Tags: One | Reporter's | Opinion: | Terrorism | Our | Own | Backyard

One Reporter's Opinion: Terrorism in Our Own Backyard

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM

As a young reporter, 50 years ago, I was naïve enough to think we could turn street gangs into clubs and direct them toward worthwhile activities. I now say NO WAY!

In those days, neighborhood gangs used handguns and knives, and the drug was marijuana. Today the battle for turf incorporates AK-47s, Uzis and heavy artillery ... and the dope is heroin and cocaine. Their activities involve dope pushing, gun running, kidnapping, blackmail, rape, ransom, robbing and murder.

Handguns, knives and pot pale in comparison.

What most people don't realize is that too often the target is not an opposing gang, but rather senior citizens, single mothers and those least able to defend themselves. As the gangs pursue their nefarious activities, the target becomes the pension, welfare and Social Security checks of those barely able to survive. Mothers and children are unsafe in the parks, often caught in gang crossfire. Senior citizens are fearful of leaving their homes to shop – held captive in their own dwellings.

Today these gangs outgun the police. They have highly sophisticated communication; skilled, shady defense attorneys and the ever-ready bail protection. No sooner are they arrested than they're back out on the streets again.

Today we are dealing with the children and grandchildren of gang members of 50 years ago. They are streetwise and actually put the Capone mob of the Chicago rum-running days to shame; the Capones and their crowd were rank amateurs in comparison.

Let's face it, this is a criminal conspiracy and their numbers are astounding. In Los Angeles, for example, there are 250 Hispanic gangs numbering more than 50,000. The Crips have 125 gangs, with a membership of around 25,000. The Bloods have about 50, with a membership of 3,000. The Asians – Chinese and Vietnamese in particular – have about 50 gangs, with a membership of 20,000. These, plus other assorted groups, total 100,000 or more – just in one community!

This, my friends, is a national disgrace and is a threat against our very being!

Stop wringing your hands, Putnam! What should we do about it? I'll tell you.

The U.S. federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), originally written to target organized crime, allows the courts to attack "enterprises" that engage in a "pattern of racketeering."

To rid America of its own terrorists in the form of gangs, the RICO law was made to order. It makes good sense. RICO not only applies to John Gotti and the Mafia, it also is aimed specifically at an interrelated pattern of criminal activity. It is a powerful charge, punishable by 5-20 years in prison and overwhelming fines.

RICO is the way to prosecute such racketeers who commit crimes of forgery, theft, robbery, prostitution, bribery, perjury, fraud and murder. True, the RICO law is complicated, but sometimes it's the only way to treat such bad behavior.

Give it a try, America! And, while we're fighting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas and others nationwide, we should take another look in our own backyard – there dwell the homegrown terrorists.

The legendary George Putnam is 87 years young and a veteran of 67 years as a reporter, broadcaster, and commentator ... and is still going strong. George is part of the all-star line-up of Southern California's KPLS Radio - Hot Talk AM 830.

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As a young reporter, 50 years ago, I was naïve enough to think we could turn street gangs into clubs and direct them toward worthwhile activities.I now say NO WAY! In those days, neighborhood gangs used handguns and knives, and the drug was marijuana.Today the battle for...
One,Reporter's,Opinion:,Terrorism,Our,Own,Backyard
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2002-00-31
Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM
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