Despite the fact that “Charlie Bailey, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has used similar figures” on Sept. 14 the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s political blog scribes— led by Jim Galloway along with Greg Bluestein and Tamar Hallerman– piously defamed the Georgia Gang Investigators Association 2018 estimate of 71,000 gang members and associates operating in Georgia. Without demonstrating a scintilla of expertise in the subject matter, much less providing any contrary gang calculations, they challenged GGIA’s report and claim that number is somehow “inflated.”
Ignoring scores of federal studies, academic research and expert commentary, Galloway & Co. furrowed their brows and deflected, carting out unsourced, “comparative” calculations.
Yet federal studies demonstrate that, if anything, GGIA’s calculations are likely too low. For instance, among the determinations in the federal government’s “2011 National Gang Threat Assessment” are the following:
* “1.4 million active … gang members comprising more than 33,000 gangs, are criminally active within all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico”
* “[The foregoing increase] represents a 40 percent increase from an estimated 1 million gang members in 2009”
* “Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others”
In two years, then, gang membership rose 400,000. Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds puts the increase into chillingly proper perspective: “Consider, however, what 400,000 new gang members, alone, means. If each represented only one additional crime victim, the jump in havoc and pain generated by these increases is staggering.”
Significantly, these statistics emanated from the Obama/Holder/Mueller Department of Justice. Galloway & Co. do not mention them. Is this because they realize that they call for national action against gangs that President Barack Obama never took?
Worse still, the trio toss out what they claim are 19th century troop deployments in order to make a parody of GGIA. Had Galloway & Co. taken the time to act with even a modicum of journalistic responsibility, they would have compared current U.S. troop levels to federal gang estimates.
A 2017 New York Times report of active and reserve troops totals reveals a number that parallels the 2011 federal gang estimate: “The United States has approximately 1.3 million active-duty troops, with another 865,000 in reserve.”
So, per Obama’s Administration, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and Robert Mueller’s FBI, U.S. gang membership 2011 essentially equaled U.S. military troop totals in 2017.
Suffice to say, it is time for these writers (or whoever the author is) to get out of the 19th century and into the 21st. None of the foregoing appears in the diatribe. At a minimum, the AJC owes its readers an apology for allowing such irresponsible and deceptive commentary to go out under its flag. Flippant treatment of gangs, along with their sanctimonious opinion that “inflated numbers can lead to fear” is inexcusable.
Or, maybe, Galloway & Co. were just too lazy to look up the facts.
If they care about actual crime victims, public safety and their own journalistic integrity, they might begin accurately reporting on America and Georgia’s gang crisis. That would mean acquainting himself with the 21st Century and stop quibbling over the kind of numbers they believed the Obama Administration totaled nearly a decade ago.
I’ve provided a series of hyperlinks to help these writers in the future when they address the gang topic. (You’re welcome.)
Source Material Hyperlinks
2011 National Gang Threat Assessment (executive summary is key) https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment/
Gang Membership Between Ages 5 and 17 Years in the United States (see page 3) https://jjie.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Pyrooz_Sweeten_Gang-Membership-Between-Ages-5-and-17-Years-in-the-United-States.pdf
Researchers Find More than 1 Million Youths in Gangs (article on study) https://jjie.org/2015/02/17/researchers-find-more-than-1-million-youths-in-gangs/
The National Gang Threat Assessment’s Sanitized Statistics http://www.policemag.com/blog/gangs/story/2012/01/sanitized-statistics-assessing-the-national-gang-threat-assessment-for-2011.aspx
Is America’s Military Big Enough? https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/03/22/us/is-americas-military-big-enough.html
Gang activity across Georgia is at crisis levels, top prosecutors say https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/gang-activity-across-georgia-is-at-crisis-levels-top-prosecutors-say/787869422
O.C.G.A. § 16-15-2
(a) The General Assembly finds and declares that it is the right of every person to be secure and protected from fear, intimidation, and physical harm caused by the activities of violent groups and individuals. It is not the intent of this chapter to interfere with the exercise of the constitutionally protected rights of freedom of expression and association. The General Assembly recognizes the constitutional right of every citizen to harbor and express beliefs on any lawful subject whatsoever, to associate lawfully with others who share similar beliefs, to petition lawfully constituted authority for a redress of perceived grievances, and to participate in the electoral process.
(b) The General Assembly, however, further finds that the State of Georgia is in a state of crisis which has been caused by violent criminal street gangs whose members threaten, terrorize, and commit a multitude of crimes against the peaceful citizens of their neighborhoods. These activities, both individually and collectively, present a clear and present danger to public order and safety and are not constitutionally protected.
(c) The General Assembly finds that there are criminal street gangs operating in Georgia and that the number of gang related murders is increasing. It is the intent of the General Assembly in enacting this chapter to seek the eradication of criminal activity by criminal street gangs by focusing upon criminal gang activity and upon the organized nature of criminal street gangs which together are the chief source of terror created by criminal street gangs.
(d) The General Assembly further finds that an effective means of punishing and deterring the criminal activities of criminal street gangs is through forfeiture of the profits, proceeds, and instrumentalities acquired, accumulated, or used by criminal street gangs.