Gary Glore of the Gang/ Security Unit at the Virginia Department of Corrections (DoC) spoke to the BTEC Criminal Justice 2 class on Monday Sept. 30. Lisa Assenet is the teacher of the class and is a former FBI agent. Glore presented some alarming facts about the growth of gangs in Virginia over the past three generations. Other interested parties attending included law enforcement, administrators and probation officers. Five students Andrea Orde, Jacob Maxwell, Miranda Blake and Megan DeHart were the members of the class.
“Gangs are well seeded in the state of Virginia,” said, Glore. “There are three elements that are listed in the Virginia Code as to what comprises a gang. They are: Three or more people, Common identifiers like signs, symbols and colors, and criminal activities.” How to join a gang? “There are four ways, Beat in or Jumped in, sexed in, Born in or Blessed in. All require an element of danger and blood. Victimization is key to gang activity.”
While one assumes gangs are mostly urban they are increasingly identifiable in rural areas where few police and county deputies are located. One photo Glore showed in his power point was of a Hispanic group whose leader relocated from NYC to rural Virginia and he took a position as a counselor. He has since returned to prison. All save two photos in the presentation were gang photos from the state of Virginia including gang signs in football teams and other sports teams as well as graffiti in Roanoke, Richmond and even signs of the KKK in Craig County. “The Bloods love Roanoke because of the five pointed star on Mill Mountain. They call it “The Noke.”
Many of the people who come to work for law enforcement are gang members. Over the past year he said, “Twenty employees of the DoC have been fired for gang related activities. “ In the past decade a police chief, a sheriff and deputies and business people have all been arrested for gang activities in the state of Virginia. Nurses, paramedics and other medical people are involved in gangs. Money laundering for the gangs is prime area where professionals become involved. He showed one photo of a nearby university with gang members. “They go to college to learn to be businessmen and thinkers for the gang. “
“The Virginia DoC follows 14,000 gang members currently that are either in the prison system or are currently out of the system. “ he said.
Glore gave a quick lesson in reading gang signs, graffiti, hand signs, clothing and colors. The Three R’s for gang members? Respect, Reputation and Retaliation. Five and six pointed stars represent Bloods the five points and Crips the six points as well as gangs associated with the two. It was stunning to see mutilated former gang members who had tattoos removed by erasers, scrub pads and even an iron when they disrespected the gang. He even showed a graphic photo of a 15 year old young man beaten to death. He had written the initials of the gang he wanted to join on his hands. “ Never pretend to be in a gang, they will see it as disrespect and kill you for it,” stated Glore.
NTG is one of the most prevalent gangs in Virginia and is associated with the Bloods. He gave examples of gang art and tattoos. Information in the main stream included two tennis players Serena and Venus Williams association with the Crips. A Sponge Bob Square Pants toy throwing Bloods signs and wearing a red kerchief was distributed in kid meals at Burger King. A Virginia is for Lover’s advertisement that had Bloods signs in it never made it into print.
The fastest growing gang activity in our area isactually biker gangs. From western Virginia to the West Virginia border gangs like Hell’s Angels, the Pagans and Ching-A-Ling are prominent.
He said the best way to look for gang activity? “Watch for Graffiti. It’s a way gangs communicate. “