May 25, 2007

Violent Gang Task Force arrests 47 in the Central District

(There's a detailed report in the Seattle P-I, a shorter report, with video, on KING-TV and a long Seattle Times article that mentions Miller Playfield )

Here's the Press Release:

SEATTLE – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
Special Agent in Charge Kelvin N. Crenshaw announced today that the ATF Violent Gang Task Force has arrested today 47 gang members and associates who operated in Seattle’s Central District on federal and state firearms and drug charges.

Crenshaw told a news conference that six defendants charged with federal firearms and drug violations were arrested without incident, four of them Wednesday, one today and one previously. A seventh defendant remains at large.

The remaining 40 defendants were arrested on state drug charges over the course of the six-month investigation, during which investigators recovered 31 firearms from a concentrated three-mile area surrounding the Central District.

“There were hundreds of transactions taking place every day,” Crenshaw said. “The main players were operating an open-air drug market in the middle of neighborhood streets, making residents feel paralyzed and too scared to leave their homes.”

“Our number one priority is saving lives,” said Seattle Police Assistant Chief Nicholas Metz. “Our goal is to have the biggest impact on neighborhood safety, not only for the present generation, but for future generations as well.”

“What makes this program successful is the cooperation between all the law enforcement agencies in this task force,” said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr. “Without this partnership, it is unlikely we would be announcing these arrests today.”

The ATF Violent Gang Task Force is a coordinated effort among ATF, Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Washington Department of Corrections. Assisting agencies include the FBI, United States Attorney’s Office, Seattle City Attorney’s Office and the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

More information on ATF and its programs to reduce violent crime is at

Note that the East Precinct's GOTS program was operating in the Central Area concurrently with these ATF Task Force activities:
And finally, funding was extended for the Council's own pilot programs to integrate social services and law enforcement efforts in two neighborhoods: the GOTS (Get Off the Streets) Program in the Central Area and the Clean Dreams Program in Rainier Beach. Both programs have police officers and social workers working together to identify specific individuals who need an array of social services to stabilize their lives and keep them out of the criminal justice system.
(The above quote is from the 11/25/06 edition of Councilmember Licata's "Urban Politics" newsletter.)

The GOTS program operated on Madison until the closure of Club Chocolate City, and then moved to the 23rd & Union area. It offers those on the streets access to treatment and housing referrals, to help them break the cycle of street dealing/life.

And here's a highly relevant upcoming talk at Seattle University, about helping at-risk youth:

Gregory Boyle, S.J., will present “Tattoos on the Heart: Lessons from the Barrio” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31 in Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University.

Father Boyle is founder and executive director of Jobs For A Future/Homeboy Industries, an employment referral center and economic development program. Begun in 1988, for at-risk and gang-involved youth, Jobs For A Future is, today, a nationally-recognized center that assists 1,000 people a month in re-directing their lives. Through its unique and multi-service approach, Jobs For A Future offers hope to those for whom hope is often foreign.

Located in Boyle Heights, a community with arguably the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles, Jobs For A Future provides employment opportunities, counseling, and many other services (including free tattoo removal). By seeking to address the root causes of gang violence, Jobs For A Future creates opportunities so that at-risk youth can plan their futures and not ther funerals. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job” is the guiding principle.

In 1992, as a response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles, Boyle formed Homeboy Industries, to create businesses that provide training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. Since the first venture, Homeboy Bakery, the following economic development enterprises have been created: Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, Homeboy Graffiti Removal, Homeboy Maintenance and Homeboy Landscaping.

Boyle’s talk is being sponsored by Seattle University’s Social Work Program, College of Arts and Sciences, MAGIS, Student Development, Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, Endowed Mission Fund, as well as the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, King County Superior Court and the Seattle Police Department Foundation.

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