New Bedford councilor looking to combat gang violence

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — One week after the FBI arrested dozens of members of the Latin Kings, a New Bedford councilman was busy drafting up a plan to combat the influence of street gangs in the city.

New Bedford Councilor-at-large Brian Gomes proposed five ways to rid the city of violence brought on by street gangs at Thursday night’s city council meeting.

“There’s definitely a problem here,” Gomes said.

His proposal includes asking the police department to hire more officers and for the city to fill its liaison position for the FBI’s task force — which has remained vacant for years.

The FBI sweep focused primarily on New Bedford, where federal prosecutors said the gang had created a headquarters. Of the 44 people arrested across several states, 22 were operating out of the city.

Prosecutors blamed the gang for a recent spike in violence throughout the city. Gomes said he wants the Bristol County District Attorney’s office to hold all gang members without bail.

The city council voted to pass all five measures.

Only two of the motions received no votes — both coming from Councilwoman Dana Rebeiro, who said she’s concerned that young adults may be misidentified as gang members.

“If national gangs are coming here and recruiting, it’s because we have a population that’s vulnerable,” she said.

The measures will now head to committee for consideration.

Gomes said he hopes the measures send the following message to gang members, both nationally and locally:

“New Bedford is not your home, and we’re going to do everything in our power to address this issue and to make sure that you do not find a home here,” Gomes said.

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