ST.PAUL, MINN.--Once a recruiter for tens of thousands of Hmong soldiers to fight for the United States during the Vietnam War, Gen. Vang Pao spent Sunday fighting another kind of battle--that to combat gang-related violence.
The Hmong leader, who lives in California, spoke to a Minnesota audience in the wake of 20 gang-related shootings in less than six months. He attributed much of the rise in gang violence to the reluctance of parents to confide fears that their own children may be involved in gangs, even to leaders within the Hmong community.
Pao said he has witnessed the effects of gang-related violence in the Hmong community in California, Colorado and Michigan. About 40 Hmong gangs operate in Minnesota, according to authorities. St. Paul police have increased efforts to curtail the violence and the Minnesota Gang Strike Force has been actively pursuing gang members in the Twin Cities.