Gangs Claim New Turf 

Airtimes 

Sci-Fi Channel:
Saturday, September 4
7 a.m. (PT) and 10 a.m. (ET)

Sunday, September 5
7 a.m. (PT) and 10 a.m. (ET)

USA Network:
Sunday, September 5
7 a.m. (ET/PT)

Juvenile Justice: Gangs

TV segment produced by: Stephanie Berger 
Online story written by: Brook Furey

Out of the 'Hood and Onto the Web?
Most people associate gangs with urban areas prone to violence and poverty. But with the emergence of the Internet, gangs are no longer limited by geographic boundaries. And while the Crips and Bloods may not be making the move to take over cyberspace, gang sites are creating enough of a stir for law enforcement and Net-surfing teens to take notice.

Kev Mac is a former Crip's gang member turned Webmaster. He has his own Web site dedicated to educating society about the realities of gang life. Kev Mac says his intent is "to enlighten the youth of the struggles, obstacles, and dangers affiliated with street gangs." By helping others, Kev Mac is helping himself get out of the gang life and raise his children "the right way." 

Brayzie, a member of the Blood's gang, says that gang members are going online in growing numbers. Brayzie has also created his own Web page, and contributes to one of the many Blood gang sites. He claims that the Internet "is the future for all crime and is the future for all justice. That's how people are gonna sell their drugs; that's how people are gonna buy their guns. Everything is going to get done online."

Gang Web sites offer mainstream society a candid glimpse into the gang world and the opportunity to "rub elbows" with real gang members--all from the safety of their own homes. But do these sites pose a serious risk to Net-surfing teens? Some gang members claim that the Internet is helping bring gang life into the deep reaches of suburban and rural America, where teens from different geographic and economic backgrounds can bond and form online gangs based on a shared philosophy. Teens who have no opportunity to experience "real" gang life can get the thrills and chills online. 

Detective Chuck Zeglin monitors the Internet for the L.A.P.D. gang unit and says that, for the most part, gang sites are harmless and may not even be run by real gangbangers. Zeglin doubts online gangs could become a significant threat, because "gangs are a pretty close-knit organization built around trust, friendship, and loyalty [which cannot be replicated on the Internet]." Yet despite the fact that only about 10 percent of gang members online are the real thing, Zeglin still doesn't take any chances and investigates all potential problem sites. Why?

His biggest fear came true last year when the L.A.P.D. removed a gang site because it offered $1,000 to anyone who killed a police officer, and $2,000 for an L.A.P.D. officer. 

It's difficult to say what the future holds for these online gangsters. Web technology could offer them an alternative to street violence, or it could strengthen the bonds of an already dangerous subculture. If you're worried that someone you know is involved in illegal or harmful gang activity, the L.A.P.D. has some online tips.

Be sure to catch the full story, complete with interviews, this weekend on The Web. 

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