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Confronting the Gang Problem

January 16, 1991

Is anyone else sick and tired of the increasing amount of gang activity that we are witnessing in our communities? I know I am. Let me just share a few experiences I've had in the past month:

After attending a musical at a local civic center, my family and I found 30 to 40 gang members milling around our cars. Some were drinking, many flashed gang signs and otherwise taunted and threatened many of the theatergoers.

On another evening, my family and I pulled up to a stoplight on our way home from a movie. Next to us a mini-truck full of gang members taunted, flashed hand signs and verbally threatened us in an effort to intimidate us.

On several occasions at local shopping centers, I've seen families and elderly people literally run off the sidewalk by gangs.

It's time for the majority of us who are law-abiding citizens to reclaim the streets of our communities from these hoodlums. It's time to think about our right to walk the streets of our community free of intimidation by these thugs. What can we do?

Call on civic leaders and local politicians and demand that more of our tax money be spent to increase, not decrease, our woefully understaffed police departments. Support your local police department's anti-gang and graffiti removal units. Organize Neighborhood Watch groups in your communities. Contact your local school board members and insist that they support anti-gang programs.

Our communities must make an effort to offer constructive alternatives to gang membership, such as sports clubs, Boys and Girls clubs, and job training centers. Some communities have even gone as far as holding the parents of these misguided youths legally responsible for their children's actions.

No community is immune to gang activity anymore. It's spreading to all socioeconomic classes and neighborhoods. If we are to purge our communities of this disease, we must act now and act together.

CHRISTOPHER KINGSLEY

Oxnard

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