Updated 12/01/2010 06:00 AM
Understanding gang culture
The recent violence has shed new light on a longtime problem in the city: Gangs. These groups have been around for years, but very little is known about them. How are they formed? Why do people join them? And is there a way out? Our Iris St. Meran spoke with a former gang member who gave us an inside look into the culture.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For weeks, we've been hearing from Syracuse residents regarding the violence in the city.
"It wasn't really surprising because you hear gunshots here and there all the time over here," said Joshua Webster.
Sheria Dixon said, "It makes me sick to my stomach and I just can't stand it anymore."
News of this weekend's shooting death of Rashad Walker Jr., who would have turned two in four months, has taken the outrage to an all-time high.
"I was devastated when I heard that. A one-year-old baby, murdered in a shooting, that's unheard of," said Death Road Presentations Founder General Davis.
Police say the toddler's death was gang related, one shooting in retaliation for another.
General Davis is a former gang member who was notorious on Syracuse streets nearly three decades ago. He says gangs are attractive for a number of reasons, including protection, money and respect.
"They're block is their community, their home. It's where they make their money at. It's where they survive at. It's where they party at," Davis said. "It's where they have good times at. They don't want anyone interfering with that. If they think someone's trying to come over to do that then they're going to do what they have to do to get them back out of there."
After serving time in prison, Davis walked away from that lifestyle. He now works with the Southwest Community Center to deter gang activity.
Davis said, "It's prison, it's hospitalization or it's death. You can pick a number. I'm asking you all to take a look at yourself before you make that move and hurt somebody else."
Depending on the gang, Davis says leaving can be hard, but he is an example that it is possible.
Davis works to deter youth from getting involved with gangs and helps to get them back on track at the Southwest Community Center. Anyone looking for help can call him at (315) 671-5802.