No Colors is a Warning
No community wants to admit it has a gang problem. Yet that denial and the unwillingness to address youth violence as a community problem will have tragic consequences.
If your community does not address the crisis, the epidemic of youth violence will erode your city or town with a potential that is both frightening and tragic. We cannot wait on government to solve this problem. We must approach the solution as a unified community.
No COLORS is a story of hope.
Many cities are winning this battle for the minds and hearts of our youth. No COLORS brings these success stories to you to help you shape your community's plan…
Citizens and Community Leaders-Discover 100 benchmark ways to save our kids from gangs
Educators and Parents-See how See how we can “gang proof” our schools and recognize early warning signs
Law Enforcement-Broaden our role beyond punishment to rewarding interventions
Church Communities-Learn from faith-based initiatives across America that are saving our youth
No COLORS will move you to action
Ultimately, No COLORS, and the significant research and effort on which it is based, represent the many voices and experiences-including the authors' own-that Ramey and Kipper have brought together to share with you. At the very least it will inform you. At best it will enlighten you. And if you are open to its compelling message, it will move you to action.
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Bobby Kipper is founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence. He is a battle-hardened ex-cop with a quarter century of community policing in one of America’s toughest gang environments. Kipper organized one of the most effective crime prevention programs ever developed by the Justice Department. He has consulted for the White House, for Congress, for governors and for communities across the nation.
Bud Ramey is the 2010 Public Affairs Silver Anvil Award winner of the Public Relations Society of America - the highest public affairs recognition in the world. His grassroots public affairs and humanitarian successes stretch across three decades.
Read an Excerpt
On summer nights under the lights of the South Morrison field in Newport News, the sound of gunshots punctuated almost every adult league softball game.
From time to time, gang members as young as ten would race past the field, running from something, or someone, unseen. Later, an ambulance siren would cast a flashing red light on the field as the EMTs worked expertly, but sometimes futilely, over another kid who took a bullet.
Both of us spent a quarter century living in the same town, watching gangs slowly take over our city — a problem unacknowledged by the community for years.
It takes a while.
In consulting across the country, we continue to see a strong element of denial almost everywhere. The biggest struggle initially in communities is in countering the disbelief that gangs are a clear and present threat.
So two people who played softball, and who happened to be a seasoned cop and a public affairs specialist respectively, began collaborating, beginning with the compilation of the tactics, approaches and best practices being deployed to combat gangs and youth violence both at home and internationally.
Our hope is that the good and well-intended people who see this book will arrive at the conclusion that, yes, we must deal with the crisis in our community, and yes, in doing so we can be effective and creative and can even find the experience itself rewarding.
At first, creating anti-gang strategies seems intimidating, one of those things best left up to the police and other authorities. But few if any problems experienced in a community can be solved without a broader-based, as well as a personal, involvement. And the stakes are high. At its basis, this effort is focused on saving a generation of youth from the streets, for a nation that needs their involvement desperately. So make the decision to act an easy one. Make it about those kids. That's our hope for them and we know it's your hope, also.
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It's about re-claiming and strengthening your community's original legacy.
* * *
And in the simplest of terms, hope is what this book is about. It's about re-claiming and strengthening your community's original legacy.
We offer a clear, well-lit pathway for making significant headway against the youth violence crisis in our communities. We also offer the reminder that while the loss of potential represented by young people in gangs is tragic, there are other critical issues to consider.
This is much more than a melancholy episode in the growth of your hometown. It's all on the line here. The presence of gang activity affects the value of homes in a violence-plagued environment resulting in subsequent flight that affects everything from the diversity and viability of neighborhoods to who goes to public schools.
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This is much more than a melancholy episode in the growth of your hometown. It's all on the line here.
* * *
Similarly, violence and the threat of violence impacts businesses and can result in the loss of jobs. Gangs erode our school system, which feeds into the continuum of neighborhood dissolution.
Youth violence and gangs also add significantly to the unsustainable cost of incarcerating so many young people.
And of course, the direct relationship between gangs and drugs helps create an economy that yields no taxes. So beyond the loss of life and potential there is damage to our collective and individual quality of life. And returning full cycle, it's increasingly clear that the local police can't solve the problem alone.
We believe the "deer in headlights" reaction by most disinterested adults is closely related to the lack of community leadership with regard to acknowledging the problem, and then articulating clear strategies to deal with it.
We continue to be mystified by this phenomenon of why a responsible city leader or official would stick his or her head in the sand and allow the community to implode around them.
We were always taught to name our problem and to wrestle power from it. Give it a name and you begin to take away its power: Bullying, Global Warming, White Flight, the Achievement Gap, Racial Profiling, Youth Violence.
In the past, youth violence was perceived almost exclusively as an inner city problem. We called it a "gang problem" and limited to the projects. Not anymore. Ask any Californian. Just as California has historically proven to be bell weather for a wide range of cultural issues, the state began to recognize the problem two decades ago and many areas have made significant progress.
Now, it's "youth violence" they are tackling and it has few if any geographic boundaries.
If you hold to the "misery loves company" school of thought there may be some comfort in noting that this phenomenon is happening all over the world - in Canada, South America, Central America, Mexico, Great Britain, in Europe, in Australia, in Asia. But, when it's happening in your neighborhood, that's small comfort, indeed.
Rising gang crime is threatening democratic development and slowing economic growth across Central America and Mexico. Increasingly sophisticated gang networks are taking over. Whereas gang activity used to be territorially confined to local neighborhoods, globalization, sophisticated communications technologies and travel patterns have facilitated the expansion of gang activity across neighborhoods, cities and countries.
The monikers of MS-13 and other international gangs now appear in communities throughout the United States, Central America and Mexico.
When we examine the common denominator of severe gang problems, it's the big money in drugs. We would like to repeat that for emphasis. It's the big money in drugs, especially as many gangs branch out from retail sales into the wholesale area.
One can look at de-criminalization efforts such as in Holland and conclude that taking the money out of the equation has definitely softened the gang problem in terms of violent behavior. But not completely, as the gangs still get their share, preying on those who produce the product.
It takes a while.CHAPTER 2
If you think that "it can't happen here" keep in mind that "here" is now almost every community in America. Shocked residents of previous havens of peaceful living are now being forced to admit that we have an issue with youth violence and gangs, while many law enforcement experts are describing the wave as growing larger than they can handle.
In October 2011, the FBI reported a staggering 40 percent increase in gang membership in the years 20092011. There are now over 1.4 million U.S. gang members.
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... "here" is now almost every community in America.
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The FBI Report warns of the alarming gang growth in suburban and rural areas of America. Neighborhood-based gangs continue to pose the greatest threat in most jurisdictions nationwide.
And in case the ongoing nature of the violence lulls us into a numb acceptance, the spikes of brutality continue to grab our attention:
* In Chicago last year, according to NPR, almost 700 children were hit by gunfire. Recent reports place the gang membership in Chicago at over 100,000.
* In Richmond, VA, an entire family was found murdered in their home on New Year's Day 2006. This violent and senseless event caused the entire community to wake up to the fact that Richmond had become one of America's top five cities for murder per capita. A community-wide Strategic Plan was drawn up.
* In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, shortly after taking office, summarized the violence crisis in his state.
"A growing number of Californians are living a nightmare. Trapped inside their homes, afraid to come out unless they absolutely have to. That's because in many of our cities, whole neighborhoods are terrorized and intimidated by street gangs. Kids are scared to go to school and parents are terrified for their safety."
Community-wide Strategic Plans became commonplace in municipalities throughout California.
* In New London, CT, in late fall 2010, six bored teenage gang members stabbed a helpless 25-year-old citizen to death because, as they later claimed, they had nothing to do. A community-wide Strategic Plan resulted.
* In Minneapolis, the business community moved into action when an article in the New York Times nicknamed their city Murderapolis. An effective Strategic Plan was put into place.
* In Newport News, VA, we now have gang members whose parents and grandparents were members of the same gang. One gang members' initiation requires the recruit to shoot someone. Another gang requires the prospect to have served time in jail. After three years of slow community acceptance that there was a problem, or if it mattered, this Virginia city is finally developing a Strategic Plan to address the 188 identified gang sets and more than 2,400 gang members who are taking over their neighborhoods.
* In Denver, diligent community leaders worked for four years to gather the united community consensus and strength to attract federal assistance and combat the 8,800 gang members in the city. A focused Strategic Plan evolved.
These and many other communities are crying out – emergency sessions, committees forming, proposals surfacing on what to do. What is the root cause of this? How can we fix this problem?
When this subject is discussed, it will be emotional. The discourse will reveal all the frailties and faults and flaws of the community. There will be consensus and there will be quarrels. This is very predictable as you begin to protect future generations from our mistakes.
You can deal with the youth violence that is taking over your community now, or deal with it later — after the coming tragedy gets your attention.
Finally we will awaken.
It takes a while.
Former Justice Department Official Robert Flores summed it up.
"Gangs are a sign of community dysfunction ... gangs don't just show up one day in a community. They are allowed to grow there."
We are quickly becoming victim to a homegrown insurgency that shows no signs of stopping. Many have labeled the rapid growth of terrorism "a silent insurgency."
The sad reality is that most gang-related crime and violence traditionally did not go beyond the boundaries of many of our inner cities. So when it first appears, we always assign it as a law enforcement issue.
We are being repetitive for the reason that it bears repeating: this is not a police problem. It's not a City Council problem. It is not a school problem. It is not a problem you can leave alone since it does not affect your neighborhood.
It's a community problem and if we leave it unaddressed it will slowly collapse our community.
The traditional gang role of spray-painting buildings has evolved into spraying bullets into all parts of our communities.
More affluent neighborhoods all over the planet are now feeling the rapid movement of drug and gang-related crime and violence. We now have achieved the realization that gang wars have no boundaries. Many of the upscale neighborhoods have awakened as drive-by shootings, home invasions and other forms of gang-related crime and violence hit close to home. Exasperation has arrived.
Urban flight to avoid violent crime is no longer a sure bet to escape the rapid spread of senseless violence that follows the intense new level of gang involvement.CHAPTER 3
Many wonder why the gang insurgency has grown so rapidly. Others argue that gangs have always been a problem — so why is there is so much attention to it now?
America is a nation where it is estimated that 7.3 million children have a parent in prison, jail, on probation or on parole. Things do finally sink in.
It takes a while.
Sheriff Gabe Morgan, the outspoken elected Sheriff in Newport News, VA often testifies before Congressional panels. He said in a presentation to the Mayor's Task Force on the Prevention of Youth Violence in early 2011 that most of the people he has in his jail — will be coming home.
"And, most of the people in state penitentiaries will be coming home. Most of the people in federal prisons will be coming home. Only life sentences and death penalty felons will not be coming home. And the invisible penal system comes with them," Morgan said.
"They get $25 and a bus ticket," Morgan said.
He explained that because of their record, they cannot get a job. In most cases, they cannot vote. What can we expect them to do? And they are flowing back into our communities every day. Naturally, they will have little choice but to find their way back onto the streets – most likely in a predatory way.
Morgan explained his view on incarceration in terms everyone can understand.
"We have to decide as a society, once we find someone guilty of a societal offense, whether we're "just mad at that person" or whether we're "afraid of that person," Morgan said.
Morgan noted that we should then provide an alternative to incarceration for those we are just mad at, and jail the ones we are afraid of. That sounds simple, but it's the core direction we must take.
Youth violence is not occurring in just a few communities. It is an epidemic that is spreading across America, Canada and, in fact, the world. We are rapidly gaining speed, inexorably racing to an end that is both uncertain and frightening.
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We have to decide as a society ... whether we're "just mad at that person", or whether we're "afraid of that person."
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We have watched with apparent disinterest as three generations of youth grow up on the streets –kids from poverty with broken family structures and no positive alternative to the pull of drugs, gangs, guns and eventually, prison.
The mentors, the role models available to these kids, are a steady flow of released professional criminals coming home from Gladiator School.
The criminal college we call the U.S. prison system continues to crank out professional gang members every day. With well over 2 million men currently incarcerated, America has the highest total prison and jail population in the world. And as we punish our offenders by sending them into this system, they inevitably return with "a record," un-employability and renewed street life skills.
The level of denial and the glacial movement toward remedy is reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950's, a time when our fighting forces in World War II received cigarettes in their C-rations, athletes endorsed cigarettes and doctors, who were often smokers themselves, recommended that their patients smoke as a way of relaxing.
Then, curiously, we spent a decade arguing whether or not smoking resulted in lung cancer. The Surgeon General had his say, the millions of premature deaths got the attention of the public and we figured it out.
It takes a while.
That is exactly where we are in America today – beginning to figure it out – as we experience a few million young people in gangs, gunshots ringing out in all parts of thousands of communities and the emergency rooms treating a steady flow of gunshot victims.
All this, and your kid is sitting next to a Blood in math class. So you begin to understand. The dictates of conscience will reveal your role in re-shaping this idea of community.
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All this, and your kid is sitting next to a Blood in math class.
* * *CHAPTER 4
Just How Bad Can This Get?
Home of the Free, But You Better Be Brave
As Tom Emswiller says in the Foreword to No COLORS, this book is about the places we live, collectively and individually. More specifically, it's about the devastating changes that can and have occurred in those places as the result of gang-related youth violence.
We now illuminate a world that many of us thought existed only in the news and other media.
In reading through the pages of No COLORS, we are reminded again and again that this world now surrounds us whether we live in the densest urban setting, the most orderly suburb or even a bucolic rural haven.
We seek to grab you by the collar turn your head around and holds your face to a passing scene that ranges from inconvenient and troublesome to dangerous and even lethal.
But the hope, and equally important, the practical tools that this book provides, let us know that the view need not be permanent.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "No Colors"
Copyright © 2012 BOBBY KIPPER & BUD RAMEY.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: AMERICA’S NIGHTMARE
Just How Bad Can This Get?
How Are Communities Responding?
What Is Working
Part Two: 100 TACTICS FOR SAVING YOUR COMMUNITY FROM GANGS
1 Proclaim a New Social Norm: Citizens Set the Strategy
2 Face Down Community Denial
3 Develop Overall Community Ownership of the Plan
4 “View the Seeds of the Problem”
5 Pick a Civic Group Champion
6 Empower Your Mayor to Lead — Or Elect a New One Who Will
7 Reach Deep into the Community for Your Plan
8 Separate, Empower the Operational Council
9 Focus on the Worst Problems First
10 Create the Vision and Clear Goals
11 Tear Down the Walls — Relationships Matter
12 Fund Measured Programs That Work
13 Expect Resistance after Years of Heads Buried in the Sand
14 Harness Faith-Based Interventions
15 Set Clear Goals from 10,000 Feet
16 Measurement Is Everything — Indicators to Steer By
17 Assure an Independent Audit
18 Conduct Baseline Survey of Student Perceptions
19 Make Sure the News Media Understands
20 Train Community Leaders as well as the Providers
21 Communicate Aggressively, Continuously
22 Partner with Your Local University
23 Reconnect Community and Schools
24 Publish a Gang Awareness Resource to the Community
25 Expand After School Activities, Police Athletic League
26 Seed Each High School with Student Leaders Trained in Mediation,Inclusiveness, Race Relations, Non-Violence
27 Let the Kids Design “Stop Bullying” Programs
28 Small School Efforts Pay Dividends
29 Deflect Violence with Non-confrontational Conversations
30 Create Safe Street Teams
31 Camps Build Trust with Police
32 Deliver Creative School Interventions in Elementary,Middle and High School
33 Gang Exit Centers – Rescuing Kids from Gangs
34 Middle Schoolers Targeted as Key Rural Strategy
35 Generate Amazing Results with Restorative Justice in Schools
36 Teach Business English, Social Skills in Elementary School
37 Take Truancy Interventions to the Homes
38 Go With Special Efforts to Target Hard to Reach Hispanic Youth
39 Train School Board Members and “Student Advocates”
40 De-Glamorize Gang Culture
41 Consider Fifteen Absolutely Essential School Anti-Gang Initiatives
42 Challenge and Reward At-Risk Elementary and Middle School Kids Directly
43 D.A.R.E. Works – Bring It Back. Strengthen It.
44 Deploy the Boys & Girls Clubs in Targeted Schools
45 Lights On After School
46 Remove Graffiti Immediately
48 GPS Gang Members like High-risk Sex Offenders
49 Hold Regular Gang Prevention Community Meetings
50 Engineer Second Chances for Exiting Gang Members
51 Bring Civil Suits Against Gang Members
52 Open and Program Your Recreation Centers at Night
53 Send a Strong Message to Teens That They Are Important to the Community
54 Develop a Support Program for Parents of Gang Members
55 Create a Youth-Led Movement Against Violence
56 Use Great Resources Well – But Don’t Over Complicate Your Plan
57 Strengthen Prevention with the Arts
58 Cool Bus Picks Up Kids for After School Activities
59 Create Interventions for the 19- to 25-Year-Olds
60 Proclaim Youth Violence Prevention Week
61 Create a Funding Strategy and Build Neighborhood Centers
62 Operate a Confidential Telephone Tip Line
63 Develop Violent Crime Suppression Teams
64 Operate a Confidential Texting Program
65 Create Sporting Events Especially for At-Risk Kids
6 Bring in the Hospitals for Powerful Interventions
67 Form a Prisoner Re-entry Council
68 Create a Focused Strike Team for a Hardened Base of Crime
69 Work with Your State Elected Officials.Much Can Be Done
70 Create Special Events to Raise Funds and Awareness
71 Get Business Fired Up
72 Study CeaseFire as a Strategic Option
73 Mainstream At-Risk Kids into Normal Channels
74 Create a Season of Peace Campaign
75 Offer Life Altering Tattoo Removal
76 Call in a Warning to the Gang Leaders
77 Enforce Curfew with Sweeps
78 Get At-Risk Kids into Outdoor Adventure, Exploration
79 Create Robust Summer Activities, Jobs for At-Risk Kids
80 Insist On a Planned Budget for Gang Prevention Strategy
81 Nurture Growth of Neighborhood Crime Watch Programs
82 Set Up Family Days and Neighborhood Nights
83 Explain the Situation in Detail to Your Citizens
84 Quit Imprisoning Nonviolent Offenders
85 Work Closely with Neighboring Jurisdictions
86 Know At-Risk Kids by Name
87 Promote Your Initiatives Using Websites and Social Media
88 Expand the Role of Police with Community Policing
89 Deploy Prosecutors in the Neighborhoods with Community Prosecution
90 Call for Injunctions Against Specific Gangs
91 Don’t Let Gangs Take Over Your Shopping Mall
92 Check your State Gang Statutes –Prosecute Gang Recruitment
93 Cultural Targeting of Parenting Classes Creates Support Groups
94 Consider the Judicial Innovation of Community Courts
95 Attack Poverty’s Impact on Young People with a Youth Enrichment Zone
96 Share, Communicate, Cooperate with Regional Gang Summits
98 Confront Gangs with a Trained Ministers Ride-Along Campaign
99 Walking School Bus Creates Safer Neighborhoods
100 Honor the Heroes – Create Peace Prize for Interventionists
About the Authors