A Defence Lawyer's Thoughts on Calgary Gangs

Calgary has seen its fair share of gang-related violence, more than its fair share, according to some, though historically Calgary was and is one of the safest and least violent cities in the world. Since the end of the FOB and FK gang wars, which came to a close with the dismantling of both gangs in 2009, many thought Calgary's days of gang violence were over.

Unfortunately, 2015 saw a rise in gun-related violence in Calgary, and Calgary Police have attributed much of this to new and emerging "gangs" and a possible gang war.

This, of course, makes for some major headlines, and much of the media in Calgary has fanned the flames of fear by likening recent violence and today's Calgary gangs to those we experienced in the previous decade. The simple fact is they aren't all that similar, as Calgary Police will tell you.

Under the legal definition of a "gang," any group of people that meets more than once for the purpose of committing a crime constitutes a gang, and can be charged with gang related crimes. The gangs that exist in Calgary today, according to police, are very short lived and very loosely organized, they're essentially small groups of people allegedly involved in temporary ventures to traffic drugs and sometimes firearms.

Their alleged activities might not be legal, but they're gangs in name only. They are nothing like the large hierarchical criminal organizations of Calgary's past.

We should all work together to bring violence in Calgary to an end, and there are better ways to do it than dredging up old fears. Let's look to a better future for all of Calgary rather than looking at the problems of the past.