Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Anti-Gang Community Measures: 5 Points, and Nine Lessons: UPDATED

Since my last discussion of anti-gang measures was mostly critical, I thought I'd post one that I thought had potential. Can't offer any happy endings, just maybe some hope.

Toronto Star Video, 2008: A Native American community in Alberta, Canada is featured in this video. The article that related to it is here (from July 20, 2008). It gives further background to what you watch.

I particularly like this video because it's beautifully shot, but not glamorous. The ex-gang member is  formerly of the Redd Alert Aboriginal Gang, a prison gang that (according to one reference--which may not be good) does not require gang service post-prison. (However, that gang is active in Edmonton area, so . . . ) He is given voice, but not authority within these eight minutes. The mother, the construction crew, the Royal Canadian Police (RCMP) local, the elderly lady, they're equally powerful, if not more so.

According to Intertribal Times, August 18, 1998, Hobbema has 12,000 people, and the RCMP reports the town/area has thirteen gangs. That's a lot of potential conflict.



There's five good points and at least eight lessons in this video:
A. The gangs came in because oil money came to the community. But the period of investment in resources is always short. The "boom" money was sucked out of the people instead of left in the bank.

Lesson 1: In international relations, there's a growing voice that says conflict occurs when there is something to gain. Small wars and gang activity don't occur when there's no money, they show up because there is money.

Lesson 2: We need to teach people how to invest. In underdeveloped countries, the World Bank (as a lender to said country) has the resource company undertake this. The oil company subcontracts this job to somebody who knows how. But we can do this in underdeveloped or blasted parts of developed nations, too. IMO, the legislation should be aimed at lenders--foreign and domestic.

B.It took an atrocity to get people of good will fired up against the gangs.
Lesson 3: We excuse the behavior of those we love. Everybody else minds their own business. Then we see, collectively, that it is a dead end. When the community mobilizes correctly, the places to hide start to dry up.

C. Prosperity brought a housing boom. The bust emptied the buildings back out and made them habitat for criminal activity. Volunteers are working to take down 29 abandoned houses. It's enormous work, and they've only removed three.
Lesson 4: You can't have abandoned property and expect to win.

Lesson 5: In international relations, the ideal is "sustainable development". You don't spend your capital on casinos, for instance, you spend it on schools, on clinics or hospitals of the right size (not huge). Things like that. Everybody knows this, but it's still hard to learn.

D. Graffiti abatement/other anti-gang measures make a constant fight, but you have to fight it.
Lesson 6: You can gain strength from a higher power, but you still need a paintbrush and some paint.

E. The time to get the kids is before age 13. You have to give them an alternative by age 12, or else they won't believe you. They won't listen. Or, they're already in ("blood in, blood out") and they can't get out.
Lesson 7: School programs have to interest the younger set, give them skills, but also contact with interested people.

Lesson 8: It takes the family, but it also takes the community.

Lesson 9: Taking Lesson 3, the hesitation of individuals and the community, Lesson 6, the combined response of the ideal and the practical, and Lesson 8: the community response--the addition of a goal-oriented team/task force in law enforcement can't do anything but good.

Anyway, that's what I get out of this video--be happy to post other rules people have gleaned out of this.

3 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Just a couple of things to add:

1) From another article on the area's problems, it looks like a 50 or so member squad of the RCMP was assigned to the area to help enforcement. I wonder if these officers are viewed as outsiders by the Cree Indians who live there. It seems like an isolated area with Edmonton being 60 miles away. With the cultural differences and the fear of police eventually leaving, it will take lots of time and energy for trust to be developed.

2) Related to your "Lesson 7," I think the players agree as evidenced by the establishment of the
Hobbema Cadet Corp
.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Your point is well-received: I added law enforcement as rule 9.

Thanks for the feedback!
Ann T.

Slamdunk said...

You are creating a valuable resource here Ann T.

On a related note, National Geographic Explorer is covering drug-fueled crimes by gangs in Ciudad Juarez and Phoenix this Sunday. The program description is here--it looks interesting as this violence continues to spill over our border.