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Strong message sent to youth

ALBANY, Ga. -- A big guy with the street name Dubb handed out a couple bucks to a boy and a girl, then explained how he would lure them into a gang.

Speaking at Albany State University's National Youth Sports Program in the HPER Gym, Lt. Tony Moore, supervisor of the Albany Police Department's Gang Unit, didn't hold back as street-wise Dubb.

"I gave them money. I'm showing them support and they are feeling it," Moore as Dubb said. "They are down with Dubb. They are down with a gang."

As a gang recruiter, Dubb's next step would be to get close to his "suckers" by hanging out with them, giving them a couple more bucks and having them sell maybe $5 worth of marijuana at their school.

Eventually, Dubb would have them selling more drugs for him. The suckers would get a cut. They would be ripe for the picking, because they would owe Dubb.

"I'd invite you to meet at the crack house," Dubb said. "You'd be initiated into the gang."

An unsavory fact of life in Albany for many of the 10- to 16-year-olds attending the program is that they know what gang initiations are.

The girls said that they knew a "Choo-Choo" awaited them at the crack house as an initiation. That is the slang they used for forced sex with multiple male members of the gang.

Initiation for boys would be a "beat down." That is an initiation where gang members punch a boy around for a few minutes to allow him to join.

The number one reason that youth join gangs is that they have nothing to do, Moore said. Talking about the brutal facts, he said the police are trying to prevent youth from joining gangs.

The police are working with church groups, civic groups and others helping to set up youth activities, such as a "Back to School Fest Youth Summit" July 29-31.

The program for that event includes a fashion show, spelling bee, art contest and a talent contest. More sporting events such as April's well attended, three-day "Hoopfest" are planned.

Moore asked the youth at the sports program what they wanted to do with their lives. A couple shouted lawyer or doctor.

"You make a mistake now and all your goals are gone," Moore said. "Some of your parents do care what happens to you. That is one reason I am here."

As for the parents who don't seem to care, Moore said the youth must learn to stand up for themselves.

"Stand up on your own to gangs," Moore said. "Say, 'No.'"

The sports program at ASU ends Friday with a ceremonial awards program. But, program Liaison Officer Jesse Massey has arranged with the Boys & Girls Club of Albany for 150 free passes for two weeks to the club and its swimming pool.

"There is no cost," Massey said. "Your parents just have to sign the form."