Judge aims to tip scales of justice against gang violence - WNEM TV 5

Judge aims to tip scales of justice against gang violence

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Saginaw County Judge M.T. Thompson usually fights crime from behind the bench. But he's now trading his robe for a pair boots so he can hit the streets of Saginaw.

"I think that judges have to roll up their sleeves and come out into the community and help," he said.

"None of us can afford to stand on the sideline, pointing fingers," Thompson said when it comes to violence that has recently swept the city.

Tuesday, Thompson announced a month-long, anti-violence, anti-gang campaign. Saginaw gangs, he said, are operating as distribution networks for drugs.

"And a lot of what we're seeing are basically fights over market share," he explained.

The judge and other area law enforcement officials are hoping to put an end to that crime trend through an anti-gang summit set for this Saturday at the Dow Events center.

"We're gonna talk about the structure of the gangs, or lack of structure. We're gonna talk about the retaliation that does exist," said Saginaw Police Chief Brian Lipe.

The fact that gangs are the problem in Saginaw is a given. The summit, Judge Thompson said, will go much deeper.

"Here's what we think some solutions are, here's what law enforcement can do, and here's what you need to do to help them," he said.

The summit is just the first chapter in Thompson's month-long assault on crime. Beginning this Friday, members of Thompson's college fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Inc., will go into Saginaw-area middle schools to talk about gangs.

"We decided we just wanted to do something to show we're an action group," explained Tyrone E. Harge, a member of the fraternity.

Harge said, for now, the classes will focus on boys, giving them tools on how to stand up to gangs in their own neighborhoods.

"There are certain scenarios that we point out to them and we ask them about that and what you would do in this situation," he said.

Visits to area middle schools will begin this Friday, with fraternity members speaking to boys at Carrolton Middle School.

The gang summit will be inside the Heritage Theater at the Dow Events center. It starts at 10 a.m. and is free to the anyone who wants to attend.

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