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Symptoms of something bad

| May 5, 2006 12:00 AM

Think about this carefully: We had a couple of juveniles stabbed by 18-year-olds — juveniles themselves in reality but treated as adults by law — because of gang-like or wannabe activity.

A few years ago this community gasped noticeably when one man stabbed another on the sidewalk outside a downtown bar. I heard exclamations such as "That's not small town, that's big city."

Guess what? It's back. It's here and it's linked to gang-like graffiti, which is generally described in the outside world as the first sign of gang activity in a community. Yes, these are wannabes acting out. But where does it stop if intimidating younger kids with a knife seems an OK activity?

The experts say don't take it lightly and the Libby police have been all over it. Thankfully.

This isn't the first time we've had gang-like activity in this community. It surfaced a few years ago among some kids "tagging" or spray-painting graffiti in public places. A combination of law enforcement and our own kids stepping in squashed that episode.

But what is next? Kids acting in the wannabe mode and involved in drug activity? Meth? How about homicide?

We can't be lulled in complacency that this is it. There won't be any more trouble. Nor should we panic that it — gang activity — is here. But we should take steps toward having a community dialogue among ourselves, and perhaps with our kids, on why this type of behavior is so attractive, and why it is here.

It can't hurt and it beats watching graffiti sprout up everywhere or another youngster getting physically hurt or worse.

Kudos to local law enforcement and the approach they took.