Myths and Facts about
By the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los
Angeles cited below my article
For all those people who have lost a
loved one due to the senseless act of violence. I am so sorry for
your loss and for your grief and sorrow. May you turn to God and
know that He has promised you that the time you have here without
your loved one will be but a puff of smoke compared to the enternity
that you will be with them. I in no way condone murder, violence and
hate. I don't have the words to comfort you or to replace the great
loss that has created a endless hole that is in your
heart. I just know if I don't try and reach those who are involved
in gang violence than who will if not us? I do this in honor of your
loved one so that they have not died in vain. Please read: Why do bad things happen to us?
As a Reverend, it is vital that I not
only represent God's truth, but that I help people dispel their
fears in our society and arm them with the truth of what our real
problems are in society. We should provide viable
solutions that may help bring people to live together more in a
state of harmony and peace, instead of living in a state
of fear and prejudice. This seems to affect all cultures
and ethic groups, including all gang members.
The truth is, FBI statistics
indicate that gang violence is on the rise in 2006 and 2007 in
some parts of Southern California.
It is not my purpose in my life to
take this documented fact to spread fear among the faith based
believers that are in our community.
God is not the author of fear, Satan
is. God expects us to put our faith in Him and to
believe that He will never leave us or forsake us.
The bittersweet truth is that we
should never group or label anyone. (I'm well aware that it is vital
to do so for statistical purposes as well as for other human
resources such as in law enforcement.)
I am talking about trying to truly
shape other peoples hearts so that they can have a chance to know
God's unconditional Love, Grace, and His forgiveness for our sins,
and that we are all sinners. How can we truly help others and obey
God's commandment that we are to go into all the corners of the
world and share the greatest love story of all time about what God
has done for us if were busy judging and labeling the very person
that Jesus came to save. For we are all God's children.
What I'm referring to is as long a we
live in a society where we label people into groups for the sole
purpose to bring them down a level below us, we are no longer trying
to live with the spirit of cooperation in caring about others. We
will not be blessed by taking away their face of humanity and
replacing it with a negative meaning label.
I know for a fact that when someone
even uses the term gang member that usually a negative thought comes
to mind, usually drug dealing and murder. Are we not being an
obstacle to God's Will by trying to tell others that gang members
can not be a blessing to society as a whole? We are not
qualified to judge others.
Our purpose is to go out and teach
God's love to every living creature, and that means everyone. God
will continue to shape the hearts and the lives of the gang
members that continually break the law to one day glorify Him
in everything they say and do, whether from the inside of their
living room or from the inside walls of a prison.
Let's keep this real in God's eyes.
God knows if we grew up in the very same circumstances as others in
the very same environment, where we did not have the same choices
and options as many others had, that we would try to seek the
fellowship of others who are just trying to survive. I'm not talking
about criminal activity. I'm talking about surviving in a world that
they're trying to make sense of. And just like the rest of us,
trying to stay alive another day.
I do not condone violence, murder, or
drug dealing of any kind, and I do not condone grouping every gang
member into one group so that we can come to a place in our heart
that it is OK to see them kill each other off. Many are just trying
to survive the best way that they can in the environment and
circumstances that they are in.
They are people who care and love
their families very much. They have the same unconditional love as
you and me. They do many random acts of kindness everyday for you
and for me who are total strangers to them. Most importantly, they
are all children of God who need to understand that we are no better
than them and that we are all equal in God's eyes. May you always
believe in the goodness of others and give everyone the chance to
know God's love by the example that you set for all
I could quote scripture after
scripture that we should forgive others that wrong us. I do not feel
that I am half as qualified as those who have lost a loved one, so I
will relate the current horrific story from those not long ago who
did live this nightmare of losing a precious loved one.
I was watching the victim's loved
ones stand one by one and tell the most notorious serial killer of
all time that their God tells them that they have to forgive all
others, and how one by one many forgave him. It broke my heart and
it shamed me when I thought that they are a much better person than
me; that their obedience and love for God came first. I learned the
purest form of God's love and forgiveness that day. And I pray that
the day will come when the term "gang member" will bring about a
positive thought one day. A day where all gang members will
have the same power as Joseph did.
Read May You and all Gang Members have this
I learned from the fact sheet
below that most gang members are not drug dealers and most Los
Angeles gangs are not organized drug distribution
The fact sheet below will also
address the issue of "people injure people and guns kill
I have personally witnessed gang
member violence on several occasions, including drive-bys and
attempted murder. I have also witnessed the quality of the mercy of
non-gang members in my life, and I can not ignore that quality of
mercy that has saved my life with the grace of God more than once.
God does not condone
murder in anyway, shape, or form. I have witnessed other
gang members who have exhibited mercy on non-gang members on several
occasions. And the fact sheet below clearly shows that most of
the violence "involving gang members continues to result from
fights over turf, status, and revenge."
tragic and sad fact is that many innocent victims, including babies, are being
killed from the cross fire of gang retaliation.
Locking people up for violence
may be part of the solution, but law enforcement cannot deal
with this problem alone.
Just like teachers cannot
teach our children all on their own.
We as a society
cannot give up hope that it starts with us at home.
We can still reach our children and instill in their
hearts and minds that real power is not about taking a human life,
but about having the power to take a life and granting mercy.
Without this hope that we can make a difference, I believe that the
quality of our lives will forever perish.
I believe that
we should raise the bar of accountability in our society
and recognize that not only should we be more aware
of our own actions, we should have a choice to either be a
blessing or a curse to God and to others. We should not leave a
legacy to our children by teaching them our past prejudices or how to judge and condemn
others. Instead we should leave a legacy that blesses our
children as well as society. A legacy that it is always
about the quality of our mercy and compassion to all
I believe that the
judging and condemning of others only leads to further prejudice and
promotes disrespect that is allowed to be exhibited and
tolerated towards others, and it is this judging and
prejudice that is the stepping stone that
helps escalate male violence towards women.
I believe that we have
to understand that this respect and mercy towards others starts in
the home, starting with the way we treat our own mothers, sisters
and our elders.
We have to have a
belief system that we can no longer tolerate further disrespect
or violence towards women; that it is
unacceptable, whether by our words or our actions, and
that we have to protect all females from birth to throughout their
must understand that most men are bigger and stronger than
most women for a divine reason: to protect and to cherish
the females in our lives as a blessed vessel from God. They are
responsible to help mankind with one of the most important
task in God's divine plan, and that is for mankind to
procreate, and that all men should cherish the wisdom that
all mothers and fathers try to past down to their children, hoping
that the quality of their lives will make a difference to society
from generation to generation.
We should understand that
our lives here are but a puff of smoke compared to our eternity
in Heaven or Hell. It is all about the quality of our mercy and
compassion that starts with how we treat those who are physically
weaker than ourselves, such as the females in our lives. Which in
turn teaches us how to naturally show compassion to all others when
we leave our homes as young adults.
May we all be blessed
with what is real in doing it God's way, and
that is real power is showing others the same mercy and forgiveness
that we pray God's grace shows us on judgment
FACTS ABOUT GANG VIOLENCE
||Gang killings in Los Angeles County
are the result of drug wars.|
||Most gang homicides are not random,
nor are they only disputes over drugs or some other crime. The
vast majority of violent incidents involving gang members
continue to result from fights over turf, status, and
||Gangs are only an inner city
||Different types of cities (urban,
suburban, etc) in Los Angeles County have local street gangs.
While a majority of the gang related slayings were in the
urban core, in the San Fernando Valley, the murder rate spiked
60% in 2001 because of gang related killings.
||Los Angeles is the gang capital of the
world and will never again be a place to raise children and
live a civilized life.|
||Over the last several hundred years, a
number of cities in the world have been proclaimed the "gang
capital". London, England, was first given this title. Just
before our civil war, New York was reported to have
approximately 30,000 street gang members. At other times,
Philadelphia and Chicago were proclaimed gang capitals. All of
these cities, with degrees of success, have dealt with the
problem and passed the title on to other cities. |
||Youth join gangs to sell drugs, commit
crime, and make money.|
||Youth join gangs for many reasons.
However, while gang members commit more types of crime (and
more often) than non-gang youth, many gang members are not
heavily involved in crime. Most gang members are not drug
dealers and most Los Angeles gangs are not organized drug
distribution rings. |
||Gangs are tightly organized, cohesive
units with stable powerful leadership.|
||Most gangs are loosely knit, with
several members who fill leadership roles, depending on age
and situation. Membership fluctuates and gang members have
varying degrees of commitment to the gang. Gang cohesiveness
is highest when the gang is challenged by other groups or by
||Ever since there have been street
gangs there have been drive by shootings. Guns donít kill
people; people kill people.|
||Shootings by gang members have
increased as guns on the streets have proliferated. Drive-by
killings are a direct result of the availability of firearms.
People injure people; guns kill people.|
||Gang violence has increased
consistently for the last 15 years.|
||This myth is incomplete. Gang violence
started to decrease 15 years ago, but in the last seven years,
began to increase again in Los Angeles. There were 256 gang
homicides in LA City from January to August 2002. This is a
22% increase from the same time period in 2001, and a 47%
increase from the 5-year average for those months. LAPD,
Citywide Gang Crime Summary, 2002|
||Gang violence is purely a law
||Most law enforcement officials agree
that gangs are a community problem that must be dealt with in
a variety of approaches implemented by police, schools,
community-based organizations, public health professionals and
others in an interactive and cooperative approach to gang
prevention and intervention. |
- In Los Angeles County, law enforcement
officials are aware of more than 1300 street gangs with over
150,000 members. In the City of Los Angeles alone, there are
approximately 407 gangs and over 56,000 members.
Angeles Almanac, 2002
- Gangs account for approximately 51% of all
homicides in Los Angeles County. Of the 1156 homicides in 2001,
587 were gang-related. The majority of all gang homicides are
committed with handguns.
Los Angeles County Safe Streets
Sources: "Report on the State of Los
Angeles Street Gangs", Los Angeles County Interagency Gang Task
Force, 1999-2000. Los Angeles Almanac, Gang Populations,
Myths and Facts about Gang
A Life Taken and a Life Blessed
May You and all Gang Members have this
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