I was born and raised in Albany, Georgia.
It’s a name that means little to most people, but it’s got an interesting history, such as being the only city that can lay claim to a World Series MVP (Ray Knight), a Superbowl MVP (Deon Branch), and Olympic gold medalists (Alice Coachman, Angelo Taylor).
Kind of cool.
Oh yeah, and in the 1990s, it was the murder capital of the United States, per capita.
While my hometown isn’t that violent these days, it’s still got its issues. The rise of gangs here led to our dubious status as the murder capital back in the day and it’s never gotten better.
Yet a recent set of arrests illustrates just how you make a community safer. You go after the troublemakers.
Attorney General Chris Carr announced Tuesday that the office’s new statewide Gang Prosecution Unit has indicted four alleged members of the Purps Criminal Street Gang, which was founded at a local high school in Dougherty County in 2017.
Albert Lewis Hester, Williel Jermaine Harris, Kevious Demetrius Walker and Tykeshia Shenoria Sapp are facing 32 charges in total, including violation of the street gang terrorism and prevention act, theft by receiving stolen property, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of an illegal weapon, and other drug and weapons offenses. This marks the tenth indictment to be obtained by the Attorney General’s Gang Prosecution Unit over the past month.
“This case serves as a reminder that gangs can start, operate and recruit in our schools, and we must put a stop to it,” said Carr. “Furthermore, gang activity targeting our schools and our children is particularly egregious and must not be tolerated. Those who engage in and promote violent activity must and will be held accountable for their actions.”
This indictment follows a mass gang investigation conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Albany Police Department’s (APD) Gang Task Force.
Several of those arrested were also felons in possession of a firearm, but considering “possession of an illegal weapon” means a Class 3 weapon, it’s safe to say that these were people who weren’t interested in gun control.
With regard to those illegal weapons, they most likely either had a sawed-off shotgun or a Glock switch. It doesn’t matter, though, because they’re all equally illegal and those laws didn’t do jack squat to stop them.
All four of the accused are reportedly members of the Purps, a local gang with an unusual rule set that required, among other things, getting an education. Despite that, they’re also not above killing people, apparently.
Four arrests aren’t a lot, I’ll admit, but all of these offenses have the potential to put these four behind bars for decades. The gang charges alone can land them a 20-year sentence, and that’s before the weapons and drug charges get figured in.
At a minimum, these four are likely to be off our city streets for a good, long time. The prosecutors are determined to make sure of that, and as a result, Albany will be a safer city. It’s not everything, but it is a damn good start.