[box_light]In an effort to combat gang violence, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office launched a series of sweeps on April 25, 2010 to pick up gang members from the streets. As of May 11, 710 alleged gang members had been arrested. But many of The kNOw writers share that the sweeps offer no solid solution to the gang problem nor does it make them feel any safer.[/box_light]

I know one person in a gang – a brother of a friend. I’ve known my friend for about five years, and since then his older brother has been in and out of jail/prison at least three times. It’s almost embarrassing to know someone like that. When he was around, I didn’t feel threatened at all. But now with these gang sweeps, I don’t feel safe at all. No matter what part of town I’m in, I almost always feel as if someone is going to come out of the darkness and ask me for change, or there’s going to be a random drive-by shooting.

Everywhere I go, there’s graffiti, and it’s an eyesore. I don’t feel like the gang sweeps are a solution at all. Honestly, I don’t see the difference. If anything, it would probably just anger gang members, causing them to retaliate. It’s only a temporary, short-term solution to a very prominent, long-term problem. Something so basic wouldn’t work in such an impoverished community.

I think a good start would be early intervention – get them while they’re young. So many tax dollars go to programs that don’t work, targeting older gang members who already have their minds set on what they want to do in life. If you start with a child who is young and still learning, you can do and say things that can help that child make the right choices, further helping the child stay out of trouble. In the end, people are going to do whatever they want, but if we change our priorities to a younger generation, it may be a start to finding a good and lasting solution to our gang problem.
-Jaleesa, 20


I know a lot of people who are in a gang. I do not feel safer because innocent bystanders get caught up in violence very often so it could happen to me. The sweep is good in a way because they can get a lot of gang bangers but the bad thing is that innocent people get picked up too for doing absolutely nothing. I’m not sure what the solution to gangs is, but someone needs to come up with a good one fast.
-Meme, 16


Fortunately, I don’t know very many people in a gang. If I do they are either already out of a gang or we just don’t keep in contact. The most people I know personally who have been in a gang are three people and that’s about it. Honestly, I don’t feel any difference in safety in the last five years. My neighborhood is considered the “ghetto,” but I’ve always felt safe enough to take walks and runs around the middle school nearby.

I don’t think gang sweeps are helpful because the gang members will be let out after a while which would be a waste of time. Sweeping gangs will probably anger the members and may cause a rise in violence.

I think the solution is for people to learn from their mistakes. People join gangs for a variety of reasons, due to family issues, stress, lack of a family, and falling into the wrong crowd. Gang members can be helped only if they’re willing to cooperate and change. There should be more programs where former leaders of gangs are trained and they go to youth and warn them about the dangers of being in a gang. The former leaders can also get paid, and this may motivate them to want to change and do better for the community.
-Gabby, 18


I know at least three gang members though they’re not friends of mine. I don’t feel safer because I still see lots of gang members in groups out in the streets. The sweeps is only one part of the solution because at least it’s eliminating half the problem. But there will still be gangs out there, only not as much.

I think the solution is to help older siblings be better to younger siblings. Young kids look up to their big sister or brother. If they see that education isn’t important at all in life to their older sibling, then they might do the same. If they see from their older sibling that it’s more enjoyable to be out in the streets, then they might do the same.

Also, I think cops should go to elementary schools and middle schools and tell children and young people that being in a gang isn’t okay. Also, it would be best if the cops brought at least two former gang members to share their stories.
-Luis, 18


I know many gang members. I would not even be able to count them all if someone asked me how many gang members I know. Gang sweeps are happening in Fresno. I remember hearing about the gang sweeps that took place years ago, and honestly, nothing has changed. Gangs are still around, they are just smarter. After all the gang sweeps that have taken place, and so little results, one would probably try out new tactics to stop gang violence.

I have not noticed any changes as a result of the gang sweeps. If I could provide a better alternative to gang sweeps, it would be to create more job placement programs or something that could help people exit gangs and enter the work force. If gang members had real jobs, they would have less time for violence.
-“Candace”, 18


I do know a lot of people in gangs, too many to count and half my family is. Sweeps are not a solution to stop gangs. People in gangs are not going to stop when most of them are young. They see family and friends in gangs and they grew up with gangs in their life. They think their life is not worth anything unless they are in a gang.

I have been asked and once almost forced in a gang for doing something their gang leader liked, and he wanted me to be one of his followers. Some gang members are following orders or some think they can be bad. Sweeps won’t teach them anything but to make them look better to friends.

A real solution…I have no idea what can stop gangs. Sweeps would scare them away from where they usually hang but they will find new spots.
-“Omar”, 19


I know four people who are involved with gangs. They have been in the gang for a while now. I think the gang sweeps were not well thought-out because these people may just get out again and be back on the streets.

Although over 700 people were arrested, I don’t feel any safer or any more in danger. The prison/jail facilities are full. How are they going to fit more people? They are already letting people go…I think that the Gang Sweeps are just going to make gang members angry and actually start more problems. I don’t really know a solution, but I believe that these gang members can still be guided back on track.
-Angelina, 17


I know one person who is associated with a gang. He is part of a Hmong gang that tends to stir up a lot of problems. I have heard about the gang sweeps. I feel like these gang sweeps don’t make a difference. I live in one of the worst parts of Fresno, but I still feel safe. Thankfully, nothing bad has happened to my family or me.

I do not believe that sweeps are the solution. First, the police don’t keep all the gang members in jail. The gangs become more enraged when arrested and they might cause more problems. I strongly disapprove of gang sweeps because there is no point in doing so. I believe that a solution could be boot camp where these gangs are disciplined, both mentally and physically. Programs that help people change their attitude and anger should be promoted. Also, if possible, we should lessen the gap between the rich and poor so that fewer people live in poverty. This could keep more people out of trouble.
-Yee Leng, 17


I know a lot of people in gangs: seven uncles, my dad, and a lot of my friends as well. I’ve never told anyone that I was in a gang. Most of the time you would see it, but I was able to change my life around.

I moved to Fresno to feel and be safer and get away from all of that, but unfortunately gangs are everywhere. I heard about police doing gang sweeps in Fresno, but I do not think that’s a real solution. Many younger kids usually look up to an older family member. So if their idol is a gang member, the child will be one too. That’s how it’s been and that’s how it is. I would say younger kids should be taken away from negative homes and people but even living without a family makes a child grow cold. It feels like a solution is so far away…
-Maria, 15

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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