Gang Arrests Stir Tacoma’s Hilltop

Cole Cosgrove, News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington), February 12, 2010

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On Tacoma’s Hilltop, residents and business owners had strong reactions Thursday to this week’s charges against 32 suspected members of the gang.

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In interviews with 20 people along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, some wondered why, if the men were dangerous, police waited so long to arrest them. Others wondered why a black gang was targeted, when white, Mexican and American Indian gangs were not. Some wanted to see the legal process play out.

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Others questioned the conspiracy charges, which are being used for the first time in Washington in an attempt to prosecute gang violence.

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As he walked down MLK Way, Niko Satiacum, 23, said he was nervous–not about gang members, but police.

“The police could probably roll up on me, just because I’m hanging out with certain people,” said Satiacum, who recently served eight months in jail; he didn’t offer specifics about why. “Say I see someone I went to school with, go up and say hi, and they had done something wrong. The police could turn around and arrest me too.”

He said his grandfather, Robert Satiacum, was a Puyallup tribal leader.

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