Goddammit, shut up! You invited me here to get my view of this situation, and you can do me the courtesy of listening to me -- uninterrupted. Then you'll have some facts to use to ask some informed questions for a change.
In the midst of the 1963 controversy over the Group Guidance detached worker program, suspended while the program and the police worked out a compromise regarding its means and goals, a series of seminars was held for some forty juvenile officers. First they heard from the head of the LAPD's Juvenile Division, who lambasted the program to the full and vocal approval of the audience. Then they heard from the director of the program, who received a stony silence at first and then a very vocal rejection of his whole message about working with gangs.
Finally, I was invited to present the researcher's viewpoint and findings to date about the program. I thought of myself as Mr. Neutral, the disinterested bystander offering an objective appraisal, but this audience would not permit that stance. It seems, in the words of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles about nonaligned nations during the cold war, that "it is immoral to be neutral." I could hardly get started before the antagonistic questions and interruptions threatened to destroy my presentation -- how could I, they wanted to know, even think of being "objective" about these murderous gang members?
The outburst quoted at the top of the page was mine. And it worked miracles. Forty cops sat up, fell silent, listened attentively, and then asked useful questions -- each one preceded by "Sir, what do you think. . . ." That was my first public utterance on gang issues and, with few exceptions, the last for almost the next thirty years. Then in 1992, I found myself "coming out" as a policy-concerned researcher. The hyperbole about gangs and crack, my increasing awareness of