Gangs 3 Essay, Research Paper
Gangs in one form or another have been around for hundreds of years. Pirates were probably some of the original bad gangs. The groups that traditionally come to mind when one thinks of modern day gangs are the Crips and the Bloods from California. The origins of the Crips and Bloods can be traced to the late 60’s, and the gang culture is so ingrained on the west coast that many families have three and even four generations of gangsters residing in the same residence. Depending on whose figures you listen to (government officials have a tendency to downsize the numbers), L.A. gangs number between 800 and 1000, with anywhere from 120,000 to 220,000 members. As of January, 1993, we have identified about 40 named street gangs in Pulaski County with 800 – 1000 identified members. These numbers are often debated, and depending on whose criteria is used to decide who is and is not a gangbanger. The figures could be considerably higher.
Oftentimes, young peripheral or associate gang members get their first exposure to the gang culture through various aspects of the media–news shows, movies, videos, and even through the music of various artists. Some music and movies tend to glamorize the gang lifestyle. Many kids who gravitate to gangs do so out of a need to belong to something and for the power that is gained from being in a gang. The society that we live in makes alternative lifestyles very appealing. I believe, however, that the need for attention and the desire to obtain material goods are fast becoming the motivations driving youngsters to these groups. While conducting a prison interview with a young man who was about to spend his eighteenth birthday in the prison where the most violent inmates are housed for his part in the robbery and killing of two liquor store clerks, I was told that in order for this kid to have stayed away from the violence, a role model should have intervened with him when he was around four years old. He went on to say that his life was heavily influenced by the street dealers and gangsters in his birthplace of Oakland, California. He eventually ended up selling crack cocaine on the streets of Little Rock and made thousands of dollars per week. When asked what he did with all of the money, he said that he paid off his family’s debt, purchased relatives homes and clothes, and just generally did what everyone does with money.
While in prison, these youngsters become exposed to and indoctrinated into the world of real life gangbangers who are truly the hardest of the hard-core. Then, back to the streets these bangers go with more “knowledge” than ever could have been gained on the streets. When they are in prison, many gain rank or “juice” within their gang because they went to the “joint”. While most kids on the streets are good kids, as long as society continues in the direction in which we are currently drifting, all kids must be considered at risk.
, a gang can be considered to be a loosely organized group of individuals who collaborate together for social reasons. Modern day gangs now collaborate together for anti-social reasons. Gangs generally have a leader or group of leaders who issue orders and reap the fruits of the gang’s activities. A gang may also wear their “colors”, wear certain types of clothing, tattoos, brands, or likewise imprint their gang’s name, logo, or other identifying marks on their bodies. Many gangs also adopt certain types of hairstyles and communicate through the use of hand signals and graffiti on walls, streets, school work, and school property. It must be understood that it is not illegal to be in a gang and indeed many adults are currently involved in activities that meet Webster’s definition for a gang. However, many gangs of today, especially youthful gangs, break the law to provide funding for gang activities or to further the gang’s reputation on the streets.
Gangs may identify with a large city gang or remain locally turf oriented. Development of local intelligence as well as pro-active events are a mandatory part of dealing with this problem. Schools must develop lines of communication with law enforcement officials in order to track and prevent gang growth and violence effectively.
Sociologists as well as gang members have isolated the following reasons for joining a street gang:
Additionally, many kids are intimidated into gangs to avoid continued harassment. Gangs provide their members and family members with protection from other gangs as well as any other perceived threats
Gang members are not all black. Indeed, one of the largest street gangs in the Little Rock area has only a few black members. Several members of this gang were recently arrested for attempted murder after fire-bombing a home in an attempt at retaliation. We have also identified several all female gangs who have their own reputations that are as ferocious as any of the male gangs. Male gang members privately have even expressed fear of several of the ladies of the female gangs.
There are also many white teens who are joining hate groups and various other groups who promote racial disharmony. These groups appear to be growing in number and may have organized recruitment efforts planned for your area. Recently while speaking to a parent/teacher group, I was told by a mother of her son’s activity burning crosses and wearing white robes and hoods. When asked why she allowed this activity, she said she was afraid of her son and would not intervene. Any activity by or information about these groups should be passed along to your local police authorities.