Event to Explore the Gangs of Arlington

by ARLnow.com April 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm 9,050 75 Comments

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.


    $40? FREDTERP

    • PUP

      exactly what i was about to say. are they kidding? i’d definitely check it out for free. they have to be kidding on that price. PUP

      • drax

        Perhaps these events are part of their fundraising efforts. It’s a private group, not the county.

    • DSS10

      Better be a good lunch….

      I checked out the web site for “Leadership Arlington.” Is any one else aware of this group or have experience with them….

      • Wonkette

        Leadership Arlington is a civic leadership course/experience. It is part of a network of ‘Leadership” institutes (including Leadership Washington,” “Leadership Hampton Roads,”) Without doing any research I will guess it’s nationwide. It helps young leaders develop their networks – with peers in the group and in their community via events, volunteering, speaking, inviting speakers, etc. In another life I was a speaker at a “Leadership” event. There is a companion version for youth leaders. It is a well-respected organization. That said, for an event focusing on gangs in the county, the charge is way too steep…..

    • truth be told

      Madonna is the opening act.

  • 1RLI

    “Idyllic ‘urban village?” “Urban Mayberry?” Oh brother.

    • PUP

      yeah, LOL @ that.

    • ArlingTony

      They know people who want to live in an idyllic urban Mayberry will be frightened by the “gangs” who play soccer on the weekend.

  • South Awwwlington

    Agreed. This event should be used to raise community awareness and drive participation among parents. Arlington County funds everything and it’s brother, why not this? This is something that SHOULD be funded for the public!

    • Good Grief

      This event is sponsored by Leadership Arlington, not the County.

      • Sandy

        True, but two of the listed featured speakers are county employees. Wonder if they are compensated for their time?

        • nuts

          Um, no, they aren’t compensated.
          The lack of awareness of Leadership Arlington by the trolls on this board reveals your own disconnectedness from the community. LA is affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce. People who actually get involved. Boosters, not knockers.

  • cheeseater

    Wow, something like this should be free.

  • Utes

    Sounds like a gang collecting its dues

  • Succesfull Troll

    I very much enjoy this blog, but I am getting tired of all this attention on bad things. This is not positive news and should therefore not be reported. Isn’t there another lovely neighborhood picknick in Lyon Village this weekend?

    • Good Grief

      If nothing else, we do get some great attempts at comedy.

    • Richard Cranium

      Yes! And the “Tall Ships” will be on display in Donaldson Run!

  • nom de guerre

    Lunch will be provided by Sam’s Corner.

    • Arlingtoon

      Sorry — it’s closed.

      • 1RLI

        And rudely hasn’t posted the hours.

      • Phil Richman

        That is only an unsubstantiated rumor !!!

  • VA is for Drinkers

    Does this include an Open Bar?

  • JamesE

    The Spanish bullfighters will have a representative at the event.

    • JBalls

      I think we all know La Tasca is just a front for these Spanish menaces!

      • JamesE

        50% of every tapas ordered goes straight to Madrid to fuel their empire.

  • Nova Man

    more like the “gangs of south arlington”

    • Tipster

      That’s why we can’t build more schools down there. Every sixth child is endangered by bulls.

  • bobco85

    I would like it if they would post this video to YouTube, or at least provide a transcript online. The transcript would at least allow them to keep the attendees anonymous, just in case of any backlash (gangs do not seem to be rational, so it’s possible that they would go after anyone involved in anything anti-gang).

    • While I won’t pay $40 to attend an event of which the substance/information should be publicly available (i.e. free) as the speakers work for the county/local government, I agree that the transcripts should be made available. I highly doubt prospective attendees will have any gang affiliations but should there be some elements who attend, I doubt they’d be there to identify individuals to conduct reprisals against. Many gangs are associated with criminality, but as collectives, there is undoubtedly some leadership chain thus while they are criminal enterprises they more than likely operate under a rational thought process…different from mine and yours but they function to take advantage of some aspect of society.

  • Jonas

    Been looking forward to this all semester!

    Is this the first night of Rush process?

    Will the gangs be giving out bids?

    When i do find out who my big sister/brother is?

    • Lambda Chi 13 Tapas Waiter

      I lol’d

    • PUP


  • esmith69

    This thread reminded me about that recent tirade by some clown on here about “Spanish Gangs” supposedly being responsible for the decline of Ballston Common…

  • Roquer

    $40!!!, hell, you’d think the $6500 I pay in property tax would cover it!!

    • drax

      No you wouldn’t, since this is not a county government event. Try reading before you jerk your knee next time.

      • Sri

        The are partially funded by the county’s Economic Development office.

        When you look at all their sponsors, it is absurd that they have to charge people to listen to a presentation like this.

        • drax

          You would have to look at their books to know that, not just their sponsors.

          • JDSmith

            I have been to their events at the Arlington Economic Development offices.

          • drax

            You would have to look at their books to…oh, never mind.

          • sunflower

            + 1 for your endurance in fighting what looks like a losing battle…..

  • OldSkool

    Will the Apple Dumpling Gang be there?

    • back in da day

      No, but I heard Kool and the Gang might make an appearance.

      • Worth it

        I’d spend $40 for that. 🙂

        • Clarendoom

          Me too!

  • BC

    So lemme get this right… this “neighborhood awareness” event is $40 but an event offering alcohol to twentysomethings to tell them how they can leverage our tax dollars as subsidies for housing they can’t otherwise afford is free? Sounds about right.

    • Josh S

      Let me get this right –

      an orange is an orange
      an apple is an apple

      Comparisons between the two are done at your own peril….

      • Bard

        Would now be a good time to talk about Artisphere?

        • justme

          very funny

      • JBalls

        Actually, Mister S, it seemed to me he was emphasizing the contrasts. And who are you to bring up peril? Does the S stand for Salazar?

  • Bard

    This event is about 10 years too late. Arlington does not have a gang problem. Period, end of story. And the few people who are affected by gangs — mostly poor Salvadoran immigrants — aren’t going to pay $40.00 to hear about what they already know from a police detective.

    • Louise

      Hey! Don’t leave out Honduras or Guatemala!

  • geezer
  • ArlingTony

    Have they asked the 1 in 6 kids the name of the gang member they know? Maybe they all know the same guy.

    • Bard

      I wonder what the proportion is in DC schools — 1 in 1.5? 1 in 1?

    • DarkHeart


  • The Van Buren Boys

    It’s true, we have a big presence in Arlington.

  • Hmmf

    Highest paid young adult population in the nation and all you can contribute to the blog is “why isn’t it free?” I guess ya’ll would have something better to do with your money, like buying 4 drinks at spider kelly’s. The county isn’t sponsoring it…end of story…perhaps they don’t like the publicity…who knows, but someone needs to pay the bills. If you want the county to pay, perhaps you should ask them to.

    P.S. Bard…pick your head up out of the sand…Arlington does have a problem with gangs…your just too distracted to notice.

    • truth be told

      Or you could choose to not go. I suspect at $40 a head that will be most people’s choice.

    • Bard

      It’s true, I didn’t notice. Might be distracted, but I happen to work in the field, so I feel like I have some first-hand knowledge. There are gang members in all communities. When you call it a “problem”, you imply something more than a guy here or there who claims to be SSL, or a Crip or who made up his own posse. The kids who do that are mostly clueless, and while they do stupid sh*t, it’s not like they’re routinely committing violent crimes, as people often believe they are. Plus, they’re usually very easily located, often court involved, and the police know who they are for the most part. If it is a problem, it’s a problem that’s under control (thanks to effective law enforcement in NoVa over the past 15 yrs, along with the residual effects of gentrification). I think calling it a “problem” is really misleading, though, especially when compared to place that really has a gang problem, like DC

      • Mr. Brown

        I have to agree. Arlington may have groups calling themselves gangs, but what do they do? I don’t see gang violence, gang controlled narcotics sales, or anything that might be considered organized crime. If they’re a gang and all they do is spray paint walls then Arlington has a vandalism problem, not a gang problem. One gang murder every decade does not mean we have a problem.

        • drax

          I have heard the police at community meetings talk about gang activity in Arlington, including kidnappings and running prostitution rings (which is quite common here as we know from ArlNow). Gangs aren’t just about murder.

          • Bard

            You’re right, there was an MS-13 prostitution ring in the NoVa area, if you want to call it that. I personally know one of the guys who was running it. I believe it involved just a handful of guys in MS (four or five in total, I think), and it was isolated in primarily hispanic neighborhoods, mostly in Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William. I don’t know that they had much of a presence in Arlington. Also, the guys who were sent to prison were some of the more involved MS members, so you won’t have to worry about them for a while. That’s what I’m talking about when I say that law enforcement has been effective — they really go hard after gang members, especially leadership. You rarely find gang members older than 22-23, not because they don’t exist, but because they exist in Federal prisons, or in other countries, where they’ve been deported to. Most gang members you find in the community are kids, they aren’t organized, and their criminal activity consists of “beefing” with other gangs.

        • Louise

          Just Monday I heard on NPR that gangs were organizing prostitutes to knock door to door (in Arlington) looking for clients. This is a problem, esp. since the prostitutes were high school students.

  • HollaArlington

    Only because it’s fitting…Remy was psychic:

    People all around better know the deal
    that the people in this town are ghetto for real

    So when people tell me Remy, where you calling from?
    I say a straight up thug town called Arlington

    It’s a real tough town packing heat and boat shoes
    my crib’s in a rough spot right next to the Whole Foods

    I’m ducking gunfire daily check to see if one got me
    but that’s just life in the hood when I go get my puffed kashi

    But we never do drugs no, cuz that’s not me
    the only thing high up in here are my condo fees

    Welcome to Arlington the town that never fizzles
    Ballston, Rosslyn, Courthouse the Clizzledizzle

    So many places to choose you’re gonna like to pick
    I’m in Courthouse so much that they call me Michael Vick…

    • Wonkette


  • PUP

    + ʊ

  • Yorktown’s finest

    Yurp Squad will be there!!!

  • S Tee

    Where are our absent police on this important community issue? Maybe we should rather send in the Arlington Rapper!!!

  • Roquer

    Maybe that 40bucks is to keep the riffraf out. Probly won’t get manygang bangers either. Unless they go for free

  • billj

    $40? They must need more money to pay for their new office in Ballston!

  • jlkj

    U from 60’s?


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