Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gangs & the Church

What is sad about this story from California Catholic Daily News, is that these gangs have been actively involved in the street/prison culture since the 1950’s and their culture is generations deep and so woven into the fabric of the enabling worldly culture, that virtually all attempts to combat their influence—by those with the very best intentions but sadly lacking in deep knowledge of why the gangs have formed and how they really live—have (based on rigorous evaluations) failed.

Criminal transformation can only come from within the soul of a penitential criminal; either by his efforts or with the guidance of a reformed criminal whose leadership will be accepted by the penitential criminal.

What is truly heartening however, is that this effort is coming from the Catholic Church, the only institution possessing the fullness of truth potent enough to trump the narrative of the criminal world.

An excerpt.

“Oakland, Oct 16, 2010 (CNA) -- Captain Paul Figueroa opened a September gang awareness workshop at his alma mater, Oakland’s St. Elizabeth Elementary School, noting that as a student at the parish’s neighboring high school, he couldn’t wear the school’s red color because he didn’t want to be confused with the Norteño gang that controlled his neighborhood.

“Now wearing the dark blue of the Oakland Police Department, Figueroa helped bring about the first of several planned workshops in the diocese to teach parents, educators, clergy and staff how to recognize gang involvement and intervene.

“About 70 teachers and staff from St. Anthony, St. Elizabeth, St. Bernard and St. Louis Bertrand parishes attended, learning about the symbols, colors and mentality associated with the city’s largest Hispanic gangs.

“We’re really going to be aggressive about trying to give you the information so when you see it firsthand, you can try to reach out and stop it, right from jump street,” Figueroa said.

“Bishop Salvatore Cordileone requested the training, which will eventually extend to parents and children in the parishes, said Father Jesus Nieto-Ruiz, pastor of St. Anthony Parish. Father Nieto-“Ruiz is leading the training efforts for his largely-Latino deanery.

“The idea is to get parents training on the gang culture and see if there is a way to intervene and prevent more teens from joining gangs,” said Father Nieto-Ruiz, noting that Latino gang members’ families are generally Catholic.

“Gang culture hit close to home as Officer Doug Keely showed a clip from “Gang Wars: Oakland,” a television documentary that followed Keely and other members of OPD’s eight-man gang unit through familiar Oakland streets, as well as violent members of Oakland’s primary Hispanic gangs: the Norteños, Sureños and Border Brothers.

“Keely indicated that the gangs mostly operate in East Oakland and parts of West Oakland.

“The Norteños’ color is red, and members are the “foot soldiers” of the prison gang La Nuestra Familia, Keely explained.

“The Sureños wear blue and are affiliated with the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The Border Brothers wear black, he said.”