Shaw’s parents maintain that their son was never a gang member. The fact that there is no record of Shaw ever being arrested and no record of him being affiliated with any gang seems to support his parents’ claim.
I believe that gang culture is highly seductive and alluring. As a parent, I don’t think we fully understand how bewitching it really is. While many young people do not actually join gangs, they often can’t escape having gang affinity. It’s a seduction many youth succumb to in order to assimilate within their peer group, to gain acceptance or to survive in neighborhoods that are strongholds of particular gangs. Consequently, they sometimes innocuously embrace its mores, symbolism, fashion, trappings and paraphernalia. They walk close to the line without actually jumping over it. Unfortunately, they often do get painted with the same broad stroke. It’s a dangerous dance, and it can be a fatal flirtation.
My parents used to say that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, others are sure to assume it is a duck. And in duck-hunting season, we can lose a lot of innocent lives.
Veronica Hendrix is a journalist and television producer based in her native of Southern California.