Gangs are becoming a growing problem in American society. More young
people are turning to gangs to solve problems in there lives. When youths join
gangs they drop social activities with family, friends and school. Members fall
behind their classmates in school and do not try. A study shows that less than
1% of gang bangers is literate1. Gangs destroy teenager lives and destroy their
chances for a good education and happy life. Gangs are now a haven for rats.
Teenagers are joining gangs every day. They join gangs for many reasons.
A former gang member known as G-Ball was very young when he joined a his gang.
He and a friend would play a game. They would pose as gang members to be cool.
Then police arrested him and other gang members for stealing cars. G-Ball never
wanted to be a gang member he wanted to act and dress like one.
Another former gang member, Alonzo, age 17 wanted to join a gang because
he had nothing to do after school. Both he and G-Ball joined a gang by choice.
Keith, age 17 was forced into a gang. If he didn’t join, he’d be hunted down
and killed by the gang members. When older family member already in a gang,
younger siblings are often forced in.
Many gangs use graffiti to show their power and to mark their turf.
“Everywhere you go you see graffiti.” Professor Allen Walker Read of Columbia
University said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Gangs in Parma are very
active with the pen. They “tag” their property buildings and houses everywhere.
Police want to know where all the parents are. Why aren’t they doing anything
about this? Many people in Parma want to know the answer to the same questions.
Cincinnati also has active gangs. “Graffiti is a creeping problem in
every neighborhood and in and on public buildings” said Mayor Roxanne Qualls of
Cincinnati said. Graffiti is so bad that Star Bank has donated $25,000 to have
students to help clean up all the graffiti.2 The city made a group called the
“E-Racers”. These people are ready to clean up all the graffiti. The gangs set
school buses on fire, tear-up park benches, and drive across lawns including the
police station lawns.
Graffiti comes in many forms. Pictures are used to mark property (turf)
but you may also see strange writing below it. They say to other gangs that
they’re the best, the number 1 gang, and to stay away from them. Here are some
writings found in California.
Many gang members wear similar clothes or color. A school in Baytown, Texas has
banned its students from wearing the following “gang clothing”
-Solid red or black shirt with pants or skirt
-Solid red or white shirt over a black shirt
-Red and black flannel shirt or jacket
-Blue and black flannel shirt or jacket
-Clothing with Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Los Angles Raiders, Kings,
University of Nevada-Las Vegas, or University of Miami Logos
Everyone believes these types of clothes are worn by gang members. “But what if
they start wearing 3-piece suits or Mickey Mouse T-shirts? When will it end.”
Richard Sallivan, 40.3
Many gangs use hand signs (like sign language). Signs are flashed to
gang members or to rival gangs. These signs say we are number one, or Power.
They also have signs to show victory and a primo sign after a fight or gang war.
Signs can represent gang names. Some examples are Mafia Crips, Athens Park Boys,
or the Underground crip. Signs are shown below.
While gangs grow and get more powerful, what is being done? City police
departments play a big role in stopping violence and drugs. The most popular
program for school aged children is the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance
Education). D.A.R.E. teaches kids that violence and drugs are not a good way of
life. This program takes place in grades’ 4-8. In the Phoenix Police
Department they support the G.R.E.A.T. Program. It teaches children avoidance
of drugs and gangs. It shows children other ways to have power and belonging.
In G.R.E.A.T. they have 3rd and 4th grade summer session and a 7th and 8th grade
3 Cindy Horswell, Gangs Get a Dress Down (March 28, 1992) Houston Chronicle.
There are many ways the government and police try to control gangs.
Many cities that have large gang problems have special gang units. The National
government is stepping in to help. During National Gang Violence Prevention,
1994 (September 12- 16) President Clinton of The United States sent out a
proclamation. He urged communities and citizens to come together to stop
violence. The President is working on two time offenders, gun bands, more
police, and harder punishments. While violence increases along with awareness
why won’t it stop? ?
Associated Press. “Quick response teams fight graffiti.” The Plain Dealer
30 Jun. 1994.
Breckenridge, Tom. “Gang graffiti makes its mark on Parma.” The Plain
Dealer 26 May 1994.
Clinton, William J. “National Gang Violence Orivencion Week, 1994.”
The White House: Office of the President of the United States Sept.
Delgado, Robert. “Anti-Gang Movement” Doug’s Home Page Sept. 28, 1995.
Gillispie, Mark. “Chicago gangs still thrive in the city of their birth”
The Plain Dealer 12 Jan. 1992.
Gillispie, Mark. “Federal agencies shift concentration to gangs”
The Plain Dealer 19 Jan. 1992.
Gillispie, Mark; Shepard, Paul. “Former gang members recall ‘gentler times’.”
The Plain Dealer 12 Jan, 1992.
Gillispie, Mark; Shepard, Paul. “Suburban police hoping to nip gangs in the
The Plain Dealer 17 Jan 1992.
Horswell, Cindy. “Gangs get a dressing down.” Houston Chronicle 28 March
Marrison, Benjamin. “Mayor seeks ‘New Cleveland’.” The Plain Dealer 1
Neff, Jon. “On-line Guide to Gang Signs and Graffiti” Highway 51 1995
Phoenix Police Department — G.R.E.A.T. Phoenix Police Department Home
Page 1994 Internet.
Welson, Roger. “Off the wall” Natural History May 1993