identity or Recognition – Being part of a gang allows the gang member to achieve a level of status he/she feels impossible outside the gang culture.
. Protection – many members join because they live in the gang area and are, therefore, subject to violence by rival gangs. Joining guarantees support in case of attack and retaliation for transgressions.
. Fellowship and Brotherhood – To the majority of gang members, the gang functions as an extension of the family and may provide companionship lacking in the gang member’s home environment. Many older brothers and relatives belong, or have belonged to the gang.
. Intimidation – Some members are forced to join if their membership will contribute to the gang’s criminal activity. Some join to intimidate others in the community not involved in gang activity.
. Criminal Activity – Some join a gang to engage in narcotics activity and benefit from the group’s profits and protection.
. Lack of jobs for youth
. Poverty compounded by social isolation
. Domestic violence
. Negative peer networks
. Lack of parental supervision
. Early academic failure and lack of school attachment
The Fischer endorsed gang bill was characterized by one media outlet as the “Put More Black Kids in Jail Bill”. (LEO, Pip Pullen and Andrew Dewson) “Some allies of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and officials in his administration told Courier Journal they were blindsided when he threw his support behind a proposed crackdown on gang violence that they say will worsen racial disparities in the city’s criminal justice system.…” (Courier Journal, Phillip Bailey)
Fischer’s support of the gang bill is as bad as his failure to oppose the solar bill.
The Green perspective focuses not on punishment and imprisonment, but on redirection and redemption. The Green perspective asks more of Metro, of the community, of schools, churches, businesses, gangs, youth, adults and of our values. We can fulfill the identity, recognition, fellowship and brotherhood needs. We can break the social isolation of youth. We can create positive social influences. There is enough regenerative work to occupy youth creatively while teaching lessons and needed skills. Empty lots need gardened. Abandoned houses need remodeled. Trees need planted in the commons. Honeysuckle, multiflora rose, garlic mustard and other invasives in our parks need removed. Our streets and creeks are littered. The physical degradation of our city invites escape into narcotics, crime and violence. We need a ‘Louisville peace corps’ comprised of youth and adults – a Green Earth Gang – regenerating our city and ourselves. Funds spent on prosecuting and imprisoning need to be channelled into keeping youth out of gangs and in helping gang members embrace more productive lives.
City regeneration also requires a regeneration of our cultural values. Examination of media advertising makes obvious that we place inordinate value on power, money, cars, guns, alcohol, clothes, jewelry, vacations, material consumption, personal experiences, and so much more that is counter productive. Much of what is overvalued is beyond the reach of the poor. Conspicuous consumption, whether it is broadcasting personal trips or excessive spending, is socially (and environmentally) toxic. Those who cannot ‘accumulate’, ‘arrive’, or ‘achieve’ by legal means turn to illegal means. We need to de-escalate consumption, redefine our values. We need to value decent housing, a commons that is litter-free, education, skills, trades, labor, personal health, personal contribution to healthy neighborhoods, trees, parks, gardens, public transit, and the arts.
Join the Green Earth Gang. Take your green bandanas to the hood, along with friends and tools of your choice, and get to work regenerating Louisville and her people. If you do not have a green bandana, we have one for you.