Saturday, December 30, 2006

In today's LA TIMES, Sam Quinones has a follow up story on the murder of 14-year-old Cheryl Green, a black teenager shot by a 204 gangster a few weeks ago. It was apparent almost from the beginning that this was one of those murders that the media has, up to now, been reluctant to call by its rightful name -- ethnic cleansing. That seems to be changing as a result of this year's Federal trial against members of the Avenues. As we reported years ago when dicussing the Marco Milla murder of Reginald Hightower in connection to over a dozen other racially motivated homicides the media never covered, Harbor Gateway (aka Shoestring) is no stranger to B-on-B killing.

To underscore the utter ignorance and powerlessness of our politicians, the piquantly coiffured City Councilwoman Janice Hahn wants the city attorney to issue - get ready - a gang injunction. That'll put the fear of god into the shooters. The other thing she wants to do is sue landlords who rent to gang families. This is something she should know is as unconstitional as prohibiting landlords from renting to illegal aliens, drug users, Wiccans, the disbaled, crazy cat ladies or Al-Qaida sympathizers. Who elects these people?

During the time that Bird, Sneaky, Clever, Lucky and Shadow were going around Northeast shooting and harassing blacks, there were three separate gang injunctions in effect against the Avenues. You can see how well that worked out. Note to Janice Hahn: for the sake of your own credibility, please check your history and examine your premise. Lucky was living in a house owned by his parents. So what do you do with gangsters who are homeowners and not renters? Burn down the house and put the family on the street? According to the court testimony in his Federal trial, Lucky was also earning an excellent salary working construction at Vandenberg Air Force base.

With two murders and half a score of shootings, assaults and acts of intimidation to that neighborhood's credit, you have to wonder if this is enough to trigger interest by the US Attorney. The USA did it in Northeast and it may do it again in 204. We'll see.

And true to form, the NAACP has been as silent on this latest murder as it was in the race-motivated murders in Avenues, Compton, Watts, Pacoima, Pomona, Colton, San Berdoo and other neighborhoods. I hate to sound cynical but they're planning a march (bring your own candles) and organizing a display of solidarity. Good luck with that. God forbid they should ever tackle the root of the problem.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

During a conversation with a curious civilian the other day he wondered if the membership of the Mexican Mafia was going up or down from the 30,000 members he read about. He was asked where he got this insanely inflated number since the actual membership numbers in the hundreds, not thousands or tens of thousands. He said he got it off Wikipedia on the net. A visit to that site confirmed the bogus number of 30,000. In addition there were other errors such as Joe Morgan being one of the "original" members. God knows where hacks get this information and where they get the confidence to blast it to the world. There's an awful lot of good stuff on the net but there seems to be an equal amount of crap.

If we can impose on some of our old friends to bang out a few words on the true birth and original membership of the Mexican Mafia, maybe we can educate some misinformed readers and make this place the repository of correct information. Turning it over to you all for this one.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

After consulting with people who know a lot more than I do about the net, the concensus of opinion seems to be that hands-on moderation is the only bulletproof solution to dealing with knuckleheads. So the comments are back up but the catch is I get to approve or reject them before they show up on the blog. That means a lot more work for me but there appears to be no easy digital solution to this problem. There will inevitably be a delay between posting a comment and having it show up in the Comments section because I've got a life. So to those who tried to screw things up, don't even bother. I get to play grand inquisitor so if you act like a jerk, you're just wasting your time.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's always interesting to see how other countries handle gangs and street violence. While going through some downloaded news stories this week, this interesting piece of information left me a little puzzled. Apparently Spain is starting to have a street gang problem as a result of immigration from Central and South America. This is their conclusion, not mine.

Young people are forming pandillas, their word for gangs, comprised of people from the same home country. So they've got Salvadoran and Guatamalan gangs and, of all things, the Latin Kings. The Kings started in the U.S. primarily as a Puerto Rican gang so how they ended up with official chapters in Spain is a story that's probably worth looking into.

While some areas in Spain are using conventional methods to suppress gang activity, others are trying to buy off gangs to get them to stop capering. The way it works is, if your gang swears off violence and drug dealing, the government will "charter" you as a legitimate organization and give you money and benefits. It was unclear from the story what the benefits are but the upshot seems to be that you can get paid in Spain for being a reformed gangster. Depending on how this works out, this can be a brilliant idea or a totally absurd one.

On the one hand, getting paid to be a reformed gangster sounds great for a gangster. Free government money and whatever benefits. And you don't have to risk your hide regulating the neighborhood. But if you're going to be off violence and dope, what's the point of joining in the first place. You might as well join the YMCA or the Boy Scouts or whatever the Spanish equivalent is. So on the face of it, it sounds like a neat idea. Forget the gang, I'm joining the church soccer team.

But as history has shown, there's the little matter of the unintended consequence. Way back in the 1960s, New York City tried a similar approach using the squeaky wheel concept to apportion resources and money. The biggest and most violent New York gangs were flooded with social workers, free clubhouses, meetings with politicians, jobs with the city on gang intervention programs and the like. Smaller, less violent gangs who weren't getting any of these benefits decided they wanted some of that too. But the only way to get the city to pay attention to them was to make some noise and kick up dust. Which they did. And New York found itself in the unhappy position of actually encouraging more violence. It was good idea gone sideways when it hit the realities of the street and the law of unintended consequences.

You have to wonder if Spain is going to run into the same problem. For instance, why join what is essentially a government sponsored non-violent gang making a little bit of money when you can sling dope and make a lot of it. One could see a situation arising where the chartered gangs may decide that they're not getting enough resources from the taxpayers. Human nature being what it is, once you start getting free stuff, you start wondering if there isn't some more to be gotten. This is the argument that activists and gang intervention people in the U.S. have made for years. As in, why would a kid work at MacDonald's flipping burgers for $10 an hour when he could make ten times that slinging crack? The call here has been to get more money into people's pockets to keep them from capering. So who gets to decide how much is enough to get the Latin Kings or the MS to stop capering? You can only imagine what the negotiating sessions are like.
Govt: "For five bills a week each, you must stop all illegal activities."
LKs: "No way. For five we'll stop BFMVs and home invasions, but we reserve the right to sell dope. If you want us out of the dope business, that'll cost you another five a week."
Govt: "We'll go two fifty. Not a penny more."
LKs: "For that we'll stay out of coke but we're still in the chronic business."
Govt: "Done. Here are the papers. Have you lawyers call our lawyers."

You could see where this starts being more of an extortion racket than social welfare.

The Spanish model seems even more puzzling when you consider that Spain is often held up as a shining Socialist model. Like England, France and Germany, Spain has a cradle-to-grave benefit system. Spanish citizens get near universal health care, free education, generous welfare payments for the unemployed, nearly free housing, six weeks guaranteed vacation every year, a mandated 35-hour work week, generous maternity leave, almost unlimited sick leave and it's almost impossible to fire a worker for poor job performance. If, as many claim, that the seeds of gangsterism are sown in the fertile soil of poverty, then Spain shouldn't have a gang problem to begin with. Go figure.