In Minneapolis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, gang expert Mike Martin witnessed the birth of a gang culture among some members of the Southeast Asian community. Today, he’s concerned about that cycle repeating itself in the Somali community, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “It’s an evolution that we’ve seen time and again,” said Martin, a Minneapolis police captain who is president of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association. At a forum yesterday, 100 Somali and law enforcement community leaders brainstormed on what it would take to break that evolution.
A total of 52 people are listed on a state database as being associated with a Somali gang. Overall, there are 2,320 confirmed gang members and 11,773 people suspected of associating with gangs. Somali community members, speaking through a translator, told Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher that they believed there were hundreds of gang members among their youth. “We are at their mercy,” said Somali elder Farah Roble. “If we call the police on them, we see them a week later hanging around with the same people. We are in fear of them.” Gang members trying to establish themselves and prove their worth can be among the most violent, Martin said. Authorities said they have seen a gradual increase in Somali youth involved in drug trafficking, assaults, robberies, and weapons crimes.