Street gang violence can be extremely ugly. There are places where, thanks to street gang violence, it becomes impossible for people who are not members of the respective gangs to venture. Ultimately, such street gang violence has to be combated. And there are two approaches that can be used in combating the violence.
The first approach that can be used in combating street gang violence is that in which ‘hard power’ is used. This is all about meeting violence with violence. The police can crack hard on the gangs, even as intelligence collection is enhanced. This approach is quite alright, so long as it is done in a lawful way. But if it is done in an unlawful way (like where ‘shoot to kill’ orders are issued), or by untrained folks, there can be a lot of collateral damage.
The second approach that can be used in combating street gang violence is that in which soft power is used. Here, the idea is to persuade the members of the street gangs that the violence is not worthwhile. Social interventions can, in the meantime, be put in place, through subsidized housing, food aid programs and so on: ensuring that the basic needs of the youth are met, and they therefore have no economic motivation to take part in violent crimes.