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Fearful Witnesses Protect Gangs

Posted Jul 9, 2007 12:29 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Police fighting gang crimes in Trenton, N.J., are stymied by witnesses who are too afraid to come forward.

At least 20 people were present during a gang gunfight more than a year ago that injured an innocent bystander: 7-year-old Tajahnique Lee who was struck in the face by a bullet as she was riding her bike outside a housing project. But none will talk to investigators, and the case remains unsolved, the New York Times reports.

Trenton police made arrests in only nine of 16 gang-related killings last year; in the first half of this year the homicide increased by 50 percent.

The problem isn’t confined to Trenton. “Criminologists say gang culture has made fair game of brutally punishing anyone who helps the police,” the newspaper reports. “What results is a self-perpetuating cycle of intimidation and helplessness.”

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