ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has reported that there are tens of thousands of gang members across the state. Now, we’re learning there may be no getting rid of them.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden attended a meeting Wednesday with the head of the state gang task force.
Those comments came last night during a Buckhead Safety Task Force meeting that addressed criminal street gangs and the threat they pose to our communities.
Seiden learned that when it comes to the fight against gangs, it’s a battle between criminals and law enforcement that may never end.
It’s more than just a statewide problem.
“We’re not going to eliminate it. We are not going to win for lack of a better term, but we can lose,” said Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge Ken Howard. “We’ve got to work hard to push it back and then hold a line somewhere.”
Criminal street gangs are invading cities and suburbs across the country, and in many cases the leaders of these criminal enterprises are recruiting children to do their dirty work.
“Because they understand that they will get a lighter sentence and the way they entice these individuals is, ‘Hey, you’ve got to make your rank. You’ve got to prove yourself.’ These kids buy into it,” Howard said.
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Howard is in charge of the GBI statewide gang task force. He was a featured guest speaker at last night’s virtual Buckhead Safety Task Force meeting.
“Some folks will look at it like, ‘Well, they’re just shooting one another,’” Howard said.
But Howard said gang violence poses a threat to everyone, including innocent victims, like 8-year-old Secoreia Turner. Turner was riding in a vehicle with her mother and a friend in 2020 when police say she was shot and killed near a Wendy’s where members of the Bloods gang had set up a barricade.
Whether it’s racist gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood or international street gangs, like MS13, criminals are using social media to recruit new members.
In fact, Buckhead resident and president of Formulytics, Tom Ratchford, shared some of his company’s research with the group.
“This is a Crip recruitment exercise with hundreds of youth from an apartment complex here in Atlanta,” Ratchford said during the presentation. “After their recruitment, then they all adopt the style and effect of that national organization.”
When it comes to combating this problem, it’s not just up to law enforcement. It also is going to take prosecutors and judges to do their part.
We know that Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and Fulton County District Attorney Fanni Willis are supporting legislation that will make it easier to prosecute gangs and their members.
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