The Gangfighters Network is an organization designed to bridge the gap between academia and the criminal justice professions. For more information, visit http://www.gangfighters.net/ and http://www.gangsinthemilitary.com/ The focus is on gangs, initially adult gangs as it appears they have been ignored or absorbed into the mainstream society. There's a special focus on gang members in the military.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Former Marine says pot deal went bad, resulting in throat-slashing

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, June 14, 2007

NAHA, Okinawa — It was a pot deal that went bad.

That’s the story Darian Preston Daniels stuck to for his three hours on the stand Tuesday during his trial for taking part in robbing a friend Oct. 25 and leaving him for dead.

Daniels, 29, a former Marine and the husband of a sailor, said he was merely acting as a liaison between two friends the night Marine Sgt. Michael Avinger, 30, slit Bryant White’s throat on Hamahiga Island.

Daniels said he was “like a brother” to Avinger since both men belonged to the same street gang, the Crips, back in the U.S. They came from different chapters of the infamous gang and didn’t know one another, but they met on Okinawa on Camp Courtney in August 2004, he said.

However, since the trial started May 1, the bond has been broken and they’ve each attempted to blame the other for the vicious mugging. Last week, Avinger said he cut White’s throat to save the man’s life, thinking Daniels would kill White if he didn’t act first.

He testified he intended just to make it look like White was dying, but he cut the man’s throat more deeply than he intended.

At the opening of the trial, White, 23, a former airman, claimed he was lured to the island on the promise they were going to meet some girls and was attacked by both men, who demanded a large amount of money Daniels had seen White’s wife throw at him during an argument on Oct. 17. He said Avinger sliced his throat, leaving a 7-inch scar, after Daniels demanded his money.

On Tuesday, Daniels said he had nothing to do with the robbery.

“It wasn’t supposed to be a crime scene,” he said. “It was supposed to be a marijuana transaction.”

Daniels said Avinger wanted to buy some marijuana from White and he drove with White to Hamahiga Island, following Avinger in a separate car, to make the purchase. He said he was leaning against his car watching White and Avinger talk when Avinger suddenly grabbed White and pressed a knife against his throat.

He said he heard Avinger ask White about the money and the marijuana.

White denied having any money. Then Daniels said he heard Avinger say: “If you don’t want me to kill you, stop playing with me.”

They talked some more, Daniels said.

“This is about your mouth writing checks your butt has to cash,” Daniels said he heard Avinger tell White.

Then Avinger cut White’s throat, Daniels said.

“Why didn’t you stop him?” the prosecutor asked.

“What was I supposed to do?” Daniels responded, raising his voice. “In the States — the United States — where I’m from, you don’t put a knife to someone’s throat unless you’re going to use it. So there was nothing I could say.”

Daniels said he never intended to rob White.

He said he signed a confession on Nov. 14 only because he was under duress after 21 days of interrogation by police.

“The police threatened the welfare of my wife and kids,” Daniels said.

The detectives told him that Avinger had confessed and implicated Daniel’s wife and threatened to arrest her on a charge of conspiracy if he did not admit his involvement, he testified.

“I wasn’t going to let them take my wife,” he said. “So, if they brought my wife in who would take care of my kids? So I told them what they wanted to hear, any man would do that if he loves his family.”

The next hearing in the case is set for June 26, when Daniels is scheduled to personally cross-examine Avinger.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54222&archive=true

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Army apologizes to Guardsmen over tattoos

By MAGGIE SHEPARD
Scripps Howard News Service
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Though they say it's a year late, New Mexico National Guard members are glad to receive an apology for the Army's investigation into alleged gang tattoos while they served in Kuwait.

The apology arrived in a letter Monday from Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson, the head of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. Members of the command carried out the probe, which included a partial strip search, on the New Mexico soldiers, Guard spokesman Maj. Ken Nava said.

Johnson writes "to personally apologize" in his letter. He writes that when he learned the "situation had caused one of you to state that you 'didn't feel like an American today,' I knew that this investigation had been gravely mishandled."

Nava said the apology is welcome, even though it comes a year after the incident.

"Our general called for an apology when it happened in 2006. Here we are a year later," Nava said.

The May 2006 search of 60 members of the New Mexico unit was prompted by a soldier's report that he had seen Chicago-area gang tattoos on a Hispanic soldier. The Hispanic soldier was not from New Mexico, and it was never explained what led an investigator to the New Mexico unit.

The New Mexico Guard members were ordered to take off their clothes down to athletic shorts and were looked over for gang tattoos. No tattoos were found.

Though the investigator who conducted the search has been cleared of any illegal action, Johnson issued the formal apology.

Adjutant Gen. Kenny Montoya, commander of the New Mexico Guard, had immediately called the search racially motivated and illegal. He asked for an apology and called for the removal of some top Army leaders.

"In the Army, if you apologize, it means you take responsibility for something," Montoya said in April. "Somewhere along the line, general officers forgot that's part of their responsibility."

The 60 New Mexicans who were searched were members of Task Force Cobra, a 190-member collection of members from various New Mexico units that provided convoy security in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar from November 2005 to November 2006.

The search occurred after the unit had returned to Kuwait from a stint in Iraq.

http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/24142

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Two soldiers arraigned in beating death tied to gang initiation

By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, June 7, 2007

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two soldiers were arraigned Wednesday in the gang-initiation beating death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson.

Sgt. Rodney H. Howell and Pfc. Terrence A. Norman appeared in court at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern but did not enter a plea.

Howell is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, conspiracy and making a false official statement. His trial is scheduled for July 23 at Taylor Barracks in Mannheim.

Norman is charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, failure to obey an order or regulation, obstruction of justice, making a false official statement and conspiracy. His trial is set for July 16 at Kleber.

Norman and Howell are each accused of punching Johnson 20 or more times during a July 3, 2005, gang initiation ceremony. Johnson, 25, of the 66th Transportation Company, died the next day of multiple blunt force injuries.

Norman and Howell are among five soldiers who have faced charges in the death. Some of the past developments in the case include:

n Last week, a military judge removed the lawyers prosecuting Spc. Bobby Morrissette for his role in the death. He was facing various charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Those charges were dismissed, but prosecutors had requested a new hearing to reconsider.

n On May 7, Army Staff Sgt. Alre L. Hudson faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, hazing, aggravated assault and conspiracy in connection with the death at an Article 32 hearing.

n On March 27, Pfc. Latisha Ellis admitted to giving a false official statement at a summary court-martial as part of a deal. She saw the beating and is a key witness in the case. She remains the only soldier convicted of a crime in connection with the death.
http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=54063&archive=true

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Former gang member appeals to youth to 'Refuse to Die Like That'

James Jamison grew up in the projects of Stamford, Conn., a hard-core area affectionately termed the "Cage" by local police.

"They thought we were all animals and they treated us like animals," he explained.

Gangs and drugs were a way of life and by the time he was 17, five of his eight closest friends had died at the hands of violence.

His escape was to join the Air Force. And even though he has gone on to acquire several degrees and become successful in other arenas, he still wrestles with the fact that he is a high school dropout.

"Every time I'm around my peers, I always feel a little bit less than them," he says. "We have spaces in our lives that we're supposed to achieve certain things. You can never go back and graduate from middle school when you should have, or high school when you should have. You missed it."

Jamison now lives in Wilmington, where he is senior pastor of Hope Baptist Church.

He was in Goldsboro this weekend, speaking on Friday to seventh- and eighth-graders at Dillard Middle School, and as keynote speaker at the Youth Gospel Fest at Goldsboro High School Saturday evening.

His experiences as a former gang member before turning his life around are the basis of a book he is currently writing entitled "Refuse to Die Like That." His stop in Wayne County was to make an appeal to the next generation to follow suit.

At 13, 14, and 15 years old, "your lives are just beginning," he said. And while the routes to escape may appear glamorous, young men and women need to be selective before choosing the wrong path.

Many become involved in gangs to fill a void in their lives, Jamison said. 

"A lot of people spend their lives trying to fit in, to feel necessary," he said. "I spent a lot of time trying to find out who I was."

Now 54, he realizes just how much time he was lost.

"Time flies and you don't have as long as you think you have to get your act together and we need to start working on that now," he said.

In the beginning, he admitted he thought gangs were cool. He moved up the ranks as a warlord, making decisions as a leader. Today, he realizes the opposite is true.

"Most people in gangs are losers, searching for something he's not sure of, afraid because he's afraid to stand alone," he said.

Encouraging the teens to take a stand, make a difference and rise above their situations, he said it's time they become an example to others.

Jamison asked the students how many had known someone who was killed in the last two or three years, how many were concerned about their own lives. Nearly everyone raised their hands in response.

He then shared how many friends he has encountered over the years and realized he was not happy to see them because of their accomplishments or jobs, but because they were still alive.

"Tragic," he said. "When we're excited about a kid that's alive at 21, there's a problem."

Being in a gang is nothing to be proud of, Jamison said.

"If you're proud to be in gangs, you're telling me that you're proud of everything that's destroying the black man today," he said. "You're proud of everything making our sisters not have a husband when they grow up that can provide for them and their children ....

"We have to stop killing each other like it doesn't matter."

Jamison then challenged the middle school students to take action.

"I want 10 people right now that are fed up with the violence and the neighborhood, that would be willing to sign a pledge," he said.

He said the promise entailed "that for 90 days I will not hurt, disrespect, injure, kill or maim any individual, and I will not support it ... will not laugh at it, will not encourage it. If there's a fight, I will not gather around it."

Nearly two dozen rose from their seats and joined him at the edge of the stage. They signed the pledge sheet and were given a sticker that bore the words, "I made a promise."

Darryl Woodard, director of Smart Choices for Youth, which sponsored Jamison's appearance, said there will be follow-up steps taken to ensure those who took the pledge and others concerned about gangs and violence will have support. He said the school's principal was being given information to distribute to families on how to guard against the problem, especially during the summer months when many students are more idle.

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 3, 2007 02:01 AM
http://www.newsargus.com/news/archives/2007/06/03/former_gang_member_appeals_to_youth_to_refuse_to_die_like_that/index.shtml

Friday, June 1, 2007

Guardsman stole gear because he was mad about his time in Iraq

June 1, 2007
BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter/fmain@suntimes.com
An Illinois National Guard soldier told investigators he sold military equipment on the black market because he was upset over his treatment in Iraq -- and it was so easy to steal.
Staff Sgt. Lee N. Shobe pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing a government witness with night-vision devices, a laser sight, M-16 rifle magazines and body armor plates in September. In November, he sold an undercover FBI agent another night-vision device and a stun gun, according to his plea agreement.

When he was arrested in January, he explained "he was selling the equipment because of poor accountability within the military and because he was treated poorly in Iraq," his plea agreement said.

Shobe, of Downstate Toledo, was assigned to the National Guard Armory in Downstate Sullivan. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but the government has recommended a lenient sentence because of his cooperation.

The FBI recorded Shobe telling an informant that a soldier from Chicago smuggled body armor from Iraq and Shobe stole it from the soldier's duffel bag. Shobe is heard agreeing with the informant that Chicago gang members "would love those," according to court documents.

Some law enforcement officials are concerned that gang members serving in the military are supplying criminal associates back home with stolen weapons and equipment.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/410286,CST-NWS-gangs01.article

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I prefer to be called Carter, though I have grown accustomed to answering to most any variation that remains respectful.
I learned from the UPS manual that a leader does not need to remind others of authority by use of title. Knowledge, performance, and capacity should be adequate evidence of position and leadership.

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