Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Kids from Positive, Respectful Homes Seldom Join Gangs ; YOUTH RESOURCES

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Kids from Positive, Respectful Homes Seldom Join Gangs ; YOUTH RESOURCES

Article excerpt

When networks of people collaborate for good causes nationwide, the benefits to those in need of services are many. The downside to growth of nationwide networking groups is that it is easier for criminals to also benefit. The proliferation of gang activity nationwide and now locally is evidence of the power of networking.

The youth we work with like to use the acronym "NIMBY." While we would all like to think that gang activity is NIMBY (not in my backyard), it is.

According to the Evansville Police Department's Public Information Officer, Jason Cullum, the number of local gangs and their members fluctuate, but we have nine active gangs.

"There may be more, but they do not draw enough attention to be on our radar," Cullum said. "There may be less at times, depending on the mood of the gang members. We have around 300 people we believe to be gang members. That number also fluctuates."

Networks of gangs are also prevalent in surrounding communities. Gang members are involved in more than only violent crimes. According to the Department of Justice (www.justice.gov), a Bloods gang member was sentenced last fall in Nashville, Tenn., to eight years in prison for participating in racketeering activity related to his membership in the Bloods criminal enterprise.

Antonio Washington, 22, aka "T. O.," of Nashville, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger to serve five years of supervised release following his prison term. Washington pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy.

According to court documents, Washington and other Bloods gang members and associates agreed to commit multiple acts of robbery, narcotics trafficking and bribery on behalf of the Bloods gang. But they were also violent. Washington and numerous other members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Middle Tennessee to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary actions against fellow gang members, discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, and initiate or "jump in" new members by beating them for a period of time, among other things. …

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