2016 Summit: Surrounded by Violence Opinions

Surrounded by violence: Street, gang violence take toll on world, not just home

By Luis Torres ’16
THE ROUNDUP

Gang and street violence victimize people on a local and global scale.

According to the FBI’s website, there are currently 1.4 million members that create 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs and prison gangs that inhabit our country today.

Based on the large number of gang members and the fact that this is a prevalent domestic issue, gangs should attract more fear than outside groups like ISIS.  

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s annual crime report from 2014, crimes such as rape, robbery, arson and many others have dropped a collective 5.3 percent from the 2013 annual report. Most notably, murder rates in Arizona went down 11.33 percent while 15 human trafficking incidents were reported in contrast to none that occurred in all of 2013.

Why does any of this matter and why should anyone, even a Brophy student, care about a world of havoc we only hear and see but never interact with?

The reason it matters is that these gangs can stretch country wide.

MS-13, a popular gang known as Mara Salvatrucha that originated in Los Angeles, Calif., has taken the country and world by storm in the last couple of years.

As of 2012, MS-13 has involvement in 46 states, according to the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment. It has even expanded its criminal network to Central American countries such as El Salvador and Honduras in recent years.

Luckily, the works of MS-13 haven’t been prevalent in Phoenix. However, while on an immersion trip to El Salvador in June of last year, I heard anecdotes from men, women and children who live in these MS-13 controlled communities. These families have to pay the gangs in order to live where they do, as well as protection from the gang or else.

Boys and girls my age drop out of school to either join these gangs or flee the country in hopes of a more peaceful life.

I’m not trying to push my political agenda but rather push human dignity.

If we truly want to embody the Jesuit mission, being a man for others, we must see the humanity, or lack thereof, in all of this.

A 17-year-old girl fleeing from her Central American gang-filled home gets caught up in a human trafficking incident with no other option than comply to a trafficker who has an unregistered gun that was purchased in the States in exchange for drugs.

Hypothetical? Certainly.

Impossible? No.

So what can you do? What can I do?

First and foremost, vote as soon as you can. I’m not just saying the general elections. Rather, vote and actively participate in your local elections.

If gangs can have a local impact that expands to a global level, why can’t the power of democracy?

With Brophy’s Summit on Human Dignity focusing on violence around the corner, pay close attention to the keynote speakers along with the workshops.

We have the potential to make a change in our community that can set the world on fire.