Stamping out evil

Published 6:39 pm Friday, January 13, 2012

For most of the folks who read these words — those law-abiding citizens of Suffolk who are eager to work hard to contribute toward improving their communities, their families and their own lives — the simple concept of violent street gangs operating in their midst is so foreign as to be almost unbelievable. They might read about these gangs in the newspaper or see television news reports about their crimes and other activities, but it’s all just a bit through-the-looking-glass for them to come to grips with the fact that the gang violence they’ve seen in the movies and on television cop shows has made its way to Suffolk.

Many of those same fine Suffolk folks still find it hard to believe there are parents who do not care about, much less monitor, what is going on in their children’s lives. Those parents who attend PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences, who check to make sure that little Johnny and Sally are doing their homework, who keep track of grades and who demand to know where their children are and whom they’re associating with when they’re not at home — those parents struggle to understand how anybody could treat their own children any differently.

Hard as it is to believe, however, gangs exist in Suffolk, and they thrive on disinterested, disengaged parents. Where parents fail to provide their children with loving structure, with discipline or with simple attention, Suffolk’s violent street gangs are happy to step in and do the job. And the results are a blight on our society.

Email newsletter signup

The Lloyd Street Gang, known as LSG on the streets, is a prime example. Three juvenile members of that gang pleaded guilty in Suffolk court this week to several felonies and misdemeanors for various assaults, firearms violations, vandalism and other crimes linked to LSG in Suffolk, according to prosecutors.

But while police were investigating those crimes, they uncovered evidence that led them to charge two of the kids, who are around 15 and 16 years old, with attempted murder and arson. Police say an older gang member hatched a plot to have the teens burn a North Fifth Street home in order to get back at someone who lived there. The action would serve as the teens’ gang initiation. Despite two fires at the rental house, including one that destroyed it, the occupant was unharmed.

But the news about the LSG street gang gets even harder to accept. Incredibly, another alleged member of the gang, this one only 11 years old, was in court the same day, charged with spitting on a police officer. Clearly, disrespect for authority is taught from an early age in some parts of Suffolk, and lawful behavior is in short supply amongst members of this particular organization.

The investigation has opened up a variety of other lines of inquiry concerning LSG, prosecutors say, and the people of Suffolk can only hope this is all a precursor to closing the gang down for good. There’s no longer time for the good people of this city to be surprised at the evil in their midst. The time has come for them to recognize it for what it is and to organize themselves to stamp it out.