The Block Is Hot -- David Madrid on San Jose's Rise in Street Violence
The city of San Jose has had seven homicides within the past eleven days and the sad truth is by the time you eventually read this there may even be more. The streets are hot, parents are scared, and local politicians and civic leaders are having a field day jumping on the moment.
San Jose has experienced it’s 33rd homicide for the year, 13 of the 33 being gang related and that number is on the rise as Norteno and Sureno street gangs are engaged in a bloody death match. This is one of the main reasons for the surge in street violence.
Everyone has there own political view and agenda when speaking on the issue. Whether it’s police pushing for pension reform or city council members throwing their name on a candle light vigil flyer to be seen. Folks need to get their eyes off themselves and focus on the politics of the street to find a solution to the violence.
People are saying San Jose’s current spike in violence could be blamed on two major factors, City policies that reduce SJPD patrol staffing and the state’s corrections realignment plan that shifted low level inmates from state facilities to county jails. The theory is the combination of fewer cops and homeboys running Elmwood like its prison are having an impact on the streets.
But here is what we know: San Jose is in the mist of an old fashion gang war between red and blue.
Earlier this month The Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force reported that a Los Angeles based street gang with a presence in San Jose let it be known by tagging their gang moniker in various known Norteno gang neighborhoods. That was a form of calling the gang members out to war. It looks as if the Nortenos answered the call.
SJPD has cracked down on the leading aggressive Norteno gang on the forefront of the charge, but this conflict is bigger then just one street gang identity. It has been described as a citywide, “All of us against all of them,” mentality. This type of volatility has resulted in violence that continues on the daily, but murder is the only crime that has become news worthy.
Suppression seems to be SJPD’s best weapon at the moment in the battle to stop the violence. They are going after the key players but all suspected gang members on both sides are subject to being stopped and questioned and when legally possible took off the streets.
This violence affects everyone in targeted communities, not just the gang members but the parents and innocent youth with no gang ties. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to a tragic situation. Mothers are more concerned for their children and even the gang members themselves are asking each other “who’s next?” to lose their life.
There are a lot of people gathering at candle light vigils and civic leaders making their voices heard. But as community members, parents and families that are directly affected by this violence, let’s not get caught up in the hype. Because when the local political moment is over we are going to be the ones still dealing with this issue. We need to work together and not solely rely on law enforcement and local government for our solutions.
I am hopeful that the street violence will eventually calm down, but my concern is that blood has already been drawn for this generation of gang members and their mentality is can’t stop, won’t stop. May God protect and bless the families and streets of San Jose!
(Photo by David Madrid.)
David Madrid is the host and producer of Block to Block Radio -- which airs every Wednesday from 8am-10am on 91.5fm KKUP.
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