Thousands Of Gang Members Live In St. Louis | News
FOX 2 has obtained an exclusive look at the number of gang members in the city of St. Louis, and at the number of different gangs. The figures, compiled by city police, are part of a joint city-federal effort to fight street gangs. The figures show a total number of 3,420 gang members in the city, split among 85 different gangs, spread throughout the city.
"It's not just north St. Louis," said retired St. Louis police lieutenant Jerald Barnes, now a specialist in hostage negotiating. "Gangs are in south St. Louis also. There are Vietnamese gangs, Haitian gangs and Hispanic gangs in addition to the traditional African-American gangs."
"They basically are attached to certain locations, sometimes a single city block, " said Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, the city's top prosecutor. Joyce has criticized City Hall and top police officials for not being forthcoming enough about the city's gang problem. "These gangs have a name they call themselves, a set of colors and tattoos, and that's about it. They act as a group, often violently."
In an interview with Fox 2, Joyce said around half of the city's murder total is gang-related. Former city gang unit member Jerald Barnes indicated that's on the low side. "We can play with statistics all we want," he said. "But we're missing the boat about how bad it is. I think gangs account for a lot more than 50 % of the city homicides."
The police census of gang bangers in the city finds roughly 720 gang members on the south side, 1,200 in the central corridor, and around 1,500 on the north side, totaling 3,420 gang members in the city. The statistics show them spread among 85 identifiable gangs. of them, 43 are affiliated with the Crips, a Los Angeles street gang. Another 27 identify themselves as Bloods, a rival L.A.-based gang. Fourteen of the gangs are independent, mostly immigrant gangs, while one gang affiliates itself with Chicago's Gangster Disciples.
Gangs in St. Louis, unlike their Chicago and L.A. counterparts, don;t deal in large businesses like drug dealing or extortion. Instead, they are mostly neighborhood groups, heavily armed, and blamed for a majority of the gun violence in the city.