On Friday, the doors will close for good at the Gang of One office. Eight workers will lose their jobs. They can no longer operate because their federally funded grant has run out, and no politician is coming to their aid. In a phone call to Gang of One director, Rev. Fran Cook, I joked that if I had the four million dollars needed for the program, I’d give it to her. We both laughed, but we had a shared concern for the absence of the vital program that has helped numerous youth in the Charlotte community. When asked, one former gang member said if it was not for the program he would either be locked up or dead.
Never heard of Gang of One? On their website, their mission statement is: To prevent youth from joining a gang, support youth being pressured to join a gang, and assist youth in getting out of a gang.
Director Cook told me that the Gang Unit of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department will do their best to fill the hole left by the absence of the program.
On a more personal note, some may know that years ago I spoke out publicly about abusive groups and worked with ex-members and parents dealing with the problem through a support group I started. I did hours of research and spoke to many experts around the country on recruitment tactics, mind-control, and psychological/abusive techniques used to control behavior. After what I have learned about how gangs operate, I find many similarities between abusive groups (cults) and gangs. If you haven’t read my previous posting called WHY I COULD NEVER JOIN A GANG, check it out. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.
We are now short eight good counselors who could have reached out to these young people before it was too late. Even changing one life makes a difference.
Photo by Naypong