LeMoyne Owen students, counselors, and community residents received a message about gang violence in the city Mar. 6. Sgt. Andrew Russ and Lt. Fred Hughes led the discussion in the student center.
Hughes said be prepared and stay focused, vigilantly looking out for signs of gangs.
“The only thing they know about is getting in trouble,” he said. “We got a call at Wooddale (High School) at one point. It was a gang fight in the bathroom. Turns out the young man went through initiation to join the gang.”
“Be careful about these kids at these malls because, let’s face it, we are scared of our own kids. I see them walk down the street when I go out to get mail…knowing they would end up in jail.”
People should work to get what they desire, Hughes said. He said young people don’t need gangs or guns to impact their lives, and he warned the audience about standing up to the kids in gangs.
Russ said gang life had its outcomes, consequences and repercussions.
“It is not against the law to join a gang,” Russ said. “However, you could end up in the penitentiary or the cemetery. When I was working at the jail, I remember locking up three guys I knew from high school that were gang members.”
Russ said gangs and gang members can be anywhere at any time. He gave parents advice about checking their children’s room.
“Parents need to stay on top of the situation,” Russ said. “There are three things you need to do when your kids are not around: check their backpacks, check their rooms, and flip mattresses. You would be amazed at what you find and you will know more about your kids.”
“Gang members are widespread throughout the city and state,” Russ said. “I remember a gang member wanted for murder, and he worked as an assistant for the state Senate.”
Hughes advised students to help those who want to be successful.
“While you’re in college… when you’re at a basketball game, don’t let your friend, if he is a gang member, throw up gang signs or do embarrassing things, ” he said. “As college students you need to be role models for people who are involved but want to leave gang life. If you are successful, that person would follow you and try to be successful, too.”