Could the feds step in to help crack down on gang violence in Cleveland?
At a press conference in Minneapolis, the Department of Justice announced a more aggressive approach to prosecuting gang members and leaders; it could set the tone for other major cities.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Like many major U.S. cities, Cleveland has long experienced gang violence and on Wednesday, the Department of Justice seemingly laid the foundation for a more aggressive approach to prosecuting gang members and leaders.
At a news conference in Minneapolis, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger announced 45 arrests of gang members. They’re facing federal charges, including murder and racketeering.
The charges are comparable to those filed in criminal cases against the mafia.
“Today’s announcement marks a fundamental change in how we address gang violence,” said Luger. “We are prosecuting street gangs as the criminal organizations are.”
So what about the rest of the country? What about Cleveland? Will the same approach be used here?
The comments made at Wednesday’s news conference, combined with FBI Director Christopher Wray’s comments in January could provide some clues.
“The top concern I hear from local law enforcement leaders is gang and gun violence—whether it’s gangs terrorizing a community, juveniles graduating from carjackings to even worse violence, or traffickers moving drugs through a neighborhood and inundating it with crime,” Wray said. “For our part, the FBI is working shoulder-to-shoulder with our state and local law enforcement partners through more than 300 violent crime task forces made up of close to 3,000 members.”
Cleveland police have long worked with federal partners on certain investigations, but it’s unclear if there is in fact a more focused effort to pursue more serious charges against gangs in Northeast Ohio.
19 News reached out to spokespeople for both the Cleveland FBI and the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Ohio, but neither returned the request by late Wednesday night.
“I believe with the Justice Department coming in to handle certain things, you’ll see certain reduction,” said Cleveland activist Al Porter, Jr. “But we’ll always have the same type of problems until we become more involved at the local level.”
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