01 January 2009

Happy New Year - wanna be a spy for the man?

We missed ringing in the New Year by 30 minutes or so - just couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. Not having a big motivation, like being on the banks of the Thames surrounded by thousands of people, made it seem like just another day.

We lazed in bed till after 9, then caught the end of the Rose Parade Coverage in lovely HD. The notable interruptions? Every commercial break included a spot inviting viewers who have seen suspected gang activity to call the Monterey County Joint Gang Task Force hotline. It had a dramatic voiceover; the image was just white text on a black background. It was not festive or celebratory in any way, and raised a whole bunch of questions.

What exactly is gang activity? For that matter, what do they mean by a gang? Crips & Bloods, Nortenos & Surenos, Jets & Sharks? The commercial didn't offer any definitions, so I checked out the MCJGT website. You have to dig for it, but a list of warning signs is there. Many of them apply to teenagers in general. For sure, the first five (half of the points!) applied to me in high school. Take a look:
  • Poor academic progress in school.
  • Lack of interest in school activities.
  • Large blocks of unsupervised time.
  • Signs of increased conflict at home.
  • Frequent disciplinary problems at home and/or school.
  • Frequent contact with police.
  • Drawing graffiti.
  • Imitating gang dress or behavior. [What is gang dress?]
  • Tattoos drawn on the body.
  • Uses hand signs adopted by a gang.
This simple definition of a street gang comes from Know Gangs (emphasis mine):
  • three or more people,
  • who share a unique name or have identifiable marks or symbols, (such as tattoos, wearing certain styles of clothing, colors, hairstyles, graffiti, etc.)
  • associate together on a regular basis and sometimes claim a specific location or territory,
  • have an identifiable organization or hierarchy, (although the leader for one type of criminal activity may be different from that of another criminal activity),
  • and either individually or collectively engage in antisocial, unlawful or criminal activity in an effort to further the gang's social or economical status.
I'm surely not the first person to notice the irony of that description, excluding the criminal adjectives, when applied to this photo:

They've even got the stylized photo & the posturing. (And where are the female officers???)

Heck, I'm gonna call & report the activity of our local gang - Pebble Beach residents. They're easily identified by the resident badges on their vehicles; they claim a very large, specific, exclusive territory; they proudly associate with each other; and damn if they don't routinely make illegal left turns from Lighthouse Avenue.

For now, well, I'm gonna get back to watching the Biggest Loser marathon - no ads recruiting spies there.

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