Jewish World Review July 15, 2003 / 15 Tamuz, 5763

Stanley Crouch

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Target gangs — terrorists of the cities | There has been much talk since 9/11 of sleeper cells, Islamic terrorists waiting among us for the word to be given so that they can go out and murder as many Americans as possible.

But there are other terrorists among us who are not at all hard to find and who, like the Ku Klux Klan once did, rule with violence. In Los Angeles, there are well-known street gangs that have murdered 10,000 people over the past 20 years!

They have taken over the streets of many inner-city communities, North and South. A recent New York Times story titled "Lie or Die" told of three young women who were threatened with death if they testified against a murder suspect connected to a gang. A young man who, like the young women, had seen the killing, was murdered before he could testify.

From a personal standpoint, my daughter, nearly 10 years ago, when she was 16, attended a party in Los Angeles where some guys who were not invited tried to get in. After they were turned away, these people went out to their car, got 9-mm. pistols and commenced firing through the windows. Fortunately, no one was hit.

Those are the kinds of urban terrorists who have made people in projects in Chicago serve dinner in the hallways because, at nightfall, the thugs start shooting in the courtyards. At this point, as a friend who recently was in Los Angeles discovered, people in South Central do not sit on their front porches for fear of being shot in drive-bys.

One of the failures of the civil rights establishment is that it has not focused on these terrorists and the kinds of oppression and murder they visit on black and Latin people through the country.

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Some are afraid to focus on them because they fear being accused of hating young black and Latin people or stigmatizing the minority young. The ice-cold fa ct is this: No one hates those people more than the three girls who were told to lie or die; or the family of the young man who was murdered to keep him from testifying; or the young people who were on the floor with my daughter when bullets came through the windows, or the families of those 10,000 who have been murdered in Los Angeles over the last 20 years.

The only things the overwhelming majority of so-called minority youth have in common with these murderers — other than age group — are the same things most American kids have in common with them: bad manners and bad taste. Beyond that, these murdering thugs are a rightfully despised minority among the young.

So it seems to me that if President Bush wants to wage total war on terrorists, he should include these homegrown knuckleheads with the others and move, in conjunction with local law enforcement and community leaders, to eliminate their violent grip on the lives of Americans. Such a vision of law and order would be truly revolutionary.

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JWR contributor and cultural icon Stanley Crouch is a columnist for The New York Daily News. He is the author of, among others, The All-American Skin Game, Or, the Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994,       Always in Pursuit: Fresh American Perspectives, and Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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