Skip to comments.Nine-year-olds forced into gangs
Posted on 03/02/2005 8:59:19 AM PST by kingattax
The gangs of New York are getting younger and younger. Concerned prosecutors across the city are warning that the city's violent street toughs are recruiting a new generation of baby-faced followers.
The rise of teen gangs was highlighted this month by the shooting death of Bronx football star Fernando Correa, who had refused to join a local gang.
But across the city, children younger than 10 are being forced to choose sides, prosecutors and law enforcement sources told the Daily News.
"It's been building. There are rumblings in the elementary schools," said a law enforcement source. "Everybody says they're wanna-bes. They're not wanna-bes. They're gonna-bes."
Last May, an 8-year-old boy in Brooklyn was attacked and slammed to the pavement by classmates outside Public School 289 in Crown Heights and ordered to choose between the Bloods and Crips.
"They held him down in the schoolyard and said he had to decide which gang he was going to be in," the boy's frightened 43-year-old mom told The News, asking that she and her son not be identified. "Parents need to be aware."
Refusing to run with the gangs can prove deadly.
Fernando Correa was first pressured to join a gang of local thugs when he was in eighth grade, his friends said.
After years of battling the young toughs, the jovial 16-year-old boy was gunned down on Feb. 11 outside his family's Throgs Neck home, allegedly by a reputed Bloods gang member.
Prosecutors in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island told The News they were seeing more potential peewee perps in their boroughs.
"It's a new phenomenon. We're finding gang members as young as 12 or 13 years old," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan, whose office estimates that gang-related cases have jumped by about 20% over the last year.
"It's gone from the high school level to intermediate-school members," Donovan said. "We didn't see that before."
The Brooklyn district attorney's gang bureau also has noticed a drop in the average age of kids pressured into thug life. Deanna Rodriguez, head of District Attorney Charles Hynes' gang bureau, said kids as young as 10 say they've been recruited.
The disturbing shift comes as the number of gang cases handled by Brooklyn prosecutors has nearly doubled over the last year.
"The bottom line is we're averaging three to four cases a week in the grand jury. Last year, it was two," Rodriguez said.
The Bronx and Queens are no different.
Edward Talty, chief of gang and major crimes for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, said his division's caseload is up as much as 30%. Most of the increase is the result of a spike in gang activity among teenagers as young as 14, Talty said.
"Certainly, the number of incidents of violence by gang members has increased," he said. "It is increasing, and I think the biggest increase is among younger people."
In Queens, gang affiliation also appears "more pervasive," said Mariela Herring, gang bureau chief for District Attorney Richard Brown.
"They are getting younger," she said. "Some of our witnesses are young, and so we can see that they are immersed in it. It's become part of the school pop culture. I think membership is up because it's more accepted."
Despite the rise in gang affiliation among younger children seen by prosecutors, NYPD brass said gang-motivated crimes have fallen in the city and cops have not seen younger gang-bangers.
Over the first few weeks of this year, gang-motivated crime was down 46% across the city, the NYPD said. "The facts show that gang-related and gang-motivated crime has declined," said Lt. Eugene Whyte, a department spokesman.
NYPD Inspector William Tartaglia, commanding officer of the NYPD gang division, also insisted the average age among gang members remains about 21 to 25. "I don't see younger kids involved," he said.
But some criminologists questioned the NYPD's gang data.
David Brotherton, a youth-gang expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said New York is one of the only major cities in the nation that does not release gang-crime statistics to the public.
"I'm always very skeptical," said Brotherton. "They don't want to be seen as a gang city."
Staffers of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said they have not seen the same rise as the other boroughs. They said Manhattan has been spared because they've dismantled many large drug operations, but acknowledged they do not track nondrug-related gang violence, as other boroughs do.
Among the most active gangs in the city are the Bloods, the Crips, the Latin Kings and the Ñetas. But prosecutors said there has been a major jump in Mexican gangs as well as the emergence of new gangs, such as the violent Mara Salvatrucha, or MS 13, in Queens, and the Outlaws in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Cops in the 67th Precinct confirmed a recent spike in gang-related violence in East Flatbush.
Unlike other cities, like Los Angeles, New York gangs lack organization and their violence tends to be random and targeted at other gangs.
On Christmas Eve, Anderson Bercy, a 14-year-old Brooklyn boy who had hoped to flee his East Flatbush street, was shot dead just blocks from his home.
His alleged killers, believed to belong to the Outlaws, shot at Anderson and his pals, who were linked to the Bloods, Anderson's family said.
When Anderson entered middle school several years ago, he was a happy-go-lucky child who dreamed of becoming a dancer or musician. By the time he graduated from Intermediate School 232 last June, he had been sucked into the gang.
Hoping to save him from the streets, his parents planned to send him to live with a brother in Georgia. But he died before he could start his new life.
"So many mothers are crying in this neighborhood," said Anderson's father, George, 46, a construction worker.
City education officials routinely offer workshops for teachers, parents and students on recognizing warning signs of gang activity. The workshops have even been given at Anderson's former school.
One of his ex-classmates, a 16-year-old girl who asked to be identified only as Jennifer, said Anderson joined the Bloods for one reason: He wanted to fit in.
"A lot of gang members are popular," she said
*gag* unintended consequences *choke*
You have to be nuts to live in NYC.
We the people have no power - SCOTUS has essentially told us that we need to look to Europe for our laws. All of the liberal judges are from privalaged backgrounds who use the bench to deal with thier rich white liberal guilt. How long before we get a president and congress who are willing to demand that the supreme court stick to the constitution when considering law.
Throgs Neck was until recently one of the only parts of the Bronx that I would consider liveable. Wonder if he lived near the Througs Neck houses or if the trash has spread farther east in the nabe.
Sad and disturbing BTTT