Gangs go high-tech - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gangs go high-tech

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September 27, 2007

Albany  --  After a near-fatal shooting last week, we are learning more about gang activity, which police say may well be a cause for the wounding of Dearious Williams. They're not just meeting in the streets, but online, on social networking sites like Myspace.

Almost every teenager and young adult is connected to some social website these days. "Just talk to my friends, message with them, chat with them," said college student Ronnisha Thompson, when asked how she used her myspace page.

But not everyone on the web has good intentions. "They're using the same websites our children use," said Capt. Kevin Sproul with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

"They" are gangs, and they haven't just taken over the streets, they've taken up residence on myspace, facebook, even youtube, showing their very own music videos, proudly displaying gang colors and creeds.

"We see them all over the Internet," said Sproul. "They're using it just like we do to get their resources, but also to promote themselves and use it for recruiting tools."

Even if they don't directly claim to be in gangs, it's certainly implied. Police have said last week's shooting of Dearious Williams may have been gang related.

A blog was set up for Williams by friends telling him to "get well soon," and that their "thoughts are with him".

But there are also some troubling images on the myspace site. On it, pictures of the Monroe high honor student throwing what are apparently gang signs.

And there are even more troubling messages left behind from others, promising retaliation for the action taken against him.

One "well wisher" leaves a message that says "ONE THING ABOUT THE WEST "THERE WILL BE REVENGE" LOVE ONE OF THE WEST SOLDIERS.

And this one is even more disturbing.

"F*** DA POLICE WHEN I FIND OUT WHO SHOT YA 4-SHO...........DEY GETTIN 7 TO DA HEAD 4 U"

It could just be kids talking trash, if you will, but it could also be instruction from a gang leader.

"They'll use it to instruct their own gang members what they can and can't do," Sproul said.

But here's what you can do as a parent: get involved. At home and everywhere else your kid hangs out, including the Internet.

"There's no privacy in the home," said Officer Gary Stokes. "In the children's room, you have a right to go in there and find out what he's doing. Look in his books, make a surprise visit to the schools, find out who he hangs with, where the child's going."

So you can keep up with your child.

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