20 Years After Denver’s Summer of Violence, Mixed Picture In Fight Against Gangs


Twenty years after the “summer of violence” prompted anti-gang activism to action in Denver, the future of the movement’s most powerful leaders is threatened by age and economics, reports the Denver Post. In January, Terrance Roberts, 36, the director of the Prodigal Son Initiative, announced the nonprofit would close in March unless he were able to raise $60,000. So far, about $30,000 has come in. The Rev. Leon Kelly, who founded Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives in 1989, will turn 60 in July. The icon of anti-gang activism for nearly three decades is concerned about who will follow in his footsteps at his nonprofit. The potential loss of their leadership, some say, is incalculable. Street-gang violence often seems intractable, especially in a year like 2012, when 10 people were killed in gang-related incidents. Still, the situation is improving, at least statistically. The Denver Police Department says gang-related crimes against people decreased by 20 percent from 2008 to 2012.

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