Parents Learn Signs of Gang Activity

by Jessica Cervantez

A group of parents in Nacogdoches are asking for help to recognize the signs of gang activity. Gangs have been a problem in Nacogdoches and other East Texas cities for a long time. Police say it is a problem that affects everyone, and the first step toward solving the gang problem is being able to recognize it. That is where a community outreach program comes into play.

Several Hispanic families listened attentively as Lt. Deputy Constable Tony Jasso educated them about gang-related activities including grafitti, tattoos, gang colors, and gang signs.

"The one thing that really surprised me is that these families really didn't know gangs are here," said Jasso.

Former Nacogdoches Student Abigail Ortega says it's no secret that gangs like the Southside 13 and the Latin Kings are present in Nacogdoches.

"Everybody knows... people are just afraid to tell. They're afraid something might happen," said Ortega.

But educators say it is encouraging to see families asking questions and wanting to learn more about the warning signs of gang activity.

"We asked the parents, What do you need from us? What can we do for you?," said Carpenter Elementary Principal Rachel Johnson.

Carpenter Elementary administrators praise parents for taking a pro-active approach in their children's lives. And they will continue to address topics of concern.

"I hope they get some information, take it back to the community, and say, 'Hey, see that right there... that's gang-related, and you need to do something about it.'," said Ruben Rodriguez, of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Social of Work.

Principal Johnson says there is no gang activity at Carpenter Elementary School, and they will continue to work hard to make sure it stays that way.