There’s a critical issue in the U.S. involving multiple murders, drugs and heartless thugs. Entire neighborhoods are under siege, their residents house-bound for fear of being mugged or beaten. At most times of the day or night, outsiders dare not walk or drive through these neighborhoods for fear they might leave in a body bag.
The issue used to be confined to large urban areas; now it’s spilling out into the burbs, middle-sized and smaller towns, even rural villages. The bad guys, and quite a few girls, are of disparate origins who all managed to embrace one unique and deadly lifestyle. Most are Americans, but a surprisingly large number are from Puerto Rico, Central America, Mexico, Jamaica and assorted Asian ports of call.
The lifestyle is gangbanging. According to federal stats, there are nearly 1 million gang members in the U.S. Their numbers are responsible for an astounding 80% of all crimes. That sounds high, but it’s from the FBI. A single gang, the Salvadoran M-13, has a presence in at least 42 states. And where there are gangs, there’s death. Over a 10-year span, 5,750 people were killed in violence perpetrated by gangs – in ONE COUNTY (Los Angeles). Chicago gang violence killed more gang members and local residents in 2009 than the combined total of U.S. fatalities in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
I know of gang deaths. I was intimately connected to one. During a down period in my life, I moved into a big-city barrio controlled by a vicious Puerto Rican gang. I lived there with my family for two years. Two years; not just a political ½ hour photo-op walk- through. That was almost a quarter-century ago, but nothing has changed…if anything, it has gotten worse.
My homies were in an ongoing war with a bigger, more powerful gang. The two enemy factions took turns killing each other with numerous drive-by shootings.
One episode stands out in particular. It was about 6AM when my wife and I were jarred awake by the pop, pop, pop of a pistol. We didn’t even bother calling the cops. Such gunfire was an almost nightly ritual. Suddenly, the sounds of a full auto Uzi filled the air. Terrified screams quickly followed (yes, even gangbangers get scared shitless). This was happening 10 feet from our front door. After the fact, the house across the street had multiple bullet holes in its door.
We dived for the floor and the phone knowing the police couldn’t possibly arrive in time to stop the deadly intent of the rival gang. And it was deadly. After a couple of minutes of silence I got up and slowly opened the door. A body lay in the street, unmoving. I recognized the victim as a likeable kid whose gang moniker was Little Papi. He had been shot in the neck and was clearly dead. Down the street, barely moving, was the local gang enforcer, ‘Lucky’ and I suppose he was. He had taken seven slugs and lived…as a lifelong paraplegic.
We let Little Papi’s mother into our house to use the phone. She made a number of calls to family back in Puerto Rico. It was a wrenching experience to see this devastated mother have to relay such horrible family news over and over. I later went to visitation for Papi. The mother locked her arms around me and wouldn’t let go for at least five minutes. It was as if this white man could make it all better. I couldn’t.
Three other gang members were killed within 100 feet of our dwelling during our stay.
Thousands die; billions are wasted, drugs flow freely and millions are terrified. Yet, there’s hardly a peep, at least not any that I’ve heard, from the Republican presidential aspirants. Being real here, nobody wants some dim-witted ‘Pee-wee’ walking up to you at a public appearance and doing what was done to Gabrielle Giffords, just for the sake of impressing gang elders. That I understand. But as we saw in Gabby’s case, it comes with the territory. And you can’t let it freeze you in place as it has Mitt, Rick, Ron and Newt.
Could the larger reason for little or no interest in the issue be that it’s a poor people’s problem? No matter what they tell you, none of the four millionaire republican candidates has ever been poor. As I’ve stated in other pieces, Santorums’ dad was a Veteran’s Administration Clinical Psychologist and mom was a VA nurse. In today’s money, I suspect the pair was paid the equivalent of close to 80 – 100,000 dollars. Not poor by any means.
Having now seen some home movies of Romney, where he appeared to be happily scampering wherever he damn well pleased, I’m persuaded there were few monetary limitations on his youthful activities. Gingrich is a self-described ‘Army brat’ as his stepfather was career military. Another federal government hater like Santorum who was raised in the comfort of a parent working for the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. Steppop’s love of service didn’t rub off on Newt who hid himself away from Viet Nam with college and young fatherhood deferments.
For all his goofy politics, Ron Paul stands out personally as the highest quality guy of the bunch. His family was in the dairy business and Paul wasn’t afraid of work as a child. He DID join the military and stands head and shoulders above the others as an American ideal. For all his virtues, Ron take responsibility for yourself Paul is highly unlikely to attack the gang issue.
One thing I know for sure, a solution to the gang problem is not in the ethos of the Republican political culture. If the problem is to be even remotely addressed, it will be Democrats doing it.