Meridian Star

Editorials

November 18, 2012

Does Meridian have a gang problem?

MERIDIAN —     In an informal poll on The Meridian Star website we asked readers, "Do you believe there are gangs in Meridian?"

    An overwhelming majority of the 235 people who participated in the poll — 97 percent — voted in the affirmative.

    The subject appears to be of interest to readers given that in the two months since we first began the polls only one other question — about the presidential debates — garnered more participation.

    Marie Collins, grandmother of Terrianda Collins, 21, who died Nov. 10 from multiple gunshot wounds after he was shot outside a home in the 2100 block of 15th Avenue, believes gang members are responsible for her grandson's death.

    "I'm tired of it," Marie Collins said the day after her grandson was fatally shot. "They know there are gang members here in Meridian but they pretend they don't exist."

    Meridian Police Department Chief James Reed said at a press conference that there was no evidence the shooting was gang related.

    Collins' death was one of seven homicides in Meridian this year, up from two last year, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program compiled by the FBI.

    Suspects in two of those murders have identified themselves as gang members.

    According to Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility records, Jeremy Powe, 22, claimed affiliation with the Vice Lords gang. Powe is charged with murder in the May 21 shooting death of Johnny S. Neely, 23, who was gunned down in the 4300 block of 23rd Street.

    Paul Raphael Brown Jr., 17, who is one of two people charged in the Aug. 21 shooting death of Meridian resident Jadarrian Jimerson, 23, indicated he is a member of the Crips gang, according to detention facility records.

    We don't know if the shootings were gang related, or even if Powe and Brown are actual members of gangs as they have claimed to be.

    We also don't know if the 200 people booked into the Lauderdale County Detention Facility since 2010 who claimed gang membership are actually members of those gangs or not.

    We do know that of those 200, 87 said they were members of the Gangsta Disciples; 47 said they were members of the Vice Lords; 45 cited membership in the Simon City Royals; 19 said they were affiliated with the Arian Nation; one said he was a member of the Hells Angels; and one claimed membership in the Crips.

    Our feeling is that it doesn't matter if those involved in acts of violence in Meridian are members of notorious gangs or not. As the old saying goes, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, chances are it is probably a duck."

    Youths and young adults emulating gangs are more predisposed to commit gang-related acts. In addition to the murders this year, there have been multiple instances recently of guns being fired into unoccupied homes and cars, as well as a couple of shootings that were not fatal.

    Mississippi statutes offer the following definition: "'Street gang' or 'gang' or 'organized gang' or 'criminal street gang' means any combination, confederation, alliance, network, conspiracy, understanding, or other similar conjoining, in law or in fact, of three (3) or more persons with an established hierarchy that, through its membership or through the agency of any member, engages in felonious criminal activity."

    Basically that means any group with established leaders and followers who are working together to commit felony crimes are legally considered gangs.

    Based on that definition, we suspect Meridian does indeed have a gang problem.

1
Text Only
Editorials
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

New federal data show Mississippi received 179 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S. border this year. Gov. Phil Bryant wrote to President Barack Obama demanding the president pre-announce plans to send immigrants to Mississippi, saying Mississippi would block transports. Do you agree with Bryant?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide