About the Episode

About the Episode

Gang violence is escalating especially in Central and Eastern Washington where law enforcement admit they're out-manned and outgunned. We take a hard look at the proliferation of gangs and guns, examine solutions, explore why kids join gangs, and hear from gang members about why they can't get out of the gang life. Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna joins us to talk about solutions to gang violence.

Chapter 1: Mattawa Under Siege

Chapter 2: Attorney General Rob McKenna and Gang Crackdown

Chapter 3: Moses Lake Gang Life

Chapter 4: Gang Prevention and Intervention

Chapter 5: Toppenish Takes Community Back

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Producer's Notes

Producer's Notes

Gangs & Guns – Stop the Insanity

Albert Einstein once famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s a little how it feels with Washington’s gang problem.

Hardly a week goes by without hearing about a gang-related shooting, stabbing, robbery or murder somewhere in our state. And not just in larger cities like Seattle, Tacoma or Yakima, but increasingly in small, rural communities like Mattawa, Toppenish, Royal City and Sunnyside.

The issue has prompted a spate of community meetings, forums and town halls where residents, police and politicians gather to discuss the problem, invariably calling for more aggressive law enforcement, tougher penalties, early intervention, after school programs, and holding parents more accountable. In my view, there is frequently a lot of hand-wringing, but little headway.

In this episode of KCTS 9 Connects we not only focus on the gang problem, but on new solutions. Our stories and interviews proceed from Einstein’s starting point – that it’s time for a new strategy against gang violence.

You’ll hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna about his anti-gang legislation making its way through the legislature, which proposes to use civil injunctions similar to restraining orders to combat organized gang activity.

We’ll take you to Yakima where they have started a first-of-its-kind, county-wide Gang Commission dedicated to directing youngsters away from gangs.

We’ll show you how residents in Toppenish, at once grief-stricken and fed-up with the violence, are getting organized themselves and taking back their city from gangs.

All new strategies and new solutions to deal with an old problem. Anything short of that would be insanity.

Ethan Morris

Gangs and Guns in Washington state - February 4, 2011


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I can't believe this garbage. Rural communities beset by gangs? How is that even possible? I don't care what color they are. If a group of purple and orange gangs slithered their way into my town, I'd get a group of my own and send them running and screaming like little girls! Isn't there anywhere in this country where we can go to avoid the sewer-sludge-minded drecks of society that are gang-bangers? Come on! This is the Pacific Northwest, the bastion of natural beauty, outdoors activities and fresh air and water! What the hell happened to this region? Get the damn cops out there on the streets smacking these gangsters in the kneecaps with their nightsticks like they used to before it became politically incorrect to have armed cops walking a beat. Make citizen's arrests and exercise your Constitutional right to bear arms! The reason why these filthy, diabolical gangs have infiltrated our beautiful states is because we've gone soft as a nation, and especially up here in the PNW.

Listen, our country was just fine before these big-government, ultra-tolerant freaks decided to turn good sense on its ear and let all kinds of garbage happen. We can't afford to keep our streets safe and clean or our air and water safe to breathe and drink, respectively, but we sure can afford to blow tax dollars on things that don't have any direct impact on our quality of life! If I ever get accosted by a gang-banger scumbag, I will fight back and I will put the fear of God in the bastard. That's a promise! NOT IN MY TOWN, OR MY STATE, OR MY COUNTRY, YOU SLIME-SUCKING DEMONS!

Please, governmental bodies and police officers: you have a nearly infinite amount of leeway and resources at your fingertips. Please, round up all of the filthy, larcenous, murdering scum who do not belong on the same streets as us and send them off to an underground prison on an island thousands of miles offshore somewhere. PLEASE!


It seems that these anonymous comment arenas bring out the worst in people. People share their true colors/emotions as opinions and do even more freely because of the anonymity. People speaking on what they know nothing about. I would say the effort to educate the PNW out of ignorance of this complex situation might be the effort needed to correct the problem. The statement holds true if you're not a part of the solution you're part of the problem. To the immigrant fear mongers I can say this you have hatred and ignorance that you resort to quick to illogical conclusions. Work on your faith if you have it if not good luck. Immigrants or anchor babies are not a source of gangs. Gangs are made in AMERICA. There are even Senators going around saying that the Gangs in Mexico are somehow the same as we have here. Shows how they are so disconnected from the truth. Gangs that are emerging here in the PNW are not limited to minorities. Case in point, the last two gang members apprehended in Yakima where white adolecents. Yakima also has had a skater "crew" burning down commercial properties and were not considered by the media as gangs. This cycle has happened before in the 80's also in a downed economy but this being a "new" phenomena up here leaders do not have an awareness and resort to suppressive measures to show their constituents or future voters, that we are trying. In reality there are effective measures already on the books and these new proposals are counterproductive and will serve to fuel the fire. These efforts equate to "get a rope" mentality which never has worked. Get real with solutions by allowing community leaders that are not represented at the main decision table not on subcommittees (Yakima County Gang Commission). For example throughout the entire Yakima Valley there is not ONE minority represented in leadership and NOT ONE LATINO/HISPANIC in the city of Yakima has EVER been elected even though new census data shows in the Yakima Valley the minority is now the majority and in the city of Yakima hispanic population is within 40-50%. How can you make/create effective solutions if the leadership is so disconnected from representing its residents? The same results you get with a $1 in prevention vs $7 in suppression yet a small percentage goes to prevention. A few years back KYVE hosted a town hall meeting in Yakima creating a dialog, leaders were there and agreed they were not the ones to create solutions but they must have forgot. I had the opportunity to personally leave a proven method that helped me emerge from the most imaginable gang ridden neighborhood/lifestyle as a high risk youth in the late 80's on Mr. Rob Mckenna's lap but even having gone directly to the leader has not proven important enough to squeeze exploring that option in a future Governatorial run adgenda. For the rest of the State to know, Charles Ross the initial backer of these gang legislative efforts was the Mayor of a rural town of Naches, WA with a population of 643 people, 258 households, and 175 families in 2000!!!! And NO he has not made enough effort to connect with the stronger people on the ground making the difference. Leaders in the past prosperous times did not see this coming because of the disconnect to their poverty stricken city residents and did not invest then the much needed long term sustainable resources for youth activities to continue and now when it is much to late they resort to simple ineffective solutions. Leaders have FAILED all youth today by not maintaining the much needed positive outlets all youth need. I can go on forever but I'll leave it with this last note: KYVE You're interviewing the wrong people!!!MISSED THE BULLSEYE - but either way it sells.....


I think you are the one who IS out of touch with reality or your also a illegal. Don't stick your head in the sand.The drug violence and gangs have gotten way out of control since amnesty was granted. And all that did was invite more to break our LAWS . And if this country gave a shit about it's people they would treat these gangs like terrorist that they are. And they are a bigger threat to this country than the b.s FALSE FLAG war were in.


hi guys,,,,
nice discussion is going on ,,,,
it proves to helpful for me,,,
and should be to everyone,,,,

omega watches


The problem is Blacks and Mexicans, not guns.


Blacks, Mexicans, AND guns




I sense a lot of racism in these comments. So what do we do with white gang members? Send them to England? African American gang members back to Africa? Ever stop to consider that this blatant racism toward the latino community in the PNW may be a contributing factor to the situation? Just in case you forgot - you are the children of immigrants, too.


Actually, not all of us are the sons and daughters of immigrants and, frankly, those of us who are Native Americans haven't seen papers from any of you. Nonetheless, the gang problem has to be tackled and tackled hard from both ends of the spectrum--education and prosecution. Kids end up on the streets in many cases because they need something to do or they need protection, they need stronger parental guidance and they need good alternative activities. They need to know the facts about the dead end street of joining gangs and we need to support the effort to, in fact, make them dead end streets. I was very impressed by Pierce County's sting against the crips frankly, because it worked. It was based on a broad-based sweep on conspiracy charges and it cut down on crime. It didn't happen without objections, particularly because most of those arrested, and convicted, were Black or Hispanic....but it worked. My primary point is that all of us who care have to get engaged in supporting those who are tackling the problem, AND we have to be part of the solution ourselves. We have to volunteer to be part of neighborhood watches, and to support the police, but we also need to volunteer to support Boys and Girls clubs, to support our schools, and to support funding for these activities. We need to stop complaining about paying for these activities. These are our kids we're talking about, and we have to have the guts to talk to them, advise and direct them, and to get engaged in helping to solve this very serious problem.


well said!


It's called PARENTING.
Keep these hood rats from procreating and almost all of your troubles will go away.
Either that or when a hood rat or welfare mother has a baby. lock that baby up.


Hmm a .22 magnum has assassinated/ gang style killing more people than
any other caliber.
It is a high power round!!!


When acquiantances of mine in Yakima have to carry guns to protect themselves to go to and from work, that's pretty serious.
There are many things to consider here. First, there are many illegal immigrants in Eastern Oregon and Washington. Many of those are affiliated with gangs, both situations are unacceptable. Much of this problem starts at the Mexican border, many of the drug gangs based in the border areas have people and drugs flow all over the country. Some are US citizens, some are not.
The law-abiding citizens of our country need to be able to carry our own weapons for defense first of all. Along with that, the claims by the Mexican government that we are supplying the gangs with weapons is an excuse for their own lack of being able to stop black market weapons and stolen weapons from their own military and police from ending up with the bad guys. We don't have grenades, RPG's, and full-auto weapons for sale at gun shows and the idea has already been shown as a waste of time by our own government accounting people and the justice department.
The government of Mexico needs to be held accountable for their corruption and issues that allow these problems to happen. Also, normal Mexicans can only posses very few firearms, look what that's done for them.
There needs to be serious tough love here. Those who are known gang members need to be arrested. Those who wish to get out and haven't committed violent acts should have one chance to do so and all the help they can get. If they are illegals, they are immediately deported. Those who have committed violent acts are imprisoned for life. If they commit a murder in prison or are linked to one outside, they are executed immediately. Any gang member who commits a rape or murder is executed with one shot at a retrial, just in case.
In addition, when immigrants of any country come here, they are required to at least get an overview of our country and customs and before they become citizens, they learn at least passable English, as we would learn their language if we moved to their country. A common language unites a country, those who do not wish to become part of the whole don't make the effort and they help cause divides between them and us. Another issue is that in Hispanic culture, the gang mentality seems to get a wink and a nod from many instead of being frowned upon.
In addition, there can be no anchor babies, illegals who are not criminals beyond being felons for being here illegally get emergency medical care and food and are immdeiately sent back. Any children born here either return with the parents or they are adopted out to resident families.
Also, border security is tightened, anyone who is caught committing a violent crime can be shot. We need to trust the border patrol people to do their job just like any police agency instead of hamstringing them.
We cannot tolerate this behavior any longer, these people are a danger to innocent people in this country and in Mexico as well. If they won't take care of their responsibilities, then we do all we can on this side. This applies not only to Mexican gangs, but to all gang activity, whether bike gangs or mafia types of any ethnic group. The message needs to be sent, there will be no more of this at all, period. These people only respect or at least fear strength, just like foreign terrorists, we cannot be soft, we can't afford to.


Our leadership has decided to make Washington a sanctuary for illegal immigrants so here they come. At least your lettuce and apples remain cheap, right?

Teach the kids to do the work so they won't join gangs and less illegals here.

Interesting program - I was not impressed with the answer of Boys and Girls Clubs to counter gang violence...seems a little lightweight. Might as well give them gift cards.
The ATF agent was entertaining in his comment over the "high-power assault rifle" - in that the standard military round is .223 in diameter: simple math makes this .001 larger than the trusty .22 in many closets. Power factor is different,though.

I feel that this was an attempt to explain a terrible set of circumstances that evolved into a spin for gun control and simplistic solutions.

I will watch it again and see what I may have missed, but as of this moment this is my response.


Unverified ? What needs verification ? And how?

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