Prologue - 'The Making of a Gangster'

by Jeron McCall

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Posted by JeronMcCall
Los Angeles County, California was considered the gang capital of the world because the gang problem in Los Angeles had reached epidemic levels. Young men and women were willing to inflict harm upon people they considered their enemy for little or no reason. The only benefit they received was that others would fear them and their neighborhood. Although people who were unfamiliar with gangs believed that people joined for monetary gain, that motivation was not true for L.A. gangs. Mistaken notions of what constituted manhood motivated young men to join the local network that constituted a gang. They had been taught that being a man meant they had to be willing to inflict violence upon others without concern for being held responsible for their actions

The violent acts that gang members participated in were mostly committed against people who were members of their particular racial or ethnic group. That was ironic because the associations that later became gangs were sometimes formed in order to protect its members from the racism inflicted upon them by Whites. The United States of America had a long tradition of racism in which Whites inflicted violent acts upon non-Whites, and created discriminatory policies in order to support their false notions of genetic superiority. With regard to Black people, horrible atrocities were inflicted upon Blacks in order to support White supremacy. That environment led to a weakening of the Black psyche in which the need to protect oneself, and ones people, created a mentality of self-hate and self-destruction.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Black people formed groups in order to defend themselves, so that they could fight for justice in America’s racist, oppressive society. Some groups, such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, were militants who made it known to the government that they did not fear law enforcement. In response, the government created programs that were designed to disrupt and destroy progressive Black organizations.

One program enacted by the federal government was COINTELPRO. It was designed as a method used to infiltrate and disrupt Black organizations, and prevent the unification of Black people. Blacks who were not in conflict with each other had a tendency to arouse irrational fears in White people. The program was used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and one of its main targets was the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panther Party did many good things such as provide free breakfast to children, protect Black communities against police abuse, and fight against oppression. But their refusal to submit to racism and tyranny led to their demise. In order to destroy them the government used informants and undercover operatives to create disunity, as they simultaneously imprisoned leaders of the Black Panther Party, and murdered members of the organization. That left a void within America's Black communities. There were few people who were able to prevent the sale of drugs, protect the citizenry from police abuse, and feed the hungry while spreading a sense of brotherhood among the populace. In that environment, Black youth had no guidance, and they directed their rage inwards and upon each other.

In Los Angeles, semi-organized groups of Black teenagers formed and called themselves Crips, Pirus, and Bloods. Instead of fighting to protect themselves against racism, they acted violently towards other Blacks in order to create and develop reputations that would cause others to respect and fear them. Those groups became gangs that did nothing to benefit their communities. The residents of the Black communities where the gangs formed and existed were not immune to becoming victims of the criminal activities of the gang members who were their neighbors. That made some people feel compelled to join gangs in order to avoid being victimized.

Nearly two decades after the formation in the 1970s of groups of Black youth that became the pre-eminent Black gangs in Los Angeles, gang wars continued. That resulted in the removal of thousands of Black men from the Black community through incarceration and death. The participants in the everlasting gang wars were often ignorant of the origins of the deadly conflicts that they actively engaged in. They blindly participated because they had been taught by the older members of their gang that people from certain neighborhoods were their enemy. Instead of thinking rationally, they were expected to inflict physical harm upon their perceived enemies whenever the opportunity arose. Ironically, the people in the other neighborhoods were being taught the same thing. In essence, someone could have easily become the enemy of someone they presently considered their friend, if their parent had chosen to live in another neighborhood.

One of the most deadly gang rivalries in Los Angeles involved two alliances of individual Crip gangs: Gangster Crips and Neighborhood Crips. People who were members of gangs that were part of either alliance engaged in warfare with the opposing alliance, and the conflict resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. People who joined Gangster Crip or Neighborhood Crip gangs were taught to hate their perceived enemies, who they often did not know individually. That animus was the result of an altercation of which few people knew the details.

A credible story for the beginning of the rivalry holds that in the late 1970s in what was then called South Central Los Angeles, a fight occurred between people associated with the Eight Tray Gangster Crips and the Rolling 60s Neighborhood Crips. Both gangs had previously been allies, and people from both neighborhoods regularly associated with each other. But one day at least one person from each gang became involved in a physical altercation with the other which resulted in someone from Rolling 60s being killed.

Once the gang member from Rolling 60s got killed, it was said that people from Rolling 60s demanded that the Eight Tray Gangsters produce the person who killed the decedent, in order to avoid a war that would end the friendship shared between the gangs. The Eight Trays refused. And since that day, nearly all Gangster Crip gangs have been at war with Neighborhood Crip gangs.

Gangster Crips could often be identified because of their penchant for wearing clothing associated with Georgetown Hoyas’s athletic teams, while Neighborhood Crips wore those associated with the North Carolina Tarheels. Neighborhood Crips were also known to wear light blue as opposed to royal blue, because the North Carolina Tarheels wore light blue. And due to the clothing that members of those alliances wore, it was fairly easy to notice them. Their clothing often made them instant targets, thereby adding to the death and human destruction that existed in Los Angeles County.

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