A series of robberies in Minneapolis in 2005 was connected to Somali youth gangs, prompting the city to commission its Civil Rights department to study the phenomenon and produce a report. Turns out that Somalis have a fairly organized gang structure.
But with the right spirit and spending, the report’s author, consultant Shukir Adan, says the problem can be curtailed.
A combination of problems at home and in school greased the way for the formation of the Somali gang groups, according to Adan.
“You’ve a lack of resources at the community level. You’ve chronic homelessness and runaway kids living with friends, and then you’ve an education system that fails immigrant children,” Adan said.
Some gang members came into the country with relatives and don’t even know where their parents or siblings are, Adan said. “Others have a post-traumatic disorder, which is considered taboo in the community,” she said.
Though Minnesota Gang Strike Force identifies only 52 Somali gang members, the report, issued in mid- January, names three gang groups: Somali Mafia, The Hot Boyz and The Rough Tough Somalis.
Adan points out that Somali gangs are organizing themselves into clans, regions and groups that their families identify with.
“Increasingly, they are having allegiances, hierarchies and formalized leadership,” she said. “Some even visit their fellow gang members in jail and have posted bails for their release.”
Adan recommends that the city collaborate with state agencies to devise community outreach centers that closely work with the gang members.