By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — Gangs have always been an issue in Harlem and other parts of the city but things have gotten worse over the last few years, said Harlem Assemblymen Keith Wright.
"It seems the gang issue has not only proliferated but has become more and more violent," said Wright.
In 2007, there were only about 20 crews spread across Upper Manhattan. Today, there are at least 40 and some believe the figure is higher. Police say these gangs have recruited more than 1,000 members.
"Obviously, police and parents can't deal with the issue alone, but we as a community have to deal with the issue," Wright said. "The more of a light we can put on it the better."
To help, Wright is sponsoring an anti-gang education clinic at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at the Harlem state office building.
The first step in that process is educating parents about how to keep their kids out of gangs but knowing the signs that their children may be falling under the influence of one.
"Educating parents and youngsters is key because ordinary kids are going to school and being recruited into gangs," Wright said.
Taking questions tomorrow will be officials from the District Attorney's office, NYPD and community activists including Rev. Vernon Williams of the Harlem Clergy Community Leaders Coalition.
"Parents need an activist spirit," said Williams. "They need to be proactive towards gang violence in the community and have a willingness to confront their own children."
Addressing youth gangs is an issue that is not going to be solved by any one entity alone, Wright said.
"The only way I think we can eradicate this problem is when the community has said enough is enough," Wright said.
The anti-gang clinic will be held in the second floor art gallery of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building which is located at 163 West 125th St. at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. Identification is required.