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Fri December 27, 2013
Groups Call for 'Truce' to Address Gang Violence
Members of several organizations gathered in Marietta Square Friday to call for a truce among gang members and to address what they say is growing gang violence in Cobb County. The action comes after a December 17 home invasion.
Members of the New Order National Human Rights Organization, Cobb Immigrant Alliance and Cobb United for Change Coalition called on current, former gang members and others to join them in making a change. Gerald Rose is founder and CEO of New Order.
“We might be putting our lives on the line, but just the fact if we don’t do something who’s going to do it? I’m just glad that we are coming together from the Latino community, the African-American community and the Caucasian community and let them know this is a unity thing.”
Rose was joined by Alex Guma. Guma says his sister, brother-in-law, nephews and others were inside their Acworth home when five men came inside.
“They came in with duffel bags and zip ties and they were ready to tie people up.”
Guma says the men held a gun to his sister’s head and tried to tie up his nephews. And during the ordeal, Guma says one of the home invaders claimed to belong to a gang. But he says thankfully his brother-in law and his nephew were able to overwhelm the men with a baseball bat.
“It could have been worse. My family could have gotten hurt or killed or even those guys could have gotten hurt or killed.”
Now, Guma who has already worked to turn the life of a former gang member and other troubled youth around hopes to help others.
“It’s not really about the gangs. It’s really about giving these youth opportunities to do something positive.”
Members of all three organizations say they have resources available to help youth in need or anyone looking to get out of a gang.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds says only one suspect in the home invasion is from Cobb County and he’s unsure if any gang-members were involved in the crime.
“Our cage unit, which is our gang unit, is actively looking into that issue and if in the end we’re confident that it was gang activity, gang related in any way. We can address that in the ultimate indictment that we present before a grand jury. As of right now, I cannot categorically tell you it was gang-related.”
When asked about the level of gang activity, Reynolds says, “I think we do have gang issues in this county, but we’ve been fortunate in that they certainly don’t rise up to the levels that other metropolitan counties have seen.”
Reynolds says the county made a conscious effort to address gang violence in 2013. He says his office employed what he believes is the best gang prosecutor in the state. He also says the county has hired what he believes is the best gang investigator.
After the home invasion, all five of the suspects were arrested.