Gangs have been a problem in many areas of the United States for decades. At times, there was a great focus on the violent and criminal actions of these associations, but it seems that even though the these gangs are still operating, the media is not focused on them as much. During the 1990s there were many documentaries and television specials to inform the public about these dangerous subcultures. Today, the media is on to new topics and the public has forgotten that there are still troubled youth out there looking for a sense of family and who will go to any lengths to find it. More importantly, these young bangers are really just looking for a voice and for acceptance in the world, and these gangs were the only place that they found it.
These statements are not meant to condone gangs in any way, but if we are to try to rid our society of them, we must first understand their existence. It is no secret that Los Angeles is a haven for gang membership. During J. Egar Hoover’s reign over the FBI, he successfully dismantled the Black Panther organization which gave young black people at the time a voice. With the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, the community was at a loss as to where to go next. They turned to each other and began to form bonds which led to gang memberships.
Many gangs were going strong at that time in L.A., but when the Crips became the most popular gang, rivals wanted to fight back. The Crips started out as a small group, but quickly multiplied. They were very intimidating and since they seemed to take on any group outside of their organization, a few groups united to take on them. A. Alonso of StreetGangs.com, says the Pirus, L.A. Brims, Athen Park Boys, and Pueblo then formed into the gang known as the Bloods. The Bloods took on the color red as a symbol, whereas the Crips wear blue. To this day, Crips and Bloods are still enemies.
During the ’90s, the gangs turned increasingly to drugs as a means for making a living. This helped recruit more members as they saw the lavish things that prominent gang members could buy. As a result, drugs have ruined the lives of many people, not just out of use, but also out of fighting for territories and other petty drug-related conflicts.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department website, there are currently 65,000 gang members in the Los Angeles area. The 18th Street is the largest in the city. This gang is made up of Mexican members and they are known for recruiting school-aged children. This gang has a more rigid structure and are involved in many different types of crimes, even white collar. Hispanic gangs make up half of the gang population in Los Angeles.
Gangs have been, and will continue to be a problem in the United States and particularly in Los Angeles. It is difficult to say why people join them, there seems to be many bigger issues looming in the background. These types of problems certainly cannot be solved overnight, but it is a cleaning up of our society that we have to begin with. We have to teach our children to value other human lives and that everyone is equal. Let everyone have a voice and everyone love each other like brothers and sisters and there might not be a need for these gangs.
A. Alonso, “Los Angeles Gangs,” StreetGangs.com
“Gangs,” Los Angeles Police Department Website