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Hillbangers: An Expository Essay

973 words - 4 pages

In the essay “Hillbangers” by Matthew Brzezinski, the author discusses the shift of gang activity from urbanized areas to rural areas, specifically with regard to Shenandoah County, Virginia. Within the body of his essay, Brzezinski discusses changes in demographic by stating that gangs are no longer just a big-city problem, that although many rural gang members have moved out of the city and into the countryside, they do not necessarily do so willingly because they are pushed out of the city by competing gang members, and that these demographic changes have caused Shenandoah County’s law enforcement to deal with a drug problem brought on by a gang.
Brzezinski discussed that gangs are no longer a big-city problem. The he gives examples to shrewdly illustrate his point. Many of the laborious jobs once associated with urbanization have now moved out of the citiy, shifting the population demographics to rural areas. The author discussed some reasons that help explain demographic changes within small communities. The increased growth of the fast-food industry and the spread of large companies encouraged immigrant labor to move into smaller, less populated communities. This is a theme that is present throughout the authors’ the essay. After meeting with an immigrant from a different town demographically similar to Shenandoah County, the author discovered that the community had a “dark side,” showcased by a brawl and stabbing that took place just a few days before the author’s visit. It was noted that many workers are isolated within the rural communities, which left them vulnerable to drug dealers. This is important because it invites the reader to realize the scope of the issue at hand: the gang problem is not exclusive to Shenandoah County, but is present among many other small towns.
Although rural gang members are becoming a pertinent issue, they are not drawn to the opportunities and vulnerabilities of the countryside so much as they are simply pushed out of urban areas. Essentially, competition in the cities remains dense, thereby encouraging movement into the country where territory is open, law enforcement is weaker than their urbanite counterparts, and recruits are available. With weaker competition, recruits are easy pickings; with weaker law enforcement, such pickings remain unprotected. As stated by one gang member in the article, “(if) you recruit a couple of farm kids…you’re an instant jefe”(boss). Ample territory and willing recruits, provide an ideal situation for growth. Speaking of the vulnerability of small-town law enforcement, another gang member regarded, “You can have your way with them.” This statement alludes to the police officers’ perceived vulnerability. Despite the discussion of rural gang members moving into smaller, more isolated communities, the author goes on to say that this point does not dismiss MS 13’s ubiquity. To illustrate, the author mentions that despite attempts to protect a future murder victim, MS 13...

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