Gang workshop a ‘valuable tool’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2000

A street gang workshop Monday at Natchez High School was successful said Natchez High Principal Brenda Williams.

The presentation assisted staff in &uot;just having a better understanding of the formation and affiliation of gang activity,&uot; she said.

&uot;Knowledge is a very valuable tool to use in being able to maintain our academic environment because when we know what is going on, we can stay on top of it,&uot; Williams said.

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The workshop lasted all day with some teachers staying for more of the training than originally expected because of its quality, Williams said.

Keith Rhodes, a licensed gang counselor with a background in law enforcement, presented the workshop. Topics in the afternoon sessions covered information on gang tactics and the variety of gangs and their characteristics. This included gang signs and symbols.

Rhodes told the crowd of teachers and law officials, they would be amazed at the political power possessed by some gangs, such as Folk Nation.

&uot;You’re not going to believe this,&uot; he said. &uot;These guys have political power in the state of Illinois.&uot;’

Williams said just knowing these details can help them in their work . For example, the school staff needs to be aware of the ways students may try to show their gang-affiliation despite the district’s uniform policy, she said.

However, she does not think Natchez High has a wide-scale gang problem.

&uot;What we see here on campus more is neighborhood groupings,&uot; Williams said.

Yet some of these groups have a type of symbolic alliance to some of the more nationally known gangs, she added.

&uot;It’s very mesmerizing to young kids, she said. &uot;They want that group affiliation – that sense of security.&uot;