Articles Tagged with Gang Violence

In September of last year, Chicago police announced they were “going after the gangs” in an apparent bid to reduce crime. However, it is now a year later and the number of shootings and gang-related violence has yet to dwindle. Police Superintendent David Brown said that he wanted it well known, the Chicago police will be going after the gangs. He also mentioned that they would be doing it Constitutionally and without violating anyone’s rights. 

Gang violence remains a major problem in Chicago and across the U.S. with gangs handling drug and weapons trafficking and becoming involved in an increasing number of identity thefts. Police struggle to keep up with the problem largely because they have lost control of the territories they patrol. This is not a new phenomenon. The birth of gangs in the U.S. relates to under-policing in certain districts. Instead of paying police for protection out of your tax dollars, you pay gangs for protection. The gangs identify and eliminate potential threats to the community. However, remaining solvent over the years has proven troublesome and the public does not trust the police enough to protect them if they provide information. In terms of hearts and minds, police have lost that battle largely due to abuses committed over the years by Chicago police officers who would have been happier operating out of gangs than within law enforcement. The following are some of the structural problems that allow gangs to thrive in cities.

Hearts and Minds

It has been said that street gangs exist to fill a void in the lives of their members. A gang member may feel a lack of love and support from his or her people at home. Statistically speaking, about 72% of African American children are being raised in single parent households. The emotional needs of many of these children cannot be met in the environment in which they are being raised. Therefore, many of these young men and women will seek to fill this void by joining a gang, without the wisdom and understanding to know (before it is too late) that there is no love in these affiliations because street gangs thrive off hatred, lawlessness, and despair.

In some cases, however, the street gangs seeking to draft new members do not allow a choice in the matter. For young men and women, especially young men, it becomes a matter of joining the gang in their neighborhood or suffer the consequences. Turf wars, drug dealing, and vigilantly justice are the driving forces behind these gangs. To be a member, you must be ready to participate in murders, robberies, and other crimes dictated by the gang leader.

The Tragedy of Lee McCullen

Gang violence is nothing new in this country, from New York City, to Chicago, to Las Vegas and beyond, criminal gangs and gang violence has left its mark on American society.

The era of the Italian Mafia is one of the most notorious periods in American history. The Mafia, whose criminal activities back in the twenties, thirties, and forties were so glamorized in Hollywood movies crime families like the Capone “Outfit” and the Genovese crime family became a part of Americana. Who has not seen movies such as the 1931 movie “Little Caesar” with Edward G. Robinson, and the 1931 movie “Public Enemy” with James Cagney?

The organized crime street violence of the 30s reached a climax with the now infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre orchestrated by Al Capone, which led to the slaughter of seven members of a rival gang. One of the men shot during the raid, found still alive, refused to name those that committed the crime. He died moments later without “snitching” on the person or persons that killed him. See

A Chicago man was charged on July 1 with murder, which police believe was gang-related. The suspect was arrested on a warrant and allegedly confessed.

Defense in Illinois Murder Case

Defending against an Illinois murder charge is multi-faceted. The prosecution’s case must be attacked from all sides, beginning with the arrest and police interrogation.

Illinois Arrest Warrant

In order to be arrested in Illinois the police must have a warrant of arrest (or arrest warrant), or must reasonably believe that the person arrested committed a crime.

A warrant of arrest is issued by a court. If the arrest warrant was issued based on deliberate lies or a reckless disregard for the truth, it may be possible to have the warrant dismissed, along with any evidence the police may have uncovered when executing the warrant. In any murder defense, we will closely examine the arrest warrant to make sure the facts that resulted in the court’s issuance of the warrant are true.

Admissibility of Confession in Illinois Murder Case

The first line of defense in any murder case is challenging the prosecution’s assertion that they have caught the right man. In this case the defendant allegedly confessed to committing the murder. But that does not mean this is an open and shut case.

Any confession requires careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s arrest and leading up to confession. If police failed to follow proper procedure, the confession may be considered inadmissible. If the prosecution filed charges based solely on the confession, having it ruled inadmissible in court may result in the charges being dismissed outright.

Factors that could lead to the defendant’s confession being deemed inadmissible include:

  • Failure of the police to read the defendant his Miranda rights prior to conducting the interrogation;
  • Failure to provide the defendant an attorney following a request for one;
  • Continuing to question the defendant following his request for an attorney;
  • Continuing to question the defendant out of the presence of his attorney once he has obtained one;
  • Questioning the defendant under harsh or inhumane conditions, such as a four-day interrogation with no breaks;
  • Whether the police or prosecution promised the defendant leniency in exchange for the confession, or;
  • Whether the police fabricated evidence to obtain a confession.

Validity of Confession in Illinois Murder Case

If the police followed proper procedure in obtaining the confession, given that this is a gang-related case, we would look at whether it was a false confession. It is not uncommon in gang cases for members to take the fall for those higher-up in the gang, as a show of solidarity or as part of initiation.

If other evidence tends to dispute the fact that the defendant committed the murder, then the validity of the confession would be called into question. Such factors that may help prove the confession was false include:

  • Lack of forensic evidence linking the defendant to the crime;
  • Forensic evidence of another person found on the alleged murder weapon;
  • Threats of harm made to the defendant or his family;
  • Evidence calling into question the defendant’s ability to be at the murder scene at the time the murder was committed, or;
  • Eyewitness descriptions of the murderer that do not match the description of the defendant.

Other factors that come in to play in a murder defense include:

  • Deciding whether to invoke your right to a speedy trial;
  • Whether we can work with the prosecution to come to a plea agreement, if a review of the evidence looks like a conviction is likely, or if you do not want to take your chances before a jury, or;
  • Whether it is possible to obtain immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against someone else (for example, the head of the gang).

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