THE Mayor of Palma, Aina Calvo, warned against criminalising teenage gangs in the city yesterday and called on the authorities to deal with the current atmosphere of gang rivalry sensitively and try not to cause any further social alarm.
Calvo admitted that the stabbing of a 16-year-old West African immigrant on the streets of Palma and the subsequent trade of threats between rival teenage gangs in the capital is extremely worrying, but she called for caution and advised against all teenage gangs being criminalised and tarred with the same brush.
Calvo said she is convinced that the terrible murder of Eusebio Ebulabeta was an isolated case and that only a minority are responsible for violent gang clashes. However, she said that attacks like the one on Ebulabate, just like sexual abuse, are unacceptable in modern society and must be dealt with firmly and severely. The Mayor added that the killing of the teenager also serves to highlight the need for a much broader social policy, especially in schools with a very high immigrant intake.
The Mayor is expected to hold a meeting with her social services department, as well as the police, to discuss how the city council can help combat the teenage gangs which are predominantly South American and West African - although the 15 and 17-year-old brothers held for the stabbing are Spanish.
Over the past ten days, extra police have been deployed to suspected gang hot spot areas of the city and a number of visits have been made to conflictive schools and colleges in Palma.
Joan Miro and the area of Cala mayor are where the police have been concentrating their efforts and a handful of arrests were made over the weekend.
Local Police are also cooperating in the operation which will be repeated this weekend as the authorities attempt to stay one step ahead of the Palma gangs amidst fears of reprisals for the death of Ebulabate .
Calvo said that the tragedy has set alarm bells ringing and is a wake up call that we need to do more to help young people.