Public Forum Addresses Gang Violence - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/13/05

Public Forum Addresses Gang Violence

Experts say there are at least a dozen gangs in Savannah. Experts say there are at least a dozen gangs in Savannah.

Officials are exposing Savannah's growing gang problems, giving parents, teachers, police and anyone else some pretty interesting information. A pair of experts talking to more than 200 people at a town hall meeting at Savannah High School said gangs don't completely control any one part of the city, but are causing some severe problems in several hot spots.

Even the worst neighborhoods in Savannah aren't like those you see on TV, but a lot of the crime and shootings that go on here are definitely tied to gang activity.

"It's not uncommon," said Det. Jose Ramirez of SCMPD. "A lot of times names do come up that we know are involved with gang activity, so we do look into it. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

Det. Ramirez focuses on gangs in Savannah. He and Ken Jones, a nationally recognized gang expert, answered a lot of questions Tuesday night and opened a lot of eyes.

Experts say a lot of people in Chatham County are frankly in denial about how much gang activity there could be in Savannah.

"Savannah is like many other communities," said Jones. "They are slow to respond and slow to respond is not a negative, it's just that whatever response they do give, they want to make sure that it has positive impact."

Ramirez and Jones say there are at least a dozen well-organized gangs spread throughout Savannah and they're not all simple local startups.

"Based on some of the graffiti that I've analyzed here in savannah, there are definitely some national gang symbols," Jones told us.

"There's a gang that uses the Crip name, which is the '41st Street Crips,'" said Ramirez. "If you go down 41st Street at Jefferson, you'll see they took the sign, crossed it out, put blue paint on it. They put a little C at the bottom."

Ramirez and Jones say parents of course should be very concerned about keeping their kids out of gangs. Look for sudden changes in their behavior, grades and appearance and new, sketchy friends that you don't know.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

Powered by WorldNow