Every single municipality in New Jersey filled out the State Police gang survey last year except one:

Mayor Bollwage
Joe Epstein/For The Star-LedgerElizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage says his city doesn't have a gang problem. Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow disagrees. Elizabeth was the only municipality in the state that didn't participate in the State Police gang survey last year.

The absence of one of the state’s most violent cities from the resulting report, released last month, is strange on its own. But it only scratches the surface of a bizarre dispute between a bulldog mayor who has said the city doesn’t have a gang problem, and Union County’s top law enforcement official, who claims countless documents prove that it does.

By Star-Ledger Staff

Gangs in NJ
State Police transport a Latin Kings gang member to the Newark National Guard Armory in this 2002 file photo. Gangs continue to be a widespread force in New Jersey, with State Police reporting 45 percent of municipalities and all 21 counties having some kind of gang presence.

Gangs continue to be a widespread force in New Jersey, as State Police reported today that in the past year, 45 percent of municipalities and all 21 counties had some kind of gang presence.

In its fourth such survey, titled “Gangs in New Jersey: Municipal Law Enforcement Response to the 2010 NJSP Gang Survey,” State Police identified 244 distinct gangs and 1,575 gangs operating throughout New Jersey.

Authorities surveyed nearly all 566 municipalities, with only Elizabeth declining to participate.

The report indicates that 30 new towns reported a gang presence in 2010. Nine towns that reported a gang presence in previous years reported no presence in 2010.

Of the gangs reported, 10 were identified to have the widest reach in New Jersey. Their proliferation was listed by police as follows:

– Latin Kings (106 towns)
– Sex Money Murder Bloods (95 towns)
– Nine Trey Bloods (86 towns)
– Pagans Motorcycle Club (79 towns)
– G-Shine/G.K.B Bloods (73 towns)
– MS-13 (67 towns)
– Grape St. Crips (51 towns)

Dave Jones, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association, said anyone who doesn’t think gangs are getting worse “has their head in the sand.”

“It’s become more visible and more palpable,” he said. “This a clear and present danger.”

Jones said cuts to police departments have made it more difficult to combat gangs and their influence. Gangs have a corrosive effect, he said.

“The people who do this view human beings as little more than cattle,” he said. “They fatten them up for slaughter.”

He said gangs are no longer an urban problem.

“Counties who think crime stops in Newark or stops in Camden aren’t reading their own police reports,” he said.

Educating the Youth of Today

“A spark of truth eventually burns down the forest of ignorance.” – Deepak Chopra

It is time to light a fire in the minds of the youth of today. We cannot stand by and watch the mis-education misrepresent our young people any longer. Where is the love for knowledge (to be in the “know”)? Malcolm X once said,

“One of the first things I think young people, especially nowadays, should learn is how to see for yourself and listen for yourself and thinkfor yourself. Then you can come to an intelligent decision for yourself. If you form the habit of going by what you hear others say about someone, or going by what others think about someone, instead of searching that thing out for yourself and seeing for yourself, you will be walking west when you think you’re going east, and you will be walking east when you think you’re going west. This generation, especially of our (young) people, has a burden, more so than any other time in history. The most important thing that we can learn to do today is think for ourselves.”

We have to build up the future leaders of today’s generation and they are the one’s who think for themselves. Education doesn’t serve its purpose if no one learns.Our misguided brothers and sisters aren’t settling for the “cheesecake factory” lessons that they mostly get in school and abroad. Therefore, we as peers, parents, poets, writers, educators and street dwellers all have to take a part in reaching and teaching our youth.Their minds are closed because they haven’t been opened by truth. How do we open minds?

We can only open minds by displaying an exposé of education and revealing truth. It has to come in all forms from all directions from all sources. Too many meetings have been had by politicians, community leaders, organizations and the like on how to reach the youth with no youth input. How can we allow youth groups and youth outreach to be decided without the youth presence? It is counter-productive and leads our youth further away from their elders when they’re told what to do instead of asked how they can be helped. We must include the youth in any “youth” group or “youth”program. Also, lets not share the tokenism that is already shared by the public with only the inclusion of certain youth. We need all the youths involvement if we intend to create change amongst the youth’s mindset.

We have to include the straight “A” students as well as the near dropouts. If we don’t, then how can we know for sure why one youth benefits from school and another doesn’t. It is without the youth’s input that has lost the youths of today. We can only get them back by calling them back to action (not to the back of the classroom). It’s time to stop worrying over the behavioral problems that parentsshould be addressing and focus on teaching the young people as educators. All “enlightened educators” here is a call to action. Step-up and take charge. Spread knowledge, show love, keep peace and educate our youth! If we don’t, the minds of the future will be lost. If we do, the world is for the taking.

-Anwar L. Counts © 2011

17 Mile Anti-Violence Walk Essex & Union Counties

by Sharon Adarlo starledger
nj.com http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/antiviolence_marchers_embark_o.html
Saturday May 23, 2009, 7:35 PM

Most of the two dozen or so people gathered yesterday under the branches of a tall oak tree in East Orange, their heads bowed in prayer, were the friends or relatives of someone who had recently been murdered.
The group gathered before the start of a nearly 18-mile journey described by organizers as the longest anti-violence march in state history. They started at East Orange’s Elmwood Park shortly after noon and went though 11 other Essex and Union county towns.

Salaam Ismial leads marchers as The National United Youth Council held a walk for peace
Salaam Ismial leads marchers as The National United Youth Council held a walk for peace

By 6 p.m., the number of marchers had swelled to 60, but they had made it only as far as Cranford, about eight miles short of their destination: Plainfield. Salaam Ismial, the march organizer, said last night they would finish the journey to Queen City.

“No matter what color you are, no matter what city you are in, violence is violence, and it is wrong,” Ismial said, as several people raised their arms in agreement while a few cried, “Amen.”

Along the route, the marchers planted white flags symbolizing peace at each of the towns, which included Irvington, Newark, Hillside, Elizabeth, Roselle, Garwood, Cranford, Westfield, Fanwood and Scotch Plains, Ismial said. Clergy and other local officials joined the marchers during the long journey.

“Some of these cities have been overwhelmed by violence. There is no city that is exempt. We have to change the trends and the mind-set,” said Ismial, director of the Elizabeth-based National United Youth Council Inc., a youth and family advocacy group with chapters in five states.

Ismial said they plan to send letters to elected officials in Essex and Union and to President Obama, calling for an end to violence and acknowledging it as a health emergency.

“Violence is normally addressed from a criminal justice level. It should be addressed in a health-related approach. Many experts believe the same,” he said.

Many of the marchers who have been touched by the deaths of loved ones said it was tough to deal with the emotional aftermath.

Lena Lightsey of Newark was at the march to remember her 18-year-old daughter Idresa Lightsey, who was killed in January 2008 in a parking area and driveway of the Otto Kretchmer Homes in Newark’s South Ward. Another teenage girl was charged with stabbing her.

Lena Lightsey said she was offered counseling services by a federal program but found solace with her family and her church.

“This violence needs to be stopped,” said Lightsey, who wore a blue T-shirt with a picture of herself and her daughter.

The march was cathartic for Monica Boyd, who lost her 15-year-old son, Shafe Boyd-Cruz, when he was killed at a barbecue in Irvington two years ago. Boyd acknowledged using cocaine and alcohol to cope with the pain.

“I will never see my son again,” said Boyd, who kicked her drug habit this year. “I am in therapy trying to deal with my feelings. The healing process is very slow. I have a lot of bad days.”

Shalga Hightower, mother of Iofemi Hightower, one of the three young people slain in a Newark schoolyard in 2007, said she wanted to participate in the march to lend awareness of rampant gun violence in cities.

“People have to know this is real,” she said as she wore a T-shirt with an image of her smiling daughter in a blue prom dress. “No one really knows the aftermath of losing a young child to gun violence.”

During the event, an Essex County sheriff’s officer led the marchers through the streets as they were trailed by six vehicles filled with supporters and part-time marchers.

Theresa Miller was sitting in the passenger seat of a red Ford Taurus that displayed an image of Hassan Miller, her 24-year-old son who was killed while driving a cab in February. A 17-year-old East Orange resident is accused of shooting Miller, the son of Orange Councilman Hassan Abdul-Rasheed.

“I am learning to accept God’s will,” Theresa Miller said. “I think about him every day.”

In Newark on Tillinghast Street, around the same time of the march, relatives and friends gathered for a rally in memory of Basire Farrell, 30, who died in custody more than a week ago after he allegedly attacked police officers trying to subdue him. Relatives question police accounts of the incident, but a report from the medical examiner concluded that the prisoner did not suffer any physical trauma as the result of the struggle with officers that would have caused or contributed to his death.

Of yesterday’s event, Farrell’s aunt, Linda Farrell, said, “‘I thought it was beautiful and I thank all those people for their love and support.”

Anti-violence march to trek through Essex and Union County

by Halley Bondy/For The Star-Ledger
Tuesday May 12, 2009, 6:42 PM

Shalga Hightower, whose daughter Iofemi was one of the three young people shot and killed in a Newark schoolyard two years ago, is joining a 17-mile march next week to bring a message of peace to New Jersey’s cities.
On May 23, the United Youth Council, Inc. will host the anti-violence walk through 12 cities in Essex and Union counties, beginning at Elwood Park in East Orange and ending at City Hall in Plainfield. With a police escort, the walk will venture through cities with particularly high rates of violent crime, said the youth council’s director Salaam Ismial.

Anti-violence march
Anti-violence march

David Gard/New Jersey Local News ServiceShalga Hightower, whose daughter Iofemi was slain in a Newark schoolyard two years ago, looks on as Salaam Ismial of the United Youth Council announces an anti-violence march in front of East Orange City Hall.

Participants in the walk, which will take approximately six and a half hours, will make pit-stops in each town to place flags symbolizing peace on each border and to hand-deliver letters to mayors encouraging them to join the campaign against street violence.

Ismial, who said his 20-year-old godson Terry Murray was shot and killed last year in Elizabeth, encourages parents to enforce curfews and teach their children early on about violence.

“We ask so much of our government and police, it’s now time for the people to respond,” Ismail said.

Hightower, who was present at a press conference Tuesday in East Orange announcing the march, said she would like to see stricter gun control and more psychological support for families who lose loved ones.

“People forget that there is an aftermath,” Hightower said. “There is psychological anguish when one has to bury a child, and some kind of control has to be taken when that happens.”

Hightower’s daughter was one of four people shot, and one of three killed, in a Mt. Vernon schoolyard in Newark in 2007. The four young people were hanging out when six suspected gang members allegedly lined them up and shot them execution style.

Hightower is now president of Women-Men Against Murdering Our Children, a parents’ organization founded by King Sau, a Newark resident whose son was shot and killed in 2007. Both of them will walk in the march on May 23 on behalf of the organization.

“We have decided to support this march, not only for anti-violence laws, but for the victims,” Sau said. “It’s a painful subject a lot of people don’t want to deal with, but we owe it to our children and the lives they could have had.”

For more information about the march, participants can call the United Youth Council, Inc. at 908-416-0960 or e-mail unitedyouthcouncil@yahoo.com

NY Post Cartoon

My name is Salaam Ismial. I’m with the National United Youth Council Incorporated. I was doing a lecture on Black History Month, and then one of the youngsters said, “Did you see what was on TV? They’re saying, talking about Obama, it looked like a monkey, and they shoot him.” This is how a kid explained it to me. Monkey was something that I know, I can relate to. When I was in the kindergarten, they used to call black boys monkeys in Jersey City, New Jersey. So I understand what that means. This is not funny. This is hurtful. And now our young people can see that for the first time in their life. They see a person that looks like them, a black president, and now they’re talking about depicting him as a monkey, and to go out and shoot him dead.



The long four and half hour ride to Washington DC for the inauguration of the nations first African American President began at 2am in the mourning from an Elizabeth New Jersey community center.
President Barack Hussein Obama Inauguration day kicked off with a quiet breeze that Tuesday mourning. The bus loaded with 56 people sleepy and anxious to experience the moment of a life time for America. The drive into the DC city zone amazed travelers as they looked out the bus windows to see hundreds of buses lined up at area sport stadium parking lots.heading-in.jpg
The 7am arrival at FEDEX field parking lot awakens the passengers to the start of a long trek to the Washington Mall. The round trip metro subway pass was easy to get, even though it took 20 minutes on line to reach the round trip tickets from the machines.
The normal 18-20 minutes train ride turned into an hour and half of scary moments. Cramped and packed subway cars moved at turtle pace. At times the train’s doors did not open at regular stops and came to a halt when train announcer told passengers that the platform was too over crowded to let them out.
The train moved on to the next stop that was approximately 10 blocks from the Washington Mall. As each person learned while walking toward the monument, the more closer you get, the tighter it became, body to body.its-cold.jpg

We got close enough to see a sea of people moving closer to be between the Washington monument and the capital building, a long distant away from each other. Some of us decided it became useless to continue to walk ever so close while getting squashed between bodies of people.
There were over weight elderly women climbing over barricades to get closer to see the president speech on the big screens planted all over the mall.
Unfortunate for many of the two million onlookers there were simply not enough super boom screens to cover the more than two miles of viewers. When the legendary queen of soul singer Aretha Franklin approached the mike to sing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” the crowd became paused and quiet. Her usual roaring vocal sound penetrated the afternoon bright skyline. A few of us who decided not to go deep into the shoulder to shoulder crowd pulled out our compact cell phone and watched the live event on the internet. Once two of us open our flip phones to the Obama swearing-In, a person yelled jokingly “hey they have mini Voom-tron tv’s”.
The three inch square screen became the only visual the 30 or more people depended on to see the inauguration. They glared at the two small screen cell phone as if they were at drive in Movie Theater. The moment came when Chief Supreme court Justice John Roberts stepped up to the podium along with president elect Barack Obama with his lovely soon to be first lady Michelle Obama holding the bible. Obama two charming little girls, Sasha and Malia both eyes pierced at their mom and dad. The moment came and the once loud screaming rock style crowd became suddenly still.
The sky was clear and the moment got quiet again then it began.crowds006.jpg
The swearing-in of the 44th president and the historic moment of the first African American to become the commander In chief of the United States of America.

The president to-be placed his left hand on the bible his wife Michelle was holding and his right hand up to repeat the swearing-In pledge after Chief Justice John Roberts. Chief Justice asked President-elect Obama to repeat after him. “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States. And will to the best of my ability”. All of a sudden we thought we herd Mr. Obama stumble or chocked up a little. The chief justice had to go over the last line of the pledge. “To preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States”.
Because of the cheering crowd we were not sure exactly what happen. Many of us believed Mr. Obama was a little nervous. We found out later that it was not President Obama who messed up. It was the chief justice of the United States of America who stumbled on the pledge. However, days later President Obama and Justice Roberts did the pledge over-just in case of any possibility of his official swearing In be challenged.

It was now president Barack Hussein Obama turn to give his speech to the world. A silence spread across the ocean of folks eager to hear from their new president.
The warm powerful speech enlighten and reminded us about hope and prosperity. After his energizing, motivational message we began to walk back toward the subways. On our way back the streets, it became vendor city. From the man selling bags of peanuts for a dollar, to news papers from 50 cents to five dollars, to a manpeddler.jpg wearing an Obama mask selling posters, to t-shirts and post cards, and yes Obama condone the selling. That’s right. Not making this up.
We left like came, marching with our Obama banner. Just as crowded and confusing it was to get to the Washington mall, it was just as crazy getting back to the bus.
It was a rough effort walking with long waiting lines to get to the escalators. Many of us went in different directions and lost cell signals. A group of us stayed together while most of the folks traveling on the bus got lost. Our bus was schedule to leave at 3pm and arrive back to New Jersey at 8pm. We managed to not leave anyone behind and departed DC around 4:30pm and arrive tired but inspired around 9:30pm. We manage to network and exchange numbers to people all over the country in Washington.
The memorable day is in the history books and the inspiration will last a life time.

Barack Family Center

I would like to formerly ask you be a member on our advisory committee for UYC newly
developed “Barack Family Help Center” located inside the Fred exrleben recreation center
513 Richmond street Elizabeth New Jersey.

The Barack Family Help Center (formerly UYC headquarters) was named on the first day of black history month in recognition of the nation first elected African American President Barack Obama. We felt it was only fitting to include the name of the center to Barack which means ‘blessings’ and to coincide with the new president philosophies and propose plans for America.

The Barack Family Center will assist families in need of social service and will adopt President Barack Obama
call to America to take a collective role in addressing neighborhood concerns.

The Barack Family Help Center will network with social service agencies, faith base groups, civic organizations
businesses and concern citizens to help develop partnerships.

The BFHC will create and help efforts to address issues on Housing, Jobs, Health Care, Youth/Family, Education, Economy, and social Justice.

Your support and contribution can help the Barack Family Help Center be a beacon to be modeled around the country.

Please let me know if you will join the committee to help make BFHC a success.
Thank you,

Salaam Ismial (908) 416-0960
UYC Director