In the same article, the Star Ledger reported that years of decline in homicides in violent crimes is countered by an increase in slayings by gangs which, according to DeMaio, is due to not only the gang against gang but to drug trades where gangs work together:
“Criminals are more loyal to drug money than gang affiliation.” DeMaio says he’s seen “Bloods and Crips work together to control several drug corridors.”
Paterson, New Jersey, a city with a population of just under 150,000, saw what was described as “an unprecedented rate of gun violence that led to the death or injury of more than 100 people last year” and that “hadn’t slowed in the first three months of 2012.”
As with other urban areas, Paterson made deep cuts in law enforcement, shaving its police department by 20 percent. And, like the elderly woman residing on a quiet street in Camden, the owner of a fish store in Paterson now realizes how close he lives to the escalation in violence, after he and employees had to clean up the blood of four victims shot in front of his business.
Gangs using guns and violence are also making news in the quiet corridors of the southwest. Earlier this year, Oklahoma City TV station, News 9, headlined its website reporting on the growing problems of drugs violence, with an additional alarming warning: “Drug and Human Trafficking Violence Making Its Ways into Oklahoma City”, which had already been listed from 2003 to 2008 as one of 17 cities with the highest rate of gang-related murders.
“They’re the type of crimes you think of on the other side of the border — in Mexico — but beheadings and other drug-related violence are happening right here in the metro,” the website quoted a concern resident.
Arizona, and its border with Mexico, for years has been wary of the cross-border drug trade, and sees the spread of gun violence as inevitable, if alarming.
“What used to be a trickle has turned into a torrent. The violence in America, in Mexico, is here and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”
A local farmer tells Oklahoma City News 9 he does his best to counter the new violence: “I wear a bulletproof vest at night. I’m scared,”
Oklahoma police understand how ruthless drug dealers are. Even when law enforcement has state-of-the-art resources and sophisticated personnel, during those dealings with the dealers, “In the end, if you cross the cartel there’s only one thing that’s going to happen. Your life is going to end.”
As cash strapped cities like Newark and Camden make severe reductions in law enforcement and cut public safely priorities to the bone, can they stem the unimpeded flow of gangs, guns and drugs? And if not, who and what will rule vulnerable urban areas already struggling to maintain law and order, civic and social justice when, among the young, four deaths in 24-hours is about to become the norm?
Long time Chicago community activist 74-year Jean Carter-Hill shakes her head over the escalation she now sees in the city’s Englewood neighborhood and wonders if the police chief, the mayor and the governor’s actions will make a difference, in an interview with The Grio.
“This killing is too much. We’re burying too many people. This suffering is too much. Young people are traumatized by these killings. Everybody in the house is messed up by this (violence). Can we imagine what’s happening to these young people attending funerals every week?”
Carter-Hill says it’s not just laws and law enforcements that should address the problem of gang and drug violence. “It is a community issue. We have to put time into changing the mindset in the community. The community needs to sit down with politicians and law enforcement and work with our youth before they get to the guns. Right now if they don’t have one (a gun), they know somebody who does.”
The list, details and statistics of the dead and wounded are beginning to read in local and regional newspapers and TV reports like the casualties unfurled during the height of the “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan – only the victims die on American soil and so many aren’t old enough to vote, let alone sign up for combat.