The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 9, 1997 -- 7
Continued from Page 1
Crime Prevention Office.
Patak said before the homicide occurred, law
enforcement officials did not focus very much
on gang activity. "There wasn't enough attention
paid to it because we didn't receive support from
the public," he said.
Since the Stewart slaying, sporadic shootings,
drug dealing activities, and home invasions have
9n linked to local gangs.
Ann Arbor Police Officer Alicia Green, who
conducts gang awareness workshops and tracks
gang intelligence in the city, said the local gangs
are not just copycats. "I would not classify them
as wannabes," she said.
Green said it is important to note that gang
activity has gone down in the last couple of
years. "Our gang activity has decreased signifi-
cantly since 1995," she said.
Gang awareness seminars aimed at residents,
oation programs geared toward middle
tool students, and efficient graffiti removal,
amobg other factors, have contributed to the
decrease in gang-related activity, Green said.
Many people differ in their assessment of the
seriousness of the gang problem.
"rom what I gather, lately there hasn't been a
lot of gang activity in the city;' Chenevert said.
A presence on campus
Law enforcement officials said gang activity
* nfined mostly to the outer areas of Ann
,r and does not affect campus very much.
Officer Benny Chenevert, DPS's gang liaison,
said The campus police have not had any run-ins
with-gang members since Sept. 1996, when DPS
officers identified gang members from the West
side pf Detroit attending a dance in the Michigan
"We don't see a lot of activity on campus,"
Chenevert said. "We occasionally will see some
graffiti on campus."
Chenevert said in August of this year, DPS
' cials spotted the initials "LK8" on a stop
sign at Beal and Plymouth Roads. The initials
"LKS" are believed to represent the Latin Kings,
LSA sophomore Jennifer Meder said she
"never would have thought" that much of the
graffiti on walls and buildings around campus
can be attributed to gangs.
Chenevert said two areas near campus that
frequently get tagged with gang graffiti are the
walls of Fingerly Lumber, located on the corner
of Madison and Fourth Streets near the train
tracks, and the pedestrian tunnel next to the
Michigan Theatre on Liberty Street.
AAPD officials say they have had several run-
ins with gang members on South University
Avenue. Security guards who patrol South
University said the street has become a popular
meeting place for some who claim gang mem-
bership. "It's been getting out of control around
here," said a security guard from Great Northern
Security Company. "In the last year, (gang activ-
ity) has increased quite heavily."
"We've had knives (spotted), we've had stab-
bings, we've had people assaulted with pool
cues," said another security guard.
The first security guard said that many of the
youth hanging out along South University may
be copying others. "We have a lot of wannabes.
We also have a lot of youth who have been in
trouble with the law, but they're not necessarily
gang members,'he said.
Leon Bing, author of the 1991 book "Do or
Die;' which explores gang life in Los Angeles,
said that although youth often try to emulate
what appears to be glamorous forms of gang life
portrayed in movies and the media, there is not
much that separates a wannabe gang member
from a true gang member. "Gangs are the real
deal,' Bing said. "That's what the movies are
made about. ... A wannabe is what it is, a
wannabe. But it doesn't take much to push a
wannabe over the edge;' she said.
Bing noted that wannabe gang members often
throw signs to represent the gang they belong to.
In fact, other gang members may take their
actions more seriously than the wannabe gang
"If they throw it at the wrong person, they can
get killed for their trouble," Bing said.
When gangs first begin to establish a presence
in a new geographic area, residents of the com-
munity often do not want to believe that the
gangs are present, said Mary Lou Antieau, judi-
cial code adviser in the University's Office of
Conflict Resolution. "Most communities' initial
reaction to gang activity in their community is
denial," she said.
The University community is no different.
Until several gang education seminars were
held last year for Ann Arbor residents and mem-
bers of the University community, many did not
realize that gang activity was taking place in the
area, Antieau said.
The Gang Violence Seminars, led by a subur-
ban gang expert from the Madison Heights
police department, focused on the emergence of
gangs in suburbia and addressed various issues
such as the posture, hand signals, clothing, and
colors that can sometimes identify gang mem-
Universities often can seem like they have a
"glass bubble" of safety surrounding them,
Antieau said. She said that when she contacted
other universities to find out if they had gang
policies, "they said everything from 'no we
don't,' to 'huh?"'
Some students said the University's "safe"
image is not one they usually connect with
gang activity. "I guess I just write off Ann
Arbor as being this safe microcosm - we live
in sort of this fantasy world," said LSA senior
Eve Madison. "I guess gangs are the farthest
things I would think of when I think of Ann
Crips, Bloods and Ann Arbor
One 26-year-old Ypsilanti resident said he has
seen gang activity spread to the southern
Ypsilanti area, where he lives, and also to the
southern Ann Arbor area. The man said police
have labeled him as a Blood gang member,
although he is not affiliated with the gang.
The man said the gangs in the southern Ann
Arbor/Ypsilanti region are not as menacing as
they seem, and that the dynamics of the gang sit-
uation have changed since an Oct. 15 gang
sweep law was enacted in Ypsilanti's West
Willow neighborhood. The sweep was made by
the Gang Crimes Attack Team, a coalition of
local and federal law enforcement agents estab-
lished in 1995.
"The gangs around here are not hardly as dan-
gerous as they seem to be," the man said. "It died
down a lot because a lot of the troublemakers are
The man said that many kids in the southern
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area wear gang colors and
claim gang affiliation, but the gangs do not hold
initiations in the way that serious gangs do. He
said many kids may wear a certain color because
they don't want to be the only person in their
neighborhood not wearing that color.
Likewise, the young people may claim affili-
ation to a certain set, or gang, that is part of a
larger umbrella group because that is the gang
affiliated with their street or block.
"Like if you live in Ann Arbor. you'd say
you're either a Folk or a Crip," the man said.
"The Folks and the Crips, I think they have a
whole lot of different sets."
Gang experts say that most gangs fall under
either the Folk Nation or People Nation
umbrella groups. Gangs that are affiliated with
the Folk nation are usually Crip sets; gangs in
the People nation are usually Blood sets. Blood
gangs often associate themselves with the color
red, while many Crip gang members choose to
The Ypsilanti man said that a blue hat tipped
to the right sometimes symbolizes membership
to a Crip set, and a red hat tipped to the left can
signify membership to a Blood set.
Nineteen-year-old Ann Arbor resident Krsna,
who did not want to give his last name, said that
members of Blood gangs sometimes choose to
hang out along South University. "There's real
Bloods that come here from Ypsi once in a
while," he said.
Krsna said that whenever the "fake Crips from
Ypsi" see a real Blood, they scatter quickly.
The man said some gangs have established a
presence in southeast Ann Arbor. "Hikone and
Platt Roads are definitely the only places (where
there are) one or two real Crips who know any-
thing about the scriptures," Krsna said, referring
to a list of rules that members of Crip sets adhere
'It's difficult to get out'
Antieau said gang presence is not limited to
local youth who hang out on campus. "I think a
lot of students at the University would be sur-
prised that there are members of gangs attending
the University, she said.
The gang members who have attended the
University in the past have not let gang affilia-
tions interfere with University life, Antieau said.
"There have been gang members who have gone
through their entire University life without call-
ing attention to themselves in any way;'she said.
"If that pattern continues, i don't hav e a con-
Antieau said lth+t despite the vast opportuni-
ties available to students at the University, afew
students may prefer to remain as gang members
because "they come here as gang members."
Antieau said she has heard o f students at other
universit ies x ho were able to at tend college
because their gang paid the tuition costs. "Once
you have been in a gang and participated in ille-
gal activity, it's very, very difficult to get out,"
Conditions at the University could potentially
worsen, Anticau said, if members of rival gangs
begin attending the University and begin claim-
ing different parts of campus as territory. "If
they come, and if there's violence and territorial
fights as a result, then I'm going to be concerned
because that would be a threat to campus safety:',
Antieau said she has been toying with an
early draft of a University policy on gangs, and
hopes to get feedback from other college
administrators at the Association of Student
Judicial Advisors' national conference in
Martin Gold, a research scientist at the
Institute for Social Research, said it is important
to stress the difference between young people
who hang around in groups and commit delin-
quent acts and organized gangs with histories
"I have studied juvenile delinquency for many
years, and I've come to the conclusion that juve-
. nile gangs are like mythical beasts," he said.
Gold said that many young people who say
they belong to gangs are doing it simply to earn
Gold said young people lack the social skills
necessary to keep a gang together for a long
"The kids declare they're members of gangs,
they declare hand signals, they put graffiti up on
walls, and they become famous," he said. "But
most juveniles can't sustain anything like a gang
organization for very long"
"The word 'gang' conjures up an image of
long history and perseverance and power, which
is just what makes the kids feel great;' Gold
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