How does gang recruitment work in Bibb, and how young does it start?

Gang recruitment in Bibb County

Corporal Allen Kendrick with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office says with nearly 30 gangs in Bibb County, we have a problem.

"What do you think the point of being in a gang is?," our Chelsea Beimfohr asked 17-year-old Bibb resident Savion Wright.

"I have no idea. People always ask me, 'Do you want to continue living on Houston Avenue?' No, I do not, but I do want to see my community get better," says Wright. 

It's a community that Kendrick says has nearly 600 active gang members throughout the county. 

"We're doing our best to curb the situation with the gang problem here in Macon," says Kendrick. 

At just 17 years old, Wright says he's already been approached to join a gang several times, but refused.

"God put me on this Earth for a reason and that's just to keep motivating and encouraging others and keep focused and finish school. A gang is not going to do anything for you," says Wright. 

But other kids that refuse to join a gang aren't always as lucky.

In September, a video of a 14-year-old Bibb County boy getting beaten up, allegedly by members of a local gang, sparked a conversation online and in our newsroom at 13WMAZ. How does gang recruitment work, and just how young does it start?

"That's the time when your parents want you to start maturing on your own, so that's basically the age that it just really starts at," says Wright about 14-year-old Roseman. 

But Kendrick says gang recruitment can start much earlier than they teenage years.

"The youngest I've seen is 8 years old, and recruitment can start in elementary school," says Kendrick. 

He says when kids are young, they are typically recruited by word of mouth and by people they know, but as they grow slightly older, gangs take to social media, oftentimes posting bribes.

"A lot of times, it's money -- anything that may entice someone or influence someone to join a gang, sometimes it's weapons, guns... several things," says Kendrick. 

Wright says he's been exposed to this type of behavior for years, but he prefers to "do his own thing." He says he is a leader and has chosen a different path than most of his peers. 

He attends Ray Rover's Street to Success program weekly, where the philosophy is to keep kids and teens busy in order to keep them out of trouble. 

"If you become successful coming out of these streets, then you got something more than anyone else does... and that's grit," says Ray Rover. 

Wright tells me that he's leaving to join the Air Force in July and attributes his success to his positive choices made in a rough neighborhood

"You don't have to fit in. You were born to stand out. God only made one of you," says Wright. 

When asked about where most gang activity is seen in Bibb County, Kendrick declined to answer, explaining that he doesn't want to give any extra attention and glorification to these groups. 

Kendrick encourages young kids and teens to talk to parents, coaches, pastors, and law enforcement if they are being encouraged to join a gang. He says there is always an alternative. 


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