The Gangs Of Milwaukee
We know there are gangs in Milwaukee. But what do they do? Would you be able to recognize the actions of a gang?
We talked with gang experts with the Milwaukee Police Department for answers.
They tell us Milwaukee's south side is where gangs are most organized. They're violent groups with ties to gangs in bigger cities and in Mexico.
One example...two police officers shot last fall. A 15-year-old suspected gang member is believed to have pulled the trigger. Police say he used a semi-automatic gun.
It happened a few minutes and a few blocks from a different shooting scene. That first shooting was a fight between gangs - the Latin Kings and the Mexican Posse.
Ramon Candelara, who is with the Latino Community Center, says the community knows what's going on.
"The elderly are aware of the gangs, the teens are aware of the gangs, the elementary school students are aware of the gangs. I mean we're all aware that they exist," he explained.
Graffiti outwardly marks the territory of these groups. But their criminal works are mostly out of sight.
Ryan Bergemann is one of the Milwaukee Police Department's most knowledgeable officers on gang problems.
He estimates there are 15-20 gangs on the south side. But he says there are three gangs that are bigger than the others in Milwaukee - the Mexican Posse, the C14's, and the Latin Kings.
They wear colors to identify who they are, Bergemann told us.
"Latin Kings are primarily black and gold. C14's and Mexican Posse both wear brown and blue. It just depends on what day they're going to wear their stuff," he said.
Experts told us the C14's represent the north side of Mexico, Mexican Posse members represent Mexico's southern half, and all of the gangs make their money dealing drugs.
Bergemann says the cycle begins young...at home. "People are having their kids and they're bringing their kids up in the gangs." It's a frank explanation of a growing problem.
Bergemann tries to break the family cycle by talking to kids about their parents being in gangs -- but that's a tough sell.
Captain Eduardo Negron, the captain for this area, said the police can't solve the problem alone.
"What we need is community involvement, with block watches, tips, calls, people willing to come forward and be witnesses, and allow the prosecutors to be able to get better convictions or more convictions in the court system," he told us.
Gangs are a problem on Milwaukee's north side too -- but they're different. On the north side -- gangs are smaller and less organized -- set up by neighborhoods and even blocks within neighborhoods.