6.11.2009

The Attracting Power of So-Called ‘Gangs': Should churches, schools and community organizations study it?

By Deric Muhammad
-Final Call Guest Columnist-

This subject title has been very heavy on my heart for some time. So when I decided to write about it, I reached out to a very close friend of mine who lives in Chicago. He is a businessman who was storied a gang leader that turned his life around. Since I've never been in an organized gang, I decided that I should get some intimate perspectives about what was it that attracted him and others to street organizations which society calls ‘gangs.'

I called him several times. He did not respond. This was unlike him. A couple of days later I received an email from his wife informing me that he'd been murdered in his old neighborhood on the Westside of Chicago. That Friday I was on a plane to Chicago to memorialize the brother. I preface this subject with this vignette because I believe that it speaks to the urgency concerning the discussion that I would like to spark.

The National Gang Intelligence Center for the U.S. Justice Department reported earlier this year that gang membership in the U.S. has swelled to nearly one-million members. The report indicates that membership is up 200,000 since 2005 with some 900,000 gang members in local communities while 147,000 languish in prison. Depending on one's definition of a so-called gang member, I would have to assume the actual numbers may very well surpass their findings.

Read the full article at: http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_6071.shtml

Photo: MGN Online