NY lawmakers seek to better define street gangs

- The link between the brutal murders of 11 victims and the MS-13 gang has captured the attention of President Donald Trump. It also prompted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to visit Long Island and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Thomas Sini to declare war.

Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens have been fighting for change ever since members of MS-13 viciously killed their daughter Nisa Mickens the day before her 16th birthday.

"All gangs need to know what they're doing is wrong," Mickens said.

"Every other day there's another victim, there's another family going through what we're going through," Alvarado said.

State Sen. Tom Croci said he supports a new bill that would target gangs. The legislation would include strengthening felonies for gang-related violence and recruitment of members. For the first time, it would clearly define street gangs.

"When you see young girls and young boys hacked to death with machetes and baseball bats it's gruesome and it sets off alarm bells. We should've set these bells off many, many years ago with what was building in our communities," he said. "The [gang] definition will include the kind of symbols, tattoos, signs, colors -- all of the things that are used to identify gang members in addition to their activities."

The bill would also create a gang prevention curriculum and separate funding for nonprofit gang deterrence organizations in the community. Mickens said this is necessary.

"The students need more guidance, more education on gang prevention," he said. "They need more outlets."

Elements have passed the Senate before but have been held up by the Assembly. The Senate expects more support this go-around and hopes it will pass in the Assembly before the session ends in June.

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