Miami sees dangerous rise in gang activity

admin | 6/11/2012, 8 a.m.

Gang violence is once again on the rise in the City of Miami. In fact, during the month of May, there was one or more gang-related murders at least every other day. According to Sergeant Ervens Ford, 46, who heads the homicide division for the Citys police department, the current trend and death rates may mean that we are in for one of the bloodiest summers on record. A string of documented murders have occurred throughout the City but the majority have taken place in the 753-unit public housing apartment complex located in Liberty City called Liberty Square the Pork & Beans to longtime city residents. Contrary to what some might assume, the shootings do not appear to be drug related. We are witnessing shootings that appear to be prompted by feuds between young men who associate themselves with gangs, Ford said. There have been attempts in the past to shape Miami-based gangs into two primary gangs like those in Los Angeles or Chicago but they never materialized. Now what were seeing is an all-out campaign to recruit members and to force young people to join one side or the other. The potential for significant and constant bloodshed is sure to rise if we get to a point where theres just an us against them kind of fight. Ford was unable to give specifics in terms of the numbers of gang members or how certain gangs are joining forces to beef up their membership but he says that without immediate forms of intervention from law enforcement and community activists, he fears the worst. Many of the gang members are still young boys but they want to be respected and will do anything to gain and maintain respect on the streets, he said. Solutions will take team effort T. Willard Fair, CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami, Inc. says the recent development comes as no surprise to him. Our young Black boys think we dont care about them and in many ways thats the way it looks, he said. With more and more deaths occurring, more Black-on-Black crime, one has to consider if we just dont know what to do or if were waiting for someone else to do it for us. Its an embarrassment that our kids are killing each other and not one organization has stepped forward. Weve faced these kinds of problems before in Miami and it required everyone being on the same page thats city and county law officials, leaders from the community even folks from federal offices. There are so many components to this problem but if we could get rid of over 200 24-hour drug corners years ago, we can handle this challenge as well. But itll require a carefully-crafted plan and itll take men who are not afraid. The senseless murder of a peacemaker Ford is the lead investigator in one particular shooting that he says troubles him every day. It is the murder of 28-year old Jerod Givens shot multiple times during the early hours of Thursday, May 31st. Givens, based on the evidence, was not involved in any gang activities. In fact, he was a young father who had turned his life around, was working at the Marlins Stadium and would return to his aunts home in Liberty Square after his shift and before sunrise so he could walk two of his boys to school. Jerod loved his children and used every chance he got to expose them to a different environment and a better way of life, said his aunt, Phlesia Givens, 43. He had his problems with the law but after the birth of his first child [he would father four, the fifth will be born later this year], he began to really change. He coached sports teams for children and took his kids and others from the projects to the playground almost every day. He walked his two oldest boys to and from school each day. Then he went home or to work. Givens says the children still dont understand what has happened. We have no idea why someone would kill him but we know that he would not want revenge, she said. We the kind of man that hoped to bring peace in the hood. Thats what we want too. By D. Kevin McNeir kmcneir@miamitimesonline.com