Gang violence escalating and not getting enough attention, activist says

manuel munoz.jpg
Manuel Munoz.
Last week, when we noted that the number of Denver homicides during the first quarter of 2012 was up from 2010 and 2011. But the nine Denver victims through the end of last month hardly encompass all the violence that's gone on in these parts of late -- including the death of Manuel Munoz, which escaped the attention of the news media, but not The Youth Connection, whose Heidi Grove sees gang confrontations escalating in the metro area.

"It's been pretty rough," notes Grove, the co-founder and director of operations for TYC, a nonprofit that utilizes urban arts and culture to help young people find jobs and build careers. "We had three services in a week."

manuel munoz candlelight vigil.jpg
A photo of the candlelight vigil for Manuel Munoz.
These events included a funeral and candlelight vigil at Civic Center Park for Munoz, who Grove says was murdered on March 28, as well as a memorial for De'Quan Walker-Smith, shot to death near 29th and Franklin. According to the Reverend Leon Kelly, who spoke at a vigil for Walker-Smith, the death of De'Quan was the 943rd since he began fighting against the scourge of gang violence two decades ago.

Grove fears this number will continue rising.

"Our team has been inundated with what's going on in Denver right now," she says. "We stay in open communication with folks on the streets, and a lot of them were around during the Summer of Violence" -- a name attached to a particularly brutal season in 1993. "And they say they're seeing a rate of violence they haven't seen since then."

Why? One theory involves a massive February bust that targeted a cocaine ring. Raids were conducted at 97 homes, with eighty people arrested for various offenses.

"We knew when that hit the news that it could potentially have major repercussions," Grove points out. "A lot of people don't understand that gangs are a hierarchy. They function, in lay terms, like a corporation: Everybody has a boss, and information goes up and down. And when that bust happened, a lot of the major shot-callers went to jail. That means everything is very disorganized and convoluted, and people are fighting for power. I would say there's a turf war going on in various parts of the city."

Page down to continue reading our interview with The Youth Connection's Heidi Grove.


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Rich_CABEZA
Rich_CABEZA

The problem isn't the growing gang problem.  Gangs will always be a problem.  The new chief of police is revamping the police department and one of his moves was to disband the gang unit and order all districts to police themselves.  Having each district take care of their own areas  creates a major cluster >>>.  Gang members  don't always all live in the same district so how can you monitor what the gang does  if you are not aware of cross dealings. The Denver Gang Unit had jurisdiction through out Denver and channeled all gang information so that all districts were informed.  The Chief  claims he is saving the tax payers money by re organizing the department.  Disbanding the gang unit is not going to save tax payers  any money when you look at the communication night mare and the extra cost to accomplish any communications, and  whats the cost for information that is never acquired.  Not every officer is willing to put the efforts to confront gang related crimes on a daily basis. The officer that apply for that unit are not your average crime fighter ........If DPD  doesn't take the time,  resources  and respect of what a gangs are capable of ....  then Denver residents need to be aware that the gangs didn't get bigger  or meaner.... they just got a hall pass... They will see that gang officers are not policing them or on top of their activities.... the recent violent crimes in all districts are not by chance... I can go on and on and on.....because it is just not a smart move and it is going to have serious repercussions for Denver residents

The Watcher
The Watcher

Well all you have to do is look at the demographics of the gangs...a bunch of savages not worth the air they breath..hopfully they will just kill each other off,animals..

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

It would be wonderful if they all got rid of each other.  Families are not, they are useless to society and a major drain on it.

Your Attorney
Your Attorney

too bad they don't take lonely, angry, bitter Internet whiners like you with them

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

Or attorneys.................

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

Yes, that was an excellent post that DocChaos wrote, far better than the vitriol you spewed out.  For the record, Roberto, I am a 35 year old Mexican American female.  My husband was originally from Mexico, became a citizen (yes, we are capable of doing that), speaks the language of the country that he adopted, and is hard-working.  Unlike many of his relatives, he did not go after hand-outs (even though they were there for the taking).  He is a proud man, proud of his heritage, proud of being American.  Our children will never use the excuse of 'Oh, we deserve sympathy because of our heritage'.  The way we see it, our heritage is what makes us proud.  In short, my children will never be allowed to use any excuse to be less than what they are capable of.  Too bad there are people like you to hand that out to others. 

Roberto
Roberto

Who has two index fingers and can point out the old, bitter probably lonely lady with lame comebacks and living in fictional, my-world-is-better-than-yours Utopia? ME! hahaha

DocChaos
DocChaos

And you're all playing the game the real gangs want you to play. Flame each other. Talk shit about who should be "taken out". Meanwhile, the rich folks get to make obscene money, take the tax they OWE and deduct it by shoving it at Lobbyists who buy their elections and politicians and YOU get to foot the bill. They get to say you're animals so we need more cops, more laws, more jails, more restrictions on our Bill of Rights and that means cutting "programs" because we don't pay enough tax!

What kind of an attorney can't see this stuff? A 300 lb Samoan high on drugs? A guy that's supposed to know what the Constitution and Bill of Rights means and should have payed more attention in class?

General Electric paid no income tax on over a billion in earnings last year. Verizon, the Koch brothers, even goddamn Disneyland stuffed the pockets of politicians with YOUR money. They just deducted it as a political contribution. I call it bribing public officials but then you'd have to ask Mr. Attorney. I'm not an attorney. I was a viable fetus.

The IRS is what allows the rich to get richer and keep our asses in the dumper. Don't people get it? They don't know what a gang is or a fix or ripoff when they see one.

They listen to FOX News and or MSNBC or they think a Republican or a Democratic candidate is not going to lie to get elected because they've already been bought out.

You and I allowed and continue to allow Citizens United to steal our election process in spades. The corporations own congress using our money and they don't pay shit in taxes. We pay to get screwed and we don't even get kissed.

You want to know why street gangs exist? Because they have no choice but to exist the best way the can in a world that is utterly against them from the day they were born. They are angry and they've learned that they must be ruthless to survive. But their real rival doesn't even enter into their consciousness. Their real enemy is a bought and paid for system that needs them to be angry and ruthless to the "good citizens" will allow more cops and give up their rights to be protected from the "powerful gangs". Nuts.

Why do gangs exist? Is it because they don't have a decent education, food, or a family who can afford to stay together because they can get decent jobs? Why can't the get decent jobs? Because labor is cheaper in third world countries. Because our Tax Code makes you having a decent job harmful to their bottom line. Because the priority is on profits not a stable nation. Because they own most of the politicians.

Corporations need our government to go bomb the shit out of other brown people. They need to have their oil. Do you think we'd be over there if all they had was potatoes and goats? Are we fighting for their freedom? Did they welcome us there?. Do they want us to leave? Do we even know what real freedom and liberty is so we can go passing it around the world? Go ask a gang member on the streets of Denver. Then go ask an Iraqi as he puts a bomb in your pants.

They way to control a population is to destabilize it, Take away it's right to self defense. Silence decent. Fill them with propaganda and make them mistrust each other. That's what the USA did all over South America, Korea, Viet Nam, and is still doing in the Middle East. We currently occupy Columbia, Peru, Panama, and we're working on Argentina. The boys at the top are not your friends. They know what ruthless really means. You are a cockroach as far as they're concerned. And if you've been paying attention, they're raising the level of control, they're militarizing the police, and they want you to believe they can control guns if they can just make them illegal. Yeah right, just like they stop drugs, or the war on poverty. Their idea of no child left behind is to put them in a uniform and teach them to exterminate the enemies of the corporate overlords. Chicago, LA, New York, Denver gangs, What a bunch of low grade pikers. Clueless pikers and cannon fodder.

JH GordonFireclosureHow to burn down Wall Street and get away with it. https://www.smashwords.com/boo...

Diane Garcia
Diane Garcia

Who has two opposable thumbs and doesn't give a damn what a loser low-life like you thinks??? Me!!!!!!

reginald williams
reginald williams

I agree with Roberto and the attorney they should take your stupid ass out with them

mickey mouse
mickey mouse

Denver does not have a gang problem try going to chicago or L.a.Denver is disney land compared to a city with a real gang problem.

dutchess
dutchess

 they all start somewhere on the bottom

Roberto
Roberto

yo disney, people like you need to stfu. for real. Of COURSE LA and Chi have a bigger gang problem, they have populations of 9 million and 3 million, respectively, versus denver's 600k. You don't know anything about gangs if you are going to say this is disneyland. A true gang member is the same in denver as in la. Killers reside in both cities. But you should have some sense slapped into you if you think denver doesn't have a gang problem. Obviously if don't actually know first hand anything about real gang issues aside from what you see on tv to believe we have a gang problem, you just watch TV and news and think you know what you're talking about. Go to a group of real gangmembers in denver and tell them they ain't sh*t compared to LA/CHI and see if you live to keep writing stupid comments. 

Disneyland
Disneyland

No, Roberto. I think the kids need to be told that they're watching to much BET, my question is-Where are the parents? And NO again to Roberto-I do know a think or two about gangs. Just not like the dumb ones here. You see, am from South Texas I've seen alot of lets just say "stuff" that the average child should of been subjected to. Ever seen the movie BLOW? Well that's life in South Texas...As for the white guy below that stereotypes people because of our color, I had a very middle-class upbringing in a great school district. O and btw, I disagree that you're making great money at your JOB. Having a business and being self-employed is the BEST! Cheers to you Roberto- From a Tejana that has travelved from Canada and in between into Mexico..

DocChaos
DocChaos

 Roberto, it's the us and them mentality. "The gang problem" isn't about size or statistics, it's very personal if you happen to be in front, around, or in it. That's hard for the average citizen to perceive, but gangs are made up of individual people who are involved because of few options.

On the surface, we can say everyone has a choice, free will, but we don't live in a barrio and if we do, we know there's little choice in that world. If we live outside, it's too easy for us to think of those unfortunates as even human. That is the mark of a sick society from the top down.

We've had drug prohibition for 74 years and it's done nothing but create violence and cost lives and billions of tax payer dollars. It's created a huge bureaucracy to combat it and huge industry supplying demand. What's wrong with that picture? A decided lack of common sense. It's the "government" solving the problem. They never do. Never.

Aside from the fact that more people by far die from overdoses of legal prescription drugs, we have to realize what the pharmaceutical companies know all too well: drugs represent a huge profit center. The Mexican Mafia knocks down 65 Billion dollars a year off of Marijuana alone. People are killed over it, Gang wars erupt for the control of it. And for profit jails are filled (and cop's and judge's pension plans stuffed by) simple pot heads instead of criminal Wall Street bankers who steal opportunity from the poor and are in the process of making us all poor.. Where is the common sense in that? And where is the empathy for all of us when we're the real losers.

 Prohibition costs lives, it creates only opportunity for more corruption. And we're missing the boat by not legalizing and taxing hell out of it. Do banks want drugs legalized? No. They launder trillions in drug money. Everybody knows it. Pablo Escobar almost brought American banks to their knees once. That's why poor billionaire Pablo got dead.

Thanks for your post. There's no Disneyland in your brain.

JH GordonJoe Detectivehttps://www.smashwords.com/boo...

disney land
disney land

Yo roberto i do know what the hell i am talking about because i am a ex gang member from chicago so stfu.Oh by the way i have talked to gang members in denver and like i said this place is disney land.When you cant drive through neighbor hoods because of the gang members and crack dealers then you have a problem and if you say 5 points then i say you have disney land.In chicago there is neighborhoods the cops wont even drive through when denver gets that way then you have a "gang problem".And as i see it out here at least the gangs are not waging war every day in the streets you have a problem here and there but not every day.And i dont watch tv i live it.

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

Flag away, if the shoe fits, please feel free to wear it.  How's that Quest card working for you?

DocChaos
DocChaos

Welcome to America, Roberto. When a person with the name Garcia doesn't realize there are areas her surname would prevent her from staying longer than it takes to fill her gas tank and leave. She's got hers, and she's a little embarrassed by those who don't.

What I said is true. It's not like "gangs" are restricted to Denver or Chicago or LA. They're on Wall Street, and they're on corporate boards, and they're running for office. Gangs come in all shapes and colors and they aren't all dealing crack. Some are running banks that launder money made from the dealers of crack. Some are flying it in on military cargo planes or winking at a container that's labeled children's toys.

We have either an inept or a corrupt government that runs guns to the Mexican Mafia. We offer job opportunities for people to be all they can be in a body bag. The gangs are way tougher and far less human than the tat covered innocent who doesn't know who his real enemies are. He does live in a little Disneyland created by a system that failed him and is rapidly failing the rest of us.

I'm glad you're doing well. I'm glad mickey mouse lived through the gang life. But I wish both of you realized this isn't about street gangs, it's about a society (that's us) that is losing it's humanity, empathy, and developing true poverty of spirit.

I'm a white guy. I've lived in a privileged world because of it. Sure, I've made my own way out of financial poverty. But as hard as that was, it was easier than it was for mickey mouse or Ms. Garcia and perhaps you because of some skin pigment or lack thereof.

But in many respects my understanding of how things actually work and the "real" gangs in government, industry, and finance, has given me a clearer understanding of the need for diversity and common sense, and empathy for my fellow humans.

America is not an exclusive club of any one race of "social level". There was a time when "No Irish need apply" or "No Dagos" or the so called "sunset laws" of the deep south.

Things run the way they run because somebody is making a profit. There, that's the truth. And they don't care if you (or we) live or die. And they forement those attitudes in people like Ms. Garcia. They like us destabilized and acting like we hate each other or we're any different from each other. That way they can protect us from ourselves. And by telling us that, they can get us to pay for the cops and judges, and politicians who protect them and their profit centers (like that crack the gangs fight over). No, mickey mouse has no idea what a real gang is.

Here's something everyone needs to wrap their head around: Who is more honest, the mugger who sticks you up with a gun, or the guy who steals your money and your freedom with the stroke of a pen? You, me, mickey mouse, and Ms. Garcia are slaves and we don't even know it. Our attention is diverted by...

JH GordonFireclosureHow to burn down Wall Street and get away with it.https://www.smashwords.com/boo...

Roberto
Roberto

Forget about what you and I make, because I can bet "dollars to donuts" I live a richer life. Forget who is on welfare (which when NOT abused, helps families in need, and fortunately my family does not have to use it). Seriously what is your problem?! Are you that blind and snobby? Wow. Look at yourself in the mirror because not everyone in the world has it so easy. You actually said "let them kill eachother?!" I believe the kid with no options, no family structure, no role models, and is stuck finding a sense of belonging in a gang is innocent and needs someone to care, and sadly you are not one of them like so many others. 

And how am I enabling these "punks?" I'm actually do my part to reach out to kids who unfortunately ARE NOT born so privileged. I do my part by volunteering as a youth football coach, for NO money. I introduce troubled youth to God when I can. I set an example for kids who come from the same harsh environments. What do YOU do for ANY community? I feel sorry for you, I really do. Never once did I back these "punks." I know many are misguided "punks," but a LOT of them just need more options. It's sad a war is going on in our neighborhoods and all people like you can do is turn your back because you have it so easy. This is your gente dying out there.  

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

I highly doubt that you have a better paying job than I, and what you're not paying attention to is, nobody cares if they shoot each other, just leave innocent people out of it.  I don't feel stupid at all for asking if your Quest card is working for you, I will bet dollars to donuts that someone in your family even now, has one.  Spare me the whole 'oh, he's just misunderstood'.  I believe that was a refrain from a song in West Side Story.  The only kids I feel sorry for are the ones who have losers for parents, and don't stand a chance.  People like you constantly enable these worthless punks, and as long as you do, it will continue.  So look in the mirror the next time you feel like casting blame.

Roberto
Roberto

Actually Diane, I'm NOT one of them. I'm a proud college graduate with an amazing career (probably with a better job than you, no welfare needed thank you) going that came from this type of environment, Montbello, and actually speak out against it to raise awareness. I speak up when idiots say we don't have a problem. I've lost too many friends to this gang nonsense and the only way people will do something is when people accept we have a problem and face it head on. My comments were to highlight that yes we have a problem, yes they are just as bad as big cities, just not by numbers, and lastly, yes I think ignorant people like you and disney, who like to just turn their backs with an attitude of "let them just kill each other" attitude, should learn some compassion. You probably shouted for justice for Kony, which is ok, but WE HAVE A WAR GOING ON IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND YOU NEED TO WAKE UP!!! 

So now read this comment, feel stupid for asking if my Quest card is working for me, and I pray that you never have to lose a child or loved one to this nonsense. Gangs are only 10% bad. Meaning that only one out of 10 gang members should be locked up, the rest just need direction, belonging, RESOURCES. So you can help the problem or sit on your comfy computer chair and do nothing but talk big. Thanks for your attention, now let me get back to work. :)

Diane Garcia83
Diane Garcia83

Yo Roberto, sounds like you idolize these losers.  You're probably one of them, in which case, get off welfare and get a job.

I25
I25

This is a very big problem. There was a shooting in north Denver that caused police to pull over a city bus right by our house, because they thought the suspect was on board. They marched a dozen young men off the bus and had them all on the ground, in restraints. They ended up photographing them all, paying particular attention to their tats. We couldn't tell if an arrest was made, but couldn't find any mention of the incident anywhere. Not the shooting, not anything.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting post, I25. Thanks for letting us know about this.

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