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Our View...Scared of the Native Mob?

There's no doubt the Native Mob has arrived. Starting with the discovery of Cristyna Watson's body on Reservation Road Oct. 4, there has been a rash of unusual criminal activity in the Northland: two arson cases - one in Cloquet, another in Dulut...

There's no doubt the Native Mob has arrived.

Starting with the discovery of Cristyna Watson's body on Reservation Road Oct. 4, there has been a rash of unusual criminal activity in the Northland: two arson cases - one in Cloquet, another in Duluth - plus drive-by shootings in each city, as well as a stabbing (combined with a baseball bat to the head) in Duluth and who knows what else that we don't know about.

Although not every crime can be attributed to the Native Mob gang, the two males charged with killing Watson allegedly have Native Mob connections, and drive-by shootings are certainly not out of the realm of gang activity.

Watson's murder was not the first crime associated with the Native Mob. Remember the two brothers, Samuel and Anthony White, who jumped out of their Pontiac Grand Am yelling "Native Mob" numerous times before proceeding to beat another man with a gun in the parking lot of the local junior college in May 2010?

Yes, it's good to be aware of the escalation in violence and respond responsibly.

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And no, that doesn't mean stereotyping every person of Native American descent as a thug.

Although membership in the Native Mob appears to be limited to people of Native American descent, the fact that an organized group specializing in drug trafficking and other criminal activities chose to limit their membership by ancestry speaks only to their own exclusive racism - but it is not an excuse for any other person to espouse a racist viewpoint by stereotyping a people based on race.

Now is the perfect time for all the people - regardless of ethnic heritage - who make their home in this region to open up and talk to each other, to communicate, to learn what to look for and who to call when things aren't quite right.

As Duluth Police Sgt. Rodney Wilson (who also serves on the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force) said in last week's Pine Journal story on the Native Mob, the best thing people can do is call their local police force, even if it's something they think might not be important enough.

"Even if something doesn't seem like a big deal, report it," he said when asked if police would want to know about gang signs painted in a central Cloquet alleyway. "Even the smallest tip from a citizen may be something that corroborates an investigation. You know what's normal in your neighborhood. Even if police drive through, you know who belongs in which house. We rely on the public to help us out."

It's time to stop assuming someone else will take responsibility.

Whether that means joining a march or calling the police when you hear people yelling at each other in the street in the wee hours of the morning, forming a neighborhood watch or simply having a conversation with your neighbor - the choice is up to you.

~ Jana Peterson

Related Topics: OUR VIEW
Opinion by Jana Peterson
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