The battle against gangs
EDITORIAL - 03/07/2006
In the Elmhurst and Corona neighborhoods in Queens, the evidence of gang activity includes graffiti on walls promoting "La Gran Raza," and young men wearing gang markings in their clothing, jewelry, and tattoos on their bodies.
On Sunday, State Assemb. Jose Peralta and State Sen. John Sabini proposed legislation that aims to give police and school officials more power to fight the growing violence associated with gang activity in the city. Peralta and Sabini made the announcement in front of Newtown High School in Queens, where 30 members of an alleged gang attacked three teenagers last fall.
In a series last October, EL DIARIO/LA PRENSA reported that Mexican and Central American street gangs - maras - are flourishing in Queens and New Jersey. Peralta says Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, is the fastest growing gang in Queens.
NYPD statistics show that the number of gang related incidents in the 110 Precinct, which includes Elmhurst and Corona, went up to 64 incidents last year from 58 in 2004.
The presence of the gangs is changing the behavior of neighborhood residents, who now rush to get past certain sections of Roosevelt Avenue and Linden Park before dark because that`s when gang members come out and take over.
The proposed legislation would create a databank of gangs that are active nationwide, and would give the school system the power to ban gang colors and symbols in schools. The legislation would define certain gang activities as crimes.
We applaud the efforts of Peralta and Sabini to attack this serious problem in our midst. The legislation also calls for resources for after school programs, which are essential. If we are serious about keeping our young people away from gangs, we must provide other options and give them something else to do at night, on the weekends and for the rest of their lives.
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“Nobody's perfect. We're all just one step up from the beasts and one step down from the angels.”