GPD investigator: Griffin gangs cross stereotypical racial boundaries

A sign of Griffin's gang activity, tags - graffiti used to mark territory - can be found throughout the city. Photo credit: Sheila A. Mathews

A sign of Griffin’s gang activity, tags – graffiti used to mark territory – can be found throughout the city. Photo credit: Sheila A. Mathews

Publisher’s note: This is the latest in a series of articles on Griffin’s gang activities The Grip has run since fall 2011. We will continue to cover this issue both as the criminal activities impact the community and local officials work to erradicte the problem.

As part of its ongoing efforts to eliminate gangs and related criminal activity, the Griffin Police Department is in the process of compiling a list of known area gang members and their affiliations.

According to Sgt. Gene Mathews, of the GPD Criminal Investigation Division, seven organized gangs and hundreds of individual members have been identified.

“I’ve got a pretty extensive list of gang members and I have some more I need to add from recent events, but right now I would say I have around 200 active members, and that includes all the gangs in the city. “In reality, the actual number is probably higher. I’m sure we have additional gang members that we don’t know about now that will be added in the future.”

Mathews said local gangs often target young men, but their membership is not limited to teenagers.

“I have seen kids as young as 14 and we have some known gang members as old as 25- to 30-years-old. Statistically, the average age of a gang member is 17-years-old,” he said.

He said investigations have concluded local gangs are related to national organizations, but are not in all cases what people think of a traditional gang.

“You have your traditional gangs that are depicted in movies and music videos – the Bloods, the Crips, the Folk Nation and the People Nation. These four gangs were formed in the late 60s and 70s and have their own code of conduct and symbols used to mark their territories. These gangs’ memberships tend to stay within their own racial and ethnic boundaries, and it’s predominately going to be African-Americans,” Mathews said. “The gangs we have in Griffin, they may take bits and pieces of the Bloods’ and Crips’ code of conduct, but they don’t adhere to the original code, and they tend to cross over racial and ethnic boundaries. We may have a gang of Bloods or Crips that doesn’t adhere to racial boundaries – they may have Hispanic or white members, which is what makes them a hybrid gang. Some hybrid gangs may even have female members.”

While some view the gangs operating locally as less significant than those located in larger metropolitan areas, Mathews stressed the danger presented by Griffin’s gangs is very real.

“All gangs are potentially dangerous. They take over neighborhoods; they take over street corners; they take over territory by claiming it as their own,” he said. “To give you an idea of how dangerous they can be, look back to the series of shootings we had in the spring in the area of N. 8th Street. Even though one gang was located at one house, consider the shell casings that were found and the number of houses that were hit by gunfire. Thank the Lord that nobody got hurt. As far as violence goes, you never know what’s going to set them off. That series of shootings began with two members of two local gangs getting into a fight in a local club and from there, it spread into the city and out in the county.”

Mathews said the danger posed by local gangs is not confined to the areas they claim, and that all residents should maintain vigilance in monitoring their surroundings.

“The number one thing the gangs deal with is drugs – illegal narcotics – but from there, you’ve got entering autos, burglaries and robberies,” he said. “The propensity is there for them to commit violent crimes. It just depends on the circumstances. We’ve had robberies committed in broad daylight.”

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Comments

  1. vickykeadle@gmail.com says:

    The police do not care I just called them. They do not come when you call them. This makes the third time they did not come.

  2. I’ve spoken with a couple of teens and ask what persuaded them to join a gang. Not to my surprise that many said the streets raised them. Mama on drugs or didn’t care or was a single parent working and couldn’t be there, father was never around, but that’s still not an excuse but it’s a wake up call. Young girls are now getting pregnant and as the do, the gangs will eventually get bigger. Think about it if you get pregnant at 12, you are going to be one of those mothers that was never around because you have no time to enjoy your teenage years. To me the LACK OF PARENTING is the reason Griffin has gotten so bad. If the parents were to put their children first, love them and spend time with them then the crime would go down. Griffin would have a chance.

  3. The Griffin legal system promotes the climate for the cycle of gangs and crimes that are escalating there. Many of the gang members are a result of single parent female lead households.
    Many of these males are fatherless due to fathers that are imprisoned. Griffin has one of the highest rate of non violent convictions with long-term sentences than most cities in the state. Once a person there gets a felony, there is limited resources for rehabilitation. They are refused jobs and not allowed to educate themselves as they no longer qualify for federal financial aid. There is no system in place to redirect the course of these individuals. Everything these young people are witnessing leads them to believe that there is no hope. I am not saying that I agree with gang members but I am rather saying that I understand why they exist.

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