A Personal Note on Calgary Gangs

Taking the long view, and in many cases the short one, it's easy to say that no one benefits from gangs. Not Calgary as a whole, not the communities and neighborhoods where gangs are most prominent, not the families and friends of gang members, and not even the gang members themselves.

That being said, gangs exist and people continue to join them because they do seem to offer certain immediate benefits. Camaraderie, security, and a sense of belonging are the biggest. People turn to gangs because they see them as the best alternative, and in a city as wonderful and full of opportunities as Calgary, that means gangs exist because there is a serious perception problem.

By and large, gang members are people just like anyone else, but people who were only able to see a limited set of options and took the path that seemed best but led nowhere good, and fast. Solving the problem of Calgary's gangs doesn't mean punishing the people who join them, it means making the better opportunities more visible for Calgarians from all walks of life, and from every level of the socioeconomic ladder.

People who commit crimes should go through due process in the Calgary area courts, there's no question. But if the Calgary area community is better at shutting out those most at risk of falling in with gangs instead of reaching out a helping hand, perhaps there are deeper problems of justice that need to be addressed.

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