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Ask SouthsideCentral! – Drug & Gang Free Zone Signs?

Some people have noticed a new set of street signs going up around Danville that say “Drug & Gang Free School Zone”. No, the thought process behind the signs isn’t “Gee, now criminals won’t do illegal things because of the signs being posted.”

Let’s Ask SouthsideCentral and find out the truth. Let’s also get some straight talk about “Does Danville have gangs?” while we’re at it.

This “question” was constructed from a thread on the Southside News & Views Facebook group. Here’s the direct link if you want to read the entire thread. The group is open to the public and uncensored (heh!) and you’re welcome to join the group for the best discussions of the Southside region.

WBTM/WAKG’s Jack Garrett posted this photo to start the thread…

SouthsideCentral thanks Jack Garrett for the permission to use this photo for this article.

And here we go with the answers of why these signs are popping up. I’m just going to mostly repeat the answers that I gave in the Facebook thread so that you can see it all on this article’s page.

Part #1: Since there’s been some sensible people who figured it out already, I’ll be a bit nicer than I would have been.

No, you bunch of dummies. The signs aren’t there as a deterrence factor. Those signs are there to aid the prosecution if someone commits a drug or gang violation within 1000 feet of a school property, as the punishments are indeed enhanced. By having the signs posted, this would block a defense argument of “Well, maybe it was 1002 feet away so it doesn’t count.”

(Editor’s Note: A SouthsideCentral friend who’s an attorney points out that the 1000-foot radius signs would not necessarily block a defense argument on the distance radius, so I’m striking that part out for clarification.)

Here’s the link to the Virginia State Code section showing the enhanced penalties for drug violations that occur inside that 1000-foot zone.

Part #2: Here’s the relevant Virginia State Code section regarding gang activity in that 1000-foot zone around schools.

That’s a mandatory two-year prison sentence if somebody’s convicted of that offense.

After that, the discussion had swung to “Does Danville have gangs?”, so let’s Ask SouthsideCentral and get this next set of answers.

Part #3: A long time ago, Danville police chief Philip Broadfoot did say that Danville had no gangs. He said that in the context of talking about large-scale well-organized criminal enterprises types of gangs. That sentence was (and still is) being taken out of context by lots of people who want to portray Broadfoot as “out of touch with reality”.

Yes, Danville has gangs… at least to the Virginia State Code definition of “criminal street gang”. Three or more people, criminal acts, read the rest for yourself.

Here’s the link to the part of the Virginia State Code that defines “criminal street gang”.

Part #4: These “Gangs” by legal definition aren’t well-organized with a strong command structure. For all the Usual Suspects who bitch about Danville not being able to land good employers because of bad-fitting demographics and lack of interstate access, well they got something right for a change.

The big-name well-organized criminal gangs don’t have much interest in the area because there isn’t much money to be made here and they can’t ship quickly through interstate highways. If BMW isn’t going to put a plant here because the area isn’t good enough, the Crips aren’t either.

And finally…

Part #5: If these groups of neighborhood hoodlums that do break-ins and sell drugs and stolen property meet the definition of “criminal street gang”, the fact that they call themselves the Crips, Bloods, MS-13 or the Mickey Mouse Club doesn’t make them the REAL Crips, the REAL Bloods, the REAL MS-13 or the REAL Mickey Mouse Club.

And there you have it. You’ve got a multiple-part set of answers that explain the new “Drug & Gang Free School Zone” signs, and you’ve gotten more information about Danville’s issues with gangs.

You get answers when you Ask SouthsideCentral.

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