Jackson, TN Police Say Hip-Hop Is Camouflage For Gangs

Hip-Hop culture in Jackson, Tennessee has been associated with the city's rising crime rates, according to Jackson County Police Lt. Pat Willis.

Willis made the shocking comments during a meeting of Jackson's crime task force yesterday (August 20) during a meeting at City Hall, where Jackson and Madison County Police officials detailed their departments crime statistics from recent years.

According to the police, the overall crime rate is down compared to recent years, but the city is West Tennessee's center for crack cocaine, which ultimately ties local dealers into bigger, more dangerous networks.

According to the Jackson Sun, Willis said that gang members are recruiting teens off of the Internet, where they start beefs with each other on various social networking sites, while trying to promote their upcoming rap groups.

"The emergence of Hip-Hop culture has given them a camouflage," Willis said.

According to Willis, a 23-year-veteran who is involved in various youth programs in Jackson, gang members are no longer wearing colors to signify their allegiance, but instead, favor a common style of dress popular with the rest of the community.

While Jackson Police Chief Rick Staples conceded that the overall crime rate was down, the city was still battling a plague of prescription drugs and heroin abuse.

Chief Staples said that most of the criminal acts were related to drugs, acts committed by the city's biggest "threat" - organized gangs.

The task force will meet again on September 10.