Eddie J. Grant, Gleaner writer
SEVERAL JAMAICANS are among a group of youth now safely behind bars following police action against two notorious street gangs, the Malvern Crew and Galloway Boys. The gangs had been terrorising the Scarborough area of Toronto for more than two years.
"We have dismantled these gangs to the extent that I don't believe that they are capable of continuing their criminal activities or the violence they were inflicting upon the community,'' new Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told a news conference.
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Blair said many neighbourhoods have been plagued by random acts of violence in which innocent men lost their lives because they just happened to be young black men living in areas controlled by the gangs.
Most of the nine men charged belong to the Galloway Boys gang. Tyshan Riley, 23, described as the gang's leader, is one of the worst single killers the city has ever seen, said Homicide Staff Inspector Jeff McGuire.
Riley faces a total of three first degree murder charges and six charges of attempted murder. Fellow gang member, Phillip Atkins, has been hit with two first degree murder charges and four of attempted murder.
Altogether, the nine alleged gang members face more than 108 charges ranging from robbery, witness intimidation, gangsterism, attempted murder, and first degree murder. The sweep against Malvern Crew and Galloway Boys was part of a joint operation launched in 2004 and titled 'Project Pathfinder'. It is made up of officers from the Toronto Police Service Homicide Squad, the Special Investigations Service, the Intelligence Bureau, and prosecutors from the Ministry of the Attorney-General.
INTIMIDATING THE COMMUNITY
The operation was set up after an innocent man was gunned down in what police believe was an attempt by gang members to intimidate the community.
'Project Pathfinder' took its name from the Nissan SUV used by one of the alleged gunmen. Jamaican-born David Mitchell, deputy superintendent at the Toronto East Detention Centre, touched on the Toronto gang situation during a recent address to the Morant Bay High School Reunion Dinner and Dance.
Mitchell, who is also a senior
official of the Association of Black Law Enforcers, linked the crime and gang violence to low education level. "I am currently the officer in charge of the gang members in custody,'' said Mitchell. "When I look at the background of these young men, none of them has completed high school, so there is a link between education and crime.''