Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gang violence escalates between Major Gifts and Annual Giving for control of the donation trade



Metro Police say the street violence gripping the city is a war between rival fundraising gangs vying for control of the donation trade.

In the latest act of violence, a group of attackers believed to be members of the Major Gifts Crew wrecked a clubhouse belonging to leaders of the Annual Giving Gang last night. Four people were reported injured and several retail shops were damaged in the altercation. Since the street war between the two fundraising gangs began three months ago, more than 70 people have been hospitalized and 2 have made planned gifts in their wills earlier than they anticipated.

“This is a war. There’s lots of money on the street. And both of these gangs want to control the donation trade. It’s hard to say who will come up on top, but I know that there’ll be more blood on the street before this war is done,” said Police Chief Dibble Brewer.

The two gangs used to be part of the same organization. Rivalries between their leaders over who raised the most donations led to a falling out. The Annual Gifts Gang starting asking for donations of more than $10,000. The Major Gifts Crew countered by asking their larger donors to continue to make yearly donations. Violence soon began as fundraisers on both sides started asking the same people for money.

Both groups briefly united a few weeks ago to drive the Gala Events Tribe out of town. The Tribe's plans for a mega-fundraising dinner was thwarted after the Crew and the Gang burned their themed-dinner decorations sets and roughed up their volunteer committee. 

Metro Police have formed a special “Gangs & Donations” squad to combat the violence. They have begun targeting key leaders on both sides and raiding their headquarters. In the last week, more than 15 top fundraisers from both gangs have been arrested and 13 illegal fundraising operations have been closed. But Brewer says he expects the violence to continue.

Community leaders blame the easy money of fundraising and the glamour of the gang life.

"I know some of these boys and girls. They used to be so nice. They'd help you with your groceries and walk your dog for you," said long-time community activist Semple Doggonico. "Then they got hooked on fundraising and overnight they turned into the people that only Satan could love. That's what fundraising does to people."

“These fundraisers have no decency, no morals. They’ll stop at nothing to get more donations than their rivals. Both sides are well armed with brochures and social media. I don’t see the violence subsiding any time soon,” said the Chief.

Police say the Major Gifts Crew appear to have the upper hand in the street war. The Crew has raised the most money. However, the Annual Giving Gang appears to have the bigger donor network.

Mayor Turner Snidely has called for an end to the violence and has introduced a new anti-fundraising-gang project designed for areas of the inner city. City Council has allocated more than $3.5 million for more athletic programs and pottery classes at local community centres.

“We’re hoping that we can keep these gang members off the streets with programs aimed at keeping them in community centres,” said Mayor Snidely. “We know that the street life of a fundraising gang can be very charming, but we hope they choose to do basket weaving instead. No one gets killed when you create a basket and you can put some real cool things in it.”