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Gangs and gang mentality

Pictures shows a white gang member holding a revolver

A mosaic of remorseless violence and relentless loyalty
Gang Mentality in America, including gang symbols
Understanding Gang Life
Muslim gangs 'are taking control of prison'
Drawn into a gang culture through internet social networking sites
Children as young as nine are being recruited to stash guns
Boys and Men: Hiding fear by talking tough
14 yrs old: Teenage gang rape victim tells of ordeal
Song: Glasvegas 'Stabbed'
Song: Josh Groban 'I'm a Gangster'
Song: Kurupt (of Tha Dogg Pound) 'Loc'd Out Hood'
Song: O.F.T.B. (Operation from the Bottom) 'Keep Your Eyes Open'
UK Govt: Jacqui Smith's speech on gang culture May 2008
Gangs 101 - Gang Structure
Gang communication: codes and numbers
Gang communication: Hip Hop slang
Some Further Information
See also

Street-gang mentality:
a mosaic of remorseless violence and relentless loyalty

Anthony J. Pinizzotto Sept 2007

During their more than 20 years of research on violence against law enforcement officers, the authors interviewed hundreds of offenders either housed in various prisons throughout the United States or following release from these institutions after serving their sentences. The authors found marked differences among these individuals who had killed and assaulted officers. One of these variations focused on street-gang mentality, specifically cold-blooded and remorseless behavior. (1) Among the other dissimilarities between self-admitted gang members (2) and offenders not affiliated with such groups involved the apparent motivation for assaulting the officers. The gang members either attempted to or inflicted injuries of greater severity than appeared warranted under the circumstances. They exhibited no remorse for their actions but, rather, appeared to take pride in attacking sworn law enforcement professionals. In fact, seven gang members told the authors that escape was not the motive for assaulting the officer; three admitted that they wanted to kill, not injure, the officer; and one, who could have successfully escaped, chose not to and assaulted the officer instead.

To help officers better understand gang members, the authors share some observations from their recent study, Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers. The original design of their research made no attempt to identify gang members. As it progressed, however, 13 offenders admitted street-gang membership. (3) What these individuals said caught the authors' attention because of the qualitative differences of their information. The gang members' own words presented in this article offer a chilling glimpse into a lifestyle foreign to most law-abiding citizens. (4) All officers would do well to study these statements to gain insight into the minds of individuals who have exhibited cold-blooded and remorseless behavior toward those charged with enforcing this nation's laws.

Family Dynamics
"Yeah, it was like another family. You know, at the time, that was all I had to lean on. My family members wasn't there. My mom was on dope, you know, and I was staying with my auntie, and she had five other kids she had to worry about besides me. So, I made my choice to join the gang...."

All gang members lacked male role models in their households. Six never lived with their biological fathers, while seven reported their biological fathers as mostly absent from the home setting. As to the presence of their biological mothers, nine gang members stated that she lived in the home but worked full time, leaving the children unsupervised throughout much of their early childhood. The gang members often lived temporarily with various people, such as grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and friends or acquaintances of their families. The number of people residing in the households constantly changed. For example, over eight people resided in the homes where three gang members stayed, with only three being members of their nuclear families.

All but one gang member advised that one or more members of their immediate families had a criminal history or abused drugs. Nine disclosed that one or more members of their immediate families abused alcohol, and five indicated that psychiatric problems affected one or more family members.

Most children learn to delay gratification, develop appropriate social behavior, and control aggression toward others through their interactions with well-adjusted family members and other individuals in various social arenas, such as day care and school. Parents teach children not only by what they say but, most important, by engaging in appropriate social conduct. When their children act outside the parameters of socially acceptable behavior, parents immediately correct them, thereby allowing their children to experience the negative consequences of their unacceptable actions. As children grow, develop, and move outside the family, they acquire negotiation skills and incorporate them into their social repertoire of behaviors.

Gang members fail to develop these skills because they remain within a system and structure that reinforces relying on and trusting only those individuals within their group. This reliance intensifies when they learn to see anyone outside the gang as a real and immediate threat to the group's safety and their own personal existence. In effect, the gang becomes a substitute for their family. What conventional society regards as inappropriate or unacceptable behavior that often results in punishment, gang members ignore, encourage, or recognize as adaptive for their survival on the street.

Education Levels
"I didn't need to read to sell drugs. I make more money than those people who write books." As these comments illustrate, formal education meant little and was not a goal recognized by the gangs. None of the members graduated from high school, and only two obtained a general equivalency diploma (GED) while incarcerated for assaulting an officer. None said that they read newspapers, magazines, or any type of written news material on a regular basis nor had they ever used the Internet. Moreover, the authors observed that several gang members experienced problems reading interview documents.

Criminal Activity
On average, the gang members committed their first criminal offense at the age of 9. From this first encounter, their criminal histories escalated. Five gang members had committed murders, 10 had perpetrated armed robberies, 11 had effected burglaries, and all had engaged in drug violations and weapons offenses. Also, all gang members had been confined to juvenile detention centers by the courts, and four had escaped from these facilities one or more times. Their average age at the time they joined the gang was 13. All admitted carrying weapons, including knives and handguns, at an early age and quickly learned how to effectively and efficiently use them.

Exposure to Violence
"It's a pretty violent neighborhood. A lot of drug dealers, gangs. A lot of people getting killed in my neighborhood...." All gang members came from dysfunctional families. Each had experienced some form of verbal or physical abuse within the family setting. Outside this unit, all became the victim of at least one physical assault during their early childhoods. All grew up in neighborhoods controlled by the gang that they eventually joined. Prior to belonging to the gang, all had property taken from them by persons associated with gang activity.

During their childhoods, three gang members were robbed at gunpoint, and all had acquaintances killed in acts of violence on the street. Several members joined the gang for physical protection. "Shoot-outs mostly every day. I mean, it was always somebody got into something with another person or some type of altercation that escalated into a shoot-out.... The guns are the problem solvers."

Work Experience
No gang members were employed in a conventional sense at the time they assaulted an officer. In addition, although none had served in the military, they often referred to themselves as a soldier or street soldier. Moreover, their gangs expected them to behave similarly to formally trained U.S. military personnel, particularly when serving as protectors. This street-soldier attitude significantly contributed to the development of the street-gang mentality. Successful service as a street soldier often led to promotions within the gang structure where titles or ranks mirrored those in the armed services as well.

Although unemployed in a traditional sense, all had specific tasks or jobs within their gangs. All participated in some way in the street sale of illicit drugs, as well as engaging in various other low-level crimes. Those who served as gang enforcers always carried weapons and stood ready to protect the drug sellers and the gang's territory. They also enforced gang rules and regulations, imposing far more severe penalties for violating these than society would for breaking its laws. For example, society would consider a petty larceny as a minor infraction. The gang, however, would judge the same act perpetrated against another member as a major transgression, which potentially could result in serious bodily injury or death as punishment.

Lieutenants and bosses oversaw the daily operations of the gang, such as the sale of drugs and contraband, and the resolution of minor disputes among members and rival gangs. Original gangsters, founding members of the gang usually vested with overall authority above all other members, generally acted as the final authority in settling major disputes among gang members and rival gangs. Delivery men, mules, and transporters conveyed and distributed wholesale amounts of illicit drugs or other contraband from outside sources into the gang area. Burglars and creepers specialized in committing burglaries usually of commercial establishments, office buildings, and private residences. Creepers often garnered firearms for the gang, typically stealing them during daytime residential burglaries. Drivers possessed a valid driver's license and sufficient driving skills to transport gang members to various locations for criminal activities. Specialists, generally older and more experienced members, conducted specific criminal activities for the greater benefit of the gang, such as bank and commercial robberies, along with robberies of rival gang members. Lookouts monitored the perimeter of the neighborhood and warned gang members when law enforcement or rival gangs approached. Taggers specialized in performing the gang's art work, or graffiti, both inside and outside the gang's area.

Those charged with specific responsibilities considered themselves experts in their assigned gang-related work activities. They discussed their occupations within the gang with a sense of personal pride. A reputation as a diligent worker enhanced their status in the gang and increased the amount of money they received. Bringing in more money further heightened their status, often measured by the material assets they acquired, such as the type of vehicle owned and the kind of jewelry worn. An increase in status usually heightened the level of respect on the street. This lifestyle often resulted in a cycle of continually reinforced antisocial and criminal behavior--more violence achieved more material goods, which, in turn, increased a gang member's street status and appetite for additional possessions.

Names of Members and Their Gangs
Gang members appeared to have more pride in their gang names than in their surnames, especially if they had received them in recognition of criminal deeds or behavior. A gang name tended to increase a member's status and reputation within the group.

Some reported that they belonged to a clique, set, or subset of a nationally known gang. (5) Others stated that they belonged to local neighborhood gangs or drug crews that took their names from the streets or housing developments in the area and claimed no national affiliations. Regardless of the gang's lineage, all of the members took great pride in its name and the reputation it had on the street.

The Neighborhood
The neighborhood where the gang members grew up comprised a large part of their lives. It was where they had their first interactions with people outside the family setting and where they felt safe at an early age. When questioned as to the importance of the neighborhood, some responded--

* "My territory, my domain; I would die for it."

* "It was all I had, like family, you know."

* "It's home, nobody can violate that space."

* "It meant a lot; I felt like I was responsible, a lot of people died."

* "People I loved lived and grew up there. It meant a lot."

These statements demonstrated how important the idea of neighborhood had become for the gang members. It was their home. The authors visited some of the neighborhoods and found them run-down and heavily littered with few commercial establishments, forcing residents to travel long distances to shop for food and other necessities. While these locations did not resemble areas that most people would consider desirable, all of the gang members professed extreme pride in their individual neighborhoods. When asked what they had contributed to their neighborhoods, some replied--

* "Put us on the map and on the street. I wanted to try to keep our money in the neighborhood."

* "Schooled the kids on everything, how to steal, break in cars, and steal cars."

* "Take care of relatives and friends in time of need."

* "Go to the grocery store for the elderly. We protected everyone in our neighborhood."

* "Buy kids food and stuff, I would protect my neighborhood."

Teaching younger members of the neighborhood better ways to steal and break into cars acted as both a recruiting tool and a way to help the neighborhood residents become thieves. Protecting the neighborhood to these gang members meant keeping outsiders (rival gangs) away from the area.

All stated that rival gang members would enter their neighborhoods and show disrespect. Some defined these acts as--

* "Other drug crews tried to move in on my turf."

* "They'd come through shooting."

* "Could get killed, disrespected by attempting to sell drugs in the hood."

* "They would send people in who would tag us" (i.e., spray paint over the gang's graffiti, replacing it with some representing the rival gang).

* "They'd come through with rags hanging out of cars or even shooting. We would always retaliate."

Retaliation to the acts of disrespect helped the individual members develop a reputation as tough, both within their gang and by rival ones. Eliminating competing drug dealers from the neighborhood helped keep the local drug market open, ensuring profits for the neighborhood gang.

Often, a strange mix occurred in the gang members' responses that reflected a bizarre and fractured Robin Hood fantasy. They reported a love for their neighborhoods, a respect for the elderly who lived there, and a responsibility for the youth. Yet, they incorporated children into a gang that lived by theft and deception; they abused drugs and alcohol, rather than dealing with personal or social issues; and they employed the ultimate amount of force and violence to achieve personal gratification.

Gang members stated that they learned violent gang values at an early age and had them strongly and regularly reinforced. Rather than the prosocial behaviors taught in most well-adjusted families, the gangs instilled and reinforced antisocial ones that protected them from outsiders, which included the law enforcement community. In fact, the gangs not only regarded law enforcement officers as outsiders but as a threat to their survival.

The goal of every gang member was to achieve status and respect within their gangs. Respected only when feared, gang members achieved this through repeated acts of physical violence against others, who they usually viewed as outsiders. Once perceived as willing to use violence without conscience, especially when directed toward law enforcement officers, gang members obtained status.

With such a mind-set, gang members can represent a grave danger to all Americans who value a safe and productive life. They also pose an even greater threat to members of the law enforcement profession because of their lack of remorse for destroying lives and their relentless loyalty to the groups that spawned their vicious behavior.


(1) For additional information on this concept, see Anthony J. Pinizzotto, Edward F. Davis, and Charles E. Miller III, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, In the Line of Fire (Washington, DC, 1997).

(2) The FBI's National Crime Information Center defines a gang as a group that "must be an ongoing organization or association of three or more persons. The group must have a common interest or activity characterized by the commission or involvement in a pattern of criminal or delinquent conduct."

(3) All gang members were males with an average age of 20 at the time of the assault incident. However, two were over 30 and the only married gang members in the study. Eight were black, and five were white. Ten had children but never had married. The physical appearance of gang members did not differ significantly from nongang members at the time of the interviews primarily because all were incarcerated and, thus, required to maintain uniform grooming and dress standards.

(4) All gang member statements are excerpted from Anthony J. Pinizzotto, Edward F. Davis, and Charles E. Miller III, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation's Law Enforcement Officers (Washington, DC, 2006), available from the UCR Program Office, FBI Complex, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0150 or by calling 888-827-6427.

(5) The authors made no attempt to confirm or disprove the gang members' self-proclaimed affiliations.

Dr. Pinizzotto is the senior scientist and clinical forensic psychologist in the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy.
Mr. Davis, a retired police lieutenant, is an instructor in the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy.
Mr. Miller, a retired police captain, heads the Officer Safety Research and Training Program of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division.


"When I turned 16, that's when I basically started shooting people, putting in work and all. In my neighborhood, people feared me. They feared me because I didn't have no problems with taking a life. I mean, you know, you disrespect me or do something wrong to me, you'll die for it."

"I'm a ghetto track star. I've been running all my life. [The officer] ain't gonna catch me. If I wouldn't have waited on him, he would have never caught me.... I ran around the corner, and I waited on him. He came around the corner; I shot."

""The police officer don't get as much work as I do. I mean, when it comes to shooting and stuff like that, I do every day, so a police officer cannot intimidate me.... And, here I am a thug on the street been shooting and killing people all my life and why am I gonna let a guy that just went through the police academy and I've been out here in the war zone all my life.... Why am I gonna have respect for him? I'm not gonna have respect for him because he's trying to stop what I'm trying to do.... So, you know, he can go ahead and do his job, but just don't go overboard. 'Cause if you go overboard, then some bullets are gonna come flying at you."

"People that I grew up around got shot. Then, I knew friends, you know, that I went to see, friends laying in a hospital bed, stomach all stitched up, and I knew that I was definitely not gonna be one of them ones that got shot. So, if I even felt as though a person was a threat or any type of flinch or any type of indication that somebody was gonna pull a gun on me or try to pull a knife or try to hurt me, he was gonna get shot first."

"We used to enjoy watching the news to see the work that we put in it. But, it got to the point we were putting in so much work, shooting so many people, I mean, we ain't even watched the news no more. The stuff didn't even matter anymore. We were just out there."


Gang Mentality in America - A Brief Overview
The Criminal Mind, I feel my final paper should reflect the subject of gangs, and gang violence in American society, as well as the irrefutable damage this problem causes for everyone. Because it is an important aspect to the concept of this course, I will cover the reality of gangs as I see it in relation to criminal thinking. Although the subject of gang violence is globally apparent, and is seen in many variations regarding custom and culture and because it goes beyond the scope of this essay to cover every aspect of the gang mentality, its background, and its future, I shall narrow my focus on the American example of street gangs, specifically, its relevance to the many mannerisms and identifying factors of the criminal mind.

The subject of gangs and the gang mentality has been an unfortunate reality in the United States since its initial beginning in the mid 1500s. From the “Allegiance,” a rural criminal gang during Revolutionary era New England, who raided cabins and villages, thieving, raping and murdering its victims, to the organized gang enforcer and professional luters known as the “Bummers” during the American Civil War era, the gang presence has been with us from the start, and has most likely coexisted within the human condition all along. This reality, although harsh, has proven to remain relativily the same regardless of technology and educational advances of modern day.

To this end, the exemplification of these modern gangs and organized criminal societies will be shown in both the researched aspects, consisting of up-to-date law enforcement statistics and visual representations, such as the identifying factors of modern U.S. gangs, like tattoos, grafetti and insignias. And, because this subject is so vast, only the most relative and active gangs will be used for exemplification for this paper.

Gangs in America: A Brief Review.
The problem of gangs is prevalent in today's society. There are many reasons why so many youths join gangs. Gangs are more available to young people today than ever before. When students lack academic achievement, they often also lack social success and involvement in school activity. Less than desirable home and family circumstances compound the youths' problems. They become more vulnerable to the fascination of gangs. Law enforcement agencies have to deal with the problems of gangs, and they must act to curtail that problem.

According to Loundsbury (1996), there are six reasons why youths join gangs: (1) Young people need an identity, (2) Young people need to bond, (3) youths join gangs is to be perceived as competent in some area, or any area, (4) Youths feel safe and secure in gangs, (5) Young people join gangs to become members of something new, exciting and different, and (6) Young people join gangs for acceptance. (p. 211)

In other words, young people join gangs due to anomie, they have a lack of purpose; a lack of identity. With today's society being what it is there is a sense of rootlessness in young people. This anomie causes them to turn to gangs for needs that are not being met in familial and pedagogical environments. They lack ethical values due to society's broken home status, and many parents are not able to "parent" their children because of second jobs, or simply not having parenting skills. There are many
theories associated with the gang activity and deviance in general, such as the strain theory, differential association, and social control…The number of gangs in America is astounding.

According to Danitz (1998) there are "75 documented gangs" that are operating in Washington, DC alone. Lt. Lawrence W. Thomas, who is the commander of the department that monitors gang activity in Washington, feels that this is not bad when compared to other major cities. In a 1996 report it was found that there are an estimated "250 crews, mobs, and posses" active at "10 different high schools, eight junior-high schools, two middle schools and two adult education centers." This in is complete contradiction with the argument that there is no gang problem. Denial does not make the problem dissipate. When cities deny that there is a gang problem they deny themselves of federal financial assistance in the fighting or prevention of gang related problems. (p.14).

Police departments and others are fighting to teach children to "reject the call of the streets," and to be a part of other, more positive day programs in their communities. In one area a program called GREAT was formed. This is an acronym for "Gang Resistance Education and Training" program, which teaches children the things they need to know about how to survive on the street. Drug information is covered, and so is the effects of alcohol use. The children learn lessons on how to treat people. Police administer the GREAT program. It is a government nonprofit program whose purpose is to prevent the ruination of children's lives form gang involvement, crime and violence.

According to Brogan (1995), George Akerlof and Janet L. Yellon posit that community values can be an asset in the control of gang activity. Community cooperation with the police is dependent upon the neighborhood's prevalent value choices. (p. 24)

The best solution to the problem of gangs is to stop them from forming. This can be done in several ways. One organization alone can not end the problem of gangs. However, when society works together as a whole, the efforts of law enforcement to curtail the problem of gangs can be maximized to their fullest potential.

Lounsbury (1996) believes that a student's lack of academic achievement is often accompanied by a lack of social success and involvement in school activities. Further, when home and family circumstances are less than desirable, some students' problems are compounded, and they become vulnerable to the lure of gangs. (p. 211)

Law Enforcement efforts to curtail the problem of gangs should include community policing programs. When a police officer is seen regularly in the community, he/she becomes a role model instead of a "bad guy." When the community and the police work together in cooperative programs each benefits from those programs. If a child sees that police are their friends and that someone really does care about them, they are less inclined to join gangs. If a child is prevented form joining a gang, the problem is on its way to being solved.

Law Enforcement agencies first need to admit that there is a gang problem. Many refuse to do so. Once they admit that there is a problem, they are well on their way to fixing the problem. Many law enforcement agencies deny the existence of gangs. In that way they do not have to legitimize gangs.

Law enforcement agencies, communities and schools must work together in order to stop the problem of gangs. No one person or agency is able to do this alone. They must all work together for the common goal of fighting gangs. In this way, the problem can and will be solved.

One manner in which the problem of gangs was solved is the GREAT program. It works with kids in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades, where officers go into the classrooms for one class period per week and talk to the children about what happens to kids in gangs, how to set goals and resist peer pressure, as well as how to resolve conflicts and problems without resorting to violence. The students really enjoy the program because of the perks, which include day trips and summer camp, all paid for by the police department.

Danitz (1998) posits that the law enforcement community alone can not solve the problem of gangs. Further assistance is necessary for this problem to be solved. Children need role models. The police can not be everywhere at all times. The schools, communities and families must also play a viable part in the solution to the problem of gangs. (p. 246)

Children need an alternative to gangs. If something else meets the social needs of the child he/she will not resort to gangs. In the theory of differential association, young people that are involved in gangs are likely to antagonize their peers into becoming a member of a gang. Agnew & Brezina (1997), feel that the measures of social control, as well as differential association are important gauges into delinquent behavior. Because of this, it is possible for a person with a low level of social control to adopt deviant behavior, such as gang activity. Moreover, these authors seem to posit that social control may be reduced by peer association and deviant beliefs, or in other words, strain measures have a reciprocal relation to both social control and differential association.

Although both authors suggest that if a child can be drawn away from gangs, then half the battle is won, with the prevalence of gangs, however, it is nonetheless, difficult to keep a child from being confronted by the gang mentality, when that is all he or she sees, and that sight looks so much better than what he or she has or has not. Because of this, society has a difficult task of keeping the gang away from the child and the child away from the gang, but it can be done.

In some contexts, consideration of gangs has moved from a curious cultural phenomenon to a pernicious economic force embedded in the economic and political systems of the society, sometimes competing for authority with school and church…Gangs are geographically and culturally diverse, and almost uniformly they are connected with delinquency, yet some argue that delinquency is a correlate of the term, 'gang,' and not a defining characteristic. Furthermore, gang members have been involved in a sufficient number of delinquent incidents to call forth a consistent negative response from neighborhood residents and/or law enforcement agencies. With the increased prevalence and sophistication of the arming of youth, public perceptions of threat from gangs seem to be at an all time high. A recent Gallup Poll (Associated Press, 1994) showed that adults viewed fighting, violence, and gangs as the biggest problem confronting public schools.

Young people live in two social worlds. One is in the cultural surrounding of peers in school and at leisure. The other is the familial world of the family and home. When with their peers, young people are in a domain with its own rules of dress, behavior, music, and speech. There is an emphasis on popularity and physical attractiveness, and for some, athletic success. The family environment has been known to clash with the peer culture, and school. The transition between the two cultures is frequent since it occurs at least twice per day in normal situations.

According to Warr (1993), "Criminologists have long recognized the importance of family and peers in the etiology of delinquency, but these two influences are commonly analyzed in isolation. However, if peers are treated as potential instigators of delinquency (following differential association theory) and parents as potential barriers to delinquency (following control theory), a crucial question emerges: Is parental influence capable of counteracting the influence of delinquent peers? Analysis of data from the National

Youth Survey reveals that the amount of time spent with family is indeed capable of reducing and even eliminating peer influence. By contrast, attachment to parents (the affective relation between parents and offspring) apparently has no such effect…Instead,it appears to affect delinquency indirectly by inhibiting the initial formation of delinquent friendships." (p. 247)

Joining a gang is considered to be a delinquent behavior, therefore, this is applicable to the problem of gangs. Young people join gangs because of differential association. Other gang members make gangs activity seem "cool." Since the child is influenced by the cultures both inside and outside of the home, it would be in society’s best interest to purport the familial unit to the child. This assists the law enforcement agencies in curtailing the problem of gangs. If a child gets what he needs from home and school he or she will not need the gang relationship. Parents are not playing the positive role models that they should. Without positive role models the child is going to formulate delinquent peers through differential association, even though parents do not
activity condone gang activity. Even those that have been involved in criminal activity know the seriousness of becoming a gang member. It is not something the parent wants for his or her child, but by not being there when a child needs him or her, the parent is giving the child over to gang membership and the many problems associated with gang activity.

Where is the parent when the gang offers the child an identity? The child needs an
identity. They want to be recognized and regarded as part of something unique. Gangs give them an identity that will distinguish them. Gang members have their own "colors". They oftentimes have tattoos. They have their own "turf."

Where is the parent when the child needs to bond? Young people need to bond. They join gangs to become included in something they perceive as meaningful, something that gives them a sense of family where they oftentimes had none, or they were estranged from them. Many gang members only have their gangs. They do not have families. The gang is their family. They need to bond with other human beings since they are not able to bond with their families.

Where is the parent when the child needs to be perceived as competent at something? Young people join gangs is to be perceived as competent. This is true even though they are successful in an area that is not valued by society. Just being in a gang gives them an aura of success. This perception is skewed. To them being a gang member is being "somebody". They are no longer just a "nobody". They are members of a gang.

Where is the parent when a young person needs to feel safe? Young people feel safe and secure in gangs. They have a familial unit in gangs. They know that the other gang members will protect them. They swear an oath to their gang to never leave. Only death takes a person out of a gang. They become one with the gang, instead of with the family unit.
Identification: A Terminology Manual and Pictorial Guide.

Under each gang heading, detailed information can be found describing graphic renditions and explanatory information regarding the gang. The designs might be rendered in the form of graffiti, tattoos or other symbols. Street gangs are not a new phenomenon-- they have existed in every country in one form or another throughout recorded history. There is a long history of street gangs in most metropolitan areas of the US, the first of which can be traced back as far as the 1920’s. In the initial stages, family members and close friends bonded together for self defense, then groups provided protection from rival gangs, and eventually, gangs came to rely on criminal activities as a source of income

Today, street gangs can be a major challenge to criminal justice official, as in recent years, their activities have grown to include drug traffic, extortion, drive-by shootings and numerous acts of random violence. Gang members generally are young and impulsive, striking out at different elements of society in wanton fashion. They often lack the group discipline necessary to prevent members from acting individually or in Ga smaller groups. They intimidate neighborhoods, making citizens extremely reluctant to assist law enforcement officials pursuing criminal investigation.

As members of street gangs are confined in prison, they carry their affiliations with them and pose significant control problems. As the number of these individuals in prison grows, they potentially pose a far greater problem to correctional staff than many existing prison gangs.

Street gang members share a general outlook on life which includes loyalty to other members and portraying a callous and ruthless image-- one that can be enhanced by drive-by shooting, robberies or other crimes. The more violent and dangerous a particular gang member is perceived to be, the more respect he is accorded by both fellow and rival gang members. Some members develop a sociopathic mentality that differs radically from other types of juvenile offenders.

Most criminally active youth are between the ages of 14 and 25, and most gang members are usually between the age of 9 and 25. However, some members may be in their 30’s or older. There is no traditional chain of command for many of these groups, although older members generally have the most influence. If a chronological approach based on age is used, the usual structural breakdown of street gangs is as follows:

Original Gangsters: Other wise known as “OG’s”, these members are in the upper echelon of gang command. They tend to remain apart from the day-to-day gang activities, with many actually running legitimate businesses as fronts for their gang involvement.

Gangsters: The gangster or “G’s” are the backbone of the street gang. They are usually younger than the original gangster’s, (14-17 years old,) and generally represent rank and file street gang membership.

Pee Wees: Also called “Baby Gangsters”, they are usually (9-13 years old,) and are used by senior gang members for menial task like serving as runners, sentries or writing graffiti.

Tiny Gangster: also called “TG’s” are the youngest member of gangs, usually between the age of six and nine. They primarily carryout very menial tasks for older gang members.

Gang Communications: US street gangs place a major emphasis on communications. Many have developed intricate communications methods--

apparel worn in a specific manner, individual nicknames, selected and easily discernible “colors”, graphic symbols, and graffiti-- which have little or no special meaning to the untrained individual who is not a gang member. Gang members often communicate with each other by means of “placas”-- a form of nonverbal communication.

Hand signs (flashing) and graffiti show gang affiliation, but also communicate ideas, e.g., an impending shooting. Gangs have several different ways of displaying their colors. They wear clothing that is the primary or secondary color of their gang and also may carry colored handkerchiefs to signify gang affiliation. The handkerchief may be carried inside the waist band as a flag.

Street gangs are territorial and identify their territory by spray painting graffiti on walls, usually in the predominant color of the gang. The symbols portrayed in the graffiti not only signify turf, but chronicle the current state of gang affairs, rivalries, drug supplies, and other significant information. In essence, gangs believe it is extremely important to protect their symbols from insults by rivals; degradation of a gang symbol is an extreme insult. A gang emblem upside down has been degraded, and numerous gang wars and gang related murders have started with an insult of that type.

As street gangs become better financed and more numerous, battles for territorial control become more violent. A potentially deadly tactic for attacking rival gang members is the drive-by shooting-- gang members using pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, or fully automatic weapons fire on targets from moving vehicles. Of the many homicides resulting from drive-by shootings, many have involved innocent bystanders.

Gang Organization: Typically, street gangs lack the sophisticated organizational structure, discipline, and lack the sophisticated organizational structure, discipline, and narrowly-focused mission of established adult gangs, such as the Aryan Brotherhood, Texas Syndicate, and others, or of other major disruptive groups such as La Cosa Nostra and South American drug cartels. However, gangs in a few cities are quite sophisticated, and have aligned themselves under umbrella structures called “Nations” or “Sets”.

How gang activity affects the community: Who will gang activity affect:
Increases in crime.

Increases in cost for police services.
Movie theatres and arcades.
Increases in cost for security services for businesses, and schools. Parks and recreation centers.
Increases burden on social services for businesses and schools. Sporting events.
Increased burden on social service systems and emergency and hospital systems.
Shopping centers.
Influences business recruitment, and overall city economic development impacts overall image of city, causes trauma, grief, confusion and depression over the injury and death of a loved one because of gang violence.
Apartments and multiple dwelling complexes.
Increases the likelihood of you becoming a victim of crime, damages personal property through acts of vandalism.
Grocery and convenience stores.
Increases fear for your personal safety or the safety of your neighborhood.
Public transportation.
May cause you to become a victim of harassment and intimidation or other more violent acts of crime such as a drive by shooting. Hospital emergency departments.
Types of criminal gang activities:
Intimidation, harassment, vandalism and criminal trespassing.

Shoplifting, burglaries, auto thefts and thefts.

Arson, sexual assaults/batteries and firearms/ weapons violations.

Robberies, kidnapping, murder, murder for hire, violence against law enforcement and drugs, both sale and possession.

Gang Identifiers:

The following list represents common identifiers that will help identifying street gang members. Please remember that because you find one of these identifiers on an individual. It does not mean the person is a gang member. To be sure, check further for other common characteristics. As you will see below, Folk Nation members dress to the right, while People Nation dresses to the left.

Folk Nation
People nation
Pant Legs: Rolled up on the right side… Rolled up on the left side…
Tilted to the right… Tilted to the left…

A. Gang members sometimes color, nails with their colors.
B. The fingernails hat are painted are on the hand their gang represents.

A. A fad taken over by gangs. The beads are worn as part of their clothing, hair dresses, necklaces, or on their Shoes.

Eyebrows, earrings, bandanas:

A. Eyebrow hair will have 3 or more cuts in it on the side their gang represents.
B. Earrings are worn on the side their gang represents.
C. Bandanas are generally worn in the colors of their gang and on the side of the body that represents their gang these bandanas can be tied on the leg, wrist, or hung from the back pockets.

Colors and Representations:
The following is a brief representation of names and colors of the major gangs throughout the United States. Although there are minor differentials from State-to-State, these colors and symbols are commonplace and identifiable nationwide. Each gang can belong to another gang entity without losing faith for its original gang foundation, and although rare, such mixtures can be seen.

Folk Nation.
Color: Blue

G.S. / Gangster Disciples
I.G. / Imperial Gangster Disciples (Miami Clik)
I.G.D. / Insane Gangster Disciples
B.G.D./Black Gangster Disciples
M.G.D. / Maniac Gangster Disciples
I.N.P. International posse (Miami clik)
Y.L.O. / Young Latin Organization (Miami clik)
Crips (Crips and Folks together)
Color: Blue

Eight -Tray Gangster
Rollin 60's
Crazy C's C-II
Thug life C's
Bloods. Color: Red

L.K / Latin Kings
V.L. / Vatos Locos
A.M.L.K.Q.D.N. /  Almighty Latin Kings and Queen Disciple Nation.
Bloods and Kings together. Color: Red

U.B. / United Bloods S.B. / Southern Bloods
B.B / Bishop Bloods
C.B / Chapter 2 Bloods (Branch of the kings set) Piru / Crips who became Bloods (Piru is crip spelled backwards, with the c turned sideways).
L.B.B. / Latin Bad Boys Color: (Varies).
L.B.H. / Little Havana Boys
B.T.B. / Back To Back South Beach Posse
D.O.M. Dominators Of Miami
Y.L.O. / Young Latin Organization
M.M.W. / Miami's Most Wanted
P.I.C. / Partners In Crime 27ave Boys
O.T.G / Over Town Gangsters
H.C. / Hialeah Chicos
I.G. / Imperial Gangsters
C.H.S. / Chico Hit Squad King park Boys Merrick Park Posse Gland Park Boys

Although this constitutes a relatively brief example of the gang structure in America, it should point out the detail of the gang mentality and its resourcefulness towards identification and sense of “family,” otherwise unknown to the gang member.

Folk Symbols:
Figure Series A.
The following are symbols, and their meaning, used by the FOLKS street gangs, and affiliates to identify themselves.

Six pointed star - 6 principles of King David.

Pitchfork - the Nations power in the struggle to overcome oppression.

Sword - life and death within the nation and the struggle to survive at all costs.

Devils Horns - the nation’s determination to overcome all obstacles.

Devils Tail - the oppression that all non- white people suffer.

Heart - the love of a nation.

Numbers 7 and 8 - the year of the founding of the sons and daughters.

The following are symbols, and their meanings, used by the PEOPLES street gangs and affiliates to identify themselves.

A. Circle - 360 degrees of the knowledge that black people once ruled the world and will again.

B. Fire - represents the Black Nations true knowledge of being suppressed, and their inability to reach knowledge because of the heat created by the fire.

C. Darkness or the color black- represents the Black majority, not minority, of the world.

D. Cresant Moons - represents the splitting of the Black Nations into two parts, one of the West and one of the East.

E. Star - represents the eye of Allah, watching over his people.

F. Pyramid- represents the mystery of the construction of the pyramid, which was constructed by Black people. The three corners of the triangle represent physical, mental, and spiritual knowledge.

G. Sun - represents the rising of truth in the Black Nation. Used only by Vice Lords.

H. Hat- represents shelter.

I. Cane- represents the staff of strength.

J. Gloves - represents purity.

K. Latin Kings - tattoos/ symbols.

L. Five Pointed Crown - is a symbol of the Latin Kings. Note the upside down pitchforks, which is a sign of disrespect to the folk nation.

MEXIKANEMI (Texas Mexican Mafia)
Not to be confused with the Mexican Mafia (EME)

The Mexikanemi is the largest prison gang found in the Texas DOC. Mexikanemi translated means, "Free Mexicans," are a relatively new organization, having formed in 1984. Better known as the Texas Mexican Mafia, it originally started out as a group of Texas DOC inmates trying to become more aware of their cultural heritage. As it grew, it rapidly changed from just being aware to becoming involved in extortion, narcotics trafficking and murder, both inside and outside the prison walls.

The name translates to "Our Family," originally formed in Soledad Prison, California in 1965, the membership is mostly rural, Northern California Hispanics. This very formal organizational structure is governed by a Board of Directors-type group, with a "Kill on sight" relationship with the Mexican Mafia (EME). This gang is heavily aligned with its Northern counterpart; the Nortenos gang, and is rapidly recruiting and growing in California, New Mexico and Arizona.

The Mexican Mafia (EME), not to be confused with Mexikanemi (Texas Mexican Mafia) is a far larger, more influential and feared prison gang and membership is evident within both federal and state prison systems. Organized in the1950's in the California DOC at the Deuel Vocational Center, it’s made up mostly of urban Hispanic inmates from Southern California. This loosely structured military-like chain of command organization, is generally considered a “blood in-blood-out gang” and is usually at war with the Mexikanemi and the Luestra Familia, AKA: Nortenos or Northern structure.

Allied with the Aryan Brotherhood for drug introduction purposes, exchange of "hit" contracts and financial matters. To this end, the film "American Me," reported to be fairly factual, is about the founding of this prison gang.

Skinhead groups have been formed, with varying levels of organizational cohesion, in every religion of the country. (See the map on the next page showing where skinheads have been operating). Skinheads in different parts of the country are slowly forming a loose national network, owing their geographical mobility and efforts of more established leaders (particularly Tom Metzger) to publicize their activities. Skinhead leaders from Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas have helped facilitate the organizing of groups in other cities, such as Milwaukee, Memphis, Springfield, Missouri and Toronto.

At the same time, skinhead groups in some locations like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have dropped from view in less than a year. In the case of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County, the arrest of Reich Skin Leader Michael Martin and his subsequent conviction helped result in the dissolution of the group. It appears that effective responses by law enforcement authorities to skinhead violence helps reduce their profile and level of authority, and activity.

Young people also join gangs to become members of something new, exciting and different. They perceive this change as good. They are willing to go along with whatever the gang does because they want new, exciting experiences. They experience guns and gang wars. They enjoy the thrill of the gang culture. There is no thrill in school or at home.

Where is the parent when the young person needs to feel acceptance? Young people join gangs for acceptance. They desire to become a part of something accepting, which offers them a reason for being. Gangs accept anyone who is willing to swear to the oath of the gang. They try to seduce new members with their strength as a "family." The child will forsake his/her real family for the gang.

Gang membership is simply a way for some young people to meet the human needs for connection and self-esteem. They are not getting their needs met at home or school; so they turn to gangs to get those needs met. Schools do not provide experiences in which students can achieve success on their own. They do not meet the young person's need for self-esteem. Parents are too busy working or they are too tired to meet the needs of their offspring, or in many cases, there are no parents.

Schools departmentalize students. They do not actively involve students in the teaching-learning process. Young people today are very diverse. They need their needs met. Gangs meet their needs.

Young people today are faced with more situations today, now than ever before. They have to make split second decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They chose gangs, because gangs are a comfort zone for them. They get caught up in the dynamics of gang existence. Those that have families forsake them for gangs, because gangs offer them something that the family does not.

For law enforcement to curtail the problem of gangs, they must first get at the problem of families. Various outreach programs can do this. A child's life is at risk in this situation. Law enforcement agencies can not work alone, however. Without the assistance of the community, they have a difficult time of making a dent in the problem of gangs. Not all of a child's needs will ever be completely met by home and school, but those needs are an important consideration. A child is the future generation. If he/she is allowed to succumb to the gang life, he/she will not live to become one of tomorrow's leaders.

Law enforcement agencies should form task forces to curtail gang development. If children do not see gangs in a positive light they will be more inclined to say no to gang membership. It is of vital importance that programs such as GREAT be initiated in schools. Gangs need to be de-glamorized by the law enforcement agencies. They should have former gang members speak to young people about the serious consequences of gang involvement. They should use whatever scare tactics necessary to dissuade gang membership. They should show the results of gang membership, which is often death due to the violent nature of gang membership, and death is not a pretty picture. Children need a nurturing environment, but they also need an understanding of what gang membership means. Gangs are not a way out of a bad situation; they are, however, a way into an even worse situation. The police can not stop this phenomenon by themselves but they can be leaders in promoting the curtailing of the problem of gangs.

Agnew, Robert; Brezina, Timothy (1997, September), Relational problems with peers, gender, and delinquency, Youth & Society, v29 n1 pp. 84(28).

Brogan, Thomas C. (1995, June 1), Book reviews, Perspectives on Political Science, Vol. 24, pp. 186.

Danitz, Tiffany (1998, July 6), Keeping kids out of gangs, (Nation: Fighting Crime), Insight on the News, v14 n25 pp. 14(2).

Dukes, Richard L.; Valentine, Jennifer (1998, July), Gang membership and bias against young people who break the law, The Social Science Journal, v35 n3 pp. 347(14).

Lounsbury, John H. (1996, March 13), Please, not another program. (special education programs for problem youth), (Special Section: Young Adolescents At Risk)., The Clearing House, Vol. 69, pp. 211(3).

Warr, Mark (1993, September), Parents, peers, and delinquency, Social Forces, v72 n1 pp. 247(18).


Understanding Gang Life

By: Nanon Williams

Gang member's body artMost gangs are created to form a sense of power and control. All types of problems are presented to the youths of today growing up in major cities. Before being so eager to jump to conclusions, we must learn to try to understand these problems , or we will never find a solution to them.

Gang members are out there trying to find a family that some never had. It may not seem like much to you - an abandoned house or a park - but it becomes a place to call their own. It’s easy to say “why don’t they ever leave the gang”, but many of those teenagers won’t leave until years to come, if ever. Gang life becomes the only thing they know. Everyone wants to feel needed, and in those blocks or areas, they feel needed.

The gang life in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York are considered to be the most notorious. Why? Because their history is so violent, and a steady ongoing process. The African-American and Hispanic gangs are the prime target of the media network and the more publicity they receive, the more they develop.

I have been raised around gangs all my life. It’s not something I hated, but always understood what they were going through. As a young child, you learn and try to be accepted by your peers because you just want to fit in. If you’re raised with certain circumstances from life surrounding you, it becomes the only thing you know, unless taught otherwise. Without guidance from someone, they become a product of their environment.

When you go to school and start hanging out with a certain group of kids from your neighborhood, they become dependent on you, and you on them. Why? Because eventually trust will be gained among them. If they’re walking home from school and a group advances towards them, and out of the clear blue sky, one of the kids get hit. Do you run like hell, or would you help your friend out? The decision could effect their feelings toward each other, and possibly cause insecurity about themselves. They may become known as a coward, scary cat, and so on... For simply making the choice to look out for their self, and for a kid it can effect the way they feel about themselves. When someone shows them attention at that point, they’re so easily influenced or drawn to other things.

To feel needed again is what they find in gangs, but gangs are not to be blamed from parents lack of interest in their child. Joining that gang will give them admiration from the other kids that may have imposed a threat to their own self worthiness. When they’re walking down a street and people clear your walk way because of what you represent is intoxicating. The truth is most seek some kind of power, but they have already found it. Eventually their sense of mentality is “I can do what I want, where ever I want, and when I want. Forget everybody else! Police do what they got to do, and I’m here to do what I got to do.” They will soon have total disrespect for everyone who makes rules.

When most gang members families income is low, it instills an attitude. “What have I got to lose - nothing”, because it isn’t like gang bangers are coming out of nice homes. Most have to defend themselves the best way they know how, and just like anyone else they do the easiest thing possible. They end up living in the streets, so they will survive by the streets. They commit crimes, and break any law they feel necessary. The problem is some really don’t realize it all. How can they feel guilty when they might be able to feed their sisters and brothers, when their mother might be strung out on drugs. Should they feel guilty? I don’t believe it’s fair to say they should, when society sees it, but choose to act blind to what’s surrounding us. They can’t be the only ones blamed, because they simply do the same thing.

Everybody wants to be special. If you can’t be special by being a model citizen to everyone, then I’ll be the one everyone fears is what some gangs think. Clothes can play a big part in an identity. A Particular color, hair style, or symbol. Most of the time it’s the most cheapest thing that can be found anywhere. Bandannas, hats or shoestrings because it can be worn everyday. An entire dress code may be inexpensive, but it may be pressed to look honorable among them. They eventually recognize each other from the styles they choose to wear, and will know who is an enemy or allie.

They basically wear uniforms just like anyone else. The police dress a certain way and can be easily recognized without uniforms. To the gangs police are the biggest threat to their well being. The fear of going to jail is in their mind, but it becomes a second home to them. The fear is the cops flying around provoking gangs with rumors about who did what to each other. Many police find this funny. If they’re real cops they won’t want to see anyone hurt, gang bangers or not. - However, to eliminate problems for themselves, why not let them kill each other? Kill two birds with one stone is how some think, so after they cause rumors that causes problems - they have reasonable cause to arrest them. The police cause as much problems as the gangs do, because they’re stirring them up.

Gang members mentality goes to the extreme when a threat is directed at them. No where seems safe until the problem can be eliminated one way, or the other. Like any situation, if you’re not even involved, anything is subject to happen. Some of the youths today are involved, but they simply don’t know it. How? Because by living in a certain section of the city, automatically divides them. Whether they take part in gang activity or not, pay back from gang warfare can eventually involve innocent teens as well.

Drive by shooting seems to be the most known violence among gangs, and there are a million reasons why they occur. Wars may be over a specific piece of drug territory. Look at this situation so you can understand how they feel, right or wrong.

If you buy a store and start selling food out of it, would you let some man with a cart stand in front of your store with his cart, and sell food as well? Well the gang members feel if they live in a certain neighborhood, why let somebody else from another neighborhood take what should be their’s. True enough selling drugs is wrong and effect people’s lives, but we first must understand what goes on before a solution can be found.

The misconception about gangs is everyone’s fault - if a couple of guys break out into a fight because of certain issues, it’s automatically a gang fight to most. Then the real gang suffer the after effects by society, because of false assumptions. When we are quick to put the blame on gangs, the problems escalate due to ignorance.

We have a many wars like Iraq and Iran, but the difference in gang wars are none. They both fight for what they believe in, and have the courage to die for that cause. Gangs may fight for drug territory, Iraq for oil control. They both can effect lives of others, but America ignores it’s own problems. Let’s not call it anything less than it is - ignorance by neglecting it’s own. The media has more power than anyone because they can destroy, or create something.

As long as the media downgrade these gangs it will make them more aloof from others than they already are, but at the same time make the situation worse. Why? They make these kids to try and make themselves the most feared among their own, and naturally they grow stronger from the weak. They will get the respect and recognition no one else will give them. Kids who suffer from pain are always trying to reach out, but they simply don’t know how. If the pain becomes worse, the tolerance for pain becomes higher. From this stage several things can happen - insecurity about themselves, suicidal, but most times extremely violent. Everyone has the potential to be a killer, and if the right button is pushed, you might kill because everyone has an edge. That’s a dangerous thing, trying to push some one over the edge, and a lot of kids in gangs can easily be pushed.

A kid without anyone to care for them, have nothing to lose. Therefore when attention is showed, it gives them that sense of being needed and loved. If the media doesn’t let these kids know about organizations that care, they create the disturbance among them needed for good ratings. Something bad always attracts the attention of others, but good things won’t, because it’s not them. The O. J. Simpson case is a prime example. The media needs to show the gangs that they care, by helping them with society, because they’re the ones who exploit them most.

If the causes can’t be found that makes kids want to join gangs, the situation will continue. With the illegal substances steady being pumped into those communities, organized crime will continue. People who never lived in the ghetto will always have trouble understanding the gang scene, without putting yourself in their position we will always have separate worlds in the same country. Being a friend to someone in gangs is the first step, the second step - is more groups help with attempts to close the barrier in between. Don’t hate, but by helping them change we must first look in the mirror at what we represent.

My hope is not to see the elimination of gangs, but the elimination of gang violence. If more money and time can be put into poor communities, the anger can be directed into something positive. The answer is not to come down harder on gangs, because it will make them tougher. Learn to build a truce, and friendship has a lot more influence than a threat. Just a little effort can save the kids lives, and help them see a future for themselves.

Understanding can begin a friendship without being convicted for the past, so we must give a little to receive a little.

Nanon Williams #999163
Ellis One Unit
Huntsville, Texas 77343


Muslim gangs 'are taking control of prison'
Jamie Doward, 25 May 2008

Face covered with a head scarf a muslim gang member holds a sign which reads freedom go to hellPrison officers at one of Britain's maximum security jails are losing control to Muslim gangs, according to a confidential report obtained by The Observer. An internal review of Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire warns that staff believe a 'serious incident is imminent' as several wings become dominated by Muslim prisoners.

The report, written by the Prison Service's Directorate of High Security, says there is an 'ongoing theme of fear and instability' among staff at Whitemoor, where just under a third of the 500 prisoners are Muslim.

It claims: 'There was much talk around the establishment about "the Muslims". Some staff perceived the situation at Whitemoor had resulted in Muslim prisoners becoming more of a gang than a religious group. The sheer numbers, coupled with a lack of awareness among staff, appeared to be engendering fear and handing control to the prisoners.' The situation has become so acute that white prisoners are routinely warned about the Muslim gangs by staff on arrival.

The report says that apprehension about Muslim prisoners has potentially damaging consequences and is in danger of 'leading to hostility and Islamophobia'. It serves to highlight the growing concern about extremist activity in the UK's jails. The Home Office is concerned that young male prisoners are being radicalised by Muslim gangs and that the prison system is becoming a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda sympathisers. Similar problems have been experienced at Belmarsh prison in London and Frankland in Durham. A number of high-profile al-Qaeda sympathisers at Frankland have been moved as a result of increased tensions within the jail.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said she was alarmed at the report's findings. 'The difficulties of running a high-security prison such as Whitemoor cannot be underestimated, but much of what this internal report uncovers is extremely disturbing,' she said. 'It is vital that the problems uncovered at Whitemoor are addressed as a matter of urgency.'

The report was commissioned partly as a response to the deaths of five prisoners at the jail within 12 months. Muslim prisoner support groups have also complained that Muslims are suffering harassment from staff. Recently a number of Whitemoor staff have been suspended on unrelated corruption charges.

The tense stand-off between staff and prisoners is causing problems, the report warns. 'Staff appeared reluctant to challenge inappropriate behaviour, in particular among BME [black and ethnic minority] prisoners for fear of doing the wrong thing,' the report states. 'This was leading to a general feeling of a lack of control and shifting the power dynamic towards prisoners.' It adds: 'A wing itself felt particularly unstable with a general lack of confidence among staff.'

The emergence of gang culture in Whitemoor has alarmed some prisoners. The team that compiled the report found that over the Christmas period the segregation unit was full as inmates sought refuge from the gangs over debt problems and drugs.

Henry Bellingham, the Conservatives' shadow justice minister, who has raised concerns about the running of Whitemoor in parliament, said he welcomed the report. 'However, I'm very concerned about some of the findings,' he added. 'They point to a systematic breakdown in the chain of command. It's in everyone's interests that these problems are sorted out soon. Whitemoor holds some of the most dangerous prisoners in the country.'

In recent months the Prison Service has unveiled a series of initiatives to combat extremism in the UK's jails through the supervision and monitoring of imams and better training for staff. 'It is vital that prison staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to ensure they have the confidence to identify and challenge behaviour that is of concern,' said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice. 'A programme of work is planned at Whitemoor to increase mutual understanding between staff and prisoners, including a development day for staff on the Muslim faith, focus groups in which staff and ethnic minority prisoners will discuss prison community issues, and diversity events.

'The prison will continue to work closely with the Prison Service's Extremism Unit and the police to monitor and assess issues around extremism, and work will be undertaken to examine the management of gangs and terrorist prisoners within the prison.'

Young people are being drawn into a gang culture through internet social networking sites, a senior police officer claims.

skynews December 12, 2008

Gangs have gathered many hundreds of associates using networking websites

Norfolk chief constable Ian McPherson said parents would be shocked by the extent of the problem. "We were worried that some of the young people were being groomed by the more criminal element and pressured by their peers," he said. "Those not familiar with gang culture would be shocked by the evidence we have gathered over recent months."

Mr McPherson is the Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman on children and young people. He warned that gangs had already gathered hundreds of associates using websites such as Bebo. "What may appear innocuous on screen may well be part of their coded language," he said. As police officers - and parents ourselves - we are appalled by the picture that's been drawn.

Chief constable Ian McPherson on gangs using networking sites  "What is really worrying is that many young people are being inadvertently drawn into associating with gang members without knowing they are doing so."

The senior officer has launched a plan to tackle the problem in Norwich.

"The key to preventing young people becoming drawn in is to engage with them," he said. "This is critical, as we do not want to unnecessarily criminalise them. "Some of the young people were really quite dangerous and we were worried innocent youngsters would be injured or even killed.

"We have tried to learn the lessons from some of the other areas which have already seen the problems associated with gangs to prevent escalation here in Norfolk."

Norfolk police are using anti-social behaviour orders, dispersal orders and stop-and-search powers tio combat the trend.

High-profile patrols in areas where gangs meet have also been carried out.


Children 'running guns and drugs for gangs'
Children as young as nine are being recruited to stash guns
and run drugs for criminals,
according to a study.
By Graeme Paton,  11 Dec 2008

Teachers reported gang culture had become "more overt" over the last two or three years as street tensions spilled over into school.

Researchers said more children came to lessons with neighbourhood postcodes displayed on clothing - marking them out as members of local groups.

The study, by the NASUWT teachers' union, said many young people were attracted to gangs because of a lack of positive role models and father figures in the home - combined with too much freedom.

Others were being effectively "born into" gangs as membership was common among older brothers and even parents in some areas.

It said it was resulting in the creation of "groups of young people with no respect for their elders".

The findings come amid growing concerns over the scale of gang-related violence among teenagers.

In London alone, 27 teenagers have been killed this year.

The latest report said schools were increasingly been seen as a recruiting ground for street gangs.

"Staff in schools were aware that local gangs had clear hierarchical structures, describing scenarios where older gang members recruited younger boys to work for them; stashing guns and running drugs were some examples given of the tasks involved," said the report.

"Clearly there were concerns in relation to older groups (school leavers who were controlled by their elders) trying to influence their younger peers to join gangs. There were reports of school leavers hanging around outside of the school gates to recruit members."

The union commissioned Perpetuity, a research company specialising in crime prevention, to analyse the effect of growing gang membership on schools.

An interim report - Gangs and School - analysed existing research along with in-depth studies of two schools in London and Birmingham. It found that gang membership had increased in recent years, although some teachers appeared to be in "denial" about the problem.

It quoted research from Manchester which revealed young people typically became involved in gangs between 12 and 14 - but some are involved "as young as nine or 10".

"Older gang members now have children of their own who are growing up in homes where the gang lifestyle, including the possession of weapons, is normal," it said.

The union called for a greater push to challenge the "glamorisation" of gangs and drugs.

It said schools should make more use of drama, music, art and film making to contest the belief that "gangsta' lifestyles may be beneficial".

Experts said the journey to and from school was often seen as a flashpoint and suggested that schools in affected areas stagger closing times to "prevent clashes between rival gangs" and offer more security on transport.

Ex-gang members should also be recruited by schools to talk to pupils about the dangers of membership.


Hiding fear by talking tough
Young men are more likely to be victims of violence,
but their anxieties about this are usually hidden 
Angela Phillips  12 December 2008

Young men are once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Today, Radio 4 listeners were transfixed by the appalling tale of a gang rape. The young victim asked a boy she knew to help her and he said: "No, I am with my brothers now." Two days ago, as part of their investigation into knife crime, the BBC interviewed a (now older) ex gang member from a North London estate. He explained the lure of gangs in simple and chilling terms. It was, he said, about love. Young men in gangs get more love and more protection from other gang members than they do from their own families. They will do anything for one another.

These are strong stories but they need to be seen in context. Knife crime figures and youth crime in general had been falling throughout last summer's moral panic about the rise in knife crime. And of course boys in gangs are not the majority. The reality is that young people are more likely to be the victims of crime than to be perpetrators, and fear of crime, exacerbated by the way in which crime is reported, is itself having a devastating effect. A small survey in London in the summer found that more than half the young people surveyed were afraid of becoming the victims of knife crime.

Fear of crime is crippling. The fear described by the rape victim interviewed on the Today programme can't be used as any kind of measure. Her attack, in broad daylight, with witnesses, was utterly dreadful but the aftermath she describes – the fear of going out, the fear of being in crowds – is a magnified version of what large numbers of young people feel on a daily basis. We may not have an epidemic of knife crime but we do seem to have cultivated an epidemic of fear among young people in the inner cities and some of that fear is not at all unreasonable. Young people are more likely to be the victims of violence than are adults and their fear is compounded by the fact that adults, keen to save their own skins, no longer seem prepared to offer protection. The young rape victim, surrounded by a gang of boys, and obviously crying, was seen by passing adults and yet nobody intervened.

Although it is the attacks on young women that we are most likely to respond to, it is young men who, overwhelmingly, are victims of violence (as the stories of knife attacks over the past year so well illustrate). But their fear is usually hidden. Ask a group of young men if they worry about walking alone at night and they will usually laugh it off. Young men are not allowed to display fear because that is a sign of weakness and, as they usually learn in primary school, to show weakness is like holding up a large neon sign with "victim" flashing on it. Bullies are attracted to boys who show weakness. If you don't want trouble you learn to look tough. But looking tough and holding in the fear takes its own toll. Fear, isolation, inability to articulate your feelings or ask for help, these are all the things that are implicated in another set of figures that we hear a great deal less about: young men are three times more likely to kill themselves than to be victims of violence by someone else (figures from Campaign Against Living Miserably [Calm]).

The voice of that gang member, talking about love, as he sat, face hidden, with a group of reporters, has lodged in my brain. Do these lurid stories of gang violence, the unearthing of YouTube footage of gang members rapping about revenge and knife attacks, do anything at all to help deal with the reasons why one group of young men are signing up to gangs just to get a sense of belonging, while another, afraid to talk about their fear of the future, decide not to live that future? The need to belong is probably one of the most powerful sensations of adolescence. It is a drive that has been used and abused by organisations as apparently disparate as the Hilter Youth, religious cults and sports clubs. Used by gangs, the fear of being marginalised, cut off, vulnerable and friendless, is a very powerful motivator indeed. Strong enough to drive a young man to repudiate his friendship with a rape victim out of fealty to his "brothers". Strong enough that, when it is unfulfilled, it can drive a young person to the brink of despair.

While newspapers and TV have been highlighting campaigns against knife violence and politicians have been cracking down on perpetrators, an organisation that simply wants to provide a space for young men to talk about their feelings, has been struggling to be heard. Two months ago a "Save the Male" campaign was launched, with a poster campaign, as a fundraiser for the Calm website and text service. They got no press coverage at all.


Teenage gang rape victim tells of ordeal
By Tom Rayner, 12 December 2008

A schoolgirl who was brutally raped and beaten by a gang of nine boys spoke today of how the ordeal has destroyed her life.

The 15-year-old said the ordeal in a tower block in Hackney, east London, has left her without her former friends, unable to leave her house for fear of crowds and "being punished for something I haven't done".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I can't go out, I can't really do nothing. "Everything I used to do, like going shopping and ice skating, I can't do that now because of all the crowds. I've got a fear of crowds and gangs of people. Everything has changed. I had to leave all my friends behind and school."

Last week, the nine gang members responsible were jailed for her rape, kidnap and false imprisonment. Judge Wendy Joseph QC lifted an anonymity order and named the seven members of the gang led by O'Neil "Hitman" Denton. All were aged between 14 and 17.

The girl, who was 14 at the time, was dragged between three tower blocks in east London, raped, and beaten up by the Kingshold Boys gang.

The judge at east London's Snaresbrook Crown Court described their acts as "designed to degrade and humiliate and to send out a message to her and to others that no one messed with these boys".

In an interview with a Today reporter, she described the ordeal: "They pushed me off into the corner and they were saying again I were to do what they wanted and when I said 'No, I'm not doing it', they were threatening me with the knife and the other boy was kicking me.

"They were saying if you just do what we want, then you can go. You think about it - you think, well, they've got a knife, there's four of them, you can't really do nothing and if that's the only way, then you have to do it and so I done what they wanted. "I was begging them and saying 'Please, I'm still a virgin' and they said 'You ain't going to be one any more, are you?"'

She described how on several occasions her attack was disturbed by members of the public.

When a female passer-by approached, she said: "They put a coat around my legs and were like 'If you ask for help or anything, we know people who know where you live and we'll come back for you' and so I kept quiet, but I was still crying and she could see me and didn't help me."

The young victim described how at one point she spotted an acquaintance, who she hoped would rescue her. Instead he joined in the assault.

She said: "After everyone had got what they wanted, they moved away and I saw this boy sitting on the stairs that I knew, so I went up to him and I was like 'Can you help me please?'. "He just looked at me and laughed in my face and he asked me what I was doing here and I said 'I didn't want to be here, they brought me here'. And he said 'Ugh, you're a slag, you deserve to be here'."

She pleaded with him for help but she said his response was: "No, I can't, I'm with my boys now."

Describing the gang mentality and attitude towards women, she said: "Most of them don't have respect for any girls. A couple of them that I knew would hit girls and didn't think anything of it. "When they're all in a gang, they do act a lot different because if you knew some of them individually, they seem so different and nice - until you see them in a gang and you think that's not how they really are."

Her attackers Denton and Weiled Ibrahim, 17, who admitted rape, kidnap and false imprisonment on April 30 last year, were given indeterminate detention orders and told they would have to serve a minimum of three years and eight months before becoming eligible for parole.

They will also have to remain "on licence" for life.

Yusuf Raymond, 16, pleaded guilty to the same charges, and received a nine-year sentence.

Six other defendants, who were variously convicted by a jury of the offences, were also dealt with.

Jayden Ryan, 16, was given eight years; Alexander Vanderpuije, 15, six years; Jack Bartle, 16, six years; and Cleon Brown, 15, six years.

The last two, aged 14 and 16, who still cannot be named, did not physically attack the girl but helped prevent her escaping.

The first was sentenced to two years and five months in secure local authority accommodation while the second got a three year and nine months detention order.

All the defendants were ordered to register as sex offenders indefinitely, apart from the youngest, who was told he would have to sign for three-and-a-half years.


Glasvegas Josh Groban - I'm a Gangster

I'm gonna get stabbed,
The Baltic Fleeto are up my arse,
No cavalry could ever save me,
I'm gonna get stabbed.

You don't want to stab me,
You don't want to stab me,
'Cos you don't know my family,
And our capabilities,
You don't want to stab me.

I had my choice, I took my choice,
That was to stand and fight the Fleeto Boys,
But now I find myself running for my life,
I seen their swords and their knives,
And I changed my mind.

It's time to go,
It's time to run,
Run rabbit run,
Run rabbit run.
Don't player hate me, player hate somebody else
Yo, yo yo I'm a gangster
Where my dawgs at?
Bark with me if your my dog
Yo yo yo, I'm gonna give a shout out to all the player haters
(I don't like player haters)
If your a player hater don't player hate on me
(player hate somebody else)
I'm a gangster, I'm straight up
(straight up gangster, dude)
Grr I'm steamin' mad grr
I'm a gangster, I'm a straight up G
The gangster life is the life for me
Shooting people by day, selling drugs by night
Being a gangster is hella tight
I walk around town with a stark erection, then gave your mom a yeast infection
I saw the police man and I punched him in the eye
To serve and protect, what a lie
I also don't like white people, you shouldn't too
And don't get me started about the jews
I'm a gangster
Grr I'm mad
I'm a gangster
My rhymes are bad
I'm a gangster
I'm iced out like a freezer
I'm a gangster
I don't listen to weezer
I dropped out of school at the age of 3
Cuz all the teachers tried to player hate on me
My rhymes are cool just like doing cocaine
My rhymes are hot like a burning flame
Sisqo is my homie, he's a ganster too
Me and Sisqo are the leaders of the gangster crew
I like to be in jail and he likes to sing and dance
Some say we're the perfect match
(step off, step back, step away, step back, don't step forward, back, don't step forwards, step backwards, forwards don't step to me, do not step to me-eeee-eeh)
I'm giving a shout out to my homies in cell block 8

Being in jail sucks cuz you always have to masturbate
Except when a Jewish person goes to jail all my homies cheer
They will make minced meat out of his rear
Ben Petty helped me make the gangster beat to this song
I shot him in the face cuz he looked at me wrong
I'm a gangster
I drop bombs like Heroshima
I'm a gangster
Bitch suck on my wiener
I'm a gangster
I drive a cool car
I'm a gangster
I smoke weed in a cigar
Yo my gangster flow
Yo, yo yo yo
I'm rolling on dubs iced out like hockey
My friend got kicked out of Japan for drinking all the saukki
What a bitch
Gimmie head, hoe
What's up to my dawgs
Yo yo yo
They play my song on the radio all day long
So everyone can hear my gangster song
Nobody thought I'd blow up like a firestone tire
Oh there's no beat left
Die, Die evil Santa Clause
no i don't wanna do accapello
i like to slap bitches
i like to slap hoes...


Kurupt (of Tha Dogg Pound)
- Loc'd Out Hood lyrics
O.F.T.B. (Operation from the Bottom)
Keep Your Eyes Open lyrics
[Chorus One/Intro:]

It's time to get the loot, ready, aim, shoot
Dogg Pound Gangstas on a mission to execute
Bitches bitches... niggaz niggaz...

I'm all about the paper chase (say what?) cause the paper makes
life so great, plus haste makes waste
And I gots the whole spot locked down I concoct styles
Catch me rollin all the fuck around with the top down
Menace with a microphone, most murder masher (I mash)
Roll for disaster, create a thirty-eight, stash em
in The Inner Zone where the Hellraiser roams
There's no place like home, tec-9's and chromes
I gots the heater sequence for the heat to disperse (pow)
Just in case worse come to worse I dumps first
The thump curse, it's the curse of the pump
The one to dump last is the first to get slumped
The mental temptation, mental assassination
My heart skips a beat for the heat sensation
I'm deathdefying bitches lying sayin, 'I ain't cute'
Now she wants an autograph, bitch, I ain't Snoop
I got everything you need from the weed to the dope coke
Crack to amphetamines to speed
I flows like a ravine, deadly as a guillotine
to leave a murderous scene, when the snub pumps a slug in your spleen

[Chorus Two:]

These motherfuckin bitches, they ain't shit to me
Every bitch that I know she wanna get with me
Don't you know I got a homicidal tendency
So drift with me, hit a spliff with me


Terrordome where it's on, from sellin dope coke to crack
Young Gotti entered the party from the back
Instant pay, I gots to do it my way deserve to swerve
on the highways cause the spot's on from Monday to Friday
Nigga try me, I light the indica and thai weed
Defy me, young Gotti, when I be high as the sky be
Verbal homicide be ready to rupture
Makin moves to touch ya, dissasembled your whole structure
I make money, cause that's all I know how to make
That's all I learned when I was young no hesitation or mistakes
I see a car, filled wit nuttin but rocks and knots (and what)
Midnight complexion glocks to shake spots
They see my people (Dogg Pound) so they already assume
I live illegal, but they assumed too soon
I got a treat for every bitch on the street, I roll with beat
I got a problem, I got a fixation for heat
It's time to dump, double-barrel pump, packed and loaded
Instantaneous death when it exploded, uhh
There's not a nigga who can hold me, contain me
or tame me (with who?) with my fuckin nigga Mo Khomani
I'm out my mind like a Irani, a terrorist
with tactics off that Cristal twisted backwards

[Chorus One: 2X]
[Chorus Two: 2X]

These motherfuckin bitches...
These motherfuckin niggaz... fool...
Don't you know... say what, say what?
Who? Who?

[Chorus One: 2X]

Daz, in the house, yeah
My nigga Kurupt, is in the house, yeah
Snoop Dogg, is in the house
And Dogg Pound for life, is in the motherfuckin house
And Death Row, is in the house...
[Intro: (interpolation from 'Pulp Fiction')]

The path of the righteous man is besect on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed, who in the name of the
charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak thru the Valley of Darkness, for he is truly His brother's keeper. And I will strike down upon thee with
great vengeance and FURIOUS anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy
my brother. And you will know my name is the lord when I strike my vengeance upon thee [Makaveli]

Let us pray my nigga, for we definitely have sinned


Keep your eyes on your money and the cops, nigga
If you ever, figure, to be a bigger nigga
Gots ta keep your eyes on your money and the cops, nigga
If you ever, figure, to keep livin, nigga

[Verse 1:]

It's time for you to feel the real born ridahs
Lowdown, Bustop and Flipside shotters
Down for Johnny Clown cos they ass out-of-bounds
Hit em up and lay em down
Cos the shit y'all be doin, we done already done
The war y'all tryin ta win, we done already won
We ain't on the same place or the same foot
From jackin to rappin, it's Steve Mack and the crooks
From the eastside of Wotts, West Coast of the border
where the real gangbangers do them drive-by slaughters
Off the lick and weed, cocaine mixed with speed
Quick to pull a trigger, break ya down to your knees
Motherfuckers kill for anything where I come from
Sayin 'Fuck tha police!' on them one-on-one's
For me, I'm not a follower, I'm a leader
I got this tailor-made, Paul bait Peter

[Chorus: (x2)]

Gots ta keep your eyes on your money and the cops, nigga
If you ever, figure, to be a bigger nigga
Gots ta keep your eyes on your money and the cops, nigga
If you ever, figure, to keep livin, nigga

[Verse 2:]

This ain't the life I chose, to be a hoss
Stressed out, and stranded on Death Row
But sooner or later, I knew it fall in our face
and we don't give a fuck about you niggas cos y'all hate us
You're haters, like the Gators, we ain't bustin our heads
Puttin it down on this grass, yellin 'Fuck the Feds!'
Cos they don't wanna see us, they were nada (What you doin Flip?)
Flipside checkin the hood, and our black girl's are hotter
My grammar, is slender, rehearsed it, like Santa's
smokin Havana's, like Tony Montana
In 1998, the world is ours
As ghetto stars, *?every matches and raches is cars?*
An eye for an eye, fuck with me and you will die
It's '97, say hi to my one eye
Brace AK when you see the D-K-K
or the T-T-P, we're off the way ??

[Chorus (x2)]

[Verse 3:]

Under this black trenchcoat, I keep a fully for you bullies
I'm comin for you first before you niggas try to do me
Too many niggas died, loaded not, focussed high
Reachin for a piece of that pie in the sky
From the best to the worst, don't get caught up in drama
The Grim Reaper revives and leave a message with your momma
Revenge is set, I'm double back into the killers
You know who they was, when hesitate to pull the trigger
Your whole part is fraud, they tied you up with your kids
Flashbacks on life and all the shit that'cha did
Take nothin for granted, you're on this planet to win
What goes around, comes around again and again
Cos nowadays, you gots ta keep ya eyes open
I bet this thang show you motherfuckers I ain't jokin
Are niggas down for beef? For when it's time for war
I'll be kickin down your motherfuckin front door


Jacqui Smith's speech on gang culture
birminghampost May 23 2008

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said gang violence could be beaten, when she spoke at Villa Park in Birmingham on Thursday - and she urged mothers to discuss the dangers with their children. Here is a transcript of her speech.

I set up Tackling Gangs Action Programme in September to answer a very specific need - the growing number of street gangs in the four cities I mentioned.

The Met identified 171 gangs in London alone, and there were worrying signs of gang violence elsewhere.

I wanted to focus on the problem, identify what we needed to do, and target expertise and resources to make sure we took action to make a difference.

I did this with the strong conviction we could bear down successfully on gun crime and gang violence - we could take some heat out of gang hotspots.

I don't accept for one moment Britain is broken - that there's nothing we can do to defend communities, protect young people and come down hard on those who use violence or the threat of violence.

And I don't think anyone in this room would disagree.

We know that gun and gang crime is a localised problem. We know where, and to whom, it causes most harm. And on the evidence of our work over the last nine months, we know that we can beat it.

We've seen a big increase in police action to target gangs.

We've seen gun-related injuries fall by just over half - by 51 per cent - in the Tackling Gangs Action Programme areas, to their lowest level for two years.

And we've been able to bring together the best of the work that's already being done, so that others can put those lessons into practice in their areas as well.

There is some excellent work going on. The mentoring and mediation work being done in Birmingham, to help young people turn their backs on the gang lifestyle.

And the way the Met is getting parents to live up to their responsibilities and take more control if their kids are found associating with those involved in serious street violence.

These approaches, and many more, are reflected in the 50 recommendations emerging from the Tackling Gangs Action Programme.

Taken together, they add up to an anti-gang manifesto for the police, local authorities, CDRPs and other local partners to make a difference on the ground.

And there is more that we can do in central government to match your commitment to the programme. One issue comes up time and again - protecting the identity of witnesses so that they can give evidence safely.

In many gun and gang crimes, witnesses know that defendants and their associates have access to firearms and are prepared to use them.

We cannot tolerate a situation where witnesses are too scared to come forward, where they are denied the right to access the courts and give evidence free from fear.

In some cases, the prosecution has successfully applied for witness anonymity - meaning that there is no risk of identification, whilst still ensuring cross-examination by the defence.

Anonymity should only be used in exceptional cases - such as the tragic murders of Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis. And where it is used, I believe it can help to re-balance the scales of justice for the witness without undermining the rights of the defendant.

As part of a programme of training for police and partner agencies starting later this year, we'll introduce new measures to give potential witnesses early certainty that their identity will be protected - and to make sure they get the support they need to give evidence safely.

I also want to do more with civil injunctions to stop gang members from meeting each other or going to certain areas.

Birmingham has pioneered their use - and while we await the appeal against the court's judgement from June to decide what action we might take, let me say this. I am fully convinced of the value of using these sorts of injunctions to help young people change their negative behaviour, and I will ensure that local authorities have the powers they need to support their work in this area.

An example of the sort of joint action I'm keen to encourage is the way the police have worked closely with the immigration authorities - now the UK Border Agency - on Operation Swale, identifying offenders who cause serious harm to the community and who could be removed from the country under immigration powers.

But for all these efforts, for all the lessons that we have learned from the success of TGAP in tackling gangs, we must now open up a further front in the fight against violent crime.

Building on the success of Tackling Gangs Action Programme, we will identify the ten areas where knife crime is causing the most harm. And we will commit £2m to concerted action that will enable the police and other front-line agencies to intensify their activities.

We will work with the police and CPS to extend the Met's approach to charging.

And we will provide additional search equipment and encourage the use of targeted stop and search, particularly on public transport,

And we will encourage the police and their partners to visit the homes of young people who have got into the knife-carrying habit, so that their parents know what's going on and what could happen to them.

I don't want young people carrying knives in the first place. So in these areas we will accelerate our work with groups like Be Safe, who hold workshops with young people to get them to understand just how serious the consequences of carrying a knife can be.

Together with the Youth Justice Board, we are developing a referral project, so that anyone convicted of carrying a knife will undergo a weapons awareness workshop as part of their sentence,

And as part of the Youth Crime Action Plan, published shortly, I can confirm there will be a further £1m to fund action related to young people and knives.

Next week, we launch a three-year marketing campaign to raise awareness of youth knife crime, with £1m in its first year.

As the mother of a teenager, I know it sometimes doesn't feel you're listened to. But research tells us when it comes to the issue of knives, young people respect their mothers more than you think.

Mums have a big influence on helping their kids to make the right choice - and we need to help mums to talk to their kids about the dangers of carrying a knife.

The vast majority of young people don't carry knives. But my message to mums is clear - don't take the chance. Carrying a knife can lead to fatal consequences - and it doesn't have to happen.

So talk it over with your kids. Understand the pressures they're under, and do what you can to change the perception that 'everyone is doing it.' They aren't.

Point out the dangers. They'll listen. Give them support, the advice and the dose of good old-fashioned common sense they need - and they'll thank you for it.

* Jacqui Smith is Home Secretary and Labour MP for Redditch


Gangs 101 - Gang Structure
The following information was taken from the manual Comprehensive Community Reanimation Process
published by Urban Dynamics, Inc.

All gangs have identifiable levels of membership. These levels of membership indicate status within a gang and acts as the organizational maintenance systems. There are actually six levels of gang structure.

1. Leadership
The leader(s) of a gang determines at what level of criminal activity the gang will function. Characteristics of the leader(s) are reflected in the day to day activities of the gang. The leader is all powerful.

2. Hard Core
The hard core gang members are usually the older gang members, the individuals who are culturally and criminally enmeshed in the gang and are at risk of being so for life. Most violent gang activity emanates from the hard core gang members. Hard core gang members usually make up about 10% of gang membership.
3. Associate
The associate gang member has usually made a personal commitment to the gang culture and is dedicated to achieving the level of recognition needed to attain hard core status.

4. Fringe
The fringe gang member is still able to function outside of the gang structure and has not made a commitment to a life in the criminal gang culture. This type of member drifts in and out of the gang and seems to lack direction.

5. Wanna-Bes
Wanna-bes are not actually gang members. They are youth who view the gang as an exciting place to be, a place where they could become "somebody". Wanna-bes may emulate gang dress, graffiti, hand signs, and other gang cultural symbols, and they may associate with known gang members, but they have not yet been excepted into the gang.

6. Cliques
Very seldom is the gang at full strength. Exceptions to this, of course, would be times of conflict or possibly at social functions. What is most often seen as "the gang" is usually a clique from within the larger gang. The clique is a group of associate, fringe, and often, wanna-be gang members who gravitate around one or more of the hard core gang members. This somewhat resembles a gang within a gang.

Poster display various hand signs used by LA gangsGang codes

$ - Power and money
0-0 - Double ought buck shot (shot gun)
000 - Blood
001 - Blood love
006 - Silence (used by Black Gangster Disciples)
013 - Get him; assault someone  (Bloods)
023 - Watch your back (Bloods)
025 - What rank are you (Bloods)
031 - I am Blood
041 - Kill the Crip (Bloods)

13 - 13th letter of the alphabet-"M"; may be used for marijuana or methamphetamine
13 or XIII or X3 - Symbolizes gangs of Hispanic heritage showing allegiance to Southern California; Sureño 13, Sur 13
13 1/2 - Represents: 12 jurors, one judge, half-ass chance
14 or XIV or X4 - Used by Hispanic gangs for Northern California (14th letter of alphabet - N) - Norteño 14, Norte 14
18 - 18th Street Gang
18th Street - Hispanic Los Angeles street gang - aligned with Mexican Mafia

100 Proof - The real thing

1-15 - As one (Gangster Disciples)
1-1-15 - All As One (GD)
187 - California penal code for murder ; may be seen in graffiti as a threat that someone will be killed i.e. 187 John Doe; may also be worn as a tattoo
1 AD 7 - See 187 above
211 - California penal code - robbery ; also Crip term meaning Blood Killer
(2nd and 11th letters of alphabet - B K
212 - NY City telephone area code (Manhattan); also  Blood term  (Tampa, FL) meaning Blood Love
274 - Black Gangster Disciples (2nd, 7th and 4th letters of alphabet) - B.G.D.)
2-15-19 - Brothers of Struggle (2nd 15th and 19th letters of alphabet) - B.O.S.
2-7-4-14 - Code for Black Gangster Disciples Nation (B.G.D.N.- 2nd, 7th, 4th and 14th letters of alphabet)
23/24 - Inmates on lockup - 23 out of 24 hours each day
24/7 or 247 - Constantly - 24 hours per day, 7 days a week
26ers - Two Sixers - Chicago street gang  
3 - 3rd letter of alphabet: C - frequently used by Bloods to replace the letter C in words to disrespect the Crips i.e. Bla3k, Mi3key 3obras  
3C - 3=trey plus C - forms Spanish word trece meaning the number 13 

3 R's - Respect, Reputation, Revenge
311 - Used by Bloods meaning Crip Killer (3rd and 11th letters of alphabet -  C K  
312 - Crip Love - 3rd and 12th letters of alphabet - C L
360 - Folk Nation - numbers representing "full circle of knowledge"
360 degrees - A "pure" Black Gangster Disciple

40's - 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor  
410 - Gangster Disciple code for "Folks in battle"  
420 - Gangster Disciple code for "Disciple trouble" or "Disciples in trouble";  Also refers to the time of day "pot" smokers light up; sometimes seen in graffiti
415's - Gang name taken from the telephone area code for San Francisco, CA area

5 - Number symbolic to People Nation
The following slang terms are Blood terms, used to disrespect Crips and the Folk Nation

5 cKlippin 6 DRIPPIN`

5 in the sky.....6 must die - Revenge;
a People Nation member was killed - a retaliation against the Folks Nation will take place
5%, 5%er - Five Percenters
5 Percent - Five Percenters
5 Point Star - Symbolic to the People Nation
5 Poppin,  6 Droppin - People Nation - Term used to disrespect gangs in the Folks Nation; People Nation (5) members shooting at Folk Nation (6)members
5-0 - The police  
510 - Oakland, CA area code; used by some to identify the location of their gang or set
50/50 - Neutral; non-gang member
5150 - Refers to a California Mental Health code; may be used to indicate the mental status of a person.  May also indicate a threat by using the 5th and 1st letters of the alphabet "E" and "A" and the slang number for police "50" to mean Eradicate All Police

6 - Number symbolic to Folk Nation
6-6-2 - MOB; Numbers represent letters on telephone keypad
6-6-6 - Symbol for Aryan Brotherhood, Folks and Crips; also satanic cults
6 Point Star (of David) - Symbolic to gangs within the Folk Nation
6 Poppin,  5 Droppin - Folk Nation - Term used to disrespect gangs in the People Nation;  Folk Nation (6) members shooting at People Nation (5) members

7 - Refers to the 7th letter of the alphabet "G"; may represent G for Gangster or G for God (Five Percenters)
7-4 - Code for Gangster Disciples (7th & 4th letters of alphabet) - G.D.
730 - New York State section of law that deals with mental health evaluations;  used as Bloods code; describes "crazies" 
737 - Numbers on telephone key pad representing PDS; Public Enemy Number One Death Squad

88 - White Supremacist - Heil Hitler (8th letter of alphabet - H)
8-Ball - 1/8 ounce of cocaine; alliance of Crips with the Folk Nation

911 - Warning that police are coming

Alternative Pronunciation
Used to shorten, alter, or change the sound of a word. Often used for ease of rhyming or to fit into rhythm, such as placing emphasis on the "O" vowel, while dropping the end consontants. Can also be used as self referential humor, by adopting a known variation in pronunciation used in local or regional settings, movies or popular media, dialects, accents, etc, with the end result of an intentional adopted spelling of this pronunciation.

* aight, aite, aw-ite - all right
* axe - ask "I want to axe you a question."
* befo' - before "I told you this befo'.’"
* biatch - bitch
* da' - the "He's da' man."
* dat - that "I love dat."
* dis - this "I love dis."
* down - I'm up for it. "I'm down."
* fitty - fifty "He's fitty years old.'
* flava - flavor
* flow - to rap, can also be used as a noun, "Listen to my flow."
* flo' - floor
* fo'(1)- for "This is fo' my Aunt."
* fo'(2) - the number four. 
* fo'(3) - short for before, or any -fore suffix.
* ho - prostitute, short for whore
* mo' - more "I can't stand it no mo."
* moo' - move "moo’ over there for me."
* nigga, niggaz - one's boyz, those one hangs out with
* 'sup - what's up
Alternative Spelling
Spelling that alters letters in a word but results in roughly the same pronunciation. The intent is to place more emphasis on a part of the word than in the traditional pronunciation.

* boi - boy
* herre - here, pronounced as "her", introduced by rap artist Nelly in song lyrics, "It's getting hot in herre."
* phat - very cool
Conjoined Words
Words that are combined for ease of pronunciation, and to reduce the total number of syllables.

* busta - snitch, "You's a busta."
* fugly - fucking ugly, "She looks fugly."
* hella - hell of "He's hella cool."
* payce - peace "Payce dawg."

Partial Words
Uses part of a word to represent an entire word.

* cuz - short for because 
* cuz(2) - a citation what's up cuz? / cousin, especially in Crips slang "He's my cuz."
* feds - short for Federal Agents, refers to cops or other law enforcement agencies
* popo - cops, short for police
* po' - poor "He's too po' to afford a house."
* sitch - situation
Replacement Suffix
The ending of a word is removed, and replaced with a new suffix used as a substitute, much like Pig latin.

* bizzle - bitch
* fizzle - can be female or fuck
* hizzle(1) - house
* hizzle(2) - hook, as in "Off the hook"
* nizzle - nigga
* rizzle - real
* shiznit - shit
* shizzle - sure
* tizzle - a state of agitation or nervousness

* bail - leave "I'm gonna bail."
* be - are, am, is - usually refers to location "I be over here." or "He be sleeping right now."
* bent - intoxicated
* buggin' - acting in a manner which is not socially acceptable "Why she buggin'?"
* bumpin' - to one's liking "That song is bumpin'."
* busta cap - to shoot a gun "I'ma busta cap in yo ass."
* busta move - to act quickly, or to perform a dance move
* bust out(1) - to leave, to exit. "He busted out of the club."
* bust out(2) - to show or introduce something. "He busted out a deck of playing cards from his coat pocket."
* chillin' - relaxing. "We chillin' at State and 3rd."
* dime - hot girl
* diss - to show disrespect.
* fittin' or fixin' - going to do something "I'm fittin' to buy me some cigarettes."
* gank - to steal "He ganked my ride."
* jet - leave "We gotta jet."
* lunchin' - behaving erratically
* roll out - to leave
* scrap - to fight "We scrapped in the back yard."
* spit - see flow.
* booty - buttocks, especially female
* guns - muscular arms
* puntang, poontang, punanny, pooty, poot - female genitalia
Brand Names & Commercial Trademarks
* Benz - short for Mercedes Benz, known for luxury automobiles
* Cristal - Roederer Cristal, a brand of champagne
* Lex - short for Lexus, known for luxury automobiles
Consumer Products
* bub - short for bubbly, i.e. champagne
* rims - wheels of a vehicle, often a customized wheel replacing a manufacturer wheel, with an appealing design or "bling-bling" appearance. Size is also a factor, generally twenty to twenty-four inches denotes luxury or extra expense.
* whip - car
Drug Terms
* bud - marijuana
* dime, dimebag, dimesack, sawbuck - a ten dollar "bag" of illicit drugs
* ice - crystalized methamphetamine, ice cream, dream catcher
* mac - blunt
* nick, nickel, nickelbag, nickelsack, - a five dollar "bag" of illicit drugs
* yayo, yay - cocaine
* weed - buda, shwag, mota, bud, mary jane, dodo, green, fire, smoke, peace stick, watar, bluntos
* hydro - dro, dodo, banga, ganja, dank, sticky
* elbow - LB (lb.) pound of illicit drugs
* dub - a twenty dollar "bag" of illicit drugs
* quarter - a twenty five dollar "bag" of illicit drugs
* eight ball - an eight ounce "bag" of illicit drugs
* roll - MDMA, ecstasy pill
Gang Terms
* gangsta - member of a street gang
* playa - someone who is not monogamous / someone who's really in, someone who's got a lot of respect
* playa hata - one who has ill feelings towards the actions of a playa / someone with no respect, wanksta
* thug - hard core gangster
* wanksta - fake ass gangsta
* P.H.D. - pimping hoes daily
* noassatall - no ass at all
* chillax - chilling while relaxing
* white girl - cocaine, coke, yayo, blow,the shit
Gun Terms
* cap - bullet
* Mac 10, Mac - gun
* nine, nina - 9mm handgun
* piece - gun
* strapped up - holding a gun
* AR - AR 15 machine gun
* K - ak 47
* pump - shotgun
* pistol - gun
* heat - gun
* biscuit - gun
* ruger - gun
* 4 pounda - 40 caliber gun
* 44 - 44 caliber gun

* areous - area
* crib - place of residence
* hood - neighborhood
* bodega - corner store
* the shops - mall somewhere to go shopping

* 313 - from, of, or referring to a Detroit (telephone) area code
* 213 - from, of, or referring to a southern California (telephone) area code
* 411 - information, from the telephone directory service in the US
* 420 - marijuana related, from the police code used for possession or use of marijuana
* 5-0 - police (referring to the television show Hawaii Five-O)
* 808 - police code for excessive noise pollution, supposedly named after a sound system of the same name.
* 730 - the code for crazy
* 247 - all day hustle
* 187 - murder
* 817 - Fort Worth TX,(funkytown, murderworth,and partyworth) telephone area code
* benjamins - refers to 100 dollar bills after the American president Benjamin Franklin, whose face is on them. "It's all about the benjamins".
* bling bling - expensive jewelry or other expensive material possessions, refers to the imaginary sound of glistening metal or other shiny surfaces. "bling bling" added to Oxford Dictionary
* bo janglin' – stupid, not paying attention
* busted - ugly nigga, "Yo' girl is busted."
* dope - cool, tight
* dime - a very attractive woman, a "ten" on a scale of one-to-ten
* fly - appealing "She is so fly."
* koolin' it - kickin' it, chilling
* kickin' - appealing "Those rims are kickin."
* straight - okay
* the shit - awesome, great. "That man is the shit."
* tight - attractive "Your car is tight."
* wack - not to one's liking "This relationship is totally wack."
* ba-donka-donk - an incredibly attractive ass
* boo - boy/girlfriend, beau
* boyz - gang friends
* brurva - a male acquaintance
* crew - one's good friends (similar to boyz)
* haps - mother
* hoodrat - girl with loose morals
* homie, homey, homeboy - friend
* jigga - acquaintance, alternate of "nigga"
* peeps - people, acquantainces
* shorty - girl, or girl on the side

* jakes - cops
* jonx - belongings
* junk - stuff, belongings, male or female genitals
* shit - stuff, belongings. "Get away from my shit."
* lowckin - checking out the scene

* da bomb - the bomb, i.e. cool, appealing, or popular
* my bad - my mistake
* off the hook, off the chain - unbelievable, outrageous, wild, etc.
* peace out - good bye
* rise up, foo - bring it on
* school ya - to teach a lesson, to win a confrontation
* sku me - excuse me
* whas goin' down? - what are we doin` tonight?
* what tha dilly yo? - what is going on?
* what up? - hello, how are you?
* word up - got that straight, that's right, or how's it going?

See also
Teenspeak is not for adults
13 year old arrested with 'assassin's kit
The age of criminal responsibility
The hooded menace?
The 'underclass'
Black Youth Crime
Cannabis dealing
Territorial gang walls
Move over mean girls -- boys can be socially aggressive, too
Young killers?
We are far too tolerant when it comes to vice and drugs

Further information
PDF: Street Gang Dynamics (137 KB)
PDF: Gang Prevention in Nova Scotia (242 KB)
PDF: 2004 Home Office report on Deliquent Youth Groups ( 375 KB)

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