Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gangs- A Look Back at 20 Years Ago

I have been collecting newspapers of all the major disasters in California and the U.S since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  While looking in the paper of October 21, 1991 for a story about the Oakland Hills Fire Storm, I came across an article that I think most of you will find very interesting.  Here are quotes from an article written by Laura Kurtzman, a staff writer for the Mercury News in 1989, titled "Complaints about gang crime finally spur action".
Mayor Susan Hammer

"I think we are probably at a crossroads" declares San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, who broke the official silence by mentioning gangs in her state of the city address last January.  Since then, largely in response to community complaints, Hammer has appointed a gang task force and committed $1 million for new anti-drug and anti-gang programs.  We're either going to get a handle on this or we're going to get a real crisis".

"And with the city, county and school budgets all absorbing cutbacks, there is little money to do more."  Staff writer.

"School officials, watching younger and younger children get involved, call for more recreation and after-school activities.  Community leaders talk about a lack of jobs."

"Some of the growth in local gang activity may even be the result of imprisonment; gang members in jail learn new ways of organizing from more sophisticated inmates."  Staff writer.

"Unlike authorities in other counties, who freely give out gang names and information, San Jose police rarely identify gang crimes.  They don't even use the word "gang" to describe their own gang unit.  Instead, it is called "Violent Crimes Team".  Staff writer.

"The less talk about specific gang activity the better, said Lt. Craig Buckhout, who supervises the gang unit. By putting that stuff in the paper, you just pump them up."  (This is in response to then Chief McNamara and the city council's complaint about the paper continuing their series on gangs in San Jose). 
Chief Joseph McNamara

"If we admit we have a gang problem, who would want to come to live in our community?"  Unidentified San Jose officer.

"Faced with growing violence, schools so far have concentrated on trying to keep campuses neutral by banning gang colors."  School Superintendent.

"Some school officials try to negotiate truces between rival groups if tensions rise." School Official.

"Franklin-McKinley School District hopes to start an anti-gang program in January to persuade elementary school children not to join gangs."  School District Official.

"Rehabilitation does not occur" Ron Deloach, San Jose P.D.

"Most law enforcement and community workers agree Santa Clara County is ripe for a far more serious gang problem, particularly if economic conditions worsen."  Editor.

"More and more street gangs are selling drugs and becoming better armed."  Police official.

"Whether or not gangs in San Jose become as influential as L.A., that's all a matter of time"  Ron Deloach, SJPD

I wonder if Officer Deloach knew just how prophetic that statement would become. 


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