B.C. gang violence hyperbole hits new high

You knew that all the publicity surrounding gang violence in the Vancouver area was going to attract hyperbole as the issue gets hijacked for use as anecdotal evidence of a crime crisis that requires tougher laws, including longer sentences, and more police.

The Independent, a national newspaper in the U.K., describes gang crime in Vancouver this year with an off-the-hyperbole-meter flourish:

As it prepares to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, what it’s got now is not cuddly, eco-friendly publicity, but blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses.

The story appears under the headline: “From Heaven to Hell…”

Blood-spattered streets littered with shell casings and corpses.

That’s high-flyin writin’ that might roll off the tongue, chock-a-block with alliteration and grisly imagery, but there’s one problem. It ignores some basic facts.

• The RCMP says murders in the Lower Mainland, the region that includes Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, showed “no significant increase/decrease” in the 10-year span from 1997 to 2007.

• It’s notable that homicides jumped to their highest level in years in 2008, to 140, but the Mounties believe that 43 of those 140 killings were gang related (that’s roughly 31%). It’s the second lowest level of gang murders in the past five years. The number of gang killings was at its recent peak in 2005. (so why the panic now?) Do the simple math with the 2008 stats. Seven out of every 10 murders last year had causes other than gangs.

That seems like the bigger problem requiring attention.
The jury is still out on the scope of the gang problem this year, and how it will fit into the long-term picture.

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1 thought on “B.C. gang violence hyperbole hits new high


    By: Mike (Ali) Raccoon Eyes Kinney

    As a Cherokee Native American Activist and a former member of the Richmond California Violence Prevention Movement, I have seen close to 515 homicides in the City of Richmond from 2001 to the present.

    The declaration of a 'war on violence' by the Richmond city government was not the panacea, instead it failed miserably.

    I have often stated in town hall meetings and on television, the best way to win the 'war on violence' in Richmond is to 'TEACH THE VALUES OF PEACE'.

    In the killing fields of Richmond, most of the victims of homicides are youth or young adults. Teaching the values of peace begins with our youth and young adults. From a Native perspective, winning the war on violence begins in the home with a strong, spiritual belief and value system.

    We believe that Creator made all generations, past, present and those of the future, holy people. This is what our Elders teach us from the time we are born.

    Our families and Elders teach our young people that they must tear away the images and stereotypes that mainstream society has placed upon them as Native peoples.

    Violence and killing is not traditional in Native culture, it is a learned behavior from mainstream society.

    We teach our youths not to attack, punish or beat themselves up for crimes that they have never committed in regards to racism. Our Elders and families teach our young people to have good self-esteem, self-worth and self-value, for as the original holy people this was Creators plan.

    Native people know that it is both family and community responsibility to teach the values of peace to our young people.

    We teach our young people honesty and accountability concerning violence. It begins with accepting responsibility for self and acknowledging any past use of violence.

    Admitting any wrongdoing, communicating openly and truthfully to renounce the use of violence in the future places our youth on the right path. We place a heavy emphasis that all life is sacred.

    The final lesson in teaching the values of peace is quite simple. It is helping young people understand their relationship to others and all things in Creation.

    Be responsible for your role, act with compassion and respect, and remember ALL LIFE IS SACRED. Native culture is prevention!

    Mike (Ali) Raccoon Eyes Kinney

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