Gang activity is serious and exposes innocent citizens to violence. One does not need to be involved in gangs to feel their effects. Swift and firm action must be taken when dealing with gang issues to ensure safety of persons, property and personal liability.
Gang History in Snohomish County
The effects of gangs were first noticed in 1990. When gangs emerged, so did graffiti, street robberies, intimidation, assaults and other gangs. The community was not ready to accept the emergence of gangs and denied the problem existed. However, gangs continued spreading north from Seattle. Everett now has many established gangs, whose members vary in ethnic and national backgrounds. Our gangs concentrate in the rental housing and apartment communities. These locations are also favored for drug sales and use.
Pacific Northwest gangs primarily emulate Southern Californian Hispanic-style gangs, such as the Surenos (SUR 13) or Mara Salvatrucha. While most members are Hispanic, membership is not always race specific. Many local gangs incorporate members from Eastern Europe, Asia and North Africa. Hispanic gangs are based on respect. However, reality shows it is fear gained through violence, as all aspects of the gang culture center around it. As such, the lifestyle of respect, acceptance, personal gain, correcting perceived injustices and leaving the gang are accomplished through violence.
Gang mentality has 4 parts:
- Code of silence: Only the weak call 911. There is no cooperation with the police, and they right the wrongs.
- Compelled to act: No act of disrespect goes unanswered or unpunished. Fights spark from dirty looks, hand signs or a simple remark.
- Rivalry: Most often thought of as conflict between groups, it is also within groups as young members want to prove themselves while older members want to retain control.
- Cohesiveness: Gangs replace the need for family, physical survival, security, social acceptance and emotional response. Most members believe their family members threaten the gang’s cohesiveness.
Costly Errors in Judgment
Some costly errors parents, neighbors and landlords make in assessing gang activity:
- The wannabe: A dangerous label in our community is "wannabe." To gang members there is no such thing. The label implies no danger and reflects complacency and denial by the user. Either there is a developed gang mentality or not. Most Gang Enforcement Units use the term “Gonna-be”. “Gonna-be’s” will commit violent crimes to establish themselves in the gang world.
- The Nice Kid: As individuals, gang members can be likeable and respectful. They may do well in school and agree that the gang life is not a good choice. However, when they get around gang members they will morph into the lifestyle and participate in violent crimes.
- He's not in a gang: One does not have to be involved in a gang to become a target. Many people believe if kids are only social with gang members then there is no risk or need for intervention. The problem is when gang members see you socializing with a rival, you are deemed an enemy and become a target for retaliation.
Graffiti is a nuisance that must be removed immediately. Left uncovered, graffiti is a catalyst for more graffiti. Gangs consider it disrespectful when other gangs tag their territory. Left uncovered, graffiti sends a clear message that the neighborhood is intimidated or doesn't care. Swift coverage prevents reoccurrence and reassures the community that they are in control, not the gang.
**all info provided by Everett Police Department Crime Prevention info