I didn't get too far in my online reading yesterday, so that post ended up being lighter than I expected. Given what's on my plate today, expect the same today.
(Updated throughout the day.)
A BETRAYAL: The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death. (ProPublica)
Given the commentary I had seen before this article, I expected to come out much more sympathetic to the focus of the piece, a young man who was recruited into MS-13 back in El Salvador, who came to Long Island, and was sucked back into the MS-13 fold after trying to put it all behind him. One day, he decides that his way out is to inform on the local "clique" and the local and federal law enforcement use his information to put away local members. Then the informant is picked up by ICE for deportation based on the testimony he provided, and is in pretty serious danger of being brutally murdered as an example of what happens to snitches.
Thoughts in no particular order:
1. Ignoring the guy himself (more on him below), this is a huge strategic blunder on the part of law enforcement in their job to get rid of this gang. If this guy does indeed become an example of what happens to snitches, I expect any intelligence from within the gang to dry up. If for no other reason than preserving future intelligence, law enforcement needs to get this guy out of his situation and make him disappear (ideally as an anonymous inmate somewhere).
2. I don't feel as much sympathy as I expected for this guy given that he has murdered people himself and has been party to other murders and violence. I understand that this is how MS-13 operates and this fellow had little latitude in the matter ("... if Henry didn’t kill the man, the gang would kill them both."), but I don't think he's as innocent as the article portrays. And to be honest, at that age (12 to 15), I don't know if I would have been brave enough to be killed myself to avoid becoming a murderer. That said, the article touches on how he benefited by the gang, but things don't seem to push him into confession until after a series of murders in Long Island. As an older adolescent in Long Island, he was in a position to prevent those subsequent murders, and didn't.
3. I find it richly satisfying that the FBI agent who used this kid to move up the ranks, then abandoned him when it came time to protect him, has been named in this article. He worried that if he testified on behalf of the teen, he would be outed himself and was too cowardly to do so. Karma's a bitch, asshole. Talk to your FBI buddies and see if you can get the protection you denied this fellow.
4. In the popular discourse on gang violence and the like, I think that the discourse is lagging, still largely stuck on the existing urban narrative that it's an inner-city issue, while groups like MS-13 and the "Jalisco Boys" are active in middle and small-town America precisely because of the lack of defense mechanisms that urban areas have built up over the past several decades. When we talk about things like gun control and immigration, it's far too easy for urban dwellers (me being among that number) to brush off non-urban dwellers' concerns as simple bigotry or "economic anxiety". This MS-13 case starkly highlights to what extent an urge for self-protection and hostility towards immigrants (Hispanics in particular) may be founded on actual violence occurring in their community that isn't making its way up into the national consciousness.
All all, this is an incredible bit of journalism and I hope it jolts folks in a position in power to do the right thing and extract this fellow from his situation (and try him for his complicity in other crimes, and sentence him justly should he be convicted) and pivot this narrative into something that illustrates why being an informant is a viable strategy. The alternative is pretty hideous to contemplate.
My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country (Politico)
My editors had given me this assignment as something of a lark. The idea: Just as reporters from New York and D.C. trek into Trump Country to visit greasy spoons and other corners of Real America™ to measure support for the candidate, I’d venture from Trump Country to the most stereotypical bastions of coastal liberal elitism, and ask the people I met whether they still support Hillary Clinton.
This might be the funniest thing I've read all week.
Legion's Take on Treating Mental Illness Is a Unique One (io9)
Really looking forward to this show returning tonight. Between "Legion" coming back, my rush to redo much of the Fresh Comics website (meeting DC Comics' publisher Jim Lee tomorrow and I want to have something good to show to get on their press list), and C2E2 this weekend, this start of April is pretty much Comic Book Central around here.
Image credit: FBI via Arizona Public Media: "FBI Suspects Record Numbers of MS-13 Gang Members Entering US"
This post will be updated throughout the day with other links I find interesting.comments powered by Disqus