Gangs in Canada
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Currently in Canada, steps are being taken to ensure public safety related to gangs. To be specific, the Brampton-Springfield MP, Parm Gill, is in the process of having his private members bill, Bill C-394, pass all steps before becoming a law. Bill C-394 will make gang recruitment a federal crime and committing the crime can result in years in jail.
Youth crime and gangs
Problem that Canada faces today in regards to youth crime
The mass media regularly depicts youth gang activity as a “growing and violent menace”. As a result, such reporting by the mass media can cause moral panic, which in turn, portrays youth gangs as a threat to societal values and interests. And it is typical for the mass media to present youth gangs in a stereotypical fashion. The fact of the matter is that most of the time such reporting by the mass media can lead to people basing their knowledge on what they perceive to be as “reality” when regarding gang activity[original research?]
Researchers paying attention to youth and crime
There are a number of reasons to why youth and crime has become so important to some people. One of the reasons is the rising number of homeless youth. In Toronto, there can be up to 2000 homeless youth sleeping on the streets. The other reason is the media bringing attention to homeless youth and the illegal activities they may take part in. Many homeless youth come from poor families, broken homes, and abusive backgrounds. There are, however, some youth from middle-class families who are attracted to the gang lifestyle.
Youth and gang related crime; Gangs in this context
There are various types of gangs in Canada and a gang is broadly considered any group of individuals who have identifiable leadership, an identifiable or claimed control over territory, and engagement either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior.
Causes of youth joining gangs
Power and Respect: Many times youth feel that joining a gang is the only way to obtain status and success. Status in this sense means that others are fearful of them. Gang members often have tattoos, which help a gang member gain respect within their group, and mark them as members for life.
Money: For some youth, working an honest and legal job may not be an option as entry-level employment often does not pay enough money to buy what they want. Perceived wealth is an important aspect of status in a gang. Some youth feel they have to join a gang in order to support their families. Some gang members believe working for relatively low pay is slavery.
Social Support and Protection: Gangs stick together like families and are often fiercely protective of their members and their gang territory.
Three main sources developed in U.S to address the prevalence of gangs
In regards to gang prevalence, there are three main sources that have been developed in the United States to address trends as to whether the very existence of gangs is changing over time. The first is the National Youth Gang Center, which collects data from a large sample of police forces on gang activity; it’s basically a survey which is regarded as the official count of gang activity in the United States. This information provided by the police is sometimes used in Canada, especially by the mass media, but is not collected on a regular basis. Second, surveys-which are normally school and community bases-are used to ask youth about their own gang-related activities. But national information such as this is not available in Canada. Third, gang behaviour can also be measured by through case studies and observational research. This is where researchers study small groups of youth who have been pre-identified as gangs.
Manitoba anti-gang ads sell prevention
It was a $250,000 advertising campaign created to prevent gang violence. It was created by surveying youth in the community who wanted to avoid being part of gangs. Swan concluded that youth are “lured” by artificial freedom and forget to look at the dangers that they call upon themselves. After he became the justice minister, he outlawed armoured vehicles, used civil courts to revocate the license of gang-fronted businesses, and started creating a list of “criminal organizations.”
Law-And-Order and youth gangs/crime prevention
It is hard to tell whether Law-And-Order is successful in preventing youth gangs/crime because there are not very many studies done on these topics. However, criminologists and the Criminal Justice System (CJS) are looking into restorative justice in order to deal with many youth related crimes.
Youth, social exclusion, and gangs
One of the main reasons is that the concept of social exclusion is multi-dimensional. There are various causes to social exclusions. One of the main causes is poverty, but not everyone who is socially excluded is poor.
Social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal activities of the society in which they live. For most social scientists, socially excluded people are those who are poor. Youth and elderly are considered to be socially excluded.
The most prevalent gangs in Canada include:
- Street gangs
- Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
- Mafias and Organized crime groups, including Aboriginal Based Organized Crime
- Drug Cartels
According to a 2004 police report, "The Hells Angels remain some of the largest and most powerful motorcycle gangs in the country, with growing influence in British Columbia and Ontario. Its presence has declined in other provinces due to police efforts, internal conflict and increased competition from other crime groups."
The same report stated that Aboriginal street gangs are not as highly organized as other criminal organizations in Canada, but are amongst the most violent. Aboriginal people also constitute a significant portion of prison populations throughout Canada, and the number of First Nation inmates continues to rise at a considerable rate. As of 2005 it is believed over 1000 Aboriginal youths were members of street gangs.
According to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), "The established, well-financed and -connected Hong Kong Triad groups and crime syndicates remain, to our mind, the biggest long-term threat to Canadian law enforcement and society."
Known crime groups in Calgary include Aboriginal street gangs, Aryan Nation groups, Asian street gangs, other groups, black street gangs, South Asian street gangs, multicultural street gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Known crime groups in Edmonton include Aboriginal street gangs, Aryan Nation groups, Asian street gangs, Black street gangs, Hispanic street gangs, Crips, multicultural street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Biker gangs played a key role in Halifax's gang world, but a crackdown on biker gangs activity in the wake of the Quebec Biker War virtually wiped them out of the Province. Two major crime families play a major part in Halifax's gang activity and consist mostly of whites. Currently, drug wars between various family-based gangs are responsible for most of the gang-related violence in Halifax.
Although Hamilton has calmed down over the past few years there are still many street level gangs, and organized crime families. Once home to organized crime figure Rocco Perri Canada's Al Capone, and Johnny Pops Papilia. Much of the gang activity is within the inner city, mostly within the downtown and east end, and mainly attributed to smaller street gangs. Areas affected by gang activity include: Grandville, the North End, Oriole Crescent neighborhoods, and much of the downtown sector.
Biker gangs operate from clubhouses based in Montreal. Over the years numerous members have been arrested, firearms and homicide charges. Between 1994 and 2002 a biker war between gangs led to a period of increased violence which would become known as the Quebec Biker war. Traditional organized crime has had a presence in the city since the early 1900s, mainly in the form of the Irish mob and the Italian mafia.
United smaller street gangs made up of mostly youths are pocketed in different areas of the Montreal area, particularly in Montréal-Nord, Sud-Ouest, St-Michel, Parc-Extension, West Island, St-François, Côte-des-Neiges, NDG, Ville St-Laurent (St-Low), Rivière-des-Prairies and St-Léonard neighbourhoods.
The city's largest street gangs in 2006 were:
- the Crips located in Saint-Michel, Pierrefonds, Villeray, Ahuntsic, Parc-Extension, Lasalle, Lachine, NDG, Little Burgundy, and Côte-des-Neiges.
- the Bloods located in Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal-Nord, Rivière-des-Prairies, Laval, St-Léonard, and Ville St-Laurent (St-Lo 64).
Despite the National Capital Region being patrolled by five police forces (Ottawa Police, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Gatineau Police, Quebec Provincial Police (QPP)), the city of Ottawa is still home to a number of gangs, ranging from minor neighbourhood street gangs, to well organized crime families. Most street level gangs in Ottawa are located in the city's south side and the west end between the Debra area, and Lincoln Heights. The two most prominent street gangs in Ottawa are the "Bloods" and "Crips". Ottawa is also home to the biker gangs, Italian Mafia, however, major police operations resulted in the arrest of the groups hierarchy. To a lesser extent, there is also a presence of Asian and Hispanic gangs in the city. There is also a rising tide of Caucasian gangs in the city.
Gang activity in Ottawa spiked in the 1990s with many high profile brazen crimes including a daytime jewelry store robbery/shoot out in the Rideau Centre, a busy downtown shopping mall, and a random drive-by shooting murder of a British student on a busy downtown street. Today drive by shootings are rare and most gang activity includes narcotic distribution.
Adult gangs in Saskatchewan are almost entirely aboriginal based. The largest gang activity is in Regina and Saskatoon. There is also a branch of the Hells Angels in the province. Youth gangs are also almost entirely aboriginal based. Saskatchewan had the highest concentration of gang membership in Canada at 1.34 per 1000 in 2002The website insideprisons.com lists 108 street gangs for the Prairie region.
Certain neighbourhoods in all geographic parts of Toronto have experienced gang activity. Many gangs have migrated out of the city limits into the suburbs such as Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Vaughan, Pickering and limited amounts in Richmond Hill, Ontario. This has been attributed to the Toronto Police Services being alerted to their activities and cracking down with arrests. Toronto Police Services work in conjunction with other Toronto area police services such as Peel Regional Police, Halton Regional Police, York Regional Police, Durham Regional Police and Hamilton Police. Police raids in the early to mid 2000s took down many gang members resulting in some being deported back to Jamaica, Trinidad, Liberia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Portugal, Somalia and others.
Toronto has a strong Italian Mafia presence, most notably in Woodbridge and the St. Clair area of downtown.
There has been a recent rise in gun violence in the downtown core of the greater Toronto area. The two most focal incidents were the Boxing Day shooting, which was a shootout between rival gangs resulting in the death of 15-year-old bystander Jane Creba on December 26, 2005 on Yonge Street, and the shooting that took place at Toronto Eaton Centre food court on Saturday June 2, 2012. The shooting left 25 year old Ahmed Hassan dead and 7 others, including a 13 year old boy struck in the head, with critical to minor injuries. Hassan was considered to be the targeted victim and is considered to be gang-affiliated while others were considered innocent bystanders in the event.
There were several high profile gang raids in the city namely in Malvern, Jane and Finch, Driftwood, Falstaff, Galloway,400 and the largest dismantling, in Rexdale. American gangs such as Crips and Bloods have been part of Toronto's gang scene since the early 1990s specifically in the West End neighbourhoods of Jane and Finch, Rexdale and Lawrence Heights (aka the jungle), Weston Road, Jane St.and Eglinton ave West. As well the East End neighbourhoods of Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Malvern, Galloway,400 and others.
Known crime groups in Vancouver include Indo-Canadian street gangs, Aboriginal street gangs, motorcycle gangs, Black street gangs, Hispanic street gangs, Asian street gangs and "multicultural" street gangs.
Vancouver has a growing Italian mafia presence and various Eastern European bratvas are also known to be active in the Lower Mainland.
According to law enforcement agencies, the most powerful of these crime groups in Vancouver, are the motorcycle gangs, Indo-Canadian street gangs, and Asian street gangs. However, in recent years, "multicultural" street gangs have grown significantly in power and prominence, and have attained much media attention due to their involvement in numerous shootings and slayings throughout the city. including the 2009 Vancouver gang war.
Winnipeg's gang activity involves mainly Native Canadian gangs. Throughout the 1990s, Winnipeg was and still is the gang capital of Canada per capita.
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Book: William O'Grady, Crime in Canadian Context, 2nd Ed (Canada: Oxford University Press, 2011) > Chicago/Turabian Citation