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How do you define a terrorist?  It’s hard to say and depends on who you ask.   But one of the problems with the Patriot Act is that with a new sweeping set of laws put in place after 9/11, nearly anyone who jaywalks could be somehow connected to terrorism.  A judge was recently asked to decide if street gangsters are the same as terrorists, and he gave a clear answer:  ”No, they are not.” The Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no evidence to say that the intention of anti-terrorism measures was to deal with gang violence.   Terrorist laws carry tougher penalties for those who are convicted, so this was an important political decision.   The case involved Edgar Morales of the St. James Boys gang, who was convicted of shooting a 10-year old bystander and paralyzing a rival gang member.  All of this happened during a Christening party, meaning that Morales made a pretty heinous decision. Prosecutors argue that the gangbangers were attempting to terrorize the Mexican-American community, leading them to argue that anti-terrorism laws would be appropriate.  The six judge panel disagreed with that assessment. “If we were to apply a broad definition to ‘intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population,’ the people could invoke the specter of ‘terrorism’ every time a Blood assaults a Crip or an organized crime family orchestrates the murder of a rival syndicate’s soldier,” Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote. “But the concept of terrorism has a unique meaning and its implications risk being trivialized if the terminology is applied loosely in situations that do not match our collective understanding of what constitutes a terrorist act.” Morales was convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder, weapon possession and conspiracy and received 40 years in prison.    

Are Gang Bangers the Same as Terrorists? A Judge Says “No”

How do you define a terrorist?  It’s hard to say and depends on who you ask.   But one of the problems with the Patriot Act is that with a new sweeping set of laws put in place after 9/11, nearly anyone who jaywalks could be somehow connected to terrorism.  A judge was recently asked to decide if street gangsters are the same as terrorists, and he gave a clear answer:  ”No, they are not.”

The Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no evidence to say that the intention of anti-terrorism measures was to deal with gang violence.   Terrorist laws carry tougher penalties for those who are convicted, so this was an important political decision.   The case involved Edgar Morales of the St. James Boys gang, who was convicted of shooting a 10-year old bystander and paralyzing a rival gang member.

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