Emotions, solutions emerge at gang meeting
November 18, 2006
Emotions ran high and, at times, tempers flared during a community meeting to discuss Carson City’s gang problem.
However, at the conclusion of the two-hour meeting that was called in response to a gang-related shoot-out on Halloween in the Northridge area that left one man dead and another injured, there was a sense of accomplishment – if not success.
“I don’t know about successful, but it was a good beginning to, hopefully, success,” said Evelyn Wakeling, a resident in attendance. “I think it was a good exchange of ideas, but we still have a long way to go as a community.”
Sheriff’s deputies began Friday’s bilingual forum with a plea to the nearly 200 community members – a mix of Hispanics, whites and community leaders – who attended for help in identifying gang members and reporting gang-related activity.
They followed with a presentation which outlined 12 warning signs of potential gang affiliation, which included indicators such as tattoos and form of dress, as well as flashing hand signs, hanging out with other gang members and having nicknames.
Some members of the audience felt attacked, rather than informed.
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“I was worried about the presentation,” said Elvira Diaz. “I know they did it with a good intention, but it’s part of the Latino culture to have nicknames and hang out in groups. Don’t confuse family with gang activity. That’s how it felt.”
Although there were moments of elevated tension, there were also solutions proposed from community members.
For example, Wakeling asked Sheriff Ken Furlong why deputies did not respond when she called about graffiti in the Northridge area before the shoot-out.
“Why did it take a shooting for you to do something about it?” she asked.
Before Furlong could reply, Francisco Rodriguez, who had been one of the most outspoken critics of the sheriff’s department at the meeting, responded.
“They only have so many people. It will take all of us, not just the sheriff’s department to erase the graffiti,” he said. “We have to work as a community, not as individuals. It doesn’t matter if we’re white, brown or pink – we’re a community.”
Hector Gomez, a father of two, urged parents to rely less on law enforcement to combat the problems and more on themselves.
“We are looking at the problem from above,” he explained. “We aren’t looking at the roots. As parents, we need to make sure our children don’t join gangs. We need to find a solution all together.”
Javier Ramirez, the city’s citizen outreach coordinator, said it was good for community members to have an outlet for their frustration and anger.
“It helps to stir up what’s laying underneath,” he said. “What we need to do is have this kind of meeting more often. We want everybody to participate.”
And, he said, the problem is not exclusive to the Hispanic community.
“If a bullet is shot out of a gun, it’s going to hit someone,” he said. “It could be someone who’s in a gang, or someone who’s totally innocent. It’s everybody’s problem.”
Ramirez is working to form the Carson City Community Coalition to address gang violence.
Sheriff Furlong thanked those who showed up and voiced their opinions and urged them to join the fight to combat gangs and prevent future killings.
“We do not have the resources to bring someone back to life,” he said. “This is what this is all about.”
• Contact reporter Teri Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1272.
Indicators of possible gang affiliation:
• Moniker (nickname)
• Tattoos/style of dress
• Possession of drawings, letters, graffiti
• Photos of hand signs
• Identification by law enforcement
• Court identification
• Associates (known gang affiliations)
• Informants (civilian or inmates)
• Reports from other gang-intelligence units
• Identified by other gang members
Indicadores de relaciones posibles con las pandillas:
• Misma confesión
• Apodo (otro nombre de pandilla)
• Tatuajes/come se viste
• Posesión de dibujos, cartas, graffiti
• Fotos con señas
• Identificación de policía
• Identificado por la corte
• Socios/amigos que toman parte en pandillas
• Informantes (civiles o presos)
• Identificados por las noticias, periódicos, television
• Reportes de otras unidades de inteligencia de pandillas
• Idendificado de otro miembros de una pandilla
You can help
For more information, or to join the Carson City Community Coalition, call Javier Ramirez at 887-2101 ext. 1209.