Thanks to Delmarva Dealings for pointing out the Daily Times printed my letter to the editor yesterday. Now, normally they call me to verify but I guess they must read the blogs and found I “crossposted” it anyway. Thus, I never heard a thing, and I don’t get the print edition here (we do get it where I work.)
What I’d love to know is why the DT editor chopped it up so bad?!? I write a certain way on purpose. Sure it may be wordy, but as Rush Limbaugh would say, “words mean things.” I take plenty of time to write, because I want to type out my thoughts and opinions in a manner that expresses them completely.
However, if you followed the link and you’re discovering monoblogue for the first time, welcome! Glad you’re here. But I’m betting that if you saw that online link to my site on the DT website, you’ve likely already read my blog from being linked in other places. Of course, the more readers I get, the more likely I can get actual paying advertisers to come to my site…that would be cool. At least then I could make my server fee back.
Actually, the real reason I was getting ready to write a post was something I saw on Justice For All? almost a month ago, but it was almost immediately buried in the avalanche of MDE/zoo/Salisbury Water Treatment plant news. It was a 5 part pictorial called “No Gangs in Salisbury.” To refresh your memory:
Despite the fact that the news is old blogwise, it doesn’t mean we are any less likely to see gang trouble this year. No one wants a repeat of last year’s random homicide incident, only this time involving, say, MS-13 or ABM.
As I see it, the main cause of gang problems in Salisbury is not quite what one may think. I recall seeing a news item last year about several incidents where alien workers were robbed but couldn’t or didn’t report these incidents to the police. The reason most theorized is that these workers were here illegally and didn’t want to draw attention to themselves and their crime by reporting a crime perpetrated on them. So they just bore the loss of hundreds of dollars in cash silently.
Many of these laborers speak little or no English, and don’t have bank accounts. Either they are paid in cash or use a secondary vendor to get their checks cashed (Wal-Mart will cash a payroll check for a modest fee.) It’s not been uncommon for me to complete my shopping at Wal-Mart (particularly the one in Fruitland) and find myself behind a group of Mexican laborers who pull out a large wad of cash to pay for their groceries. Obviously this fact isn’t lost on the criminal element, who see these people as an easy target. Knowing that the foreign population generally carries a large amount of cash and is hesitant to report being relieved of it by threat of force, it almost becomes a sport to see who can get the largest amount of ill-gotten gains.
Then the question becomes: what happens to all that loose untraceable cash? A lot of it ends up in the pockets of those who ply the narcotics trade. And where there’s a thriving drug market, there’s generally gang formation. So you begin to see various garages and other buildings “tagged” with gang graffiti marking their turf and sending hidden messages to competing gangs.
One thing I was curious about and I finally looked into tonight was how one can get in touch with the local police and sheriff’s office. In Toledo, there’s an anonymous tip line one can call if they have information on a crime committed (obviously, if one’s in progress, 9-1-1 should be dialed.) But there’s no such thing here. It’s particularly important that one can call in tips anonymously, since dealing with a gang like MS-13 can be dicey.
Now it could be that the criminal investigation sections of the Salisbury PD and Wicomico Sheriff’s Department do handle anonymous tips, but they don’t advertise that kind of service, nor is it known if they’re bilingual. Let’s face it, until some sort of meaningful immigration reform and enforcement is passed on a federal level, Salisbury’s going to be a bilingual city.
The other thing is something that struck me driving along on Saturday. I was driving down Church Street to work and I saw a group of people fixing up a porch. Since they were mostly Caucasian, I didn’t figure they were native to that mostly minority neighborhood. I’m guessing it was a church group who was doing their part to help a less fortunate member of the community.
So why couldn’t a group adopt a block on a Saturday and paint over some of the gang tagging? Have Home Depot or Lowe’s pitch in and donate a few gallons of paint. It could even be the community service element for those who are sentenced to complete community service, still better if they were unruly juveniles who were quite possibly the ones to deface the building in the first place.
It will have to be an ongoing effort, because the gangs will come back a few times. But they eventually lose interest, or more likely, hit another block where their colors will last for a longer time.
I look at it this way. There’s probably as many if not more gang-bangers and wannabes on the streets than there are cops. Generally cops are better armed, but they can’t be everywhere at all times. So the deciding factor in taking care of the gang problem is the citizens. But the citizens generally want to just get along in life and stay out of the way of the gangs – a healthy fear. That creates a condition which perpetuates the problem.
The suggestions I posted here are just a tip of the iceberg. Much needs to be done at all levels of society (notice I didn’t say government) to eradicate the gangs from all sides. The most effective tool to me would be drying up their money supply, but that’s going to take pressure on all levels of the drug trade.
We’re going to have a new sheriff in town come November. First and foremost on his/her agenda is going to be the gang problem, and the remedies prescribed during the campaign will be tested soon after the oath of office is sworn. Let’s hope they work.