Winnipeg’s child Soldiers: A grim reflection on our failings

Paris Bruce
Paris Bruce

[Update/addition: Friday, May 9: In putting this piece together, I neglected to include a city child soldier case which ranks among the worst, if not the worst, Winnipeg’s ever seen: The case of JJT, who was 15 when he and another Indian Posse member shot up a house party on Alexander Avenue in March 2008. Three were killed and three severely injured. There was no motive to the crimes, other than the older IP member, Colton Patchinose, was angry at being ejected from the party just before the shooting. He went to fetch JJT and the two shot up the place with handguns. “My son was taken from me at an early age,” JJT’s dad told court, referencing the street gang influence on his son at his sentencing. JJT recieved a life term. You can, and should, read more about his background here. But I conclude this brief update with Justice Colleen Suche’s comment on her decision to sentence him as an adult:

It is a chilling but frank reality that J.J.T. is but one of an entire generation of children being recruited as child soldiers in the small armies we know as street gangs, which are constantly at war – with each other, and with society.”)

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Sirak Okbazion, 14. Clarky Stevenson, 15, Paris Bruce. 16.

Hearing the names of these three teens should give each and every Winnipegger pause.

They weren’t just teenagers involved in street gangs.

They also represent, respectfully, a decade-long grim lineage of ‘child soldiers’ who were influenced or preyed upon by older gang members to do their dirty work.

These kids are also dead today.

And it’s not right. It reflects a failure of our society that they died so young and so violently.

Beyond that, you can draw a kind of map (and in fact, I have) tracing the lineage of street gang-related mayhem that resulted as spillover from the separate killings of these three city teens.

Action prompts reaction: It’s not just a law of physics. It’s also part of the street gang ethos. You hit us. We hit you.

I’ll give you a very brief breakdown.

Sirak’s homicide was committed when he was 14 in 2004 by the West Broadway-area B-Side gang in response to one of their members being shot at.

It spawned fare more than just greater violent conflict between Sirak’s newly-founded gang, the Mad Cowz and the B-Siders. (Both factions are still with us today, just noting).

Sirak’s death led to internal strife within the Mad Cowz, which saw the creation of the African Mafia in protest of how Sirak’s death was (or was not) avenged. That strife led directly to multiple shootings, firebombings and other violent mayhem.

Worse yet, it directly influenced the death of innocent Phil Haiart, who was gunned down by AM members Corey Spence (15 at the time) and Jeff Cansanay as he simply crossed a West End street.

Cansanay, the triggerman goaded by Spence to ‘shoot, shoot,’ was aiming at two Mad Cowz members, but missed.

The resulting fallout from Haiart’s murder became a kind of chromosome in Winnipeg’s DNA.

How the political and police response shook out to the 17-year-old’s death is part of our essential makeup as a city.

From Haiart, we caught a close-up glimpse of an awful truth: Kids are being used by gangs, and kids, by virtue of their ages, are unpredictable. Maybe I could be next, people wondered.

Stevenson’s stabbing in 2011 in the North End has likely caused more bad blood between entrenched street gangs – he was an Indian Posse associate – than one might believe.

Well liked by many and known for being ferociously fearless, sources tell me Stevenson was on track to taking a place in the IP’s gang hierarchy.

So, when it just so happened he wound up stabbed to death, allegedly by suspects linked to the MOB gang, violence spilled over between the two groups in waves, and to some degree continues to this day.

Soon after, innocent David Michael Vincett, was shot by James Sinclair – just 14 – on Boyd Avenue.

“I did it pretty much because of what happened to my friend,” Sinclair told police.

Sinclair’s friend? Clarky Stevenson.

Sinclair was an IP associate who mistook Vincett for a member of the MOB on a darkened street, chasing after him with a .357 Magnum and gunning him down with a single shot to the head.

While one teen, Steven Johnston, was acquitted earlier this year of stabbing Stevenson to death (but wound up back in custody soon after for a triple-stabbing), another faces trial for second-degree murder.

Today, we finally learned the sad fate that befell Paris Bruce, 16.

Bruce, aligned with the Mob Squad – a splinter faction of the MOB – was led into a plot hatched by an older gang member to take over an Indian Posse crack house.

Just weeks before Bruce was beaten to death by IP members, the gang superior, Joshua Jeffs, who got Bruce mixed up in the plot that would claim his life, was viciously attacked by four teen IP members with a hatchet and machete for being part of a group that attacked their Boyd Avenue hangout by surprise.

Jeffs, according to prosecutors, also enlisted another teen and an 11-year-old boy to try and take over the Redwood Avenue crack shack.

Bruce, maybe not comprehending fully what he was getting himself into, tried to run when IP guys caught on to what the Mob Squad was trying to do. He wound up beaten and stabbed to death.

It’s no mistake that the Crown used the words “young soldiers” to describe Bruce, the other teen and the 11-year-old and their position within their gang.

Despite how ugly the tactic is, it should be more than patently obvious by now that older gang members are well-aware of the benefits of using younger guys to do the dirty work.

To them, the ‘kids’ are expendable – and, let there be no doubt, in great supply – even if they’re dying off or being sent packing to jail for a time as a result of their involvement in the gang underworld.

I’ll repeat: The fact that any kid winds up in a gang is a signifier to us that something is wrong with our society.

Whether they wind up there because of poverty, addictions, for protection or for a sense of belonging, seeing our youth wind up being used by criminal factions they way they are should be nothing short of alarming to us.

But recruitment continues, relatively unabated, and has done so in Winnipeg for a long time now.

I’ve only presented here three examples of slain “child soldiers.”

There are many, many more examples I could call upon that I’ve seen in recent years.

What’s to be done about it, I can’t offer a solution other than to say every child needs a baseline of normality in their lives in order to have a chance at success over the long-term.

What I am sure of  — and it should be pretty clear by now if you’ve gotten this far — is that “child soldiers,” “young soldiers,” or whatever you want to call them, are a blight not just on the gangs they’re enlisted in, but on us as a society as a whole.

We should be shocked and outraged by the brutal, violent deaths of people in our city who have barely lived.

I get the sense we’re generally just resigned to the fact that this happens to some of our youth. And it’s wrong.

Minor annoyances

There’s a few small things that have been nagging at me lately.

1] Police disciplinary records and the ‘rush to expunge.’

Absolutely wicked editorial today in the WFP about this issue. I’m guessing Catherine Mitchell penned it. Why she’s not a regular public columnist  bewilders me. (Here’s another good recent one.)

From the piece:

The fact it passed council without a whiff of debate is damning.

Well, what irks me is, what do people expect? There is absolutely no public police oversight body in the province that has any tangible teeth. You can’t expect council to carry the water for an independent police oversight body.

And yes, LERA, I’m talking about you, despite the fact you only look at non-criminal complaints against police.

It’s now approaching the end of 2011, and we’re still waiting on your annual report from 2010. That’s not an indication it will say anything, but still. Sheesh.

On the municipal level, City Hall’s protection committee, despite having the authority to ask questions of police brass on behalf of citizens, has long been neutered by the unspoken sentiment that nobody on council will dare irk the WPS by asking tough questions, let alone fostering a real debate on policing and police budgetary issues.

I point you to this prior post where, just weeks after four people were shot (three fatally) in the North End and Point Douglas, and not one ward councillor on the committee had a question for the divisional commander of any real consequence. Sad.

That’s beside the point.

The fact that police want a five-year expungement exemption for discipline records doesn’t mean anything, really, in my humble view. It’s reasonable to expect that a police officer can go five years without issues and have their prior record expunged. Cops aren’t perfect, and they deal with seriously bad-assed people. Stuff goes wrong.

Is every one of your decisions perfect?

Aside from this, the Winnipeg public has never seen, nor had a right to see, police service records nor attend discipline hearings formal or informal.

I can count on one finger where I’ve seen the records asked for in court as part of the disclosure process, and that came to nothing.

To me, it’s much ado about nothing from the police end of things.

But, the fact that city politicians let the issue pass in a ‘breathless’ manner should surprise nobody. Not one whit.

2] Where’s Minister Swan?

Maybe I’m missing something, but the only single time I’ve heard a peep out of Justice Minister Andrew Swan (Minto) during the current election campaign is when he said a few words at the police officer memorial at the legislature last weekend. He spoke well.

But what I don’t get is why the provincial Justice Minister, in an election where crime and the solutions for it (should be) a front-and-centre issue for everybody, has been virtually silent.

I just don’t get it, and I guess I expected to see him front and centre stumping for the NDP.

To be honest, the crime and safety platforms from each of the parties are sorely lacking in my opinion. Only the poor Libs, have shown at least some clue that more cops ‘walking the beat,’ a new gun unit or some GPS bracelets aren’t the end-all solution to address our long-term crime problems.

Maybe someone should think about the fact that ‘cops on the beat’ isn’t just about lack of resources, it’s also about officer safety.

You’d be a lunatic to walk up and down College Avenue in a police uniform at any time of day without backup or a cruiser car nearby.

Sheer lunacy.

3] Kid Killers

 14 years old, maybe 80 pounds soaking wet, and now an accused killer of the premeditated kind. In other words, the worst, most reviled kind.

That’s the reality in the case of the teen who allegedly pulled the trigger on the fatal shooting of David Vincett on Boyd Avenue last Sunday.

The associated image is a social media profile picture from an account belonging to the accused, who was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting the guy in the face and leaving him to die.

[UPDATE EDIT] He was recently sentenced for firing a shot at a postal carrier, not as I otherwise suggested. Apologies.

He’s 14 and entrenched in a feared and loathed street gang.

Wow. The theory I’ve heard is that while in jail for the robbery, he was likely ‘schooled’ in how to come up in the IP, make a name for himself.

IP versus MOB.

Although there’s serious doubt as to whether Vincett was a bona fide member of the MOB. Given his ADHD, he may have just blurted out the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Still, that makes Two young people dead in two weeks (teen Clark Stevenson’s stabbing was Sept. 10). The accused in the Stevenson case was arrested while on remand for a vicious stabbing.

Let’s remember:

In 2004, it was Mad Cowz beefing with the B-Siders, and the killing of a young Mad Cow (Shaggy) that forever altered the street gang landscape in the city.

After the Mad Cowz leadership refused to retaliate for Shaggy’s killing to the level that some in the gang felt was needed, the African Mafia was formed. ‘

Not long after, the infighting led to the murder of Phil Haiart. That led to the establishment of ‘Operation Clean Sweep’ – a police and political effort to crack down on gang crime in the West End. That in turn led to the creation of the current Street Crime unit of the WPS.

I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that again.

An irk I have is with media planning in the city — this city, rife with young offenders of all stripes and tendencies.

When are we going to wake up and see that youth crime ought to be a major focus for any outlet?

Cover the cases, get to know the trends and take it seriously when planning crime coverage.

I believe — and maybe I’m wrong — that the general public cares deeply about it, about trying to solve it.

No, you may not be able to name the kids, but that doesn’t mean that the issues and crimes they commit are any less serious.

Now that the police scanners have gone dark there may be a push to do just this. Who knows.

-30

Daniel Wolfe and the street gang ethos

(newstalk 680/RCMP)

If you haven’t read Joe Friesen’s article on the late Daniel Wolfe and the Indian Posse featured in Saturday’s Globe and Mail, I’d highly recommend it.

It’s carefully researched, and Friesen talks to the right people — including Wolff’s brother, Richard, one of the founders of the street gang — and the story come alive because of it. Not to mention the references to Wolfe’s letters from jail, where he spent a fair amount of time prior to being killed there last year after being handed five life sentences for a deadly home invasion in Saskatchewan.

As always, the comments section is revealing, with Friesen taking flak from some who contend the ambitious article borders on the sentimental.

Wolff was a stone-cold killer. There’s no doubt about it. But what Friesen shows is that there’s a kind of method to Wolfe’s madness, a steely pseudo-logic born from life on the street and not from the book.

And that is likely reason number one why the IP and other similar gangs most likely won’t ever achieve the kind of “sophistication” (to use the oft-used policing term) that could see them rise out of the gutter.

In a way, that the gang’s inability to pull itself up by the bootstraps is referred to as “puzzling” is puzzling in itself.

It’s not hard to figure out.

Here’s a clip:

But police say one of the puzzling aspects of the IP has been its inability to develop the more sophisticated techniques of traditional organized crime.

“There’s no discipline to save cash and accrue assets. No education to rely on for cash management,” says Sergeant Mike MacKinnon of Winnipeg’s organized-crime unit. “You might pull them over and they’ll have $10,000 or $15,000 on them, but at the end of the day that’s money already spent. … We haven’t seen anyone moving up into buying large condos or anything like that. They still live in the neighbourhoods they always lived in.”

Richard, who left the gang years ago, is quiet when asked where all the money went. Is there a Swiss bank account? He chuckles.

He says they used to talk about investing in youngsters who could go to university and infiltrate the police force and the Crown’s office. As with many organizations, recruiting and promoting the right people was a challenge. Daniel was one of the gang’s top recruiters, but he complained in a prison letter to Richard in 2000 that there were “too many fucked-up people recruiting fucked-up people.”

—————————–From Joe Friesen’s The Ballad of Daniel Wolfe, page 3 (bolded line, emphasis mine because that’s totally interesting)

No discipline, no education, no plan. Just rep and cred. Hustle and be fierce. And that’s any street gang’s real problem.

One of MacKinnon’s colleagues said to me one day that for many so-called “sophisticated” organized crime groups, the credo could be described as:

If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense.

What I took this to mean is, if there’s nothing financial to be gained by shooting, maiming or intimidating someone, you generally — generally — don’t waste your time on it. It attracts much unwanted attention when people start getting hurt.

To paraphrase D’Angelo Barksdale (or was it Bodie Broadus?), characters from HBO’s The Wire: The police, loosely speaking, don’t care all that much if people buy drugs and get high.

They really care when people start getting dead. Especially people not ‘in the game,’ as it were.

Therein lies the paradox of the street gang.

You have to hurt others to demonstrate your power but in doing so you ultimately show weakness.

Thanks, Joe Friesen.

-30-

“Some voters don’t trust you on crime”

Feature interview (and a puzzling headline) with mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis in today’s FP.

Some interesting stuff there, but it’s odd how “the most important issue of the election” is buried 22 paragraphs in, and there’s two paragraphs of response on it. Still, here’s what was said.

I understand that not all of what she said would make into print — after all, it was Bart Kives himself who taught me to “kill my orphans” when transcribing a Q&A for the paper.

But let’s look at how Judy responded [at least in part]….

FP: Some voters don’t trust you on crime. What would you say to them?

JWL: I think Winnipeggers understand this is a difficult issue. You have to get at the roots of crime, not just policing and not just building law-and-order stuff. You have to approach this from all angles.

I know (Winnipeggers) are looking for solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with this issue. I’ve put my plan on the table and I hope Sam will put his on the table. This is probably the most important issue of the election, one that requires the most thoughtful debate and discussion.

Yes, it is a difficult issue. The problem is that crime-prevention programs largely take time to take effect — sometimes over a generation. That’s a noble goal.

But as much as Winnipeggers may be looking for “solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with” crime, there’s a level of frustration with the general feeling of lawlessness in the city that people want something done about, pronto.

Gun crime seems rampant. Hauls from drug busts keep getting bigger and bigger all the time (an indication of demand). Extreme violence seems to erupt out of nowhere. It’s unsettling.

We can have all the effective problem-solvers in the room that you want, but people probably would prefer action.

People want to trust that the city’s given the police executive the tools and expertise to do what’s truly necessary, but that’s a story for another day.

Katz has proposed additional officers — 20 to check and monitor gang bangers, 18 for a new cruiser car etc. He hasn’t said definitively when we’ll actually get them or how we’ll pay for them, but that’s beside the point.

There’s a cop chopper about to take flight, which, while a cool idea, won’t directly put handcuffs on anybody.

Point is, Katz’s proposals seem to point to somewhat of an immediate — albeit very in-the short-term — “solution” to today’s issues.

I’d bet for the average person, hearing about more police on the way must be somewhat reassuring. And that, ultimately is what’s playing well for Katz on the crime front in this campaign. Even if it is blase.

People don’t get the same level of reassurance from knowing gangsters will get jobs, or that there’s a number they can call to tip off police about crime activity.

We’ve had the latter in the form of Crime Stoppers for eons now and it does what it does, which is good, but it’s difficult to say it makes anyone safer in a tangible sense.

I’d urge Judy to look over the eight weeks of the Police Public Reporting Project to get a real sense of what police are contending with.

Namely, a trend of repeat, often violent offenders who are released by the courts and quickly become reinvolved and have to be rearrested.

While there’s little the city can do to effect change on what’s a provincial and federal responsibility, the data could possibly point to some possible solutions.

In turn, that would reassure people that those in charge — or those who say they want to be — know what the problems actually are.

Speaking of which, that’s the one thing missing from the public talk of Katz’s and the WPA’s GRASP program, and it’s surprising given all the comparison it gets to the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy.

Data.

WATSS was built on a comprehensive survey and study of police and Justice data about the top teen auto-theft offenders in the city.

Watching who was involved, when, with who else, how long they spent in jail, when they were released. By identifying patterns in the data, solutions were found.

It also was a tri-level initiative. Police, prosecutors, probation officers (and MPI). Everyone worked together.

[BTW – how much of a factor did mandatory immobilizers for ‘most-at-risk’ vehicles play in slashing auto-theft rates?]

So far, what I’ve heard about GRASP (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was first announced in Sept. 2009, again BTW) is that it’s a solely police-led program. That’s a red flag for me, personally. They can’t do it all.

But the timing of the GRASP program’s [re]announcement shows us something.

Remember,in September 2009, the public outrage over gangs after the shooting death of a woman at a wedding social on Main Street was at its peak. The police and justice officials were getting hammered daily in the press.

And then, voila! A solution is announced.

And the public was reassured. Gangs quickly died off as a top-of-mind issue.

Cheryl Roberts killing remains unsolved, at least publicly.

After the Taman Inquiry, people’s confidence in Manitoba’s police in general was flagging. Fairly or not, that’s the way it played out.

The province brought in a new police act, which was supposed to deal with the most pressing issues the public had with police and their accountability. It also disbanded the East St. Paul police force.

And the public was reassured.

As of next April, it will be two years since the new police act was introduced.

Maybe the province is saving its implementation for this election year.

Y’know, to reassure people.

-30-

The boy with the surgical gloves

About two weeks ago, there’s a home invasion style robbery attempt on Logan. Quickly, police moved in to arrest suspects.

Here’s what the Winnipeg Sun reported:

Police have arrested four people in relation to an armed home invasion in the Weston neighbourhood Saturday afternoon.

No charges had been laid Sunday as police continued to investigate the incident that saw a group of armed males burst into the home in the 1300-block of Logan Avenue between Electra and Weston streets about 2:30 p.m.

A young boy was present in the home when police, including a canine unit, were on scene.

In an incident police said was related to the home invasion, officers later stopped a vehicle at gunpoint in the 500-block of Alfred Avenue and then entered a home on the same street that was shot up early July 17. In that incident, a 20-year-old was wounded and treated in hospital.

Here’s what you weren’t told:

According to a recent court hearing, the offenders involved are high-ranking Indian Posse street gang associates who believed they could target the home and rob the people who live there of “whatever they can get,” according to the Crown.

Two of them go in the house with a bat and a machete.

A third, a 17-year-old, stands on the stoop wearing surgical gloves.

In one hand he holds a silver handgun.

“I’m here to jack you,” he says, according to witness accounts.

A fourth man, accused of acting as a lookout for the trio sits in a nearby car.

The people inside yell for the men to get out, and by sheer chance, nobody was hurt.

They’re later arrested. All but one, the lookout driver remain in jail, for now.

I only point this out to say that it’s notable the youngest of the three armed people is a teen boy, a gangster, who’s obviously smart enough to not get his prints on the gun.

Anyone who needs proof that the street gangs use their youngest members to commit the most serious of crimes, here it is.

Not that you needed it.

Tone versus context

Is it just me or is there something odd about the tone of CTV Winnipeg’s 6 p.m. report on a bust of the HA clubhouse on Thursday?

What’s the gag and why the smiling? Did I miss something?

The Province moved in to temporarily  — note: temporarily — seize the Scotia Street hangout under the criminal property forfeiture act. The home’s owner has 40 days to appeal, and he likely will.

Not sure if CTV’s intention was to give the story a lighthearted tone or not, but it struck me as odd.

I have no issue with Stacey Ashley personally, she’s an awesome reporter.

But I thought the seizure was the kind of story that could have benefited from a more serious take out of the issues surrounding gangs and policing in the city.

Not just pictures of cops mugging for the cameras lifting a deadhead gate onto the back of a flatbed.

The long-standing war between the HA and law-enforcement around the world is serious business and should be treated as such, in my opinion. Too many people — some of them totally innocent — have died for it to be in any way kinda funny.

Aside: The comment about the unnamed nearby resident wanting for years to come out and paint pink polkadots on the HA’s front gate, but now he won’t have to … was kind of nauseating.

The point of this:

Anyone who thinks it’s the last we’ve seen of the gang in Manitoba would be sorely mistaken.

Today’s CTV story also kind of rubs me a little wierd, in a ‘bigger picture’ kind of way.

Just before Kelly Dehn passed the torch of the ‘Crimewatch’ beat to Ms. Ashley, he had been reporting exclusively on a supposed epidemic of HA-versus-Rock Machine, biker-related violence that was due to break out and besiege the city at any day.

With that in mind, how is it that today’s story about the “symbolic” dismantling of the HA by taking away their hangout — and the larger implications for the hollow future of the gang —  could make any sense at all?

They’re either powerless and [mostly] in prison, or their not. And that doesn’t happen in a matter of 4 months, and in the wake of Project Divide, which took more than 30 HA-affiliates off the street.

And if they’re not in prison [or even if they are] they’re gonna find ways to make money.

Mail a letter from jail and mark it ‘disclosure’ and the right people get their orders.

That’s what it’s all about for the HA, for the most part. The money. Not indiscriminate killing and shootings and violence. It’s about money.

Police officers taking a house away from them and selling it looks good on TV for a newscast, but it’s not going to halt the big red machine.

The police know this too well.

What I’m more interested in is why the local media don’t take more of an interest in the efforts in Manitoba to police gangs like the Indian Posse or the Native Syndicate?

From a viewpoint of what actually matters to the public — public safety — it’s gangs like this that pose far more risk to society as a whole than the relatively small number of HA or Zig-Zag Crew in the province.

In the past year, I can count a number of things the cops and Manitoba Justice have done to right the wrongs these street gangs pose, so to speak.

Last June [June 2009] the RCMP served notice that they were seeking to designate the IP a criminal organization. A key move that could clear the way for harsher prison terms for IP members in the future.

CBC sayeth:

RCMP pursue gang charge

Bruyere has long been a high-profile target of RCMP gang investigators.

He was already in custody at Manitoba’s Milner Ridge Correctional Centre when he was arrested on the murder charge.

He was charged with assaulting a woman on the Peguis First Nation in July 2009 and has been in custody ever since.

RCMP alleged that assault was committed to further the interests of the Indian Posse, and based on that claim, Bruyere was also charged with participation in a criminal organization.

He is the first member of the street gang to face such a charge, which has not been proven in court.

Police have used the charge to combat motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels in the past.

Their use of it in connection with the Indian Posse is an indication of the group’s increasing sophistication over the last few years.

They’ve also sought out special peace bond applications against IP members about to be released from prison so they can keep tabs on them for a while while out in the community.

CBC Sayeth:

An unrepentant Manitoba gang member, set for release from prison next week, has said he will continue to commit crime.

Christopher Brass, a 28-year-old member of the Indian Posse, is nearing the completion of a 6½-year sentence for a violent robbery spree and for assaulting a prison guard. He has served the entire sentence behind bars, which is unusual in Canada where prisoners are often released after serving two-thirds of their time.

He will be freed on July 14.

According to parole board documents, Brass refused to get help while in prison, which is why he was not released early. The documents also state that he will likely reoffend.

Brass has admitted plans to continue his criminal lifestyle, according to court documents obtained by CBC News. The reports state that Brass said he would continue to commit crime and collect welfare.

Police are cited in the report as saying Brass assaults people for sheer enjoyment and thinks robbery is the easiest way to make a buck.

They were so concerned about him being back on the streets that they requested a special court order — and won. For the next two years, Brass will be bound by a peace bond forcing him into counselling.

The order also allows police to conduct curfew checks and require Brass to notify them if he changes his address.

Such orders are typical for convicted people who avoid jail with a conditional sentence, or are released from prison early. Requesting an order for a gang member who has completed his entire sentence is not something the Winnipeg police service has ever done before.

Crown attorneys have also started using direct indictments against the gang in an effort to show they mean business.

As well,

CBC Sayeth:

Justice Minister Andrew Swan said proposed amendments to the Manitoba Evidence Act would list proven criminal organizations in a government-sanctioned reference document.

The move would eliminate the need for prosecutors to continually have to prove that an entity is a criminal organization in criminal and other court proceedings, Swan said.

“We face the problem of having to essentially prove rocks are hard and water is wet over and over again,” Swan said in a press release. “These changes would establish a single, fair and independent process to determine conclusively whether a group is in fact a criminal organization,” he said.

The proposed legislation is the first of its kind in Canada, Swan said.

So there’s proof out there that something’s being done besides well-publicized takedowns of gang members’ clubhouses.

The ultimate problem is one of gathered intelligence, I think.

The bulk of Manitoba’s police officers are white and male.

The bulk of the street gangs are young, of various ethnic origins and strongly dislike the police and what they stand for. The mistrust is rampant.

For years, police have made great strides infiltrating biker gangs through informants, undercover operations and surveillance.

When it comes to city street gangs, however, things clearly get more complicated.

The tactics have to change, but it’s difficult.

You do things like turn to the internet to find out what you can, but ultimately, it’s a tough go, which is why well-funded intervention and diversion programs are so crucial for kids these days.

Make it so they won’t join up with a set and you’ve attacked the root of the problem on a number of levels.

That includes policing and law-enforcement.