Gang Feuds and Violence May Call for an Olive Branch

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On 28 October 2003, Barcelona became the backdrop for a tragic incident that would reverberate across the Spanish port city and beyond. Leaving his school that Tuesday afternoon, 15-year-old Ronny Tapias was shot dead by a Barcelona gang that mistakenly identified him as a member of a rival clan.

The murder of Tapias, who was originally from Colombia, sparked a public outcry. Concerns grew about threats posed by the city’s gangs and the impact of immigration from Latin America, where both clans involved in the Barcelona feud originated.

‘It created a real moral panic fuelled by extensive media coverage,’ said Carles Feixa, a professor of social anthropology at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

Feixa was instrumental in shaping the city’s response to the incident through a pioneering programme to tackle gang violence by pursuing mediation rather than a crackdown.

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