Arlington, VA

Arlington may have a relatively low crime rate and a reputation for being a idyllic “urban village,” but there are still gangs — including the notorious MS-13 street gang — operating in our midst.

An event next week will remind residents that Arlington is not without gang activity and gang-related violence.

On Tuesday, April 17, Leadership Arlington will be holding a panel discussion entitled “Arlington County Gangs: Exploring the Shadows of Our Urban Mayberry.” Part of the organization’s spring speaker series, the event will focus on “the threats that gang activity present to the Arlington community,” “contributing factors to youth participation in gangs” and “initiatives in place to address gang-related violence.”

The speakers include Robert “Tito” Vilchez of the Arlington County Task Force, a member of the Arlington County Police Gang Unit, and Meredith McKeen of Northern Virginia Family Services.

Gang activity might not be visible to many residents, but it is to many of Arlington’s youth. One in six Arlington Public Schools students know at least one person who is involved in gang activity, according to the event invitation.

The panel discussion will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the WETA building (2775 S. Quincy Street). Tickets are $40 for the general public and $30 for Leadership Arlington members. Lunch is included in the price of admission.

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