Fayette is 'Ft. Apache' to gangs

Tue, 10/28/2008 - 4:05pm
By: John Munford

Schools, law officers battle about 8 gangs now operating here

Gang expert Wally Marchant, noting that gangs are prevalent in Clayton and south Fulton counties, summed up Fayette County’s problem in a seminar of local officials Friday afternoon:

“You’re Fort Apache and you’re surrounded by people who want to attack you. What are you going to do about it?”

Fayette’s answer is bringing schools and law enforcement together with prosecutors to address gang-related issues. District Attorney Scott Ballard estimated there are roughly eight gangs in Fayette County that have been brought to his attention.

Ballard’s office has used Georgia law against several students involved in a gang “beat-in” fight at Fayette County High School earlier this year, resulting in five-year detention sentences in juvenile court.

Scott Isreal, the juvenile and gang detective for the Fayetteville Police Department, said one of the youths involved in that incident had recently moved to Fayette County after he was approached by gangs where his family previously lived.

“His mother took him out of that school system, brought him down to Fayette County to have a better lifestyle and he saw the leadership possibilities and developed his own gang ... brought his own gang bibles in,” Isreal said.

There is a “huge gang influence” in Fayette County, Isreal said.

The Fayette County School System is using its discipline policy to deal with gang-related issues such as the drawing of gang symbols on homework or bringing a gang “flag,” typically a bandanna, to school.

“The first offense is going to be five days out of school,” said C.W. Campbell, safety coordinator for Fayette County Schools. “Again, parents a lot of times aren’t happy with that, but that’s reality.”

For a second offense, the student is suspended for 10 days and then must attend the alternative school instead of going back to their regular school, he added.

“We had a situation where we were taking those people who really didn’t want to learn out of our regular schools and putting them in the alternative school,” Campbell said.

The alternative school has a dress code that students must follow, Campbell said. They must wear khaki pants with a white, gray or green polo shirt with a belt on, their shirt tucked in, along with white tennis shoes and white shoelaces.

“That takes away some of the problems we’ve had in the past with people still wanting to come in and wear their gang colors,” Campbell said.

Of approximately 100 total “gang-related” incidents at the school system last year, about 10 were ultimately diverted for enrollment in the alternative school, Campbell said.

Between August and September of this year, there were seven “gang activity” offenses reported in local schools, all of gang symbols students had written, Campbell said.

“The teacher sees it, brings it to an administrator and we get their attention real fast,” Campbell said.

The school system also held a round of community awareness meetings at each high school so parents could learn about gangs and other issues from school resource officers and D.A. Ballard, Campbell said.

Ballard said Fayette’s get-tough approach on gangs needs to be tough “because if we blink, hesitate or wait even in a short time we’ll look up and see that gangs are all over the place.”

Marchant noted that there are Asian gangs a few miles down the road in Clayton County where the gang members drive Jaguar luxury cars because their parents own Oriental restaurants.

“They’re spoiled brat gang members and when they get in trouble they get the best attorneys in Atlanta and the state of Georgia,” Marchant said. “Money will not buy you justice but will buy you a good attorney, and if there’s a weak link in a case a good attorney will find it.”

Marchant also noted that gangs in Georgia often cross racial, ethnic and social lines.

“We got rich kids driving around selling drugs and flashing guns, who are spoiled, and we’ve got the poorest of the poor.”

One recent gang member in Savannah sold drugs to be the main provider for his family in terms of paying family expenses, officials said. That ended when he was killed in a drug-related shooting at the age of 17, Marchant said.

The school system also shares information with law enforcement on criminal issues to stay on top of the matter, Campbell said.

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secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 11:50am.

I recall a Citizen article covering the sheriff candidates forum in which Sheriff-elect Hannah stated:
"Hannah took a different view, saying there are no indications of organized gangs in the county, including in schools."


The newly elected sheriff either disagrees with Messrs. Marchant and Ballard, among others, that there are gangs in Fayette County or he doesn't yet know it.

Either way, this should concern residents.

Submitted by McGerkin88 on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:33pm.

but our wonderful retiring Sheriff Randall Johnson. I have had to snicker a little but rather quickly sadness comes in when remembering the attempts of Dave Simmons and his articles relating to this very subject. Mr. Simmons, the fear monger alot of you bloggers stated and only because he was the sole Sheriff's candidate bringing this to YOUR ATTENTION during the campaign.

Ironically, the gang activity validations along with Sheriff Randall Johnson’s retirement activities are on the same page.

What ever happened to that Retirement Benefit Package does anybody know? Has it passed?

Submitted by jeffro2000 on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:22am.

Gangs are the result of one thing and one thing only. The need to have someone watching your back. If I am at Grandmother's helping her fix her leaky faucet on Friday night, I don't need a gang. If I am with my little brother at Cub Scouts I don't need a gang. BUT, if I do these things and don't join a gang, then at school, whose got my back? I may have spilled some milk on the cafeteria floor next to a "gang" member who, if he doesn't jump, is looked on as weak by his fellow "gangstas" so now, I'm needing to join a gang before the end of the day so I don't get beat up.

Yeah, thats pretty much how it goes in public schools. The peer pressure to live like the rap videos tell them to live is so intense. The words to the songs, the clothing, its not just about rebellion angst. The self-destructive "never land" where lost boys never have to grow up is incideous to the lives of people who never have met a gang member, yet are going to their daughter's funeral because a bullet fired from a car hit her instead of the rival "gang" member it was intended for.

Drugs are just an excuse. Its not about the drugs. Legalizing them may take away the financial incentive but it doesn't take away the franchisement, the brotherhood (and you all thought "hood" meant strictly the street one lives on.)

POINT BLANK : young black men are faced with a dilemma no other must conquer. At what point does that young man choose to surrender? "Surrender to what" you may ask. Surrender to being a minority. Surrender to having a white banker and a white insurance man and a white car salesman and a white dentist and white...

Sooner or later he (like everybody for the most part) realizes that in the end, it doesn't matter what the level of melanin was in the skin of anybody, but getting to that point, when all the music and all the hype and all the soapboxing and all the other "gangstas" are telling him that he ain't sh_t in a whiteman's world so he better stick with them, getting to that point is a hard road these days.

"Gangsta" has gone main stream. Stand in line at a conveinence store and look at the cover of the magazines. Angry young black men with looks of hate on their face, angry about the life handed to them and an article that spouts over and over the same story... their environment was given to them by the faceless "whitey" yet their choices and their actions and their quitting on school or family, these are always viewed a happenstance "thats just how it was, know whata I mean" rather than stand up and say that no, it was them and the choices they made IN the gang. Its the fact that the gangs are by nature violent that in the end discredits the entire "lifestyle."

If they were really for protection only, then when not protecting they would be AT GRANDMA'S, everybody helping to paint the house, etc... instead of harrassing whoever crosses their path. At its heart, "gangsta" isn't worth the rubber lost on the bottom of a shoe walking down to the corner to meet up, but IT SELLS RECORDS AND MAGAZINES FOLKS...!!!! AND WE KNOW THAT IS WHAT MATTERS!!! NAACP where are YOU. The biggest threat to the advancement of colored people is under your nose and you have SOLD COMPLETELY OUT. If a city can be shut down from boycotting buses, and an entire civilization roll back 1000 years of ignorance in just 3 or 4 generations (thank you Dr. King, your Gospel will be added one day) then surely the NAACP can start BOYCOTTING the radio stations, the magazines (all the publisher's titles) the stores, etc... because its robbing a hugely disproportionate amount of black youths the ability to reach a point to where they can see the world for what it really is, everybody hustling and everybody bustling to get home at the end of the day and get a kiss from the kids and a hug from Momma, not caring about whats going on in the rap videooohoh. What happened to a mind is a terrible thing to waste? I honestly can't remember when the last time I have seen a public service spot on TV from NAACP. But I bet the salaries have kept up with the times. Wonder WHO is donating - one guess - the people on the cover of the magazines...

You do have a choice... move farther out.

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 7:18pm.

to a point.

We actually have 2 choices. We can move further out to the "next best place to live" or we can stay and fight.

In the Atlanta metro area we have seen this before, many times. First good people were chased out of Dekalb county to Clayton, at the same time East Point residents were also chased out by crime.

There are certain people in the Atlanta urban ghetto who have made a game out of ruining nice communities. They wear t-shirts with the slogan of "You are next_____" (fill in the blank), with whatever community they are threatening next. These people have been taught that the whole world owes them a living. Therefore their life of crime is justified, and in fact the goods they steal are owed to them. They have made a game of chasing down nice safe clean communities and ruining them.

Atlanta is an ugly urban ghetto, like most large cities. We have small pockets of communities that are nice, and then we have a lot of gratuitous crime. What would happen if the good people stood up to these thugs? What are they going to do?

Why should good people keep running?

Let's all go christmas shopping at Autrey's and call it a day.

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 4:16pm.

It's time for the 'young Turks' of today to join the NAACP and make change happen! Those young people have who been involved in the Obama campaign; the boycotting of certain 'rap' stars, etc. - need to take the organizational skills you've developed and take over the NAACP. Not all 'black young men' are lost! . . .and not all young people involved in gangs are from the 'black' sub culture. Let's use acquired skills for change to help all of our young people. They are our future!! Parents throughout the country have tried running - and it just doesn't work. The community needs to join our law enforcement, school officials, and work closely with our real estate professionals to become aware of the signs of the gang culture. This community can stop it!!

Submitted by 30YearResident on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 3:10pm.

The NAACP teaches separation, it teaches division, it teaches banding together as a race to "fight" the other race, it teaches kids and ignorant adults that all whites are after them, it teaches their membership how to use and abuse the system, and basically, it teaches bigotry.
If not for the NAACP and their bigoted leadership under Julian Bond, race relations would be much better today.
It is and always has been in NAACP's best interest to keep divisiveness alive and well and generate donations to their cofers, otherwise, they’re out of a job. Maybe they should extend their initials to "NAANAACP" (Nat'l Assoc for Advancement of the NAACP)
Now flame away because you can't stand someone exposing the truth.

Submitted by tikigod on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 12:53pm.

I normally skip over posts of that length, but I am glad i didn't.

I have always believed that gangster / ghetto culture has to be THE MOST CONFORMIST culture in the united states. Yes, they are not like everyone else. But everyone involved in that scene is exactly the same. When I see someone walking down the street in a big white T, I instantly discriminate. Is it because they are black? NO. It is because they made a CHOICE to join a group of people that all act, talk, walk, dress the same. They are the ultimate conformists.

But one point I disagree. Don't move further away. That makes this place much worse. There really is nowhere else to move. Farther south, uh, no thanks. Northside of town, they have gang problems and the crowding is outta control. You really can't go anywhere to escape these problems.

Things are not that bad here. Remember that this a newspaper and they have to write stories that grab your attention. I'm certainly not saying that this is not an important issue, but its not going to be any better anywhere else. We have a great group of folks living in this fine county. Don't give up. Help make this a less attractive place to the trash that live north of us. Keep the pressure on law enforcement to make sure they have a strong presence in the north end of the county.

Great post.

poipendicular's picture
Submitted by poipendicular on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:47am.

Wonderful comment. I only disagree with the last sentence. I don't want to move father out. I don't want others to move farther out. What does that gives us? Longer commutes and less time with the family, which helps lead to this problem.

TonyF's picture
Submitted by TonyF on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 8:15am.

stunned with my mouth agape. That was one of the most eloquent, not to mention empassioned, writings I've ever encountered on this board.
Your parents should be very proud and your schoolmates (I assume you're still in school) should take a lesson from you. I'm glad someone was able to garner an education from what passes as a school system.
Keep the faith jeffro, people like you will, one day, be able to change our world for the better.
p.s. the statement below certainly does not apply to you.

"Your, yore, you're all idiots." (T.Floyd)

Submitted by Split Decision on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 9:13pm.

to turn a blind eye to any violence on school property either, but they do! Unfortunately, some Administrators in some of our schools enforce and/or punish selectively. When a student starts a fight in a class room and it escalates to the point of multiple students involved and the instigator takes her finger and points it at a classmate and "pulls the trigger" several times - this student needs to be taught how the discipline system works in that school. But when an Administrator just wants to drop the whole thing, that's like giving the instigator a green light to do as they please, knowing the school is too afraid to punish them. This has to STOP!

Throw the book at every child in middle and high school who violate the rules! If it's done across the board, not selectively, and done each and every time, the students will quickly understand misbehavior of any kind will not be tolerated.

I graduated from an extremely strict, public high school where the principal had no tolerance for any misbehaving or anything remotely criminal. The result was we had a very safe campus due to his diligence and because he was well known for his punishments.

DarthDubious's picture
Submitted by DarthDubious on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 8:28pm.

I know you're gasping for air at the outrageousness of this subject line, but I have this real moron thing I do, it's called: THINKING, so please, hear me out:

Just as in the days of alcohol prohibition, illegal substances have increased, and created more crime than they have prevented. If there is a market for drugs, and demand is great enough, supply will come from somewhere. If all drugs are made legal, big drug companies will take them over, they will be regulated like alcohol, and the GANGS WILL DIE, PERIOD.

Then all that is left is pimping and prostitution.

And why all the DUI's? This can be stopped at the manufacturing level. Make a car that a drunk cannot start. A breathylizer should be standard equipment.

What about speeding tickets? Why make a car that can go over the highest speed limit in the country? Fix them so they cannot.

Of course these measures would kill ALOT of REVENUE, so they will never be implemented. Just think of all the lost dollars, and empty prisons.

In Liberty,


Submitted by UrKidding on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 10:21pm.

Darthdubious I hope this post was a joke. So many thinks to pick apart here I don't even know where to start. Do you even have a clue how much alocohol related problems cost us now? (and yes I do like a beer so no I'm not a "non-drinker"). I'm not even talking about money but loss of life!! I'll start with the car since alcohol is legal.

Does a car have to tell you not to drive or does a person need to know not to drive? I like a drink but not everyone does so why should everyone buy a car that has a breathylizer standard? Why should technology rule over the human mind?

This must be a post to get a reaction. I bit.
If you can't think past your nose cut it off!

Submitted by Davids mom on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 5:31pm.

Marchant also noted that gangs in Georgia often cross racial, ethnic and social lines.” We got rich kids driving around selling drugs and flashing guns, who are spoiled, and we’ve got the poorest of the poor.”

Kudos to our leaders who are identifying the problem and taking steps to stay on top of a national problem. Parents and neighbors need to be ever vigilant and help law enforcement and school officials. The child you save will probably be your own. BE STRICT! BE OBSERVANT!

The 5-0's picture
Submitted by The 5-0 on Tue, 10/28/2008 - 5:18pm.

I guess this county needs a wall!

Submitted by tikigod on Wed, 10/29/2008 - 12:42am.

that is the best thing that could ever happen to our wonderful geographically disadvantaged county.

On a more realistic note, how about toll booths. $7 to enter to the county for non-residents.

Oh, can't afford it...good.

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