Gangfighters Weblog

July 13, 2012

Addressing the gang problem in strategically different ways

Filed under: civil remedies, gang, gang member, gang violence, nashville, tennessee — carterfsmith @ 10:43 am

In A great civil law tool — injunctions and related actions against gangs — but what about civic involvement — Southern Style! we looked at Metro Nashville’s efforts to declare the Kurdish Pride Gang (KPG) and several members a public nuisance. The use of gang injunctions prohibiting documented gang members from associating with each other in public has been on the rise across the country — especially in California, though also used effectively in Florida and Texas, among other places.

But what other innovations in the use of civil law are there? How creative can We, the People get to effectively combat the plaque of gangs and gang crime that threaten our cities and states?

Traditional Anti-gang activities include formal anti-gang teams, sections, or task forces; injunctions; and restrictive ordinances.

Civil Law provides a way to get a legal remedy for accidents, negligence, cases of libel, contract disputes, property disputes, probating wills, trusts, administrative law, commercial law, and other matters that involve private parties and organizations including government departments. Civil law helps resolve non-criminal disputes like disagreements over the meanings of contracts, property ownership, divorce, child custody, personal and property damage.

In California, as an example, the state sought damages on behalf of residents (who cannot file suit themselves because they fear retaliation) to distribute proceeds from seized (and sold) homes, businesses and other assets. CA state law allows government to act on behalf of members of the neighborhoods affected by gang activity and collect monetary damages in areas with gang injunctions.

I’ve got the scoop on injunctions and ordinances — looking more for nuisances, penalties, and forfeitures. I am specifically looking for innovative ideas that may be a challenge to implement! Ideas like:

  • make “gang offenders” register (for certain crimes) and identify their residences and known hangouts online
  • increase difficulty of custodial or non-custodial parents to conceal gang affiliation
  • allow use of gang affiliation in settling of divorce and child custody disputes
  • hold business owners responsible if they allow/don’t prevent gangs from gathering, committing crimes or concealing evidence on premises.
  • require specific lighting for public and open private areas where groups of people congregate with regularity
  • seize gang or gang member property used in or purchased from profits of crime 
  • recoup damages for graffiti on private or government property

What do you think?

Please either comment or email me — carterfsmith at g


June 13, 2012

All grown up but still banging – when juvenile gang members become adults

Presenting today to the Tennessee Alliance for Children and Families, 8th Annual Education Conference “Achieving Success in the Face of Adversity.” 

Presentation titled All grown up but still banging: What issues can we expect if they don’t “age out?”  in Nashville, TN on June 13, 2012. 

May 16, 2012

Gangs in Child Welfare

Filed under: gang, gang violence, gangs, youth gang — carterfsmith @ 3:30 pm

On Friday, I will be in a satellite and internet broadcast panel discussion hosted by the Tennessee Center for Child Welfare (TCCW). The panel will be addressing “Gangs in Child Welfare” on May 18, 2012. Webcast viewers can participate by visiting the TCCW web site at 

June 17, 2011

Flash Mobs and Street Gangs morphing into . . .?

Filed under: flash mob gang, gang violence, gangs, group assault — carterfsmith @ 2:52 pm

. . . young adults have been uniting in order to commit robberies. More disconcerting is the use of social media to organize gang gatherings . . . more here

Street gangs have been around since as far back as Chaucer in 1390 and Shakespeare in 1602, though little was known of the members of those groups (Klein, 1995). almost two decades ago Ball and Curry defined gangs as a …spontaneous, semisecret, interstitial, integrated but mutable social system whose members share common interests and that functions with relatively little regard for legality. (p. 9)

But they were never as spontaneous in appearance as modern day flash mobs . . . were they?

Flash mobs are hardly new, at least if you are using technology time. They were mainstream enough to be covered by a national media outlet in February 2006 when a Fox News affiliate in San Francisco reported 1,000 people meeting at the city’s Ferry Building for a 30-minute outdoor pillow fight.

But the synthesis, or morphing of flash mobs and gangs has produced a hybrid that few appear prepared to respond to, and for good reason. The spontaneity and secrecy of the flash mob combined with the no-holds-barred targeted crime and/or violence of the street gang produces a mix that would be hard to combat even with inside intelligence. The instant access and extended reach of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook bring a twist that makes the spontaneous volatility even more difficult to prevent.

The earliest we have been able to find gang-like activity with flash mob-like technology-assisted surprise was in March 2004 when 3 dozen people were arrested for a street fight arranged via an Internet chat room. Two Dallas gangs, after trading insults in a chat room, traded their keyboards for fists and baseball bats and arranged a time to meet and duke it out in real life.

But that action didn’t start a trend like the one seen in recent months. The seemingly random acts of the groups highlighted here should be concerning to law enforcement across the country. Flash-mob violence has recently been reported in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Recently in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times (and Police Magazine) reported groups of youth were using text messaging and social media to gather at specified locations on the city’s South Side, where robbers attacked people with pepper spray. Flash mob attacks were also reported in the Streeterville neighborhood.

Los Angeles
On April 28, 2011 in Venice Beach, a man was shot amid a flash mob that was organized around a Venice Beach basketball court on Twitter. According to NPR, Alexandria Thompson used her Tweetdeck to monitor potential dangers (she is on neighborhood watch) and reported to the police when “Venice beach bball ct going up tomorrow,” showed up. There was also mention of gang affiliations which also led to her reporting the possibility of trouble to the police.

One store owner observed that “all of a sudden the street was really crowded.” Some say the crowd of youths was in the hundreds. Others say thousands. The kids began to jump up and down, and then utter chaos broke out. Some of the teens started beating each other up, while others began banging on the windows of his shop. “They were trying to climb in the windows on top of the people who were dining, so we pushed them out, we closed the doors and we locked the front doors,” he said. “Whatever they had in mind, to me, it was like a home invasion.”

Washington D.C.
In April 2011 in Washington, D.C., nearly 20 youths gathered outside the G-Star Raw clothing store in Dupont Circle and filed in together, brushing past customers. Video from the store’s security camera shows them marching directly to the shelves of expensive designer jeans and racks of high-end shirts. They sorted through the selections for their sizes and tucked them under their arms, initially behaving like usual, if rushed, customers. Then they all suddenly made for the exit, escaping before police arrived 10 minutes later. In just moments, on a busy street in the middle of the day, the suspects had stolen an estimated $20,000 in merchandise, police said.

According to the National Retail Federation, 94.5 percent said they were victimized by organized criminals in the past year. And 84.8 percent said the problem has only worsened in the past three years.

So what’s the fix? It’s likely the guarded response will be an attempt to diminish the danger, but is that really a good idea?

Last year, the Pennsylvania Bar Association showed some vision when they designed a mock trial scenario about a group that was “not a gang in the traditional sense, but was a collection of students who were organized by social networking technology . . .”

What do you think?

Ball, R. A., & Curry, G. D. (1995). The logic of definition in criminology: Purposes and methods for defining “gangs”. Criminology, 33(2), 225-245. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.1995.tb01177.x
Klein, M. W. (1995). The American street gang: Its nature, prevalence, and control. New York: Oxford University Press.

short link to this article –

April 26, 2011

Come join us for a talk about Gangs on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 on OpenLine with Scott Arnold on NewsChannel 5+

Filed under: gang, gang member, gang violence, nashville — carterfsmith @ 10:53 am

Topic: Gangs

Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2011

OpenLine with Scott Arnold on NewsChannel 5+ (250 on Comcast in Nashville).

The show is on the air from 7:00-8:00 p.m.

We will have a discussion and take viewer phone calls.

August 6, 2010

Excerpts from Convergence: Special Operations Forces and Civilian Law Enforcement.

Filed under: gang, gang violence, gangs in the military, mara salvatrucha, mexico, ms-13, murder, police — carterfsmith @ 8:20 am

. . . of concern are the types of weapons that are now found on the streets of many cities. For example, in Palm Beach County, Florida, a suspect bailed out of his car after a high-speed chase and successfully evaded capture. The trunk contained full body armor and several weapons, including a customized .50-caliber sniper rifle capable of penetrating the engine block of an automobile. The driver was later determined to be a known assassin wanted by Interpol. The officer’s 9-mm handgun would have been no match should a shootout have occurred.16 Unfortunately, this event can no longer be considered unique. Similarly, fully automatic weapons, though illegal in most jurisdictions, are increasingly getting into the hands of gang members and experienced criminals. (7)

Operating coast to coast in the U.S., Latin American gangs pose a significant threat to local, state, and federal LEAs. The law enforcement operations required to counter these narcoterrorist threats increasingly take on the appearance of military SOF missions. (40)

Of concern to law enforcement is the sophistication of many of these gangs. The old motorcycle gangs, such as the Outlaws and Hells Angels, are alive and well, but have learned to stay below the radar of police agencies. Instead they are entering the business world in both white and gray enterprises. Working in white collar crime is less conspicuous, and members who cross the line and attract attention may face severe penalties. The rule is, “Do not irritate law enforcement.” 115 However, as the cartel gangs become more active, it is highly likely that friction will occur between them and the older, more established gangs.

Since drugs are the primary funding source for terrorism, eruptions of violence are increasingly likely to take place in American cities. Currently, much of the competition for drug markets produces intergang violence, which does occasionally involve injury or deaths of innocent bystanders. While undesirable, such situations are manageable by existing LEAs. However, if
significant escalation occurs and/or the advent of terrorist attacks in which the actors strike multiple targets with the intent on holding buildings of other facilities, then it may be necessary to consider employing SOF elements domestically. Posse Comitatus Act, acknowledged, it would be better to contemplate these options now rather than being called in after the event
has unfolded. It is the expansion of the drug cartels that could easily force such a scenario. (41)

Note that the criminal activities of MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang have risen to the level to attract Congressional attention. The revolving-door aspects of these repeat offenders in narcotrafficking are of great concern.166 Part of scoping this problem is understanding that 20,000 violent street, motorcycle, and prison gangs are operating in the U.S. today.167 According to FBI statistics, that number equates to at least one million gang members; and they engage in a wide range of crimes including robbery, home invasions, identity theft, extortion, and illegal narcotics.168
Listed by the FBI, the largest gangs are as follows:
a. 18th Street Gang—30,000 to 50,000 members in the U.S.
b. Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation
c. Asian Boyz—2,000 members, mostly Vietnamese and Cambodian
e. Bloods—30,000 members in 123 cities
f. Crips—30,000 to 35,000 members in 221 cities
g. Florencia 13—3,000 members, a Mexican gang in Southern California
h. Fresno Bulldogs—5,000 to 6,000 members in Central California
i. Gangster Disciples—25,000 to 50,000 members in 31 states
j. Latin Disciples—2,000 members
k. Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)—50,000 members worldwide, 10,000 in
the U.S.
l. Sureños and Norteños—a Latino prison confederation
m. Tango Blast—14,000 member in Texas prisons
n. Tiny Rascal Gangsters—5,000 to 10,000 members, considered the
most violent Asian gang
o. United Blood Nation—7,000 to 15,000, started in Rikers prison in
New York
p. Vice Lord Nation—30,000 to 35,000 members.
All of these gangs have members who have been in the military.169 When they return to their gangs on the street, their knowledge of weapons and tactics poses a significant threat to LEAs. While having gang members in the military is not new, according to the FBI, the trend is increasing and the population density is above what is found in the civilian sector.170 An
estimated 2 percent of military members have gang affiliation. Despite background security checks, it must be assumed that some number of these members are attracted to, and have become members of, SOF units. (67)
The internal use of military forces, beyond those contemplated in Posse Comitatus, are foreseeable. Groups concerned with stemming illegal immigration have already called,
sending troops to the border. The impact of international gangs, along with instability along the Mexican border, and known infiltration of that zone by terrorists from the Middle East could precipitate a necessity to act. The key factors will be the capabilities of domestic law enforcement and perceived threat to security by the American public. If LEA capabilities to resolve critical situations are exceeded, and Americans feel personally threatened,
the Government may approve use of the military in ways rarely thought about. Should such a situation arise, SOF elements would likely be engaged.

Alexander, John B. (2010). Convergence: Special Operations Forces and Civilian Law Enforcement. Joint Special Operations University. Report 10-6, July 2010. Retrieved from

September 19, 2009

Presenting at the 2009 Gang Violence Summit

Filed under: gang violence, gangs in the military, presentations, summit — carterfsmith @ 6:29 am

2009 Gang Violence Summit held October 5-6, 2009 in Washington, D.C..

Gangs and the Military
(armed forces, air force, army, navy, marines, coast guard)

* Gain an overview of the history and emerging trends associated with dual enlistment (gang and military)
* Identify the unique threat that gang members with military training pose to law enforcement as a result of their military training
* Employ tactics to keep your community safe from discharged gang members and their use of military warfare tactics on the streets

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