In Denver, the return of gangs after confinement

The golf course is wasteland, like the carpet inside the club house. It doesn’t matter; Jason McBride is not unhappy to have managed to recover the places. Park Hill was in the 1950s an African-American residential district, northeast of Denver, Colorado, with its small square houses on patches of lawn. Over the years, blacks have seen their neighborhood fragmented by the ” urban renewal (Bureaucratic jargon for gentrification). Today, they hope to regain ground. Reclaim the golf course (60 hectares), closed since 2018, to build a supermarket and social housing. But the fight is tough with environmentalists opposed to development. “We have young people who do not have enough to eat. We need much more than green spaces ”grumbles Jason, who grew up in the neighborhood in the 1980s.

The project had been in discussion with the promoter since the beginning of the year. The post-George Floyd anti-racist mobilization precipitated events. The lease has just been signed. Jason McBride, activist, son of activist – his father was in charge of youth at the city council during the time of Wellington Webb, the first black mayor of Denver between 1991 and 2003 – prepares the opening of a center intended to educate young people who hang out in the neighborhood at a time when they must have been taking online classes. “The pandemic is particularly harmful for our community, he said. Parents have fallen ill or are at work. We don’t have many homes where both parents are present. Young people are on their own, violence has increased. “

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Jason McBride is the coordinator of the GRASP association (Gang Rescue and Support Project) which aims to ” to save “ young people enrolled in gangs. For him, there is no doubt. The Covid-19 epidemic and the increase in violence are directly correlated. The municipal police are of the same opinion. As in the rest of the country, a marked increase in crime has been observed in Denver. Since the start of the year, the city has experienced 52 homicides, against 34 for the whole of 2019. On Sunday, August 9, nine people, including six children aged 3 to 17, were shot and wounded in a park, in the middle of the afternoon. It was in a Latin neighborhood, southwest of the city. “The cheapest place in town, a lot of people are now trying to move in. It created territorial rivalries between the bands ”explains Jason, wearing an extra-large Mario Bros tee and masked with a Black Lives Matter bandana.

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