Gangs go after youth and deface property - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gangs go after youth and deface property

July 31, 2004

Albany -- The number of gangs in Albany cut in half in the last ten years. But, Albany police are still trying to stomp out existing gangs which continue to recruit children.

Kiondre Williams is only 10 years old, but he's seen more violence than many people three times his age.

This summer, Williams is visiting his family in Albany miles away from the violent streets of his New Jersey neighborhood.

"People getting shot at night, sometime I'll be having a good dream at night time and then there is gun fireI wake up being scared and I run and tell my mom," says Williams.

But Kiondre story isn't unlike what happening all across the U. S and in South Georgia. In Albany, children and teenagers, who live in gang territory, say almost daily they are pressured by gang members.

"Folks are scared of people in a gang because if they are large they will jump on you," says 16 year old Edwin Reeves.

"If they don't get garbage in my yard or throw rocks at my car or bother my children I don't care anything about it," says one resident.

Fearing for their safety, some people ignore gangs in their neighborhood while kids slip into this life of violence.

Police say the best way to keep kids from joining gangs is to educate parents. In this gang prevention class, parents are learning about gangs, how  they operate and how gangs may be closer to their kids than they may think.

"Kids will generally cling to each other in that neighborhood and what happens is that they will cling to people involved in a gang,"says Clp. Tywon Heath of the APD.

The hope is that these parents will use what they know and help other parents by spreading the word about signs of a trouble youth.

Signs of gang activity cover parts of Albany. Graffiti is a gang's way of marking their territory sending a message that they control the area.

City leaders say you should always report graffiti to police.

"If we keep the graffiti up it shows that gangs are in charge of the community and we simply don't care," says Judy Bowles of Keep Albany DoughertyBeautiful.

Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful is constantly painting over graffiti and can help you clean it up.

posted at 6:34PM by scott.hunter@walb.com