ORLANDO, Fla. — There are hundreds of gangs in Orlando, and 9 investigates rode along with the Orlando Police Department’s gang unit to see what they are dealing with day in and day out.
We learned along Jackson Street in Parramore is where the department’s gang unit spends a lot of its time, and one apartment complex is known as the epicenter of the gangs on this side of the city.
It’s where police find stolen cars, respond to shootings, and catch drug dealers. In fact, police have been here more than 375 times since January 2020.
Parramore has three gangs. The seven-member gang unit is in charge of keeping a close eye on all of them.
At the corner of Columbia and Parramore, officers showed us the result of gang violence,
“I’m not going to get (into) any specific names with you, but obviously, a gang member was shot and killed here right at this particular corner. that is a vigil of said gang member,” an officer said.
Orlando police said Antwan Roberts, Jr. was killed in broad daylight in front of his grandmother’s home in 2020. A memorial marks the violence, “and we have issues where other gang members show up for vigils on the date that person was killed during a violent act.”
In orlando, it’s not about territory, it’s not about drugs. it’s about respect and notoriety. the OPD officer said, “It’s not over drugs or territory. They don’t care about drugs or territory. it’s not like major cities like Chicago where a particular drug dealer stands on a corner and that’s their corner and that’s how things work. that’s not how it works. This stuff is about reputation, what they look like on social media.
The officer said gangs are “absolutely, 100%” influenced by social media.
Violence also happens at rival gang members gravesites and over rap songs.
“It’s mostly, literally, about reputation, clout, who can rap. one type of gang versus the other,” the officer said. “They talk trash about each other in the lyrics, They talk about the violent acts (they) are going to do to the different … gangs. It’s very, very particular. And then once that song gets released, another song will be released from another group, and that group will then be dissing this group and their lyrics. And then before you know it, it’s a feud and a feed turns into shootings or crimes against each other over the songs.”
But it’s not just in Parramore. Pine Hills also deals with completely different gangs. On the east side, it’s home to more national gang members like the Latin Kings.
Many of the shootings are because of gang violence, which often affects innocent bystanders.
It’s something police are trying to stop and, so far, it’s working. There were 470 shootings in 2021. Last year, that number fell to 441. So far this year, there have been nine.
“We have a pretty good handle on the situation”, the officer said, crediting proactive policing
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