Local News

State Lawmaker Wants To Crack Down On Gang Activity

Posted March 29, 2003 11:19 a.m. EST

— Gang violence is on the rise in North Carolina.

A state lawmaker wants to put some teeth into state laws to try and stop gang activity.

In January, gunshots were heard outside a Durham Diner as rival gangs engaged in a shootout.

The turf battle continued outside the emergency room at Duke University Medical center, where more shots were fired.

A month later, a 16-year-old girl was wounded when shots riddled a DATA Bus. The crime was gang related.

Sgt. Howard Alexander with Durham's gang resistance unit counts as many as 30 gangs with several hundred members.

"Frankly," Alexander said, "if you have a kid under 18, they are probably in a gang."

Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat, has proposed a Street Gang Terrorism Prevention Act.

"You've got people coming from out of state forming these gangs in state," Michaux said, "and this is what we want to stop."

Durham's problems with gang-related crimes serve as the inspiration for the proposed state law. Gang activity would be easier to identify, and gang related crimes could carry an additional 10-year prison term.

"If they get together for a criminal enterprise and recruit other people to do it," Michaux said, "then they become subject to prosecution of the law as it's written right now."

Crimes that fit the gang pattern include stalking, sex offenses, prison escape and weapons violations.

Michaux's legislation also makes it a crime to recruit people for gang membership, and it also would be a crime to retaliate against anyone who wants out of the gang.