CEC Meeting Focuses On Signs Of Youth Gang Activity
Community District Education Council 18's monthly meeting last week focused on the rise of gang violence and gang initiation within School District 18. A representative from the Brooklyn District Attorney's office offered a variety of methods for gang awareness.
Andrea Robinson, executive assistant district attorney of the Gang Bureau, admitted, "the number of gang members prosecuted by the DA's office is embarrassing."
"We are not proactive enough," she said. "Parents, teachers, and guardians should be aware of what their children are doing, who they hang out with, and the clothes they wear. Parents should get to know their children's friends as well as their friends' parents."
Robinson explained that youths generally join gangs for several reasons, including 1) being forced to take a side, 2) protection or 3) they may be seeking a sense of family they feel they don't get at home.
According to Robinson, gangs actively recruit members at junior high schools, resulting in "an alarming rise in younger gang members."
"Younger members," the ADA said, "are recruited because they can not be prosecuted." Youths younger than 15 are considered juveniles.
The expert noted that parents should sometimes suspect gang activity by the clothing preference of children. In general, she explained, gangs dress in a similar fashion and wear certain colors.
"Members of the 'Crips" often wear K-Swiss sneakers and blue and white clothing," Robinson said, "while members of the 'Bloods' tend to wear red clothing and the Calvin Klein label (CK for Crips Killer)."
To reduce exposing their gang connections, Robinson noted that Bloods may just wear red shoelaces and Crips may only wear blue plastic bracelets.
Another obvious sign of gang affiliation are doo rags, which she said are worn by nine out of 10 youths involved in a gang membership.
"If your child is wearing clothing that you did not purchase or carrying extra amounts of money," Robin-son said, "those are warning signs parents need to be aware of. They need to be extra aware if their children are 'gang wannabes' (they are not in a gang but dress like they are). This puts them in danger from rival gang members."
To combat and prevent gang activity, the ADA said her office conducts workshops, gathers intelligence, manages short-term and long-term investigations, prosecutes gang members, and arrests drug dealers.
Robinson said representatives from the Brooklyn DA's office are scheduled to visit borough public schools later this month to talk to the students and teachers about gang activity emphasizing how peer pressure and bad choices can ruin their lives.
She also spoke about the difficulty of prosecuting a gang member, alluding to a recent case in which a Bloods gang member killed a rival at a party of 200 people, yet only one person testified.
"People fear for their safety and don't want to snitch," Robinson said, but assured the audience that her office is committed to the safety of witnesses and will relocate families, if necessary, to guarantee their safety.
Anyone with questions regarding gang-related issues should contact the Brooklyn District Attorney's Gang Bureau at 1-718-250-3910.