I just read a heart-breaking story about a police officer making his last traffic stop for the night in a suburb of Albuquerque, N.M., and before he could even draw his service revolver, or perhaps even knew he should, a passenger in the car, a purported gang member, shot him dead.
It occurs to me that gangs do not exist in a vacuum. And they need support from other folks just to survive. I mean they must have a place to live and to sleep and to eat. They take that support, sometimes from family members and from the social welfare institution, and then they prey on the public.
But out of fear and out of cynicism of the system the gangs are protected by the very public upon which they prey.
People who live in gang-infested areas would do better to support and help the local police than to see them as the enemy.
In some places, though, the police have not made that easy. In some places the police are their own worst enemy.
But the scourge of the gang culture threatens us all.
It does not help that young people like to dress in gang-member-like attire.
It would be refreshing to see that as not being cool.
And of course the entertainment industry and other commercial interests play on the gang wannabe culture in their cynical chase for the all-mighty dollar.
It is said that the gangs are in part the result of a feeling of hopelessness among the lower class and among so-called minority groups.
But in my life I have seen two basic types of people: those who follow or try to follow the norms of society and who do what they can do be productive members of it, and those who do not — and nationality and skin color seem to have nothing to do with it.
As a truck driver I am constantly in areas where unemployment is no doubt high, and yet, I see people of all cultures and skins colors working. I feel sorry for them having to live and work around others who do not share their sense of self-worth and responsibility.
But gangs could not exist without our perhaps at times unwitting support.