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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 | Memorial Day is meant to honor those fallen heroes of war. I take this opportunity to lament the casualties of another war that is in the process of killing off the youth of the region – gang warfare. I’ve been told that gang warfare originated in Los Angeles and is now spreading like a global disease and is also expanding in cruelty and numbers.

The other evening, my wife and I attended the kick-off “open mike” event at the Bronze Triangle community center, where community parents and children gathered to hear what former gang members had to say on the subject of gangs. They came up and were given the open mike to share their experiences. The former gang members were as young as 14, and they talked about their experiences – like getting shot in the head, going from jail to prison, popping and selling drugs, beating up others, and having no common sense or fear except from their gang-family.

It was tough talk, down-to-earth but free of profanity. The former gang members were critical of churches and mosques and said that they do little to stop the tide of self-destruction. I was introduced to their wives and kids and found all of them in touch with reality, motivated by a kinship. They seemed to have a spiritual spirit and determination to make sure that the next generation didn’t slip into the quicksand of gang warfare. Derek Glover, a former gang member, said that as he lay in a car, shot again in his head, he decided that if he survived, he would dedicate his life to solving this deadly illness and so he is.

The gangs had once acted as their families, fathering them when there was no father present, mothering their needs for macho-feeding. Now these young giants of reality have found their real strengths-of-purpose – to prevent repetition of their own ugly experiences.

Gale Walker, the exceptional community leader, as well as social entrepreneur, who is raising two boys into men, has decided that more community leaders must learn about the gang disease that violates the “immunity” of rich neighborhoods and youthful “invulnerability.”

Co-chairing a July “Gang Summit” will be such luminaries as Steve Weber, president of San Diego State University; San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender; Derek Glover, author of GangBanger’s Dictionary; Murray Galinson, chair of the Board of Trustees of the California State University System; Mary Otero Gonzales, the head of San Diego Home Loan Counseling Service; and William Jones, former San Diego City Councilmember and currently a real estate developer. The exact date with more details will be available in the next few weeks.

It is a thrill for me to be a part of this, nurturing the community’s need for equilibrium and family security. E-mail me if you are interested.

www.sgoodkin.com

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