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State Rep: St. Louis Gangs at War! Police: No They're Not. Shut Up.

Following a bloody weekend that left several north city residents dead, State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D - North St. Louis) says St. Louis gangs are at war and she wants the police to exert all their energy in quelling the violence.

Nasheed tells KMOX that she's heard that gangs controlling the the 4400 block of Red Bud and the 4800 block of Margaretta (highlighted in blue in the map below) are "boiling over."

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Meanwhile, the police say the violence is the result of personal disputes and not any organized gang maneuvers.

"The solution to violent crime is a collaborative community effort," says police spokeswoman Erica Van Ross in a statement in response to Nasheed. "In addition to the efforts of police, it's more neighborhood watch groups. It's more involved citizens. It's witnesses cooperating with police and telling what they saw. It's eliminating the 'stop snitching' attitude. Police cannot solve this problem alone."

Whatever, responds Nasheed, who says that if police intelligence is telling them that the city is not experiencing a gang war then "they're way off the mark."

So, who to believe on this issue?

Personally, I'm siding with the police on this one. As I've discovered in my own writing on St. Louis gangs, these organizations -- if you can call them that -- are incredibly fragmented groups with little if any leadership. Sure, the posse in 4400 block of Red Bud might be upset with their counterparts in the 4800 block of Margaretta, but a citywide gang war? I'm not so sure.

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