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              Doing it God's Way                                

                                                                                                                    With Reverend Michael Cartwright  


 

Myths and Facts about Gang Members

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 others.

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 power.

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 rings.

The fact sheet below will also address the issue of  "people injure people and guns kill people"

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."

The 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 others.

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 senior years.

We 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 day.

Reverend Michael Cartwright

 

 

FACTS ABOUT GANG VIOLENCE

Myth: Gang killings in Los Angeles County are the result of drug wars.
Fact: 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 revenge.
 
Myth: Gangs are only an inner city problem.
Fact: 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.
Streetgangs.com, 2002
 
Myth: Los Angeles is the gang capital of the world and will never again be a place to raise children and live a civilized life.
Fact: 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.
 
Myth: Youth join gangs to sell drugs, commit crime, and make money.
Fact: 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.
 
Myth: Gangs are tightly organized, cohesive units with stable powerful leadership.
Fact: 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 outsiders.
 
Myth: Ever since there have been street gangs there have been drive by shootings. Guns donít kill people; people kill people.
Fact: 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.
 
Myth: Gang violence has increased consistently for the last 15 years.
Fact: 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
 
Myth: Gang violence is purely a law enforcement problem.
Fact: 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.
 

Other Facts:

  • 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.
    Los 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 Bureau, 2002

Sources: "Report on the State of Los Angeles Street Gangs", Los Angeles County Interagency Gang Task Force, 1999-2000. Los Angeles Almanac, Gang Populations, 2001

This fact sheet may be reproduced and distributed without permission provided the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles is cited. 
Updated: 9/2002


 

Myths and Facts about Gang Members

A Life Taken and a Life Blessed

May You and all Gang Members have this Power

Over 20 Teenagers Killed

Satan needs you in a Dysfunctional State                                                

Vengeance is mine

Who does God want to bless?                                            

God will bless your family for generations

Know God's Promises and Blessings in your Life

 

 

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