Gangs in Davis? Threat or Overblown by Authorities?

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ganginjunction_cat.jpgA Davis resident and mother of a teenage son was stunned to learn that her son would be facing 10 felonies including 5 gang enhancements for his role in a fistfight in front of her Davis home.  As the Vanguard soon learned, her son would not be alone.  Is this part of a new rising gang threat in Davis or simply a matter of the Davis Police Department and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office overreacting to relatively minor offenses by tacking on gang enhancements?

The Vanguard, in the first of what could be several installments over the coming weeks and months examines, that question more closely.

For this Davis mother, whose name we are withholding to protect the identity not only of her son but several of the friends of her son.  This all began with a fight that developed in front of her home.  She arrived home one day in the early evening to find a number of kids dispersing from her property.  Apparently one of her son’s friends had fought another young man over a bicycle.  In addition to the combatants, there were four spectators on each side watching them fight.

Said the mother:

“From what I could see I didn’t even know there had been a fight.  I definitely didn’t see any weapons.  There was no sign of blood or trauma, no yelling or screaming.  No one was on the ground.  I couldn’t tell there had been a fight.  None of the boys had told me there had been a fight.”

The mother only would find out about the fight two hours later when Officer Keirith Briesenick arrived at her home.  Officer Briesenick was a former member of the Yolo County Gang Task Force.  She alerted the mother to the fight and asked for a statement from her son and friend.  She informed the mother that the fight was a big deal and it involved baseball bats.

The minors declined to give a statement and believed that the incident was over.  However a few weeks later at a house party in Davis, the mother received a phone call from the police at 12:30 am to inform her that there had been a party and gave her the option of allowing her son to either walk home or to have her pick him up.

“So I drove out to Mace Ranch to pick my son up from the house party that the police had broken up around midnight.  When I got there, I saw [his friend] in the back of a cop car.  I said wow, why is he in the cop car?  My son said there was a warrant out for his arrest.  I said for what?  And he said, for that fight.  I said, are you kidding me?  He said, no.”

The friend would end up spending over a month in juvenile detention.  The mother does not know what the charges were however, she does know that when he took the deal from the District Attorney he was validated as a gang member, he got a strike, and he remains on house arrest with an ankle monitor.  He will remain on probation until he is 25 years old.

Apparently what had happened is that following the fight, some of the kids on the other side got caught with baseball bats, they were going to get into a lot of trouble and so they concocted a story where this kid hit them with a crowbar.

“This is a total lie,” the mother said,  “I was a witness and there was definitely no crowbar or weapon of any kind.”

Unfortunately this kid was in no position to fight the charges.  He is the youngest of 14 kids.  They are a poor Mexican family that lives in East Davis, afraid to confront the authorites, and they just ended up taking the deal.

However, soon her son would get caught up in the legal mess as well.  He made the unfortunate decision to confront the second combatant’s girlfriend on MySpace.  According to his mother, he was simply asking the girl to tell her boyfriend to tell the truth.  But the police took it as a threat and an attempt to dissuade a witness.

“Tell [the second combatant] it would be best for him to tell the truth.  If [his friend] gets hella time for this, it’s going to be bad.”

Said the mother, “I was shocked, I was like, I can’t believe this.  My son is just telling him to tell the truth.  This kid has made up a total lie about this crowbar.  Now my son has been charged with ten felony counts.”

Not only did they charge him with PC 136.1(a)(2) attempting to dissuade a witness, but they upgraded it a gang enhancement. 

Reads the complaint:

“It is further alleged that at the time of the commission of offense charged in this count, minor committed the above felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist any criminal conduct by gang members, and is subject to the enhancement within the meaning of Section 186.22(b)(1) of the California Penal Code, Enhancement for Criminal Street Gang Activity.”

In addition to the dissuading a witness, they tacked on receiving stolen property in the form of the bicycle that was in dispute in the fight as well as a previous assault charge upgraded to a felony with a gang enhancement for his own fistfight that he had been in school back in September.

However, the DA is willing to reduce the charges to three misdemeanors.

“She has since been willing to drop all of the gang enhancement charges and he’d be charged with assault for the fight that he got in the first week in school, a fist fight with a black kid, neither one of them were gang members, but they tried to fit that as a gang fight as well.  He’s being charged with misdemeanor dissuading a witness and misdemeanor possession of stolen property.”

However, she has decided along with her son’s attorney not to take the deal.

“Just by taking this deal, we’re admitting guilt.  You’re going to be on probation and you shouldn’t even be on probation.”

Instead they are seeking informal handling, which if approved by the probation department, could be a way to get all of the charges dropped if he does not get in trouble for six months.  Because he has no other record and gets good grades in school this is a possibility.

“My son is having to submit urine tests every Monday and they are checking up on his grades and his attendance see if he qualifies for this informal program.”

The story may not end nearly as well for some of her son’s friends whose story we will be telling in the coming weeks and months.

Gang Members or Simply Kids being Kids?

What emerges is a picture that while not completely clear suggests a police officer perhaps overzealous in her pursuit and search for criminal gang activity in Davis and a District Attorney’s office more than willing to make a name as a gang fighter.  At least that’s the story that you get from this mother and the mothers of several other children in Davis that the Vanguard has spoken to.

This mother told the story of another kid who was validated as a gang member, served time at a facility called Faust, where the kid actually did become a gang member to survive.  But for the most part these kids are either not gang members or what the mother classifies as wannabees.

“None of the kids at the fight that he was involved in were gang members.  A couple of them were wannabes.  The kid that he fought claims to be, although he’s not validated, he claims to be…  There’s Norteno and Sureno and I think [son’s friend] is a wannabe Norteno and the kid that he fought is a wannabe Soreno.   Now [son’s friend] is officially validated as a gangmember and that’s going to stick with him for a long time.”

Part of the problem that we have seen is that a lot of these kids are no position to fight the charges.  They come from poor families.  Some of their families might not be in this country legally.  The District Attorney is throwing out ten felony counts at a time, and most are like the son’s friend, they end up taking a deal, getting validated and ending up on probation which then gives the police and probation department the ability to come into their home at any time and search for violations of probation.

That’s when the problems can really start as was the case recently for one of her son’s friends who they found gang colored red clothing and pictures in the house and he ended up getting arrested on a probation violation.
For the mother, she says she is arround these kids all of the time as they like to hang out at her ask and she sees no evidence of gang activity.

“I never saw any gang activity.  Yes, maybe they’re proud of their heritage, but I never heard them talk about drug trafficking or robberies.  They would come into my house and play Xbox and listen to rap music.  I’m shocked that these little fist fights, fist fighting is against the law, but none of them that I have witnessed or heard of in Davis had anything to do with gangs.  I just hope that my son has a good lawyer because there is no way my son has anything to do with a gang.  I think the DA realized that that’s why she dropped it from the ten felonies with all of the gang enhancements down to the three misdemeanors.”

The fight turned out to be a fight between wannabe gang member and thus it became a gang fight.

From the perspective of Davis Police Chief Landy Black there is no real distinction between wannabe and gang member.

Said Chief Black:

“My perspective, and I think I share it with a lot of other law enforcement folks, is that the term “wannabe” is something of a community cop-out. Communities and individuals in a state of denial about the fact that they have gang activity in their midst attempt to soften things by thinking and saying things like, “Oh, we don’t have a gang problem, these kids are just ‘wannabes’.””

As he explained, by the time the matter gets to the attention of the police, it’s the conduct not the level or tenure of gang association that matters.

“In fact, often “wannabes” trying to establish a reputation and credibility with their prospective gang, will act more outrageously. From the police perspective, that’s gang activity, not wannabe activity as distinguished from gang activity.”

Unfortunately, since this matter involves the conduct of minors, Chief Black cannot specifically address what had happened.  He can only speak in generalities about the Davis gang problem.

“When examining the criteria for being classified as a validated gang member, while claiming gang membership and being named by members of the gang as a fellow member are criterion, there are actually more individual criterion based on presence/participation during gang activity/crime and conduct supportive of gang crime/disorder. From the community’s perspective—and thereby from the police perspective—official, “jumped-in”, gang status is immaterial. It is the criminal and community-disruptive conduct that we desire to curb and control.”

For Davis School Superintendent James Hammond, the problem in Davis is with the “wannabe gang members.”

In October he told the Davis Enterprise,

“Wannabe gang  members thrive off attention, and will behave as if they were a gang  member, even if they don’t really participate.  One thing we have to be very careful of is the ability for recruitment. When you see older gang  members who are able to influence junior high  students, that’s a real important indicator to watch.”

The Vanguard caught up with Dr. Hammond last week on this issue.

“I think any time you have a large comprehensive high school you always have concerns that there could be wannabe gang members that either have affiliation with relatives or friends that are from other areas that have what I would call more intense gang issues.  There is a temptation to basically copy or imitate certain behaviors as a result.”

When asked to elaborate on his concerns, he told the Vanguard:

“I think there’s a range of issues, I think you can start from the way you talk slang words, to the paraphernalia, or even the clothes that you wear.  But definitely when you start running in a pack, you tend to assimilate to those behaviors.  It escalates from petty crime and you do that enough and it becomes a gateway to much more intense behaviors, much more violent behaviors that are potentially much more criminal behaviors.”

Despite the obvious and justifiable concern about any activity, one still wonders if relatively minor incidents are being trumped up due to the attachment of the gang label to them.  As the mother pointed out,

“Back in my era in the 70s, you got in a fist fight, you got sent to the principal’s office and that was it.  Nowadays, fighting in public becomes a much more extreme charge.  If you get in a fist fight and they consider you a wannabe gang member, they hammer it on you.  Only one of them out of ten people thought he was a gang member.  None of the other kids have anything to do with gang anything.”

Moreover, there is a good deal of collateral damage occurring.  As these kids get into trouble over relatively minor incidents, they end up leaving school, never graduating, and ending up in the system which in turn leads them into further trouble.

“I feel like they are doing more harm than good by the punishment that they are giving these kids.  If anything they should be forced to go to school.  They should be threatened to go to juvenile hall if they have bad attendance.  What they are doing now is ruining their lives, these two boys are right now validated and they get harassed just by the probation department because when you’re on probation the probation department can come by and tear your house apart.”

How big is the gang problem in Davis?

According to information provided by the Davis Police Department there are 121 validated gang members in the city of Davis that are considered “active gang members.”  Moreover there are 53 validated gang members who are not currently active.  They have 20 unique street gangs listed in their database but only seven considered active and only because they have members living in Davis.

However, the problem may be even smaller than that.  In an October Davis Enterprise article Officer Briesenick indicated that there may only be 30 active gang members in Davis.

Briesenick estimated there are “between 20 and 30 active gang  members” in Davis  , but added that much of the gang  activity is focused on about 10 individuals. There are another 20 or 30 people living in Davis  who are more loosely gang  -related, she said, as well as several dozen others who are “validated gang  members” who live elsewhere, but turn up in Davis.

Since 2007, the DPD made 18 unique arrests with a gang enhancement charge.

Chief Black described it as “not a large gang problem when you count the number of “gang crimes” that way.”

To put it another way, the people that the Vanguard has spoken with account for a good percentage of those 18 arrests.

Gang Validation Process

The Vanguard was surprised to discover that validated gang members are given cards with finger prints upon being validated.  According to state penal codes, a street gang is any organization Association, or group of three or more persons, formal or informal, which 1) has continuity of purpose, 2) seeks a group identity, and 3) has members who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.

As Chief Black points out, validation isn’t an issue argued in court, it is a tool to assist law enforcement keep track of potential offenders, not a tool for prosecution.

There is a gang database maintained by the California Department of Justice through its CALGANG system.  They use a similar criteria to what they use in Davis, except Davis requires three factors and the state requires just two factors.

For Davis PD, an individual may be validated as a gang member based on the following criteria (three must be present):

  • Admits gang membership.
  • Correspondence identifies as gang member. (Writes and/or receives correspondence about gang activities.)
  • Named by another known/validated gang member as member of gang.
  • Has gang logo tattoo(s).
  • Wears gang clothing/colors.
  • Associates on a regular basis with known gang members.
  • Is in a photograph indicating gang affiliation.
  • Contacted in the field for gang activity.
  • Displaying gang signs.
  • Displays gang graffiti on personal belongings.
  • Involved in gang-related (PC §186.22) crimes.

Summary

Part of the problem we faced in this inquiry is that we are dealing with minors.  Minors are generally protected by laws that prevent the release of their identity or dealings of criminal matters.  From some standpoints this is a good process that allows a minor to possibly get his or her act together without the glare of public light and scrutiny.

However, it seems to a good degree that some of the authorities are using these laws designed to protect minors to their own benefit.  We could not question the District Attorney’s office to attempt to understand their rationale for what appears to us at least to be the overcharging of fairly minor crimes.  When you turn a fistfight into a felony with gang enhancements that raises the level of severity several notches above what would at least appear to be warranted.

The level of gang activity and the severity of crimes would not appear to match the need for such a response.

The term gang member itself seems problematic and in some ways prejudicial as it could describe a whole range of activities that are lumped under a single category and treated in a uniform matter.  It is one thing for kids to wear clothing that emulates gang members, listen to rap music, and get into fist fights.  It is quite another when they begin to actually engage in activities such as drug dealing and more dangerous forms of violence.

But the moment they are subsumed under the label of validated gang member and get gang enhanced charges those distinctions disappear.  The public hears the term gang member and panics.

In Davis at least, some of the response does not seem to fit the crime and we are struggling to understand why that is the case.

In the coming weeks and months, hopefully we will get a better sense for what is happening and why.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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93 thoughts on “Gangs in Davis? Threat or Overblown by Authorities?”

  1. David M. Greenwald

    The DA’s office has taken out grants for a gang task force and obviously used its data to show a need. Is that what is fueling this? I’m not sure, the answer may be a lot more mundane than that.

  2. rusty49

    Funny this comes up now because just the other day my wife and I were commenting on the increased grafitti in our area which is the East Davis and Mace Ranch section of town in which a month ago there was basically none. Someone tagged the whole side of the Travis Credit Union and it can be seen down Pole Line on the white brick wall. There are a few tags that are seen many times, gang related or just some juvinile delinquents who knows? I for one like that our police dept. is trying to stay on top of any possible gang problem.

  3. Gunrock

    Wow… sounds like this anonymous “mother” is a complete loser. Its a pity that there isn’t a permit required before you can have kids. It would be nice if the police could simply punish the parents of underage gang members for the crimes as adults. No, I don’t see the difference between “wannabes” and members of any of the gangs with better press.

    I wonder if this article would have been written if instead of being from an ethnic minority they had been wannabe skinheads?

  4. David M. Greenwald

    “I wonder if this article would have been written if instead of being from an ethnic minority they had been wannabe skinheads?”

    You mean if they had been tormenting ethnic minorities instead of walking around rapping and having small fist fights. You think the two activities are comparable?

  5. David M. Greenwald

    “I for one like that our police dept. is trying to stay on top of any possible gang problem. “

    I have no problem with them staying on top of a possible problem, it’s how they choose to go about doing it that could become dicey.

  6. Gunrock

    “tormenting ethnic minorities instead of walking around rapping and having small fist fights”

    see this is where I am amused by your concept of being even-handed. What makes you think that there is ANY difference between a skinhead and a cholo or a black gang member? They are all totally intolerant of anyone who is different from themselves. That is why they racially segregate themselves.

    All gangs start the same way, they all hang out and listen to their own music, talk and have small fist fights… But in the end, to differentiate themselves from being members of the Rotary, Boy Scouts or Glee Club- they have to do something illegal and violent. Its how they obtain their own twisted sort of credibility.

    So in short, I am delighted that the police can jump on these scum while they are beating on each other rather than after they have beaten on someone else. I am simply pointing out that if some snaggle-toothed white-trash baby mamma called you with a story how her little hitler youth son had gotten arrested for gang activity when he was just out front chilling with his Aryan friends having a little gang fight- you would not have been as sympathetic. I personally see no difference.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    “see this is where I am amused by your concept of being even-handed. What makes you think that there is ANY difference between a skinhead and a cholo or a black gang member? They are all totally intolerant of anyone who is different from themselves. That is why they racially segregate themselves.”

    Here’s where I’m amused for lack of a better term. How do you know that these particular kids are intolerant of people different from themselves? Because the police called them gang members?

  8. Frankly

    Baseball bats = worthy of gang consideration

    Fist fights = what boys do sometimes to settle conflicts

    However, like fighting terrorism, it requires preemptive and proactive actions to prevent the problem from becoming unmanageable. I’m not so sure zero tolerance for group fights is a bad thing in this day where our progressive sensibilities can value the sanctity of victims over the sanctity of lives.

  9. davisite2

    Like the 30’s, 50’s and now, in “dark times” of fear and public anger seeking “culprits” for growing economic hardship, fascism and xenophobia raises its ugly head; each time, U.S. values and institutions have pulled us back from the brink. Thanks David for bringing these issues out of the dark for us to think about.

  10. neighbor

    I live down the street from this “poor Mexican family in East Davis” (that description is very humorous) and can tell you that this is not the first time there’s been trouble there. I’ve had those kids throw things at my car completely unprovoked. They yell at neighbors, stand menacingly in the middle in the street, throw beer bottles on the lawn, intimidate cyclists, etc.
    I don’t know if these kids are wannabes or real gangsters, but in my opinion their behavior warrants the treatment they are receiving. They are not innocent victims.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]He is the youngest of 14 kids.[/quote] Almost all of our societal problems — from not enough money for schools to crime to prison overcrowding and so on — would be greatly relieved, if not completely solved, with serious birth control. Peope wonder, what the hell happened to California? It used to be a nice state? It used to have the best public schools and the best universities? A lot of the answer to what happened is to be found in that one family: A third world mentality came over the border.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    A few thoughts:

    To Jeff: Zero tolerance is a principle not a policy. There’s still debate for what the reasonable response to a given incident should be. The punishment should still fit the crime.

    To Neighbor: There is no doubt that some of these kids are not innocent. The question is whether this particular (who is not your neighbor) deserves the punishment that he got and the kid who is your neighbor deserved the punishment that he got.

    I’m not advocating that we ignore crimes that may be committed, but I also do not think we helping these kids by treating them in this fashion. How does it help your neighbor for him not to finish high school? How is that going to impact your own safety?

  13. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I’ve had those kids throw things at my car completely unprovoked.[/i]

    I can believe that certain families and certain groups of kids will cause more and more trouble until the police put a stop to it. Even in Davis, sometimes it can escalate to very serious crimes. For instance, both Andrew Mockus (in 1992) and Thong Hy Huynh (in 1983) were killed by bullies in Davis.

    So I have no idea whether there is anything wrong with arresting this teenager in East Davis or charging him with felonies. A “fistfight” could be anything from one punch in the arm to a brutal assault. If male adults or teenagers really fight and refuse to stop, they don’t necessarily need weapons to send someone to the hospital or worse.

    The problem is that the word “gang” can bring inappropriate politics, fear-mongering, and draconian punishments into play, even in response to real violence. “Gangs” are a local version of the war on terrorism. I don’t know that the gang concept is all that useful in most places, or useful at all in Davis.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    Greg:

    I’m in agreement with you here on the issue of gangs and that’s the point I think people need to think about. If a crime happens, then by all means deal with that, but we seem to be overreacting.

    On issue of the fistfight, I can tell you none of the kids involved in a fight had to receive medical attention.

  15. Gunrock

    David-
    You see perhaps an over-reaction to a minor incident. I think the DPD saw it is a great opportunity to take some scum out of circulation. I heartily support their actions [edit — no personal insults, please]

  16. David M. Greenwald

    I am very concerned that you are depicted kids that you have never met as scum. The main kid in this article is a very good student–why are you being so dismissive? If that’s the police’s attitude, then I go from being concerned to alarmed that they would decide for themselves that these kids are scum and therefore not worthy of any ability to have a decent life. This is their lives and they are being ruined in part by this overreaction and you are not helping.

  17. Don Shor

    The term gang member itself seems problematic and in some ways prejudicial as it could describe a whole range of activities that are lumped under a single category...”

    Both the “gang” label and the “hate crime” label are methods by which we enhance the penalties for already-illegal behavior. But a tendency towards fist fights and baseball bats may be what prompted the DA’s office to start with a heavy threat. I note that the offer was reduced to a pretty insubstantial penalty. Let’s hope the young man got the message: stop fighting, and consider how you choose your friends.

  18. Don Shor

    A fight is, in fact, illegal. It is a misdemeanor.
    Kids, particularly teenage boys, need to be told that it is NOT ok to fight.
    I don’t really understand the “gang validation” concept, and I agree that would be harmful to have on the record. The mother’s decision to pursue an appeal doesn’t seem unreasonable. But “these little fist fights” doesn’t sound as though she’s taking that all this seriously. Urine tests and monitoring his grades all seem very reasonable to me. But in the course of your interview with her, did you ask her what punishment she is meting out to him for his fighting?

  19. David M. Greenwald

    I’m with you on the fight being illegal and being a misdemeanor.

    When I spoke to her she made it clear that him fighting wasn’t acceptable and that that would be dealt with, but part of the problem here is that the over response by the police actually undermines that because it focuses them on fighting the unreasonable charges rather than dealing with the reasonable and actual problems.

  20. Ryan Kelly

    It’s these gang “wannabees” that create a toxic environment at schools and in neighborhoods. Their activities (bulling, fighting, threats toward others, vandalism, petty theft, etc.) are everything this community has been working against for years.

    This mother is complaining about her son being on probation, but allowed to remain at home under his mother’s supervision. This is the lightest touch of penalties available under Juvenile law. If he stays out of trouble, refrains from using drugs, and attends school, probation will end. That’s not too much to ask of ANY child living in Davis (or elsewhere, for that matter.)

  21. David M. Greenwald

    “This mother is complaining about her son being on probation, but allowed to remain at home under his mother’s supervision. “

    That’s another kid she is referring to, her son’s charges are still pending.

  22. Frankly

    would be greatly relieved, if not completely solved, with serious birth control

    I get that point, but that is not the only real root cause for CA troubled youth. They include:
    •Lack of strong and capable participating fathers as a role model.
    •Too many single mothers which gets us to your point about birth control.
    •A high percentage of lower income families lacking parenting skills/sophistication.
    •A CA divorce industry favors wives/mothers to the extent that husbands/fathers are frequently left financially destitute and either angry or depressed or both.
    •Mothers and fathers working and kids with little supervision and direction.
    •A degradation of individual and collective moral compass.
    •Public schools favoring and orienting toward girl behavior and causing more boys to drop out.

    The birth control suggestion has negative consequences from a social, cultural and national security perspective. I am reading a good book right now that links the demise of historical civilizations to low birth rate. The West and China (for different reasons) are looking at a too low percent of young people to support our aging population. Compare that to Muslim countries and 3rd-world countries. For example, Yemen has a birth rate of 42.14 per 1000 and the US’s birth rate is 14.18. France’s birth rate is 12.73. It takes about 17 per 1000 (or 1.7%) to keep a country’s population sustainable.

    I would rather we advocate stronger parenting, support for families and support for boys rather than advocating birth control.

  23. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]I would rather we advocate stronger parenting, support for families and support for boys rather than advocating birth control.
    [/quote]In a world of 7 billion people (and heading toward 12 billion), there is no sustainable future in which women with no ability to properly raise children have 14 children.

  24. Don Shor

    Jeff: “The birth control suggestion has negative consequences from a social, cultural and national security perspective. I am reading a good book right now that links the demise of historical civilizations to low birth rate.”

    Generally birth rate declines as prosperity increases, up to a point. Then, as prosperity increases even more, fertility rates often increase again. (http://www.religiousconsultation.org/NEWS/developed_nations_see_rise_in_fertility.htm)

    “•A degradation of individual and collective moral compass.”
    I doubt this is provable or falsifiable.

  25. Frankly

    In a world of 7 billion people (and heading toward 12 billion), there is no sustainable future in which women with no ability to properly raise children have 14 children.

    I should have clarified… Advocating birth control for high population – high poverty countries would be fine. Advocating the same for the wealthy west is not fine.

    It is an interesting cultural phenomenon that the more liberal we become, the fewer kids we have. I can’t decide if progressives think that people with large families are stupid or blessed. Based on the way they have treated Sarah Palin, I think it might be the former. I think Hillary Clinton is more the progressive’s model of perfect motherhood. If you disagree, I would like to hear the name of a mother of a large family perceived as intelligent and capable by progressives.

  26. David M. Greenwald

    A large part of that is that we had large families in order to produce more labor, as we moved away from that, the need for large families dwindled and they became more of a liability. THere are also cultural issues that intertwine.

  27. Frankly

    When you start having kids when you are 35 to 40, you aren’t going to have six unless you end up being one of those who ends up with six in one shot.

    Based on Tony Randall you can continue fathering kids until you are 80.

  28. rusty49

    You know this the typical blame the cops first because they are over reacting crap that comes from the liberal enablers in this town. We have a nice town but if you let the bad element (gangs?) get a stronghold what do you have? A place where you can’t let your kids go anywhere unsupervised, afraid to go downtown at night and dropping property values. I say let the police do their job and quit trying to tie their hands because believe it or not MR. Greenwald we have a fantastic police force. This all sounds like the same crap that the HRC tried to instigate a few years ago, trying to make something out of nothing.

  29. Frankly

    A degradation of individual and collective moral compass

    I don’t know Don, but I am old enough to recognize a vast difference between the moral compass of the average Joe in past generations and today when walking away from a home mortgage just for the financial gain is acceptable.

    Let me ask some rhetorical questions: If you don’t attend church, how do you know the difference between right and wrong? If your president tells a bald faced lie on television, then why wouldn’t you excuse your own little private lies and bad behavior?

  30. David M. Greenwald

    “We have a nice town but if you let the bad element (gangs?) get a stronghold what do you have?”

    You first of need to demonstrate that these are truly bad elements rather than teenagers with typical teenage issues.

    “I say let the police do their job and quit trying to tie their hands because believe it or not MR. Greenwald we have a fantastic police force.”

    I would say that we have a better police force than we did four years ago with far better leadership, but it is far from perfect and it can certainly improve, particularly in the area of outreach and relations to certain portions of the population. I have a lot of respect for the new Chief, but that does not mean there is not a problem here. Even very good organizations have problems.

    “This all sounds like the same crap that the HRC tried to instigate a few years ago, trying to make something out of nothing.”

    It wasn’t crap then and it is not crap now. And how would you even know if it was or was not crap? You haven’t talked to these people, you haven’t lived in their shoes or dealt with what they have to deal with. You have no idea what is going on out there. You think this is making something out of nothing, then prove it. Because right now, I think this is anything but nothing.

    I tell you what, why don’t you come with me next time I meet with some of these people, listen to what they have to say, and then you’ll be in a far better position to judge what is or is not nothing.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    “I don’t know Don, but I am old enough to recognize a vast difference between the moral compass of the average Joe in past generations and today when walking away from a home mortgage just for the financial gain is acceptable.”

    Every generation believes that, the Greek philosphers complain about their youth. Some how civilization survives. I suspect our sensibilities change as we age more than the world.

  32. David M. Greenwald

    Josh Kaizuka just posted on my facebook page:

    “So the “Little Rascals” who may get in trouble are treated the same as hard core criminal gangster organization members?”

    I think he nailed it there. That’s the problem that we’re facing and some of you I think are missing.

  33. rusty49

    Did you mean the HRC that our city council had to disband and redo with different people running it because in my opinion they felt it was more trouble than it was worth? Did you mean the HRC that most likely cost one member a spot on our current council because Davisites, bless their little hearts, didn’t see fit to electing this person because in my opinion they didn’t want someone running our town that that had been connected with that HRC?

  34. David M. Greenwald

    I’m following you. Lamar won election during the height of contoversy.

    In terms of the disbanding, the same council that you can’t stand now did the disbanding, is that proof positive of anything?

    Let’s look at the facts…

    Hyde leaves davis and blames my wife. The council overreacts and cans the human relations commission.

    However, we found documents demonstrating that Hyde himself orchestrated a campaign against the HRC from his position as Police Chief.

    He went to Antioch and trouble followed him there in the form of protests ([url]http://www.contracostatimes.com/antioch/ci_14135035[/url]), lawsuits ([url]https://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2991:Plaintiffs-study-provides-evidence-targeted-black-section-8-families&catid=81:civil-rights&Itemid=105[/url]), and other controversy. It is worth noting that since he left, there have been no protests agains the police department in Davis and no new lawsuits that I know of.

    He also fired some parting shots last year at his former department ([url]https://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2790:former-chief-offers-insulting-depiction-of-dpd&catid=54:law-enforcement&Itemid=87[/url]).

    To my mind that pretty much establishes the former chief as the prime culprit.

  35. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]On issue of the fistfight, I can tell you none of the kids involved in a fight had to receive medical attention.[/i]

    Yes, that is reassuring, but only up to a point. None of the kids needed medical attention in that particular fight. That is a strong argument for lenience, but not necessarily for complete lenience.

    I don’t want to slide into an extreme anti-crime mentality; I don’t endorse ideas like zero tolerance, supreme vigilance, and draconian sentencing. But it is true that the Davis police department has plenty of resources to think about the violent assault that could have happened, but didn’t. First, it sounds like some of these kids have stirred up trouble for some while. Second, if some of the kids in this fight had baseball bats on hand — and that I don’t know whether they truly did — then there is a chance that they would have been used, and the police should consider it.

    Also, if this family has 14 children, then that affects the mother’s credibility. With 14 children, I don’t see how she can promise that what her son did would be “dealt with”. I have a hard enough time with prudent discipline with two children; I don’t see how I would be remotely competent if we had 14. She says in the article that she didn’t know what her son was charged with. With 14 children, that’s not much of a surprise. But if she doesn’t even know her son’s legal situation, then does she keep track of what he does wrong and how she should dealt with it? And who said that this teenager gets good grades? What is the standard here, and how well can you keep track of the grades of 14 children?

    On the other hand, I do not agree at all with the tone of the conversation between Rich and Jeff, that veers toward demographic warfare. Rich is correct in that Yemen is a terrible place to live partly because of its out-of-control birth rate. And having 14 children really doesn’t do anything for national security. However, Rich’s statement that “a third-world mentality came over the border” is offensive and wrong. (And rather more offensive because it’s wrong.) The fertility rate in Mexico has fallen sharply and it is only moderately higher than in the United States. If having too many children is a third-world mentality, there are plenty of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants who also carry that mentality. Either way, it’s wrong to weigh down this incident with international politics; let’s keep it at the local level.

  36. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I can’t decide if progressives think that people with large families are stupid or blessed.[/i]

    Jeff, if two parents in America want to have 14 children, they can have 14 children. It’s a free country. But if they have 14 children and then say, “Woe be us! We’re poor! Our son was arrested and we have no idea why!”, that looks bad. A lot of public money will have to be spent to deal with families like this, because I don’t think that we should take it out on the children. But obviously the parents haven’t done anything admirable. They haven’t done any favor to anybody, not to themselves, nor their children, nor to America, nor to the world.

    [i]Based on the way they have treated Sarah Palin, I think it might be the former.[/i]

    Again, if Palin wants to raise a child with Down’s syndrome, that’s her right. But speaking honestly, I wouldn’t make the same decision if I were in her position. And if I did make the same decision, I wouldn’t publish a three-page letter addressed from God to myself to justify it. That second part, here is how God explained that it’s right, frankly that does look stupid, not to mention borderline blasphemous.

  37. wdf1

    [quote]A degradation of individual and collective moral compass

    I don’t know Don, but I am old enough to recognize a vast difference between the moral compass of the average Joe in past generations and today when walking away from a home mortgage just for the financial gain is acceptable.[/quote]

    I remember when it was socially acceptable to speak perjoratively and openly about homosexuals, and for parents to beat their kids in ways that are unacceptable now. And this included many regular church-goers. I don’t know what you define as a degradation of a moral compass.

  38. Frankly

    On the other hand, I do not agree at all with the tone of the conversation between Rich and Jeff

    I understand why you don’t like Rich’s tone, but what about my tone do you no like?

    BTW, my point was that I don’t think 14 kids has to be automatically considered excessive. It all depends. I know a Mormon family that hatched and adopted a similar-sized brood and all is well. That was my point about the instant demonization of a large family. Of course, the Mormon family has a strong mother and father, adequate income, strong moral convictions, and highly-functioning older children with a strong family work-ethic to help the family raise the younger monsters.

    And yes, having 14 children in a poverty-stricken country ruled by an Islamic theocracy is a national security concern because they are used as WMDs at some point.

  39. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]To the faithful it appears normal.[/i]

    Writing a letter [b]from[/b] God is normal? I can understand a letter [b]to[/b] God, but isn’t the other direction presumptuous?

  40. Frankly

    I remember when it was socially acceptable to speak pejoratively and openly about homosexuals, and for parents to beat their kids in ways that are unacceptable now. And this included many regular church-goers. I don’t know what you define as a degradation of a moral compass.

    wdf1: let’s not mix up something as socially complex as civil rights and the timeliness of Dr. Spock with something as straightforward as telling the truth and honoring your debt commitments. My understanding of morality is the demonstrated behavior relative to one’s understanding of right versus wrong. If you have a decision fork in the road, and you know one direction is right and the other is wrong, and you still take the wrong road, then you lack a strong moral compass.

    Today, more seem comfortable and justified doing and saying what they know is wrong in order to personally gain. These are people that should know better and already have enough stuff. However, the ends justify the means, right? Are we not supposed to be a more educated and enlightened society of people? Seems to me we have become a more educated and more selfish society of people. Here is the template: It is always someone else’s fault, so go ahead and behave badly… we can always find some victims’ model to produce your get of jail card.

  41. wdf1

    let’s not mix up something as socially complex as civil rights and the timeliness of Dr. Spock with something as straightforward as telling the truth and honoring your debt commitments.

    Complex? I don’t find it all that complex, and I don’t see why it’s necessary to define exceptions. I think “golden rule” applies to it all, your examples and mine.

  42. Frankly

    Writing a letter from God is normal?

    I am not a theologian, but I understand that, yes, this is an accepted religious practice. To Christians, God exists within each of us. So a letter from God is a way of paraphrasing the embodiment of beliefs from his teachings. A letter to God is generally an appeal or questions. A letter from God would contain the answers as felt or believed.

    I think the more interesting story is why anyone would be comfortable criticizing someone else’s demonstrations of faith this way. I am thinking this is a moral compass issue because we should all know better.

  43. E Roberts Musser

    This entire article infuriates me, and I believe illustrates an example of assuming a premise and cherry picking evidence to come to a preconceived conclusion. Let me explain, and perhaps commenters will forgive my venting…

    One of my children was the victim of gang violence. It started off with beatings in elementary school – just “boys will be boys” stuff as DPD characterizes it. My child ended up with the entire side of a face scraped raw after being slammed into a cement sidewalk headfirst right outside the classroom by a student twice the size of my child. No teacher was in sight, no yard monitor, no one. The principal would do nothing. I contacted the Supt of Schools in Davis and said the next time my child was harmed, I would file a lawsuit and he knew I meant it. The Supt asked me to immediately notify him if my child came to any harm at school in the future. Within a week or two the principal of my child’s school suddenly “went on sabbatical” and was replaced w someone else.

    In junior high, things escalated. My child’s calculator was stomped on in school. Then the same brat went after my child on the way home from school and jumped my child. My child’s bike was destroyed in the process, but my child managed to escape before being beaten. My child had learned some evasive maneuvers by then. The school refused to do anything, so I got the police involved. Again I had to threaten a lawsuit, and suddenly the parent coughed up the money for the destroyed bike after a Davis police officer advised the parent to do so.

    In high school, things became much worse. By that time a formal gang was operating at the high school and was centered in West Davis at Westlake Mall. My child was constantly harassed in school. Ultimately the result was a severe clock on the side of the head with a closed fist. Next, knives were involved. It is a damn miracle my child survived the public school system in Davis and is not dead. Two of the gang members were eventually jailed, so this escalated to far more than just “boys will be boys”. My child identified the perp in a photo lineup, thanks to a diligent DPD officer, who was determined to go after the gangbangers who had attacked my son and some others.

    In the situation described in the above article, the kids were involved in fistfights, not once but several times. Baseball bats were possibly involved. Clearly things were escalating to group warfare – even the mother admits that. So why would we want to have to wait until there is a hospitalization/death before the school/police act? And based on my child’s experiences with bullying, escalation is almost certain if smaller matters are not addressed with vigor immediately. “Boys will be boys” is nothing but an attempt to marginalize a serious issue – bullying that eventually gets out of hand if not addressed appropriately.

    Of course mommy does not think her dear little son is being treated fairly. That is why he is involved in fistfights, bc she refuses to control his behavior or who he hangs out with. Frankly, I don’t care what his grades are in school – to me that is irrelevant to the issue of whether he is engaging in fist fights or not. Not all bad kids are bad students. Some students who make good grades get sucked into the gang mentality.

    And frankly, I think it is a good thing if kids engaged in fist fights are not permitted back in school. Now the hallways will be a lot safer without such hoodlums. Furthermore, intellectually bright kids can become bullies themselves by watching bullies pick on targets – my child became the school victim picked on by students who normally would not engage in that sort of behavior. My child was small in stature and made easy prey.

    Police Chief Landy Black and Supt James Hammond have it exactly right. Both the DPD and DA handled this situation as they should have – before it became another Andrew Mockus or Thong Hy Huynh case and resulted in some child’s serious maming or death. Until you have walked in the shoes of a parent whose child has been the victim of gang violence and/or serious school bullying, you don’t know what you are talking about. It is that simple. Thanks for your patience in reading this if you have gotten this far in your reading of my comments…

  44. Alphonso

    In Davis you can walk across a street, be attacked by a driver in a fit of road rage and if you fight back you may be charged with multiple felonies. Consider that the next rime you go on a walk.

    Last week a former police chief made this comment – there are two types of police officers, those who are there to simply help people and those who are more interested in demonstrating power and authority. I did not even raise the issue it was just something that came out of the conversation.

    When I look at what this woman is saying I ask myself what kind of police force throws ten felonies at a kid with no priors over a fist fight. What positive impact does that really have on the kid and the community? I agree that people involved in serious fights should face consequences, but charge them for what they did not for all of the other stuff you can dream up. I think the Davis Police have move in a positive direction over the past several years, but they are still dominated by the power/authority mindset. Over reaction just breeds distrust and contempt.

  45. E Roberts Musser

    “•A CA divorce industry favors wives/mothers to the extent that husbands/fathers are frequently left financially destitute…”

    This is just plain inaccurate. I am a lawyer and have practiced family law, so I know what I am talking about. The new poor in this country are single mothers whose boyfriends/husbands have walked out of the relationship/marriage and refuse to pay child support. These abandoned mothers must often go back to school for job training, and are very hampered with child rearing at the same time as trying to juggle education/training/full time job. I know, bc I was one of them. The gov’t is very lax in prosecuting cases involving nonpayment of child support. Unless the noncustodial parent has the right kind of job in which his wages can be garnished, he is virtually untouchable from a realistic point of view.

    Usually the father is not as bad off financially as a custodial mother because the father has been the primary bread winner, so has completed his education and has an established career. (Obviously he will not be as well off financially after divorce as before in general.) Nor is he usually the one who has primary custody, altho that is beginning to change with joint custody rulings. But not all fathers choose to exercise their visitation rights and it is not uncommon for some to abandon their children, whereas the mother will more often than not continue to stay and raise the children. Obviously I am making generalizations here, but only because an erroneous generalization was made by the commenter that fathers are the ones in a divorce who get the financial shaft.

    Where I think fathers often get the short end of the stick is in regard to custody issues, altho visitation now is pretty liberal. The only problem is the mother can make visitation a miserable experience, and difficult for the father to enforce. Divorce can be a nasty business, and is no way to raise children if avoidable. In my case, it was unavoidable, as it is in many situations. Fathers need to step up to the plate and pay child support/visit their children, but mothers need to do what is in the best interests of the child and allow visitation. Not all mothers are the best custodial parent – some fathers are a better choice to have custody.

    I do think it is very important in a male child’s life to have a good father figure. I wouldn’t be surprised if many gangbangers have fathers who are either absent or in jail.

  46. Gunrock

    Mr. Musser- major kudos. Well written. Put the little brats behind bars! Speaking as the victim of mexican gang bullies as a kid, I can attest that they are typically cowards. They gang-up the second you fight back against one of them, or pull a knife (even in grade school!) Zero tolerance is a great idea and I applaud the DPD in their actions. [edit — no personal insults, please]

  47. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine:

    I understand your point. I agree with you too little was done in the case of your son. Where I think I disagree is that I think we have gone too far in the other direction on this case, and obtw, probably still not doing enough on the bullying front. People probably forget it was Cecilia back in about 2004 that took David Murphy to task over failure to deal with bullying issues. But I don’t think the solution is to overcharge kids with 10 felonies and wreck their lives.

    Gunrock: Make you point without insulting people.

  48. Frankly

    ERM: Like I did around his age, my oldest son who is college now had problems with the smaller bullies in grade school. They would take things from him and play keep away. Poke him with sharp pencils. Trip him in the hallway. Push him into the wall or into a trash can. It was Oompa Loompas gnome wild!

    It wasn’t until he (justifiably, in my assessment… which I didn’t share with my son until later) calmly clocked one and bloodied his nose (my son was expelled for 3 days for it) that the problems stopped… including his problem grades in the classes these two kids attended with him.

    Someone once told me that kids are like wild animals, especially boys, until they are trained. However, I get a little uncomfortable with the expectation that we adults can sanitize all aggressive behavior out of them. “Zero tolerance” leads to all sorts of idiotic rules and actions. It also leads to more Ritalin being prescribed. Most of us have memories of some bullying. As long as the kids are kept safe, I would be willing to tolerate some minor Lord Of The Flies behavior. Looking back, the discussions I had with my son helping him with strategies to deal with the bullies was infinitely more beneficial that any long-term damage he suffered. There is more to education than what is buried in the books, and dealing with mean people is a life skill that most of us will need at some point.

    The key I think is keeping the kids safe and continuing their wild-animal training. And, yes, removing some of the wildest ones from the zoo. A few more male grade school teachers would also help.

  49. wdf1

    There’s an article in the Enterprise on DJUSD to response to bullying and “climate” issues that is related to some of the above comments.

    Today it’s free access. Go for it:

    [url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/story.php?id=101.0[/url]

  50. E Roberts Musser

    “I understand your point. I agree with you too little was done in the case of your son. Where I think I disagree is that I think we have gone too far in the other direction on this case…”

    No, with all due respect, I don’t think you do understand my point. In the situation you describe, the kids had already been in several fistfights, that had escalated to group warfare that may have involved baseball bats. Because mommy said there were no baseball bats, you believe her? What else would she say? I’ll assume there were baseball bats to be on the safe side. Wielding baseball bats with the intention of using them is knowingly engaging in serious criminal behavior that could result in someone’s death.

    In my opinion, the DPD and DA’s office did exactly the right thing. The escalation to unacceptably dangerous levels had already taken place. If the DPD and DA had only given these kids a slap on the wrist, they would go right back to doing what they were doing and continue the violence. If it were me, I would have those kids expelled from school, monitored w ankle bracelets, and put in jail if they so much as sneezed.

    Think how things started w my son, then escalated because sufficient pressure was not brought to bear. Perhaps Andrew Mockus and Thong Hy Huynh would be alive today had the DPD and DA been more forceful about gang violence. This sort of thing can escalate in a heartbeat. Talk to me after you have had a child in school that has been a victim of gang violence, and then tell me how you feel. This sort of thing really changes one’s perspective when it comes to prosecuting physical violence…

  51. David M. Greenwald

    As far as I know each of these kids has been in one fistfight. It’s clear that any of these kids are gang members. And how do you justify ten felonies? Like I said, I think there is a middle ground that could prevent what you have described without going to these extremes. Moreover, it seems that they are singling out certain kids and that the larger problem of bullying has been largely unchecked.

  52. E Roberts Musser

    “As long as the kids are kept safe, I would be willing to tolerate some minor Lord Of The Flies behavior. Looking back, the discussions I had with my son helping him with strategies to deal with the bullies was infinitely more beneficial that any long-term damage he suffered. There is more to education than what is buried in the books, and dealing with mean people is a life skill that most of us will need at some point.”

    The bullying these days gets far more serious than what you are describing. Knifings, being clocked on the side of the head w a closed fist, being thrown into the cement, having your bike completely destroyed, the use of baseball bats, having sticks poked between girls legs toward their private parts – none of these are minor incidents. Two students have died in this town because of out of control bullying. At some point, there must be zero tolerance when things get to a certain level.

    Before that point, school authorities should step in to make sure things are not likely to escalate. And to put not too fine a point on it, all of my children were very small for their size so were virtually incapable of what you suggest, which is to fight back with fists. Had I thought of it, I would have enrolled them in a self-defense course, which may or may not have helped. I seriously doubt it. When a number of bullies confronts your child all at the same time, what then?

    “The key I think is keeping the kids safe and continuing their wild-animal training. And, yes, removing some of the wildest ones from the zoo. A few more male grade school teachers would also help.”

    This we can heartily agree on! 🙂

  53. E Roberts Musser

    “As far as I know each of these kids has been in one fistfight. It’s clear that any of these kids are gang members. And how do you justify ten felonies? Like I said, I think there is a middle ground that could prevent what you have described without going to these extremes. Moreover, it seems that they are singling out certain kids and that the larger problem of bullying has been largely unchecked.”

    1) The problem here is you are only hearing one side of the story and taking the mother’s word for what happened. This is a mother who appears to be in total denial/engaging in purposeful evasion about what is going on.
    2) The fight had escalated to the point where baseball bats, a lethal weapon, were involved. Did you want to wait until knives or boxcutters or guns were wielded before ten felony charges were brought? Or must someone be hospitalized or dead? Where is your bottom line when you would allow the police to bring felony charges?
    3) The kids were lucky they got away with several misdemeanors. I would not have been so nice. A lethal weapon is a lethal weapon.
    4) Examples must be made to deter these kids from engaging in this type of behavior. The police are limited in what they can do, but one nonlethal weapon in their arsenal is to charge to the max. Had the police beeen on the scene, by rights they could have shot the kids wielding the baseball bats.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one…

  54. David M. Greenwald

    “1) The problem here is you are only hearing one side of the story and taking the mother’s word for what happened. This is a mother who appears to be in total denial/engaging in purposeful evasion about what is going on.”

    That was not my impression having actually sat with the mother. In fact, I was struck by how honest she was about the situation and the kids involved.

    I’d love to hear the other side of the story but that’s part of the problem here.

    “2) The fight had escalated to the point where baseball bats, a lethal weapon, were involved.”

    But from what I could tell, the only kids with bats were not the kids charged with crimes.

    “Did you want to wait until knives or boxcutters or guns were wielded before ten felony charges were brought? Or must someone be hospitalized or dead? Where is your bottom line when you would allow the police to bring felony charges?”

    First, I want to see reasonable charges brought forth.

    I don’t want to see kids who get in fights treated like hardcore gang members, when they are not. I think we can be tough and vigilant without leaping to extremes. The fact that the DA reduced the charges ought to indicate something here.

    “3) The kids were lucky they got away with several misdemeanors. I would not have been so nice. A lethal weapon is a lethal weapon.”

    The kid in question here was not involved in this fight and didn’t use a lethal weapon at any point in time.

    “4) Examples must be made to deter these kids from engaging in this type of behavior. The police are limited in what they can do, but one nonlethal weapon in their arsenal is to charge to the max. Had the police beeen on the scene, by rights they could have shot the kids wielding the baseball bats.”

    Again the kids wielding the bats were not the ones charged here.

    “We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one…”

    That’s fine, I respect your opinion, but I hope agreeing to disagree doesn’t preclude discussion on this.

  55. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]Like I said, I think there is a middle ground that could prevent what you have described without going to these extremes.[/i]

    David, in the account you gave, the police department offered that middle ground. You said that they were willing to reduce charges to three misdemeanors, but that the mother said no, she didn’t want any criminal record.

  56. David M. Greenwald

    The mother in this case disputes that her son committed the specific crimes he was charged with–specifically dissuading a witness and possession of stolen property.

    Actually that was the DA’s office that offered that deal. Had he been originally charged with the three misdemeanors, then they would have offered him diversion.

  57. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]The mother in this case disputes that her son committed the specific crimes he was charged with–specifically dissuading a witness and possession of stolen property.[/i]

    Okay, let’s look at these three misdemeanors:

    1) Prior fistfight at school. The mother seems to admit that it happened. She even suggests that it was a racially charged incident.

    2) Dissuading a witness. Lecturing the girlfriend of a witness that he should “tell the truth” is incredibly inappropriate “advice”. It could indeed be read as an attempt to dissuade a witness.

    3) Receiving a stolen bicycle. So, was a bicycle stolen, and did this teenager ever have it? You didn’t address it in your review.

    [i]Actually that was the DA’s office that offered that deal.[/i]

    I stand corrected. The DA’s office — which would be Jeff Reisig’s office, right? — offered this family something much more lenient than 10 felonies. Is their offer unfair, or is the mother attempting a risky strategy to save face?

  58. E Roberts Musser

    ERM: “1) The problem here is you are only hearing one side of the story and taking the mother’s word for what happened. This is a mother who appears to be in total denial/engaging in purposeful evasion about what is going on.”

    DPD: “That was not my impression having actually sat with the mother. In fact, I was struck by how honest she was about the situation and the kids involved. I’d love to hear the other side of the story but that’s part of the problem here.”

    How could you possibly know for sure if this woman was being honest or not, especially bc you have not heard the other side? Did you make her take a lie detector test? Or are you merely relying on your own personal feeling? You cannot hear the other side, because the law precludes it. Neither the police nor the DA can talk about the case because juveniles were involved. Will this same mother who is supposedly telling the truth waive her child’s right to privacy and allow unfettered the police and DA to tell their side of what they believed happened? Somehow I doubt it.

    ERM: “2) The fight had escalated to the point where baseball bats, a lethal weapon, were involved.”

    DPD: “But from what I could tell, the only kids with bats were not the kids charged with crimes.”

    From what you could tell? In other words based on mom’s/son’s version of events? Don’t you think mom has a reason to be biased in favor of her son’s version of what happened? Don’t you think it is entirely possible her son is lying about the whole thing to absolve himself of any criminal responsibility?

    ERM:”Did you want to wait until knives or boxcutters or guns were wielded before ten felony charges were brought? Or must someone be hospitalized or dead? Where is your bottom line when you would allow the police to bring felony charges?”

    DPD: “First, I want to see reasonable charges brought forth. I don’t want to see kids who get in fights treated like hardcore gang members, when they are not. I think we can be tough and vigilant without leaping to extremes. The fact that the DA reduced the charges ought to indicate something here.”

    What would you consider reasonable, if in fact this kid had been part of a group that wielded baseball bats? Exactly what does the fact the DA reduced charges indicate to you? It only indicates to me: the DA determined it could not make the felony charges stick so reduced the charges to what it could absolutely prove beyond a reasonable doubt, or the kid promised to be a good boy and sin no more, or a lawyer got involved which ups the ante, or any number of other reasons that I wouldn’t presume to guess at. Ultimately this kid should be eternally grateful and thanking his lucky stars there are only a few misdemeanor charges in a situation involving baseball bats.

    My sincerest hope is the charges have given the mother a wake up call, as to the type of activities her son might be engaged in or the people he may be hanging out with. My fear is she will defend her son no matter what behavior he engages in until it is too late for either him or some innocent victim. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the case is, and I think it is important for her to hear it all. I just don’t think we have enough VERIFIABLE FACTS to go on here to conclude that anything wrong was done by law enforcement. I’m comfortable with allowing the DPD and DA to do their jobs, bc I just don’t see anything untoward in this situation.

  59. E Roberts Musser

    ERM: “3) The kids were lucky they got away with several misdemeanors. I would not have been so nice. A lethal weapon is a lethal weapon.”

    DPD: “The kid in question here was not involved in this fight and didn’t use a lethal weapon at any point in time.”

    So he and his mother say. That does not mean he wasn’t. I’m more inclined to believe he was involved since the DA was willing to press charges. Remember, law enforcement cannot bring charges w/o probable cause.

    ERM: “4) Examples must be made to deter these kids from engaging in this type of behavior. The police are limited in what they can do, but one nonlethal weapon in their arsenal is to charge to the max. Had the police beeen on the scene, by rights they could have shot the kids wielding the baseball bats.”

    DPD: “Again the kids wielding the bats were not the ones charged here.”

    So they say that they were not the ones wielding the bats. Let’s suppose they were not wielding bats, but were in support of those who were wielding the bats? Or how about we presume they were on the opposite side of those who were wielding the bats, but fully intended to escalate things to physical violence with fists and the bat wielders decided they needed to defend themselves? And on and on it goes with excuses as to why it was ok for this kid to be in the middle of violence as a probable participant.

    It certainly does not appear he was an innocent bystander who had no idea what was going on from what appears in your article: “In addition to the dissuading a witness, they tacked on receiving stolen property in the form of the bicycle that was in dispute in the fight as well as a previous assault charge upgraded to a felony with a gang enhancement for his own fistfight that he had been in school back in September.” Clearly this kid was no saint, based on what you’ve indicated here.

    Mother: “I feel like they are doing more harm than good by the punishment that they are giving these kids. If anything they should be forced to go to school. They should be threatened to go to juvenile hall if they have bad attendance. What they are doing now is ruining their lives, these two boys are right now validated and they get harassed just by the probation department because when you’re on probation the probation department can come by and tear your house apart.”

    This mother would put a kid in juvenile hall for bad attendance, but not for being a particpant in a fistfight? How credible a position is that? She seems more concerned her house might be invaded by the probation department than anything else.

    DPD: However, the DA is willing to reduce the charges to three misdemeanors.

    Mother: “She [the DA] has since been willing to drop all of the gang enhancement charges and he’d be charged with assault for the fight that he got in the first week in school, a fist fight with a black kid, neither one of them were gang members, but they tried to fit that as a gang fight as well. He’s being charged with misdemeanor dissuading a witness and misdemeanor possession of stolen property.”

    DPD: “However, she has decided along with her son’s attorney not to take the deal.”

    If mom believes her son is completely innocent of all charges, then she takes her chances in court. That is her and her son’s choice. But I would suggest mom had better get her act together, bc so far her version of events I don’t find very convincing. But an impartial jury will ultimately decide the boy’s fate.

  60. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine:

    “How could you possibly know for sure if this woman was being honest or not, especially bc you have not heard the other side?”

    I’m generally a good judge as to whether or not someone is telling me the truth. Her story was very consistent including details from meeting to meeting. It held up under scrutiny. The facts that I could check held up. That doesn’t mean she’s correct, but I think she is telling the truth from her perspective.

    “Will this same mother who is supposedly telling the truth waive her child’s right to privacy and allow unfettered the police and DA to tell their side of what they believed happened? Somehow I doubt it.”

    I never asked her that. I don’t get the sense this person thinks she has anything to hide.

    “From what you could tell? In other words based on mom’s/son’s version of events? Don’t you think mom has a reason to be biased in favor of her son’s version of what happened? Don’t you think it is entirely possible her son is lying about the whole thing to absolve himself of any criminal responsibility?”

    I do have a copy of the complaint and none of the kids were charged with assault with a bat. In absence of evidence to the contrary, again I have little reason to believe that she is not telling the truth.

    “Exactly what does the fact the DA reduced charges indicate to you?”

    Understand the reduced charge is the deal they offering him in order for him to plea guilty.

    “So he and his mother say. That does not mean he wasn’t. I’m more inclined to believe he was involved since the DA was willing to press charges.”

    If you are inclined to believe the DA (which is somewhat odd for you), you have to recognize the this kid was never charged with being in the fight or using a lethal weapon.

    “But an impartial jury will ultimately decide the boy’s fate. “

    There’s no jury trial here. It’s a juvenile case for one thing. For another they will either get the deal from the probation or take the deal from the DA.

  61. Alphonso

    ERM
    “Talk to me after you have had a child in school that has been a victim of gang violence, and then tell me how you feel”

    I have children and one of them was attacked in Davis by a gang while the Davis Police sat by and watched. My son was at a fraternity rush party and all they were doing was walking across a driveway, not fast enough for five people who drove up in a car who decided to jump out of the car and proceed to punch people. One of the two police officers that witnessed the incident was standing five feet away from the driver’s door as the driver proceeded to blindside my son. He had the wound of a half golf ball on his forehead. The police did nothing after they restored some order, just told people to go home and then turned and walked away. The victims of that incident were still angry and they walked 130 feet to the perpetrators apartment and demanded an apology, which of course resulted in another fight. As a result the police were called and they arrested the victims of the first fight and the charges were absurd – 11 felonies including hate crime enhancements. Where did the hate crime come from? The aggressors were Korean Americans and one of the police officers actually coached them into saying the incident was race related (he noted that in his report) – that police officer was also present at the first fight and was standing no further than 15 from the car when that incident happened. He knew they lied about the first fight and then he encouraged them to lie about the second as he completely bought into their story. The only weapons the victims used were fists while the other side used fists, a frying pan, a baseball bat and a sword.

    Of course the story broke down because it was just a fabrication of lies. I got some satisfaction reading through the arrest records the Korean Americans – they had many problems in Davis and they had a pattern of using baseball bats and golf clubs. They had even used the excuse of racial abuse previously as a cover for their own aggression. One had punched out a coed and ignited a fire in his room while living in one of the dorms. It was even more interesting to read that each of the two arresting officers had separate altercations with the same Korean Americans subsequent to the fight I described above and it took six Davis Police Officers to put one of them in a straight jacket after he tried to kick out the window of a patrol car. The guy had a habit of acting like a lunatic when he had too much to drink. It took awhile but the Davis Police finally figured it out and they put the five Korean Americans on a “watch list”.

    This happened a while ago and my son is fine. However I am still angry. One of my kids who had never been in a fight in his life got assaulted in plain view of Davis Police Officers but then he got into serious trouble when his sponsors (he was rushing a fraternity) decided to stand up for him and demand an apology. They were stupid for trying to confront the aggressors on their own but what do you really expect from a group or 18-20 year old males. Even the Police Chief told me the aggressors should have been arrested in the parking lot by his men – they failed to act and sort of left it up to the fraternity to deal with the problem on their own. During the process I met about a half dozen Davis Police Officers –they were all pleasant people but the one thing that still bothers me is that two of them lied to me, as I looked them in the eyes. I do respect several of those officers but Davis also has some very deficient and dishonest men who are still on the force. Based on my experience with Davis Police Officers I will never believe another police report, ever. I used to tell my children they could count of police officers, but that has all changed. I actually gathered about 15 of my younger son’s friends when they were 16 and – we carefully went through the ACLU list of things to do in case of a police stop. The first thing I told them was to never trust a police officer and I was dead serious. There is no question in my mind that Yolo County has one of the worst “justice” systems in the state and people who support that system are completely naïve.

    In the case involving this kid you need to balance two versions of the same event. I would bet the woman is being more honest than the police.

  62. Greg Kuperberg

    These war stories from Jeff, Elaine, and Alphonso about school and university violence in Davis are disturbing. My main thought is that I don’t know how a student can find that much trouble in Davis without looking for it. I can believe that these incidents happened, but I don’t know what to make of statements like, “It is a damn miracle my child survived the public school system in Davis and is not dead.” It bears no resemblance to the Davis in which our children grow up, or the Davis in which I teach.

    Yes, as a parent I have had to deal with school discipline issues. I’m not saying that our children are perfect and have never caused or seen any trouble. But I have always argued that real life is not like the movies. Real-life physical confrontations are generally idiotic and pointless. There are stories out there about not being able to avoid bullies, but when I was a kid, every confrontation that I had was at least partly my fault. Usually you can see trouble from a mile away and stay away from it — but only if you want to.

    My advice as a parent has been: Prepare yourself for adulthood, protect your reputation among your friends and teachers, and don’t try to “win” against “bad” classmates, because that is a pathetic alternative to any real victory. You don’t even have to turn the other cheek: decent manners is usually good enough, and stay away from the few real troublemakers. If you do lose your temper or pull an ugly prank, be prepared to write a letter of apology — that is the adult standard that even makes you better than some adults.

    Again, I’m not a zero tolerance person, and I’m not a humorless disciplinarian. (At least, I hope not!) Kids make mistakes; learning how to apologize is realistic, while trying to be perfect isn’t. And a little horseplay now and then is fine, as long as everyone agrees that that’s what it is.

  63. David M. Greenwald

    ” It bears no resemblance to the Davis in which our children grow up, or the Davis in which I teach.”

    Greg: I originally started this site as a blog which had the subtitle, “a vivid description of the dark underbelly of the people’s republic of davis.” I believed then, as I do now, that beneath the veneer there is a far darker side to Davis that is made worse by people who try to paper over it.

    Five years ago, the district was in denial about the bullying issue that some have described, my wife with the help of the hrc actually had a town meeting and parents and kids came forward and from that meeting they created the climate coordinator position that wdf linked to.

    These problems exist, but we also run the risk of overreacting too.

    Someone else made a good point to me today, pointed out that the point of the juvenile justice system in California, the stated point is rehabilitation whereas the adult justice system’s stated goal is punishment, but these enhancements work counter to that and go against that nature. Particularly when the offense and offenders are not the class that the law was written to address.

  64. SueChan

    I find the use of the word “gangs” to describe young people acting badly in Davis unsettling. It is emotionally charged and used mostly to describe young people of color. It dehumanizes them so that we don’t need to look past the story beyond the soundbite, which is evident in the comments passing judgement on these boys without knowing the bigger picture. Evident in how easily people can call them “scum” without ever having met them.

    The problems parents have had in the schools dealing with bullying have nothing to do with gangs. It has everything to do with school personnel unwilling to address the root of bad behavior, be it physical assault or racist behavior. The problems have a long history and I’m sad to see they haven’t been addressed even though the district has “school climate committees” on every campus.

    Racial prejudices are endemic in Davis and have yet to be rooted out. It won’t be addressed until people can talk calmly about it, not hurl labels of “gang-sympathizers” or “racists.” Bad behavior won’t be addressed by labelling kids “gang-wannabes” and expelling them or throwing them in jail. From the comments I’ve been reading, Davis has a LONG way to go.

  65. David M. Greenwald

    There seems to be some confusion here as to what the charges are.

    This is for the son of the person interviewed here. The ten counts all felonies:

    1. Attempting to Dissuade a Witness PC 136.1(a)(2)
    1a. Gang Enhancement (PC 186.22(b)(1))
    2. Participation in Street Gang Activity (186.22(a))
    3. Receiving Stolen Property (496(a))
    3a. Gang Enhancement (PC 186.22(b)(1))
    4. Participation in Street Gang Activity (186.22(a))
    5. Conspiracy to commit a felony (182(a)(1)) (refused to return property to victim)
    6. Crime Committed for Criminal Street Gang Activity (186.22(d) and 415(1)
    7. Crime Committed for Criminal Street Gang Activity (186.22(d) and 242
    8. Crime Committed for Criminal Street Gang Activity (186.22(d) and 242
    9. Crime Committed for Criminal Street Gang Activity (186.22(d) and 242
    10. Crime Committed for Criminal Street Gang Activity (186.22(d) and 415(3)

  66. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I believed then, as I do now, that beneath the veneer there is a far darker side to Davis that is made worse by people who try to paper over it.[/i]

    I don’t know about “far” darker, but I agree, there is a dark side and I’m not trying to paper over it. That’s not my point. I just asked my elder one about violence at the high school. Here is a paraphrased summary:

    Q: Is there is violence, bullying, or tough students at the high school?
    A: There are some students with a bad attitude. A lot of it seems associated with drugs.

    Q: Is it difficult to avoid these students?
    A: No.

    Q: Can you conceive of anything like the terrible killing of Thong Hy Huynh in 1983?
    A: In fact, there was at least one stabbing at the school last year.

    Q: Was the victim just minding his own business?
    A: No!

  67. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]5. Conspiracy to commit a felony (182(a)(1)) (refused to return property to victim)[/i]

    Thus the police say that he not only received a stolen bicycle, he refused to give it back. His mother insists that he didn’t receive a stolen bicycle. What gives?

  68. David M. Greenwald

    Greg:

    You and I are not far off. The one I disagree with the most is this one:

    Q: Is it difficult to avoid these students?
    A: No.

    I think there is difficulty in avoiding students and as Sue Chan pointed out part of the problem is that the schools have not taken the right approach and proactively dealt with the problems.

    As such, I think there is bullying, whether that rises to the level of violence or is simply intimidation and verbal is a question for exploration.

  69. David M. Greenwald

    Greg: I’m a bit fuzzy on that detail, and I’ll try to clarify, but as I understand the bike was on the property at the time of the fight (and I believe what the fight was over.) Therefore because it was on his property and the fight was a refusal to return the bike, it became his possession and refusal to give it up. But I can clarify that.

  70. wdf1

    I think there is difficulty in avoiding students and as Sue Chan pointed out part of the problem is that the schools have not taken the right approach and proactively dealt with the problems.

    From my perspective (involved parent), I see legitimate efforts that the schools (DJUSD) has done to diminish bullying, connected with Mr. Lewis’ oversight. It looks like a work in progress; something probably needs to be tweaked along the way. I also see work (some described in the article) that Lewis does that isn’t going attract headlines (maybe that’s the point actually).

  71. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I think there is difficulty in avoiding [dangerous] students[/i]

    But you should concede that I talked to a bona fide DJUSD student who says otherwise. Our elder one is a senior who has had 10 years of school here.

    Also, I think I know his opinion of the right proactive approach to deal with the problem, at least at the high school. I think he would say that the root problem for DHS or parents to solve is alcohol and illegal drugs. Yes, he went through the huge DARE indoctrination when he was younger. In fact, it was our running joke that he learned so much about the drugs that he was supposed to say no to. But supposedly in the last few years of school, the drugs show up. I think that most of the alcohol/drug problem is off campus, and again, our elder one doesn’t think that it’s hard to avoid. Nonetheless, when students do drugs off campus, it changes them for the worse on campus too.

  72. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]Q: Can you conceive of anything like the terrible killing of Thong Hy Huynh in 1983?
    A: In fact, there was at least one stabbing at the school last year. [/quote] Almost no one in 1983 could have conceived of “anything like the terrible killing of Thong Hy Huynh.”

    I graduated from Davis High School in 1982. I knew the student body and the climate extremely well at that time. Certainly not that much changed 1 year later among the student body as a whole. However, a whole industry in Davis has grown up to use that isolated incident as indicative of a racist, violent climate permeating Davis and the schools and the culture of our city. It’s all a load of bullsh!t.

    The one key factor always left out is the fact that the killer, James Pierman, had just moved to Davis. He did not grow up here. He did not learn his values or attitudes in Davis. He was very troubled for years before his family enrolled him at DHS*.

    Thong Hy Huynh, who I had never met before he was killed, also was a recent arrival in Davis. He moved here just 3 years before Pierman stabbed him.

    All of the fault was with Pierman (none with Thong). Had Pierman moved to Woodland or West Sac, he probably would have killed someone there.

    [quote]*Pierman, 17, had come to Davis from Southern California in 1982. He later told case workers with the California Youth Authority that his family had “moved between 12 and 15 times” while he was growing up, and that he never spent an entire year at the same school. Pierman had been convicted of battery in a fight with a boy in Southern California. He also had a prior offense stemming from a shoplifting incident. He was not incarcerated in either case. After arriving in Davis, Pierman had run-ins with the police for brandishing a knife, and for involvement in a fight.

    Pierman liked weapons. He reportedly kept a metal baseball bat, a 5-foot leather bullwhip, and several knives in the Ford Pinto that he drove to school, according to the testimony of several students after the killing. A friend testified that Pierman told him he kept a knife between the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat “so he could get hold of it in case he needed it.” [/quote]

  73. wdf1

    Rich, With all that you describe of Pierman — that he kept weapons in his car (on campus??), for instance — wouldn’t that make one worry about his stability at the time?

    I could understand that maybe perspectives were different then (Columbine hadn’t happened).

  74. Rich Rifkin

    wdf,

    Sounds like it to me. Know though, that’s not “my description” of his weapons. I quoted from a Jeff Hudson report ([url]http://occr.ucdavis.edu/news/view.cfm?news_id=46[/url]) on the case.

    But the point is clear: Pierman was a problem child for a long time before he showed up in Davis. He didn’t develop his attitudes here or reflect in any way the cultural norms of Davis in 1983. Yet to this day, people use him and his deeds as a paradigm of Davis’s terrible race relations back then. That was the indicident which sparked the creation of the Human Relations Commission, whose original task was to improve racial harmony.

  75. E Roberts Musser

    “Q: Is there is violence, bullying, or tough students at the high school?
    A: There are some students with a bad attitude. A lot of it seems associated with drugs.

    Q: Is it difficult to avoid these students?
    A: No.

    Q: Can you conceive of anything like the terrible killing of Thong Hy Huynh in 1983?
    A: In fact, there was at least one stabbing at the school last year.

    Q: Was the victim just minding his own business?
    A: No!”

    Yes, there are some kids with a bad attitude – that target the weak who are “minding their own business”. (I’ve actually witnessed it, and not just concerning my child.) And the kids with the bad attitude have no problem maming/killing the totally innocent to trump up their own self-importance. In fact bullies are more likely to pick on those who are not paying attention. And that stabbing your son referred to could have involved a totally innocent child had the knife missed its intended target.

    It does not matter one whit to the victim where the bully came from, whether they grew up in Davis or came from somewhere else.

    Other commenters were absolutely correct in noting that often police and the schools do not step in when intervention should occur. Yet now when they do intervene, law enforcement is accused of being overly zealous. You can’t have it both ways. The kid referred to in the above article was offered a slap on the wrist and his mother is whining, when it appears from the article above the kid has not been a saint by any stretch of the imagination. Why isn’t this mother the least bit concerned that a group fight took place in her front yard, that an undercurrent of physical violence is escalating on her property?

  76. E Roberts Musser

    “I think that most of the alcohol/drug problem is off campus, and again, our elder one doesn’t think that it’s hard to avoid.”

    When my children went to DHS, I watched a drug deal go down right on school property in front. Thinking back on it, I probably should have reported it to the police, but I would not have been able to ID the students.

  77. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]Why isn’t this mother the least bit concerned that a group fight took place in her front yard, that an undercurrent of physical violence is escalating on her property?[/i]

    Maybe she is unaccountably convinced that her son is the real victim.

  78. wdf1

    When my children went to DHS, I watched a drug deal go down right on school property in front.

    Do drug deals happen as frequently on school property today?

    Is it all still as bad today as what you describe of your experience?

  79. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]Do drug deals happen as frequently on school property today?[/i]

    My answer is that whether it happens on school property is not the main concern. I have already heard a few stories about this or that high-school student whose life is in a tailspin because of drugs. I never expected to hear stories like this; I’m really not an anti-drug warrior. It matters little if these students buy their drugs off campus. If anything, it just makes the problem harder to solve, because if they are caught with drugs on campus, then campus counselors can take major action.

    Many parents have an attitude of just circling the wagons around their own children: Keep drugs away from MY CHILD; MY CHILD wouldn’t use drugs unless they were pushed onto him or her on school property. This is naive, because Davis is a city with a lot of childhood freedom — that shouldn’t change and it also isn’t going to change. Childhood freedom includes the freedom to choose the wrong friends.

    Maybe the school system needs more targeted intervention for students with drug problems. I don’t really know if that is what is missing, but maybe. I don’t think that we need more sweeping anti-drug education, and I definitely don’t think that these kids should be treated as criminals. Rather, some kids just crash and burn at the threshold of adulthood, and they need help.

  80. indigorocks

    Hi David,
    I know you’re not gonna like what i”m gonna say to you but, if there is an issue with these kids and possible gang activity then it must be dealt with. I’ve lived in low income housing where there was clear gang activity, drug related crimes, and violence. The perps were not latino, but they were not imo dealt with properly. The place was unbearable to live in and I had to leave that apartment complex. IMO, the perpetrators kept on at it, as long as there was a laissez faire approach by the police. Unfortunately, we would all like to have everyone be free and have a great life, but unless there are some real changes, both within the system and gang culture, the law MUST STEP in to protect the people that are caught in the cross fires of these bullies….
    If they refuse to take preventive assistance from the govt. and continue a life of crime, the only other alternative is imprisonment. Sad to say but true.
    Gangs are very powerful in their allure to the youths. If the parents of these kids, and the govt. agencies are not willing to step in and provide these kids with alternative life fullfilling activities then the kids will unfortunately turn to gangs or criminal activities.
    The best interventions that these kids can receive is proper supervision from the parents. If the parents don’t have money for extra curricular activities like karate, tutoring, camping, etc etc etc, then these kids should be given long term scholarships to at least try fulfilling activities.

  81. SueChan

    Of course, the best intervention is supervision from the parents. If that doesn’t happen, the second best is caring adults to make them face up to WHY they are doing stupid things. Labeling them “gang wannabes” so you can throw them out of school or in the pokey and convince them that there are NO adults who care is the best way to give gangs more willing recruits. Like torturing suspected terrorists who were really just taxi drivers stuck in traffic.

  82. indigorocks

    Sue, unless you have been a victim or caught in the cross fire of these idiots, then I wouldn’t really speak on it. I see your point, but being a victim of their abusive ways might change your attitude towards the whole thing. There certainly could be more intervention, but if the interventions are weak and poorly administered, then the kids invariably end up in jail.
    This is a reflection of societies priorities and it also reflects the attitudes of govt…
    lock em up throw away the key.

  83. Downtown

    “Wannabe” is not a useful term. If an individual makes a decision he or she wants to be in a gang, affiliates himself with gang members, and pretends to be in a gang, he or she effectively is. If we call them “wannabes,” then there’s a tendency to show that they aren’t playing at it… and more gang involvement is often a result. Woodland has serious gang problems, which definitely are affecting Davis. If you think gang activity 10 miles up the road isn’t spilling over, or that we don’t have gang activity in town… you’re deluding yourself.

  84. jimt

    Kudos to the Davis PD and investigators for nipping this growing problem in the bud.
    We must be vigilant to keep off the potential for hardened gang activity in Davis–once in gets entrenched it is nearly impossible to remove, and the quality of life for everybody goes down.
    Please keep up the good work in keeping a tight lid on this. I would advocate putting the screws to the current gang members and wannabes. I would venture that the vast silent majority of residents would endorse doing whatever it takes to keep hardened gangs from getting a firm toehold in Davis.

  85. Concerned Mother

    Greetings to everyone who is taking their time to read through this article. I am the “mother” of the son who has fallen victim to the array of exaggerated charges courtesy of the Davis PD and Patty Fong, Yolo County Juvenile DA. I feel like I need to clear the air about a few key issues.

    #1: Although the minor fist fight happened outside my property, my son was not physically involved in the fight at all.

    #2: I drove up to discover about 10 young men on my corner, but could not even tell there had been a fight, and there were no weapons.

    #3: Officer Keirith Briesenick showed up at my house at about two hours later to question my son and his friends about the fight because the Davis PD caught the OTHER boys walking towards my house with baseball bats.

    #4: My son’s friend ends up getting arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, which never happened. The OTHER boys cried wolf in order to save their own butts for getting caught with baseball bats.

    #5: My son was arrested a few weeks later with 10 fabricated felony charges stemming from his effort to get the OTHER boys to tell the truth via a My Space message.

    #6: My son is not even Mexican and he has never been arrested in his life.

    I honestly feel that my son is wrongfully being charged and accused of being a norteno gang member. This is definitely a very real issue, and I am not in denial. As I told the Davis PD Night Sergeant, “My son is not an angel, but being a nuisance is a lot different than being a felon.”

    If this happened to your child, I am sure you would want to stand up and fight for his rights.

  86. Alphonso

    Patty Fong is a horrible DDA – she exaggerates allegations of crime to promote herself and her causes and she is racially bias. You do not have to believe me but pay attention to what she does and come to your own conclusion. Definitely a big negative when it comes to juvenile justice.

  87. johnnyrotten

    Dear Mother,
    what on earth are you doing, letting your son associate with these kids. if you’re so concerned, don’t let him hang out with these kids. they are obviously trouble and you are obviously clueless. sorry this happened to you, but I hope next time, you have enough fortitude to prevent this kind of thing from happening, by making sure your son is involved in positive activities and monitoring his social life.
    if you’re not willing to do these things, then perhaps it’s time to let your kid fall prey to the juvenile justice system.
    so what’s it gonna take? vigilante parenting or juvie?

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