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Home  |  News  |  ‘Take back the streets’: OCSO asks residents to work together to help stop gangs

‘Take back the streets’: OCSO asks residents to work together to help stop gangs
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SANTEE, SC — An intricate world of codes exists in Orangeburg County which goes unnoticed by many residents but is all too well known by local law enforcement. The codes are linked to violence, illegal drugs and a multitude of other crimes perpetrated by gangs across The Times and Democrat Region.

Law enforcement officials say it’s a world the general public needs to know about in order to help them stop gangs from taking over neighborhoods.

“The community needs to know what’s going on,” Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said during a gang awareness seminar at the Santee Conference Center on March 8.

“We cannot allow them to take over our streets,” Ravenell told about two dozen residents attending the event.

Detectives Donald Bowen and Rashad Moore, both of the OCSO gang task force, presented an overview of gang-related activities in the county and revealed gang clothing color codes, hand gestures and numeric symbols.

“It’s not illegal to be in a gang; it’s only illegal when a crime is committed (by a gang),” Bowen said. “And there are no such things as ‘wannabe’ gang members.”

They talked about nationally-recognized gangs such as the Crips, the Bloods and Folk Nation, which they referred to as “traditional gangs.” They also talked about “hybrid gangs,” or “non-traditional” neighborhood gangs.

Bowen said groups of traditional gangs operate throughout the county. Neighborhood gangs also exist here, such as the CBR (Cannon Bridge Road), the 400 Boys (Highway 400), the G-4 (Roosevelt Gardens), the EDC (Edisto Drive Crew) and the Devil’s Rejects, the OCSO detectives noted.

The color of clothing is used in gang identification, such as members wearing a particular color of bandana.

Moore displayed an array of bandanas and explained which colors represent which gangs. Red represents an alliance with the Bloods; blue denotes alliance with the Crips and black indicates Folk Nation, he said.

Moore also noted that some gangs wear the color green to indicate that their mission is to obtain money.

People join gangs for different reasons, Bowen said. Some are in search of an identity or a way to belong, he said. Others say they’re in it for the excitement or for financial gain, Bowen said. Some end up in gangs because of peer pressure or for protection, he said.

The detectives showed videos that were posted online by area gangs trying to solicit new members. Bowen said the online videos had been helpful to law enforcement in tracking down locations and affiliations of suspects wanted in other crimes.

A contributing factor in the increase and interest in gang activity is the rising number of latchkey children who are home alone after school until their parents or guardians return from work, he said.

Bowen said gang involvement “is not based on economics,” noting that members range from youth to grown adults and from various socio-economic backgrounds.

The law enforcement officials said committed gang members, “look at this stuff like it’s a religion.”

Parents need to watch their child’s behavior and activities, Bowen said. If they notice their child is constantly asking to borrow money or suddenly has unexplained funds without maintaining a steady job with regular working hours, they may want to look for additional clues to possible gang affiliation.

Children at risk of participating in gangs include those who have family members who are or were in gangs and those who have “problematic relationships” with their parents or others in authority, Bowen said.

The officers say they advise schools to photograph and then remove all graffiti from school property. They also encourage school administrators and staff to prohibit students from wearing clothing that suggests gang-affiliation and also from using gang hand signals.

Aside from the typical “street gang” activity, “outlaw motorcycle groups” are prominent in Santee and Manning, Bowen said.

He said Hell’s Angels members want “to make you think they’re hairy old men who like to ride motorcycles and wear leather.” But they have “supportive groups” that pay membership fees and “do the dirty work” for them, he said.

Two outlaw motorcycle groups in the tri-county area include the Devil’s Rejects and the Bootleg Militia.

The detectives also presented information about a group known as “Sovereign Citizens,” or “Moorish,” which is represented locally.

“They aren’t considered as a gang, but they are considered as domestic terrorists,” Bowen said. Members have been known to create phony identification records and fabricate license plates. They “disrespect law enforcement” and believe they “don’t have to abide by the rules in this country,” he said.

Citizens should work together to take back their streets from gangs and groups of criminals, Bowen said. He advised neighbors to communicate with each other on a regular basis and observe what’s going on around them.

Ravenell urged residents to contact law enforcement at the first sign of any suspicious activities.

“I think it was (rapper) Fifty Cent who said, ‘Get rich or die trying.’ Well, I’m going to ‘make it safe or die trying,’” the sheriff said.

Source: http://thetandd.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/take-back-the-streets-ocso-asks-residents-to-work-together/article_81a33e9a-6c94-11e1-b353-0019bb2963f4.html

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