Authorities: Gang activity present in all county high schools
September 01, 2013 01:03 AM | 16697 views | 47 47 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Cobb County’s southside gang problem has been a long time in the making, but authorities now say every public high school in the county has at least one gang operating on its campus.

According to statistics from the Cobb County Police Department’s three-member Cobb Anti-Gang Enforcement Unit, about 94 gangs have been identified in Cobb County.

The investigators say gang activity is an issue that continues to grow worse each year in Cobb.

In 2011, Cobb County Police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said police recorded 224 gang-related incidents. That number increased to 244 in 2012 and so far in 2013, 178 incidents have been reported.

An incident is any criminal activity attributed to a gang or its members, ultimately to increase the group’s profit or identity in the community, such as selling drugs, beating up the member of a competing gang or spray-painting graffiti on a public building.

Neither Pierce nor the District Attorney’s Office would identify the most active gangs in Cobb or give the approximate number of gang members in the county.

“We don’t want to spawn fear in the community,” Pierce said.

“There is so much fluidity in terms of identity, with some people who are gang members and others who may be gang associates, that it is difficult to say there is a specific number of gang members in the county on any given day,” said District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

Reynolds said there have been more gang problems in south Cobb.

“Gang activity can affect anyone, anywhere,” he said. “However, we do see more evidence of gang affiliation in the south portion of the county. We are very much concerned with the destruction of families and communities that gangs bring, and we want to do everything we can to keep people safe.”

Recent arrest warrants corroborate Reynolds’ assertions about the prevalence of gang activity in south Cobb.

On Aug. 23, two Smyrna men were arrested after authorities say the men sold marijuana to undercover officers. While searching the men’s home on Auldon court in southeast Cobb, investigators discovered “Bloods” paraphernalia in their bedroom.

The Bloods are a primarily black street gang founded in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

In early July, four Mableton teens were arrested in connection with the June 30 beating death of 36-year-old Joshua Chellew. They each face charges of murder, aggravated assault and felony street gang activity.

A warrant states the four young men are accused of street gang violence because they belong to the “Re-Up” gang, according to the Cobb Anti-Gang E Unit, and have been previously arrested in connection with gang-related crimes.

But no area of the county is immune to gang activity.

Less than two weeks before that, three Marietta teenagers, who police say are members of the gang “2200,” were accused of breaking into a home off Luther Terrance in west Cobb on Aug. 15 as part of what police say could be part of a “gang initiation.”

In a solidly middle class neighborhood, the teens are accused of breaking into a home and stealing a 32-inch flat-screen TV with the remote control, a laptop computer, four men’s watches, a .380-caliber gun, a box of bullets and an Apple iPod Touch.

“These criminal actions in and of themselves increase the status of the accused within the 2200 criminal street gang … with regards to other criminal street gangs,” the warrant states. “Theft is a common crime for this gang and burglary is a form of initiation.”

The CAGE Unit identified this gang as being started in Cobb and they reportedly meet near the Horseshoe Bend Plaza at 2200 Powder Springs St. west of Marietta.

Battling gang activity in schools

Gang violence and presence isn’t just on the streets. It has also been identified in high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools.

“There is at least one gang in every high school and kids as young as elementary school know stuff about gangs,” said Sgt. Mike Young with the Cobb County School District Public Safety Department.

Young said gang activity tends to run in the family. A kid in middle school might be attracted to his older brother’s gang, or maybe a parent talked glowingly of his gang activity from years ago.

Officer Adam Gravitt, one of two full-time Marietta Police officers who work at Marietta High School, said young people will join gangs for a number of reasons.

“They grow up hard in these neighborhoods and the main reason they join is for safety and love that they don’t get at home,” Gravitt explained. “For the younger males, they usually don’t have a father figure at home and they look to these gang members for that. Also for money … they are poor, so they will commit crimes to put food on the table.”

He said about 10 years ago there were a lot of gangs on the Blue Devil campus but that’s subsided with the help of his department, probation officers and the juvenile court system.

“Are there still gangs in Marietta? Yes, but we just don’t tolerate it,” Gravitt said. “There is zero tolerance and I think the students know that.”

Last year, only one student was arrested on campus in connection to a gang-affiliated crime, but the incident occurred off campus.

Officers in Cobb Schools have only recently turned a closer eye on gangs.

“Up until about five years ago, they would like to say that there are no gangs in Cobb County as far as the schools, but now they are saying it’s not something we can stick our heads in the sand about because it’s here and we need to do something about it,” Young said. “We have always had some type of gang issues at the schools.”

Young was unable to provide information about the number of gang-related incidents they have reported recently or how many gangs or gang members are in schools, but he did talk about various gangs that he personally has dealt with since joining the public safety department 15 years ago.

His first recollection of gang problems were at Awtrey Middle School and North Cobb High in Kennesaw and Tapp Middle School in Powder Springs.

“Up at Awtrey they came up with ACDub, which was short for A-C-W for Acworth,” Young explained. “It started out as a group of cousins in Acworth who were just hanging out, watching each other’s backs that turned into a street gang.”

Shortly after that, Young said he started seeing them getting into altercations – outside of school – with another gang from Marietta High School, “Dem Marietta Boys,” which he said is a prolific gang.

“One of the ACDub guys actually got shot in the neck,” Young remembered. “(Cobb Schools) has been very lucky that we haven’t really had any major problems in the schools, other than fights. Shootings or anything like that, they have been keeping all that stuff at home or on the streets.”

Gangs and rival gangs in south Cobb

A majority of any gang-related problems in the school system are centralized to south Cobb, where Young said they have two officers on each high school campus and another at each of the middle schools.

“Campus police is in the schools, we have a presence and students know that we are there and won’t put up with it,” Young said. “But it’s not like (gang members) are roaming the halls … we just don’t have groups of thugs walking around the hallways, picking on little kids. If they are having a problem with somebody, it’s somebody in their gang or in a rival gang.”

Another notable gang he’s dealt with is 2200, which Young said is a group of teenagers, most of whom are McEachern High School students in south Cobb.

“They have been on the radar for quite a bit,” Young said. “We locked up one member about a week or so ago for loitering and prowling on the campus at Hillgrove (High School in Powder Springs). We couldn’t prove it, but thought he was over there recruiting for 2200.”

He said many of the former gangs like the Ham Squad, Dramaville and Hopkins Road Gang have either disbanded in the last couple of years or were absorbed into 2200.

Other gangs include HHMC, or “Hard Head Money Click,” at Campbell High School in Smyrna, “Yellow Yellow” at North Cobb High School, which stands for the color of meth, and “Hustle Team” at Kennesaw Mountain High School.

Young said members of Hustle Team got in trouble recently for stealing money and phones from gym lockers.

Wheeler High School in east Cobb has had issues as well.

“Two or three years ago, the Cobb Gang Suppression Unit came out with some stats that Wheeler had passed Osborne (High School in Marietta) and Campbell with the number of kids they had on probation for gang-related incidents,” Young said.

He wouldn’t give the names of any gangs at east Cobb’s Wheeler, or if other schools had reported gang problems in recent years.

Attempting to fix the problems in schools

Dealing with gang-related problems in the schools hasn’t been left up to investigations by campus officers.

Teachers, students and administrators are also encouraged to report any suspected gang activity, Young said.

“We do have kids who will come and tell us about incidents, whether it’s a knife in a pocket or backpack,” he said, adding that they don’t pass out information about gangs specifically but always ask students to report anything that’s out of the ordinary.

They have also previously had informative sessions with administrators during post- or pre-planning, helping them identify possible gang-related activities.

At Pine Mountain Middle School in Kennesaw, a student recently drew a five-point crown with dice and an upside-down pitchfork on a test, Young said.

“That’s not enough for us to take any kind of criminal action, except to keep an eye on the kid, but definitely enough for school regulations that he was suspended for five days on gang-related activity,” Young said.

That student’s name will then also be turned over to the CAGE Unit for tracking purposes if needed.

This is part of the protocol the district follows when they suspect similar activity.

They also try to deter the activity by disciplining students if they wear specific colors or bandanas related to gang activity or throw gang signs on campuses.

“We aren’t going to put up with any kind of gang activity in the schools, so they very rarely wear their colors and won’t wear their bandannas,” Young said.

 

Comments
(47)
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Dino Bacchetti
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September 11, 2013
Ms Field

While it is evident you talked with law enforcement from the Cobb County School District, I did not notice much comment from the Cobb County Police Department. Are not they the primary agency who would be dealing with this supposed gang problem in the county?

A friend of mine was on the Cobb Police original anti-gang unit called CAGE. According to him there were 10 investigators on the unit plus supervisors. Now Cobb Police only deploy 3 investigators and 1 supervisor to the unit. If the problem is as widespread and growing as you report in your article, why would they reduce their force committed to the problem?

I can't help but think they have studied the situation and discovered the problem has been exaggerated.

Please continue to look into the situation and provide a followup article.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Really? Wow, you are an(cannot make that comment they delete it. This is not any sort of exaggeration. Dino, come back to the real world, please.
Justice the Dog
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September 11, 2013
In the past 7 years the CCPD CAGE Unit (Cobb Anti Gang Enforcement) has been reduced from 10 investigators to 3. If this problem is as bad as they say, why has this occurred? I don't think the Cobb County Police would ignore this problem if it is as bad as this article portrays. This must be an exaggeration.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Justice, while I respect your name, very much, I do not respect your inability to see what is happening around you.
Omar The beggar
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September 06, 2013
Been in hibernation the last few years, you know meteorites over hitting the earth, gas shortage and getting lost in swamps infested with stuff I don’t want to talk about so I want; but this gang thing is something we can work with I mean look at it this way the economy of Cobb will improve if we pass a tax on everyone in the gang and for every gang related event they are charge a fee. Look at it this way at least something will get done and the county will make money because right now nobody is winning and I can only see more children dying.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Omar, you may have a decent thought there, buried somewhere under super-over-the top-capitalism (while I am a big fan of capitalism, we are not talking about taxing marijuana here)I think this problem cannot be Donkeyed or Elephanted away. (Not actual words, I know) This is serious, and needs to be taken so. Do you actually live in Cobb County? My kids have been in three different areas and every single one has been tagged. And not by playful artistic teenagers.

leahbecker
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September 04, 2013
I posted a comment on 9/2/2013 but evidently the MDJ did not allow it. I would like to know why McEachern High School is not included in their investigation. Also, the gang activity, among other things, is rampant in most of the middle schools in Cobb County. I was a substitute teacher in Cobb County for 19 years and have known of this activity for many years. I even overheard kids talking about what they were doing.
leahbecker
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September 04, 2013
Several years ago, the school district lines were changed primarily so that Hillgrove High School would get the "upper crust" white students in Cobb County. However, they don't believe that they have any gangs (or any other problems) in their school. When Hillgrove was built (like a country club) all of the property values in the McEachern school district plummeted.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
I have heard my 4th graders friends talking about various gang affiliated things as well. I hope as an educator that is what you are trying to get across... not property value. Please make me right lb
anonymous
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September 04, 2013
Every body NEEDS to KNOW about GANGS in SCHOOLS. It doesn't just affect families with children, gangs affect each and every citizen. Their robbing crews roam and pillage, their guns shoot with wild abandon with brainless self-centeredness. Gang bangers only want power and power means taking over. WE ALL ARE AT DANGER. IT'S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE THOUGHT TO WARN THE PUBLIC. IT IS THE MEDIA'S PLACE TO WARN US. GET REAL ABOUT THIS PROBLEM, FOR EVERYONE'S SAKE.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
You are correct Anonymous, absolutely. But just to give you a heads up, the ALL CAPS EXPLETIVES kind of come off as having an aluminum headpiece and an "End of the World" sign vibe. Please do not get offended, right message, wrong social media grammar.
anonymous
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September 03, 2013
Osborne High School, 2451 Favor Rd, Marietta GA

Mabry Middle School, 2700 Jims Rd, Marietta GA

Look it up for yourself..... .
oh1
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September 05, 2013
She's talking about Marietta City- you doof! The address is Marietta, but not City of Marietta.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Listen Osborne High 1, the exact Zip Code, City, County, or other topographical region are not what I think are the main point here. If you went to OHS as I did, you should probably already know this is real and serious issue. And no insults please. That is not allowed. :-)

anonymous
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September 03, 2013
When Atlanta demolished all the public housing and housing projects, those people had to find a place to live. They are given vouchers to rent homes in better areas. So they dispersed to Cobb where the grass looked greener. They brought the gangs across into Cobb and spread their gang lifestyle to new minions. It all started to turn gang-land about 8 years ago. At the same time Katrina kids moved here.
A-Mazing
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September 04, 2013
So, let me get this right, there were no Gangs in Cobb County prior to those "Katrina Kids?" WOW!
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Please never post again. I will find you a time machine so you can return to the "Old South". And for the love of God, stay there.
Black & Blue Devil
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September 02, 2013
From someone who ended up in the ER twice after being jumped on separate occasions by the Canton Road Gang from Sprayberry HS in the late 1970s, I say that our society had better wake up. Mandatory sentences without early release makes sense. How about mandatory personal responsibility to carry text

books home, and mandatory high school graduation versus jail time. We can no longer tolerate soft, ineffective approaches.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
While we appreciate your enthusiasm Marietta Alumnus, that is pretty close to Communism. Just saying. Can I say that?

Unemployed2013
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September 02, 2013
Ever since the economic downturn of 2008 crime has increased. People can't find jobs or find jobs that pay enough to support themselves so they turn to illegal activities. Employers are ignoring my applications and I want to join a gang. Where do I sign up?
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
1825 County Services Pkwy, Marietta, GA 30008
Joke
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September 02, 2013
This article is ridiculous. Poor poor poor.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Shh. Grownups talking.
Papermill gal
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September 01, 2013
Remember when the south Cobb moms begged the school board a couple years ago to do something about the gang members who were trying to recruit their sons and the board members (was it Grey and Johnston? I forgot) completely denied gang activity and treated the women with very little respect?

Will someone please show the former board members this article? Thank goodness someone is finally on this topic. Better late than never.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Yes Ma'am. If I ever get the chance to show them this article I promise I will. Thank you.
Powder springs mom
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September 01, 2013
Funny how I volunteer at Mceachern and both my children attend and none of us have ever heard of a gang 2200. I hope your report is accurate since it would be extremely ridiculous to alarm people!
It is very real
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September 02, 2013
It is very real and they are all over twitter bragging about their activity. They have photos of themselves with guns, drugs and money. They are in fact at Hillgrove as well.
concerned parent
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September 02, 2013
2200 has been in McEachern for years, sorry to disappoint you.
extremely accurate
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September 03, 2013
They hang out at Hillgrove high school as well. This report is very accurate, you are probably not in the same demographic and your children do not hang out with this population. They are visible!
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
I live in Horseshoe Bend, just moved here with the family. When I was a poor teen ager, I thought it looked so nice. Yeah, I probably should have done a little more online research. It is accurate, trust me. Would you like to see the "Art" on my fence?
Cobb needs cleanup
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September 01, 2013
I would be VERY interested in knowing if there is any correlation to these gangs and the influx of folks that came to the area after Katrina. The influx in Cobb after Katrina has been devastating on education and flipped North Cobb to a Title 1 school.

Because there is a large correlation by race, people are uncomfortable to discuss it. Let's leave race out of it and say that many of the kids that came here then have much different expectations from home with regard to their educational progress.
Demographic changing
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September 02, 2013
We can blame it on Katrina and the illegal situation. The fact is we are a majority minority school district now and people are putting their heads in the sand. The parents of these kids don't feel it is their responsibility to raise their children. Their expectation is that the schools should feed and raise their kids. If you call home though, it is always, "not my baby" or "you're racist. We have problems folks!
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
You two are the ones who bring race into it by your own comments. The fact you bring one of our nations greatest tragedy's (we can a fly a man to the moon faster than we can send aerial aid to New Orleans????) as a card in your deck of ridiculousness will be something to tell the grandkids. And yes, I mean it.
Marietta resident
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September 01, 2013
Mabry Middle School and Osborne High School are not in Marietta.
CCSD Web PAGE
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September 02, 2013


Mabry Middle School

2700 Jims Road

Marietta, 30066

Osborn High School

l2451 Favor Road

Marietta, 30060
Kenn resident
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September 02, 2013
Both addresses are Marietta!?!
@Marietta resident
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September 09, 2013
Don't worry. The precious Marietta City School district has gangs in their schools too. Don't try to feel left out.
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
MR, I have to ask (yes I know it will be deleted) are you high??? At least that would explain it. Since I happened to go to all of the above mentioned high schools, umm... Marietta was way scarier.
Bro Thomas
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September 01, 2013
Glad I am not a racist, this could really fuel the fire.
Southern Patriot
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September 01, 2013
With the spread of Diversity the gang problems will escalate. Cobb is quickly becoming like Fulton. The very things we sought to escape has followed us here. Drugs, robbery, burglary, assault, rape and murder are all the products of Diversity.
Exactly SP
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September 02, 2013
People need to get their heads out of the sand. Any time race is brought up, everyone is accused of being racist. It is factual and has nothing to do with being racist. The black and Hispanic populations are going to bring in many changes but the politicians are too concerned with their image and sweep it under the rug. Fact is, they don't care because they have the money to avoid it.
anonymous
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September 04, 2013
Not only that; but Romney was not lying about the 48% that pay taxes. Liberals and minorities can't stand the truth. Only 48% of Americans pay taxes. 48% of Americans shoulder the other 52%. If you look at statistics of who the other 52% are, well, race plays into it. It is way past time for stuff people are afraid to talk about gets talked about (and without fear).
anonymous
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September 11, 2013
2200!!!!! $$$$$$$
anonymous
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February 26, 2014
Products of Diversity??? What? (please let me post this one, pretty please with a cherry on top) Wow. And Wow. And a whole lot of more Wow. SP, ESP (cute, really, that does bring up the old argument of psychics or psychos I guess :-) ) and second to the last poster, I have to legally inform you that you all left your hoods at the last rally. As a Southern White Guy, good lord please do not ever post anything again. Ever. Seriously, our society does not need... whatever that was. And the last poster, 2200!!!! $$$$ is either a sycophantic follower of yours attempting to make a point or else you "Gentle Folk" have made a point other disturbed and disenfranchised children will believe. Thanks for that! For the love of God and Country, please don't ever speak out loud again. Even more Wow. Just Wow.
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