Fast Focus: 'Are you concerned about gangs in the Tri-Cities? Long-time problem

March 2, 2014 

Always. To my knowledge, never has there been an age when citizens were not worried about gangs of angry boys (and girls) flexing their meanness, dealing drugs or intimidating their neighbors. But let's not forget that gangs are not necessarily made up of young men but could be vigilantes, the middle-class version of nihilists-in-bad-company.

The country looks overseas for terrorists with which to throw the might of our military arsenal but leave the local, underfunded authorities to deal with bored young hellions. Would that those billions of dollars could be spent on our own shores for jobs and education to offset the allure of street gangs. Ask yourself: Who or what, in part, creates the conditions in which gangs emerge?

But even though this still presents a problem in our time, let's not lose perspective: Gangs are not what they once were. True, even one drive-by shooting is intolerable but how many citizens today know that during the heyday of the 20s and 30s as many as 8,000 or more drive-bys occurred in one year in Chicago alone. The Capones, Purple Gang, Mafioso and others plied their own forms of brutality in an earlier age. They weren't wanted then, they're not wanted now.

Gangs are not as noble as shown in The Warriors, nor are they backdrops for Romeo and Juliets (West Side Story). Too often they're made up of people with common cause, who join the ranks because, as the social worker would say, "somethin' ain't right at home."

Maybe a few gangstas will write letters to the Herald. Maybe they're concerned about gangs, or scary people like George Zimmerman and of late, Michael Dunn. Better, maybe they're feeling more anxiety when society passes laws like "stand your ground," and issuing permits to pack.

Seems there's plenty to worry about on the streets, gangs or what they have spawned in the name of justice.

-- BINK OWEN, Walla Walla

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