opioid epidemic

I intend to help reduce gang violence in my new county — festooned with gang members of various stripes — and I’m praying that good folks already engaged in addressing the issue will be open to what I have to say here. All across the U.S. and throughout many countries, I trust that there are people paying attention to the variables I cite here, acknowledging that something fresh needs to be addressed in the fight against gang criminality.

In a recent piece of mine that was posted, Valleria Ruselli didn’t make any direct reference to gang violence, but I hope it’s clear to readers that drone assassinations can be correlated with gang killings. Need to be associated. I don’t feel that I should have to explain this, and the fact that I know that I do (for many) should be instructive to those who have been “paying attention.” Specifically, one cannot be paying tax dollars to the government to send its military hardware abroad to target suspected terrorists, nine out of ten of our victims turning out to be totally innocent… and not be experiencing blow back manifesting in an increasing disrespect for life. [Pause.] Okay, let’s not argue, EIGHT. Seriously, anyone who wants the definitive documentation on that count, just contact me. I’ll be honored to provide any information requested. The scorecard has been in for quite some time.

Keep in mind too, if you will, that many of the hardened — and, often, traumatized vets returning from duty overseas — secure employment as law enforcement officers and security guards. Why is that ultra-important? Well, they interact routinely with members of a given community, and daily local news stories have documented — very well, repeatedly — that lots of encounters between, say, cops and citizens result in unnecessary deaths and/or injuries as a consequence of someone being “too quick on the trigger” or overly inclined to exacerbate a situation with disrespectful, provoking language. Yes, the military profile is becoming more and more common in the realms I’m addressing here (by dreadful design, I believe)… and that fact of life is not a “plus” vis-a-vis the proliferation of gang violence… no more than the loose official talk about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction encourages discussion to resolve differences, peaceful resolution.

The militarization of space doesn’t help either.

Members of Prison Gangs, White Hate Gangs, Black Gangs, Asian Gangs, and Hispanic Gangs, among others, all need to make money. Just like the folks who are raking it in with their arms sales abroad, and the domestic first cousins from the NRA. Meaning, we ALL have to make a buck. And it doesn’t help to engage with gang members as if they didn’t, to relate to them as if they’re involved in criminality in doing so. For they no more are conducting themselves in any activity more reprehensible than Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin… than Wells Fargo is screwing its customers, pushing them to consider suicide in some cases, or Monsanto is actually directly responsible for untold numbers of suicide abroad, and the killing of Mother Earth’s creatures with Round-up.

Whew! That was a mouthful and a little tortured grammatically, yes. But I trust you got the bottom line point, which is that professional counselors, law enforcement officials, legislators, teachers et alia who approach hard core gang members as if they’re acting any differently regarding financial remuneration than The Big Boys & Girls (who are mainly behind the fact that ALL of us are now — seemingly — headed for the apocalyptic precipice). Such an attitude merely serves to enable gang killers to get down deeper into what they’ve bought into, their only — seemingly — way to survive. Unsolicited advice coming from what they perceive of as ignorant or disingenuous quarters DOES NOT HELP.

Hey, speaking of Big Boys & Girls, how about the impact of Big Pharma on our drug-selling and drug-taking gang members? And what about Big Ag’s contribution, with its constant supply of food which doesn’t make for optimal attitudes or energy, to say the least? Really, don’t we need to admit that there are billionaires among us who are nurturing violent behavior ‘cross the board with their government subsidized consumer products?

Lead in the public drinking water doesn’t help either, does it? The dwindling of any authentic sense of community in just about all urban centers is another factor that’s neglected, and on that score we need to applaud the effort (not the particular means) of gang members… to establish brotherhood and sisterhood. Some acknowledgement on that count must be extended… in the face of momentum which is fast destroying virtually every vestige of community-centered spaces nationwide. Again, by dreadful design… that’s felt quite clearly.

No, there is way too much of our making gang members The Bad Guys. Easy targets, those kids and young adults who were — more often than not –not even given a fair shake in the realm of education in their formative years.

Far too much of our playing the victims of characters who might as well be the two-dimensional figures produced by Central Casting in Hollywood. Generic villains, not human beings with souls, citizens with histories which we are complicit in to an enormous degree.

I’m touching upon a lot of touchy ground here, but I’m praying that there will be a few decent souls out there who care and can see that I’m truthfully calling a shovel and shovel. The one that we’re burying ourselves with if we don’t begin to view gang members a bit differently, moving laterally perhaps to include additional variables in coming up with tactics and strategies.


I can use someone help in solidarity, as I prepare to enter dangerous realms on the ground in San Joaquin County, California. And anyone from any continent can offer me advice; I’m open to considering any angle of vision.

Just don’t gang up on me or anyone else, please!

We’ve had enough of that from all quarters.

Richard Martin Oxman, Director of Flannery O’Connor Academy, has been an educator on all levels for over half a century. He can be reached at aptosnews@gmail.com.


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