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When Mayberry Goes Gangsta

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When Mayberry Goes Gangsta:
Justice Southern Style

Min. Paul Scott

Summer time in Mayberry. Usually you can find Sherif
Andy and Deputy Barney unarmed in the jailhouse
playin' cards and just chillin'. Meanwhile, Aunt B and
Opie sit on the front porch sippin' home made
lemonade. But that was before "they" rode into town.
Now Andy and Barney wear bulletproof vests. Aunt B
carries a 45 in her Sunday purse, locked and loaded.
And Opie is now "O dog" Main St assassin...

When most folks think of North Carolina, they think of
Apple pie, warm summer nights and college basketball.
But like most places, the Ole North State has its
share of crime. Some folks will warn you that if you
see a kid dressed from head to toe in Carolina blue,
he probably doesn't play for the UNC Tarheels.
Especially in my city, Durham, as for the past few
years the so called gang problem has received national
attention thanks to the media and documentaries.

Durham hasn't always had the reputation of being the
New Jack City of the South. But a few years back the
local media began to do cover stories with gangsta's
throwin' up gang signs and well, the kids that weren't
quite smart enough to get on the A honor roll or
couldn't catch a pass for a hundred yards every Friday
night found that one way to get noticed was go to the
Dollar store and get a bandana, white T shirt and
mimic BET videos.

To add to that, as in many cities, there is also the
practice of gentrification. For those not hip to the
term. When you find a poor neighborhood, label it run
down, drive the people out, sell property dirt cheap
and then rebuild the area...That's gentrification.

What you have a self fulfilling prophecy..Tell the
people they live in a "gang infested" area long enough
and well...You know the rest.

So how do my southern friends and neighbors deal with
the plague of gang violence?
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Like folks in any other town below the Mason Dixon
when they fill that their traditional way of life is
threatened...

They panic.

For the past few years, some NC politicians have been
trying to pass tougher legislation to deal with gang
violence. In 2003, to capitalize off of post 9/11
paranoia they tried to pass a Street Gang and
Terrorism Prevention Act but since public anxiety had
begun to die down, it didn't work. In 2007, they are
trying to sneak it under the public radar in the form
of the Street Gang Prevention Act courtesy of House
Bill 274 and Senate Bill 1358.

But the obvious question is, if it is such a darn good
idea, then why hasn't it become law, yet?

Now, I like to take an afternoon walk to the mailbox
without worrying about becoming the victim of a drive
by as much as the next guy but using draconian methods
to deter crime just doesn’t strike me right.
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The main controversies surrounding the bills are how
do you determine who is in a gang and is being in a
gang illegal?

The intro to House Bill 274 says that:

"The General Assembly, however, further finds that the
State of North Carolina is in a state of crisis that
has been caused by violent street gangs whose members
threaten, terrorize, and commit a multitude of crimes
against the peaceful citizens of their neighborhoods.
These activities, both individually and collectively,
present a clear and present danger to public order and
safety and are not constitutionally protected"

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