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For week ended September 05, 1999 Posted 4 Sep 1999

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The Mormon Gang? (The Mutant Brady Bunch)

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

The Mormon Gang? (The Mutant Brady Bunch)
Time Magazine 30Aug99 L8
By Steve Lopez

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Salt Lake's violent version of the Straight Edgers will be in the news again next month as the first of three gang members goes on trial for the murder last Haloween of 15-year-old Bernardo Repeza, Jr. Repeza's father had moved his family to Salt Lake to escape the violence he found in California.

The Straight Edgers remain something of an enigma, especially in Salt Lake where some of them have become violent. In most ways, Straight Edgers seem like Mormons. They don't drink or smoke or use drugs. They are not promiscuous and condemn much of popular culture. But Straight Edgers are also vegan (i.e., strictly vegetarian) and have their own punk rock-like music. In Salt Lake some have turned to violence, such as the murder of Repeza and the firebombing of a McDonalds under construction.

What remains uncertain is why Salt Lake's Straight Edgers have turned violent, when the group is, for the most part, pacifist. When asked why some Salt Lake group members are violent, Josh Anderson, who firebombed the McDonalds, says, "Maybe because this isn't the most exciting town, and a lot of kids need a cause." Anderson grew up LDS, but became disenchanted with the Church when his family was ostracized when his mother came out as a Lesbian.

While some call the Straight Edgers a real threat, Salt Lake police minimize the danger, noting that of the 200 gang-related felonies they handled last year, only three were committed by Straight Edgers. The danger did apparently lead Elder Alexander Morrison of the Seventy to warn local Church leaders. He told the leaders to "Steer them clear," referring to the youth in their wards and branches.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information