Q: How does social media fuel gang violence?
A: There have been a series of incidents in Chicago where gun trafficking, drug trafficking has been taking place where (criminals) have been communicating using coded language. There are threats put out as well as it pertains to territory in certain communities…the 22-year-old who controls five blocks in my neighborhood, and somebody hits him on Facebook, saying ‘Hey, man, Troy’s trying to move in on your territory.’ Then
things just spiral into oblivion from there.
Q: How can social media help?
A: I’m calling on someone to come up with an app or some sort of social media device that highlights incidents and potential incidents that may occur in your community. For instance, if you see some nefarious activity taking place in your neighborhood, on your block, like people hanging out at 2 in the morning at an abandoned building or there’s more car traffic in an area than usual. One of the big things that’s hard to control is people putting up false information that may set someone up for a robbery or something, but I think we can (deal with) those issues.
Q: Would it have been helpful in your parents’ case?
A: If only there was some sort of app, someone could have felt comfortable enough to say (the two teenagers) just got ABK (Anybody Killer) tattooed on their arms and they’re going to kill somebody. That’s what I envision. Is it an end-all? No. Is it a crime fighting tool? Not necessarily. But I think what it can do is empower people who would otherwise say nothing to at least get involved.
Q: How could it help in other ways?
A: With this app you could highlight people like a 22-year-old senior at Chicago State University who started this peace organization…because a lot of young people his age were just getting killed on the South Side.
There’s a young lady who started this advocacy organization called ‘Girls Up.’ …These are the kind of young people we just don’t hear about.
If you have a micro app you could focus on (troubled) Chicago neighborhoods like Austin and Englewood and Woodlawn.
Q: How would this help curb gang violence?
A: A lot of my 17 and 18 year old students are like, ‘I don’t know if I’ll live to be 30.’ They don’t have strong enough examples around them that can give them a meaning or a reason to live. So if they know of other young people who have alternatives in mind, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, maybe I can become something that I really want to become.’