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Gang Sweeps in Los Angeles

April 27, 1988

Recently, I've been reading the letters and stories relating to gangs. And I must say that it is the highest order of idiocy that would allow a society to spend an estimated $300,000 on one weekend of police overtime. And not to mention the cost of intervention by the National Guard if it was called in on this supposed crisis. The situation can quite possibly be quashed simply by offering these "vicious young hoodlums" alternatives to the nightmares that they live.

These "cold, calculating criminals," as they are played up to be, range in the majority of ages from 13 to 18--merely children. Not an organized force of terrorists, as they are alleged to be. They are children of a people responding to the economic pressures placed upon them by a society that is quick to appropriate funds for police overtime so that sweeps may be conducted, but a society that has been sending us the same message for more than a decade--there isn't enough money in our state's budget to address the gang crisis in terms of economic and social alternatives.

Pandemonium and panic are everywhere we turn. In our schools, in our homes, and in our churches. And in our newspapers we find the reactionary opinions. When will the responsible leaders of our society realize that wiretaps and sweeps won't solve this problem that we all face?

And I can tell you from a personal perspective that every time one of "us" is put through this process, we come away from it suffering an educational, financial, or social setback. And with a deep loathing for the person or persons, who blindly cast this vicious spell of incarceration upon us--merely for belonging to the only alternative left for us, gangs!

WILLIAM PACKER

Los Angeles

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