Gang members answer questions
One cannot turn on the television news, read the papers, or talk with friends and not hear or talk about the growing violence throughout the Twin Cities areas that include shootings resulting in bodily injuries and/or death of both intended and/or innocent Black people.
No doubt, anyone that hates Black people must rejoice over beer during the news broadcasts. The news media reminds us of the hurt and pain of mostly single-parent mothers raising teen males who are joining gangs and entering into a world of violence.
While I was working as an assistant probation officer in Ramsey County Detention, parents would tell me many times of their ability to relax and sleep knowing their teen son was in lockup. Can you imagine the daily pain of a mother not knowing which call — what knock on the door — will deliver a message that your son is dead? A mother like this is only able to rest at night when her son is locked up in juvenile detention.
Many parents would also explain to me their reason for kicking their older teenaged sons out of the house for fear that he would expose his younger siblings to violence and drive-by home shootings. This is a very painful decision for a mother, and places her under penalty of the juvenile court because of her need to protect her younger children.
We need to start thinking about the parents and the grandparents that live in fear because their teen is living out their violent potential. To understand the current gang culture, this columnist not only asked questions while being an assistant probation officer in Ramsey County, but I also had a Black teen message calling-in line, and met with teens who represented opposing gangs.
I asked them the reasons they join gangs, how can you leave a gang, and the reason for the growth in recent killings. The answers, while expressed differently from various gang members, had similar themes.
Teens said the need to be in a gang was for neighborhood protection. One mentioned getting into hard drugs, and that fellow gang members kept up her supply. Teens seem to express the need to hide their family, not only from possible gang shootings, but being killed by the police, also. A few seemed to accept that there is no way to get out of a gang except by death, or as some teens indicated, a die-out process.
There is a prevailing acceptance that teens join gangs for money. In this columnist’s opinion, I wonder if it’s easier for a teen in our neighborhoods to get a gun than getting a job. There is also the reason of teens feeling as if they do not have a family.
I prodded for elaboration on this possibility and it appears teens do miss the traditional family of both parents. However, the absence of dad seemed to accompany a feeling of not being safe. Therefore, the gang becomes a family of both safety and security.
Teens expressed that to get out of a gang, other than die out, one has to leave the state, and severing family ties appear to be of little concern because of the feeling that there is no real strong family support. In my opinion the loss of this family support is motivated by the parent’s growing frustration and feelings of helplessness in trying to correct the teen’s behavior, leaving some parents to tell the teen to leave, go to Boys Totem Town, Red Wing, or other institution, so long as they are not bringing danger to younger siblings.
So, why the growth in killings. These answers are alarming. Many said retaliation for killing other gang members, especially, if the gang member killed was also a family member. Facebook and other forms of social media seem to play a major role in the shootings, as opposing gang members, after the killing of an opposite gang members, posts on Facebook the smoking of an opposite gang members ashes in a pipe, like marijuana.
However, despite the retaliation answer, others expressed killings because of the joy and fun of it. Most agree that too much has happened to stop the killings, and they indicated “a lot of bodies will be droppin,’” and “we gonna be bussin’ ops” (opposite gang members), as they would phrase their intent.
How, can you get out or be left alone and not forced to join a gang? Teens answered bailout, leave the states, to being a “Clucc,” meaning being hooked on drugs.
What a world for our teens to have to live in today, readers. Teens expressed that one cannot run solo or avoid being in a gang for fear of being beat down. The culture of having to be in a gang for protection is real to our teens.
In most of my conversations with youth, whether at the juvenile center, in community settings, schools, or on the message line, most teens do not want to be in gangs. Most do not enjoy living in daily fear. Most seem to accept a feeling of having no choice, not being important, and feeling they will never amount to anything.
This is a terrible time for both teens and parents. One can only pray for some divine intervention that will stop the violence.
Until divine intervention occurs, this columnist is offering several programs:
- A parent “love too much to give up” support group.
- Thinking for change: proactive prevention group for teens ages 15-17.
- Teen dropout to drop-in, and get your diploma encouragement program, for ages 16-20.
For more information call this columnist at 612-661-0923.
Lucky Rosenbloom welcomes reader’s responses to 612-661-0923, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.