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Gang Shooting in Westwood

February 18, 1988

Hahn is echoing the identical argument that every tyrant throughout history has used to gain power. "Give up your civil rights and your freedom so I can protect you from the bad guys." The problem is who decides who the bad guys are. The usual, and predictable, outcome is oppression and persecution of members of racial, religious or political minorities. Hahn's advocation of denying civil rights to street gang members is a fearful threat to the civil liberties of every one of us.

A more reasonable method of ending the power of gangs would be to eliminate their economic windfall from illegal drugs sales, and to punish all the members for any criminal activities of that gang.

Legalization of drugs would deny the large profits from drug sales by the gangs, thereby destroying their economic base. We have tried to end drug abuse by law enforcement and imprisonment for many years, but every year the problem seems worse. It is time to try a different approach.

By tightening up our criminal conspiracy laws we could convict and punish each and every member of a gang for any criminal act that any members of that gang were involved in. Most gang members, faced with a jail sentence for a crime committed by another member, would certainly rethink gang membership.

History teaches us that when law enforcement breaks down, vigilante justice follows. Is the specter of vigilante justice imminent?

GLENN BUCHANAN

Sherman Oaks

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