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Long Island Communities Fight Back Against MS-13 Gang

Frank Eltman
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone speaks at a press conference in April in Hauppauge, N.Y., where he vowed to take action against the MS-13 street gang.

The brutal MS-13 gang has terrorized Long Island communities and murdered eleven people over the past year, most of them teenagers.

The violence has caught the attention of state and federal officials from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and even President Donald Trump. Last week both Sessions and Cuomo came to Long Island and promised a crackdown on the gang.

All have vowed to demolish MS-13. But Brentwood and Central Islip are not waiting for outside help.  

Robert Mickens’ daughter, Nisa, was murdered by MS-13 gang members in September.  

“For another to person to take your child’s life, you’re destroying our family.”

Mickens appreciates state and federal efforts to protect the community, but he wants to help students avoid being victimized and recruited by gangs, so he will run for a position on Brentwood’s school board.  

Student involvement has become a key characteristic in proposed solutions to combat the violence.

Manny Troche is a Brentwood firefighter whose daughter attends school in the district. Troche wants to create a website for students to post anonymously about gang activity within the school. The website would be monitored by school administrators and police.

“We are not allowing our own kids to speak and they’re the ones that know everything.”

Sarah Garland, a journalist who spent years writing about MS-13 on Long Island, says this focus to provide aid to students rather than to go on an all-out offensive against MS-13 might work better to end gang violence in Suffolk.

“You know, cracking down tends to only exacerbate the problem. When you have kids coming in contact with the criminal justice system and ending up in the jail system and so on, that’s when gangs really proliferate.”

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