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Community Activist To Walter: Gang Membership Not Inevitable

Phillip Jackson tells Walter Jacobson that young people can be diverted from gangs. (CBS)

Phillip Jackson tells Walter Jacobson that young people can be diverted from gangs. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A community activist says a recent report by CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson gave the wrong impression that gang membership is inevitable for young Chicagoans.

In his report last month, Jacobson sat down with admitted gang members who shared their pessimistic views about life. One told Jacobson flatly there is no solution to street violence, saying, “Killing is the solution.”

Phillip Jackson, head of the Black Star Project, an organization that directs young men away from gangs, says the report doesn’t represent what’s really going on in the streets.

So, what is happening in the streets?

At a Black Star Project meeting in Bronzeville on Tuesday, mentors teach kids the right way to live. The kids often don’t have fathers.

“I do have fatherly figures,” one young man says of the Black Star mentors.

Black Star mentors try to show the young people their dreams will not come true if they go for the fast buck with the gangs, maybe making $1,000 a week.

“And the math on that is, they can probably do that for two weeks or three weeks, and then the game is over,” Jackson counters. “They’re going to either end up in jail (or) dead.”

Jackson says by the time kids reach their late teens and early 20s, it’s too late. That’s why the Black Star Project reaches out to kids as early as six, to get them on the right path.

For more information about The Black Star Project, contact Mike Crenshaw at 3509 S. King Drive, Suite 2B, Chicago, Ill., 60653. (773) 285-9600.