hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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March 21, 2013

Let's give gangs a hefty boot!

A recent headline in The Eagle-Tribune made me wince with anger.

“City gets $98K grant to fight gangs.”

A more preferred item would have been seeing our recreation department, library or high school music program benefit from such an allotment of money.

Not such an unfathomable sum being appropriated to fight crime in my city. It also posed some questions:

Are things really that bad in Haverhill that we need $98,000 from the state for such an inane cause? Can’t the police handle it? Can’t neighborhood watch groups accelerate their vigil? Can’t our city’s youth find something a bit more appropriate to pursue than travelling around in gangs and tearing our haven apart?

The story goes on to quote patrolmen who admitted violent crime and gang activity were on the upswing. There’s an apparent lack of numbers and resources to adequately respond to the increase in gang activity and violent crime.

Mercy!

Hoodlums are rampaging through neighborhoods, wielding baseball bats and causing bodily harm to others like something out of the pages of “West Side Story.” Five adults and three teenagers were arrested in one incident.

It crushes me to see innocent students being tormented by bullies. Mob scenes in our schools and neighborhoods are the devil’s advocate.

The newspaper story includes a quote from Mayor Jim Fiorentini, who readily admits that “gang members move in and out of our city all the time.”

No doubt, they will have already covered their tracks and caused bodily harm, pillaging the neighborhoods and defacing property. The state money is being awarded to communities like Haverhill with high levels of youth violence and gang problems.

Where do these gangs originate? Are they home-grown products or outsiders? Is the problem so rampant that you need such an amount of money to control it? I wonder, will that even be enough?

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