Dear Members of the North Carolina General Assembly,
As a community activist, I am opposed to House Bill 274 also known as the Street Gang Suppression Act. While I do not condone criminal behavior, I find several parts of the bill disturbing.
Primarily, the bill does not clearly define what constitutes gang affiliation. As you may know, mega corporations have glorified gang culture for the last two decades. Therefore, it is hard to tell where Hip Hop fashion ends and "gang" attire begins. Every teen that wears a white T-Shirt or has a tattoo is not a blood thirsty murderer.
Also, when one thinks of the typical "gang member," the image one gets is not of a middle class white child but a young black male from the so called "hood.". As an African American male, I know how it feels to be stereotyped as a criminal. I am no stranger to having little old ladies clutch their pocketbooks and cross the street when they see me coming in their direction. This bill preys are the fears of those who already have a false impression of black manhood.
Lastly, I come from a black community that is not too many generations removed from Jim Crow Laws and "Black Codes" which made it illegal for African Americans to gather on street corners during the early 20th century. Certain parts of this bill seem as though they were written in 1908 instead of 2008.
While solutions must be found to curb youth violence, We must not cave into the politics of fear.
So, I ask that you, please reconsider passing the Street Gang Suppression Act.
Minister Paul Scott