Gangs - Young people and violence

Young people and violence


    A Definition Personal Experience Film - Boys in the Hood Literature - Shadow of the Dragon (Sherry Garland)
Outsiders (Sue Ellen Hinton)
The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier)

Common information about gangs

A gang is a group of people, especially Young people, who usually go around together and often deliberately cause trouble. They are connected in some way and "hang" around, e.g.: frightening people and breaking windows. They also fight with rival gangs (violent street - gangs). Many young people, especially young people who are in their puberty, often feel misunderstood by their grownups. They do not understand each other at all. Together with other problems (e.g.: problems with their friends, first love, school,...), the teenagers often cannot handle such problems and so they tend to join groups like gangs. In the gangs they feel important. They are somebody. The gang is like a family for them. The other members of the gang are confronted with the same problems and so they understand each other.
There are many gangs all over the world. Often gang members live in poor neighbourhoods. They are not well educated and besides they do not have much money. They often have to defend themselves against rival gangs. That is why they are armed in most of the cases.

The history of gangs in the USA:

The street activity that as scared not only the terrain but the quality of life of its
occupants for over 20 years, has been transformed into peace. Some years ago, it
was the battleground of a war between the Crip and Blood gangs (street
organizations). A peace agreement between the Crips and Bloods has taken place in
the Imperial Gardens, Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens housing projects
(Housing communities in L.A.). In former years, especially in these areas, senseless
killing and acts of violence took place because these housing units were near each
other. In Watts and Compton (areas in L.A.), few street organizations in South
Central still struggle because their anger developed over the last decade. For many
residents of these communities, the media coverage is their greatest
problem, because the media interest is a big problem and they are not always writing
true stories about working communities (e.g.: when peace treaty figurehead Tony
Bogard was killed, the mainstream media rushed to report that peace was over.)
But the community works very well and the younger people often spend a lot of time
together. Few other cities follow the example of the Crips and Bloods and tried to
initiate ceasefires and ultimate peace. During the 1960s, Black youth in L.A. began forming street organizations as social clubs and family units when school was out and employment opportunities were bleak. At this time L.A., had a lot of street organizations: The Avenues, Slausons, Businessmen, Ace Deuces, Bishops, Roman 20s, Pirus, Brim, Swans, Gladiators, Rabble Rousers and others. They wore derby hats and neatly pressed shirts and slacks (every group had his own uniform). After a fight, the opponents would shake hands and go their ways. Criminal activity was minimal and minimized to stealing leather coats, mugging rich white folks and petty theft. It was a kind of the Robin Hood syndrome - rob from the rich and give to the poor.
Street organization activity began to subside as older members became enamored by the social consciousness of the Black liberation movement. Organizations, such as the Black Panthers and US Organization, began to channel the aggressive energy of the young people into positive community action. Many younger gang members felt abandoned by older members, and activism and individualism translated into a new generation of street organizations. The ideology of Black Panther Bunchy Carter influenced an L.A. youngster named Raymond Washington, who set
out to start a street organization called the Crips (Community Revolutionary lnter -
Party Service) in 1968. Washington chose the name CRIPS, because he was
influenced by baby cribs and because it means from the cradle to the grave, C - RIP.
He wanted to heal the community when he set out to collect members. After a time,
the independent Blood street organizations began to form. They had membership
dues, were involved in local governmental and community affairs and had a religious
base which was the Islam. In 1970, youth employment became rare for those without
a college graduation. Many gangs became identifying symbols such as coloring flags.
Tension was natural for cross - town rivals who occupied the same space when
attending skating rinks, house parties or Parliament concerts. The conflicts were
usually resolved without anyone being seriously injured.
New gangs began to strengthen their forces and marking their territory with graffiti in
neighborhood parks, schools and walls. They spoke a certain language and had
hand signals for each nation and set.

The FBI destroyed many Black liberation movements with a counterintelligence
program. It started with "the Bloody 80s": The gangs were able to buy automatic
weapons, such as Uzis, AK - 47s or Mac10s (machineguns). When Crack (sort of drug
smoked in pipes of glass) hit the streets in 1983, the gang war began. Crack broke
up a lot of gangs and killed organization structures. The gang activity increased and
this was the reason why gang members began to populate California's correctional
facilities - juvenile halls, youth authority camps or county jails. From 1985 - 1989, L.A.
recorded the highest rate of homicide for US cities. Crips and Bloods only fought for
reaching respect and this war was nothing else than a senseless slaughter of human
In 1988 gang leaders initiated a peace treaty, but it failed. Four years later, in 1992, the peace treaty took place.

Today there is no more peace in the streets, too many little gangs fight for the power in their districts of the big cities. The media do not show gang - violence any more, because they are not allowed to, but when you look at the numbers of some public hospitals (concerning how many died or were injured by fire - arms) then you will discover the truth. Not long ago I saw a report of the USA; it was about the daily life in the emergency room of a hospital in Washington, D.C. and a "Gun Party" in Kentucky. I want to mention this report, because it shows the perverted opinion concerning arms in the US.
They showed one family, which drove to the "Gun Party"; the father of the family took over 70 guns and rifles with him and also approximately 40000 rounds of ammunition (this family has got over 230 weapons at home and all of them like to shoot; the wife, the 16 - year - old daughter and the 10 - year - old son). When they reached the "Shooting Range", they met a lot of friends, who brought enough weapons and ammunition to start a war. They have got automatic weapons, mini - guns, caliber 17mm up to 34 mm, which is classified as war material and is forbidden for private use. Visitors could shoot with a flame - thrower for 9.90 $ and squirt napalm for 30 $. The targets were damaged cars, oil barrels, washing - machines and other stuff like that. The "Gun Party" lasted for three days (and about 500 000 rounds of ammunition), some people bought some more guns from the weapon merchants, who were there (people just had to pay and got an automatic rifle without showing their ID !!!).
During the same three days at the hospital in Washington, over 30 injured teens and grown - ups entered the emergency room and only seventeen came out alive; all of them shot by automatic weapons and hundreds of bullets. For the chief doctor it is routine, he said: "There is a bloody war, which is ruling the street."
So I hope you figured out, what I mean with this example.

The recent public hysteria concerning high rates of crime and gang activity gave birth to television shows like ,Laws and Order', ,L.A. Law', ,Cops', ,America's Most Wanted', etc... Now they (the recent public) enforce a law, which is called ,Gang Profiling'. Data bases of suspected gang members, their family, friends and associates are profiled. This is the latest trend for the police agencies whose primary target are the urban - dwelling Latino's and the Black youth. (e.g.: wearing similar baseball caps is reason enough for the Houston Police to add Black youth to their gang file.)
In big cities, such as Houston, Chicago or L.A., the police compiles these databases with pictures and other background information. They say that it is necessary for the efficient and effective administration of justice. Anti - profile groups, on the other hand, are skeptical of how the information will be used. They see profiling as a violation of the constitutional rights. In Los Angeles, the police has got 140 000 suspected gang members in their ,Gang - Database', which is called GREAT (Gang Reporting Evaluation and Tracking). In Houston, the database is called GRITS (Gang Related Information Tracking System) and it is modeled on the GREAT in L.A.
The LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) has to contact the sheriff's Department if it wishes to get information stored in the ,Gang - Database'. The LAPD wants that other locations throughout the country can use the same strategies and tactics like in L.A. to fight against the gangs.
Some anti - profiling - activists believe that it is big' money that targets gangs, because if the police can prove that gangs are growing, they get more city, country and government money to set up the gang - databases and gang task forces.

Personal experiences with gangs:
Everybody of us is in contact with gang - like groups in everyday life. For example Skaters, Hip - Hopper or Punks. They are youth groups, which can be identified by their clothes and behavior. This is what we all know, but a today’s teenager often joins such groups, my brother did so a few years ago. He was, what we would call a "Hooligan", the fan of a football club. He often went to town with his "friends" and about ten times I came with them, but soon I noticed that this isn’t my kind of society, because harassing or striking people is not funny. My brother didn’t understand why I had no fun. Today it is different, my brother is 21 years old and after his armed service he left the Hooligans. I for my part tried to stay out of the way of gangs or sects, which are still searching for young flesh. So finally I can say that youth groups are a serious problem in Austria and not only in the USA. Of course in Austria, guns are not the problem, but also without guns violence is dangerous.
In sects the big problem is that children and teenagers get totally dependent of the group, in some cases drugs are involved in this.
My own advice to younger people is that they should choose their friends carefully and try to keep away from drugs and violence.

The Shadow Of The Dragon


Ms. Sherry Garland has written several books, e.g. Song of the Buffalo Boy, The
Silent Storm and Lotus Seed.
The Shadow of the Dragon has been written in 1993. Ms. Garland lives now in
Houston, Texas.

Main Characters:

Danny Vo: is also called Anh - Hai or Duong by his family. Anh - Hai means second son. That is the traditional name for the first born son in a Vietnamese family.(lt is to deceive bad spirits who are said to steal the first child.) Danny was six years old when his family escaped from Vietnam to America. He feels himself as a US citizen, dresses in the latest fashion and speaks American perfectly. Danny can't speak his mother tongue Vietnamese very well and he prefers to be an American. Being the oldest in his family, he is responsible for his sisters and brothers. Danny is sixteen years old and he still attends school.
Tiffany Marie Schultz: She is as old as Danny and goes to the same schools as him. She and Danny are in love with each other. Tiffany is very pretty and she is very open - minded. She does not mind Danny's Vietnamese origin.
Frank Schultz: Is Tiffany's older brother. He is the member of a skinhead gang and he is violent and full of prejudices. He is against Tiffany's friendship with Danny and he threatens Danny to leave Tiffany alone. Frank is the head of the house as Mr. Schultz has died a few years ago.
Bradley Schultz: is Tiffany's younger brother. He sits in a wheelchair and has to be looked after. Bradley likes Danny and Mrs. Schultz likes Danny as well.

Calvin Pickney: He is as old as Danny and his best friend. Calvin is a typical American teenager. He is likeable and has got a good sense of humor.
Sang Le: Two years older than Danny. He saved Danny's life when Danny was six years old. Sang Le has been in a re - education camp in Vietnam. His father was fighting against the war and died in a re - education camp, which was in reality a prison. Sang Le's mother Nga blamed the soldiers and was therefore hit by them. When Sang Le tried to help her he was put in the re - education camp at the age of nine. His mother killed herself shortly after this incident. Sang Le comes to stay with Danny's family but he does not like America. His English is very bad and he keeps on dwelling on his Vietnams memories. Therefore he falls in with a Vietnam gang.
Kirn: Danny’s sister. Her Vietnams name is Hien. She dresses in very short skirts and rebels against almost everything. She does not like Vietnams customs and she prefers to hang around with her American friends.
Lan: Danny’s youngest sister
Thuy: Danny's younger brother
Dao: Danny's uncle, married to Lien.
Lien: She is Danny's aunt. Her American name is Linda.
Cha: Danny’s father
Ma: Danny's mother
Ba: Danny's grandmother. She is a typical Vietnamese, hates everything that is American and has very old4ashioned attitudes. She therefore usually quarrels with Kim.
Hong and Cuc: Two Vietnamese girls. Danny ones rescues them from a dangerous gang but he actually does not like them. Hong is in love with Danny but he does not love her. Sang Le in addition loves Hong. Cuc is always seen with her sister. She is often unfriendly. Hong is extremely shy.
Tho: is called Cobra by everybody and the leader of a very violent Vietnamese gang.

High School sophomore Danny Vo tries to resolve the conflict between the values of his Vietnamese refugee family and his new American way of life.
Danny lives in two worlds. On the one hand there is his family who lives according to Vietnamese tradition and on the other hand there are Danny's American friends, who sometimes do not understand all Vietnamese customs and beliefs. Danny has almost given up to explain everything to them and he knows that his friends will never fully understand why it is said that Vietnamese people have got the blood of a dragon in their veins or other stories.
Danny's family has escaped from Vietnam when Danny was six years old. They escaped from the Vietcong, Northern Vietnamese soldiers, who were fighting against the South.
Dannys cousin Sang Le, who has been kept in a re - education camp, in Vietnam, comes to America as he does not have a family in Vietnam anymore. Ba is very fond of Sang Le because he is a real Vietnamese. Sang Le has saved Danny's life when he was a kid and Ba loves to tell this story again and again.
Sang Le is very unhappy in America. He can’t speak the language and his school report is apart from art horrible. As he does not find any American friends, he falls in with a Vietnamese gang whose leader is Cobra.
This gang is very violent and one time they even rob uncle Dao's shop and threaten him and Lien!
But although Danny warns his cousin, Sang Le refuses to believe that Cobra and his friends would do such a thing. Sang Le hangs around with them more often and he starts to play billard for huge sums of money.
As Sang Le is in love with Hong, he arranges a double - date. Hong is accompanied by her sister Cuc and Danny 1$ surprised when he sees his date. It is not Cuc, whom he does not like at all, but Tiffany. Danny has been in love with her for a while and after this double - date they actually get together. The only problem is Tiffany's brother Frank. He also belongs to a gang and he despises Vietnamese people. He forbids Tiffany to meet Danny and he even beats Danny up.
Then things happen very quickly: Kim runs away from home out of protest against her granny but is found after some days. Ba gets to know that Sang Le does not go to school but meets with a gang and she is very upset. Sang Le promises to get away from Cobra but then he is found dead in the streets. Frank and his friends have killed him. Cobra takes revenge and kills Brian, one of Frank's friends, who was actually the murderer of Sang Le, but nobody knows that Cobra did it apart from Danny Frank is put on trial and Danny splits up with Tiffany. He can't bear the thought that her brother is to blame for his cousins death.
Boys in the Hood
Main characters:

Tre: He lives with his father, who wants to make a man of him. He does not want to
live a life like the other boys in the hood, he wants to learn something and to
have a good job, he is also trying to keep his rage.

Ricky: He is Doughboy's brother and he dreams of becoming a football star. He has
a girlfriend and they have a son. His mother loves him and believes in him

Doughboy: He is Ricky's brother, he was 7 years in prison because of robbery, he is not liked by his mother. That is why his self - confidence is not very high.

Monster: He is a member of the gang, he knows his friends since childhood.

Kris: During a gang fight he got shot in his legs and since this he has to sit in a
wheel - chair.

Furbus: Tre's father, he works as a salesman for houses and yards. He and his wife are divorced and Tre lives with him since he was seven He tries to educate his child good, so that he would not end as the other kids (e.g.: drug dealers, alcoholics or criminals).

At the age of seven Tre has to live with his father1 because his mother cannot cope with him besides she has to concentrate on studying and she wants him to be educated as a man.
His father wants hirn to be educated without violence. He gets to know the differences between black and whites. He also learns that there are many differences between the black people. They call themselves niggers and most Of them do not really respect girls or women.
The crime rate in his hood is very high and increases weekly. Everyday people have to listen to shoots and police alarms. Nobody is really save and that is the reason why everyone has his own gun (sometimes more than one).
Right from the beginning his father makes him aware of taking response. He also talks with him about all his problems and other things like sexuality or AIDS. At the age of seventeen Ricky and he want to 90 to a well - known university. Ricky has already a son and a girlfriend, but they live by his mother.
Ricky's brother Doughboy comes home from prison. He does not have a job, like all his friends. All the day they are hanging around in the hood, drinking alcohol or looking for girls. They are also dealing with drugs, because of that they have money. Sometimes other gangs come to their hood and cause trouble. They shoot each other and want to show their power.
Tre has a girlfriend, who is named Brenda. She is educated in a very catholic manner, but all the same he loves her.
Tre and Ricky make a entrance examination for the university. Ricky is a very good football player, because of that he wants to go to the university. Tre wants to change to a better live.
One day Ricky and Tre go shopping. On their way home a hostile gang pursues them by car. They run away, but the gang shoots Ricky down. He dies immediately.

Ricky's mother and his girlfriend are shocked. Tre runs home and take his gun with him His father and his girlfriend wants to stop him, but he does not hear at them. Doughboy, Monster, Tre and a member of the gang want to take revenge on Ricky. They drive around with Doughboy's car and try to find the other gang, who has killed Ricky.
Suddenly Tre leaves the car and goes home, because he changes his mind. Doughboy and his two friends drive around the whole night. When they decide to take a break and eat something, they find the other gang. The other gang members were eating hamburgers while Monster loads his machine gun. Doughboy switches off the lights from his car and drives in the direction of the other gang. The other boys try to run away, but Monster shoots them down. Doughboy stops his car and shoots the gang members in the head because he wants to take revenge on his brother. Because of his brother's death, Doughboy realizes that he has to change his life, otherwise he will be killed someday.
He made up his mind too late, because two weeks after his brother's funeral he gets killed anyway. Tre goes to university and so does Brenda.

The Chocolate War

Robert Cormier began his writing career as a journalist. He lives in Leominster, Massachusetts in America.
Other books by Cormier: "I am the Cheese", "After the First Death"

Main Characters:

Jerry Renault: He is an honest and straightforward freshman at Trinity High school. He is the protagonist of the story.

The Vigils: They are a secret and forbidden student organization at Trinity. For this high school Mafia, public victimization is the name of the game and absolute control is gained by humiliating fellow students into conformity through initiation tests called assignments.

Brother Leon: As the substitute headmaster of Trinity he wants to cure the school's budget by an immense chocolate sell. He is a very moody teacher and he can cope with any of his classes, but not "The Vigils"

Archie Costello: He is the most important member of "The Vigils" and a very self - confident pupil. He forces pupils to carry out different and humiliating assignments, which no one ever has dared to refuse.

Obie: He is also a member of "The Vigils" and he is Archie's errand boy. That's why he hates Archie, for he always has to do dirty jobs.

John Carter: Formally, he is the Chief of "The Vigils' but in fact Archie has got the power. Nevertheless, he is respected by everyone because he is a football guard and the president of the boxing club.

Emile Janza: His lack of intelligence is compensated by muscles. Although he doesn't like "The Vigils" he tries to be their friend because Archie blackmails him with an embarrassing picture of him.
The story is set at the catholic private Trinity High school in Virginia, USA, in present time. As a part of a charity project, every pupil should sell at least fifty boxes of chocolate. Because most students are unwilling and tired of selling stuff for school, Brother Leon - who is in charge of this project - decides to use the help of "The Vigils'. So he indirectly explains to Archie that if "The Vigils" make the students sell those boxes, Archie's marks will improve.
"The Vigils", of course, are able to do this and the chocolate sale runs better than expected, but to show their power they give Jerry Renault the assignment to refuse selling chocolates for ten days. But on the first day Jerry continues not to sell chocolate. Although "The Vigils" give him now the explicit order to sell the boxes, he still refuses. As a consequence, pressure is put on him in all ways: there are anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night, Jerry is knocked down from behind during a football match and a group of guys, lead by Emile Janza, waits for him on the street and they hit and kick him until he is unconscious. Physically and mentally deeply hurt, Jerry is now full of hate against "The Vigils". Archie knows that and wants to show once more the power of "The Vigils" by giving him the chance to take revenge. So Archie arranges a box fight between Jerry and Emile Janza on the school field where all students have come together to see the final show down. Of course, Jerry is beaten up by unfair Janza and before Jerry is nearly murdered, brother Leon, who has been watching since the beginning, turns off the lights of the field. Jerry is brought to hospital and it turns out that probably there will be no punishment for Archie and "The Vigils" or for the corrupt brother Leon.
The Outsiders
The author
"The Outsiders" is not like other books, because when it was written S.E. Hinton was only sixteen. It was her first book and it has become a bestseller. She did not write about glory life; she told US the truth about her world, a truth of street battles and crimes. Now she lives in America where she was born, with her husband and her son.

Ponyboy Curtis: a 14 - year - old boy who has lost his parents in a car accident, he lives together with his brother Sodapop and Darry and he is a greaser and still goes to school.
Sodapop Curtis: Nearly 17 years old, Ponyboy's brother, works at a gas station, has got a girlfriend called Sandy, he is a greaser too.
Darry Curtis: Soda's and Ponyboy's brother, 20 years old, works very hard to
support his brothers, he is something like a father for his younger brothers, he is of course a greaser too.
Two - Bit Mathews: over 20 years old, makes a lot of jokes, is used to drinking a lot of hard drinks, his real name is Keith and he is famous for shoplifting, he is a greaser
Dallas (DalIy) Winston: about 20 years old, has been in prison very often, looks dangerous, likes to fight, is a greaser.
Johnny Cade: Is a 16 - year - old boy who is always beaten by his father, is always looking scared.
Steve: would like to be a greaser.


The Outsiders is a book, that describes the battles between two gangs: the socs and the greasers. The socs are teenagers with rich parents and they are used to hanging out in their expensive cars. The greasers are quite poor1 their parents do not take care of them and, as a result, all greasers think that being a soc is like being in Log heaven.
The main character of the book is a 14 - year - old boy called Ponyboy Curtis. He lives together with his 16 - year - old brother Sodapop and his 20 - year - old brother Darry. Ponyboy's parents died in a car accident, so the three brothers have to look after themselves. While Pony's brothers are working at a gas station, he still goes to school and 5 quite successful. But unfortunately, Ponyboy likes to day - dream and so he often forgets things. One day, when he has seen a film and goes home some socs try to get him. But Pony's friends help him. Pony quarrels as usual with Derry, who is often worried about his youngest brother. Ponyboy himself believes, that Derry does not like him. Soda is the only one who tries to keep peace between them. The gang consists of the three brothers, Johnny, Dally, Steve and Two - Bit Mathews. Johnny is everybody's pet, because his father always beats him. Once, the socs get him and hurt him so badly, that he is scared to death whenever he hears their cars corning down the road.
One day Ponyboy, Johnny and Dally go to a drive - in movie. There, Dally, who's about 20 years old and who has had a lot of bad experience, tries to flirt with two socs - girls. He has no success, but Pony and Johnny speak to the gins and tell them their names. The girls’ names are Cherry and Marcia and they're alone, because their boyfriends are drunk so Cherry refuses to stay with them. After some time, Two - Bit Mathews arrives and suggests the girls to go home. They talk and talk and Ponyboy realizes that there is not a lot of difference between socs and greasers. But then, Bob, Cherry's boy - friend and some other socs arrive. They're very angry and want to fight, but Cherry, who hates battles decides to get into their car to avoid a fight. Some hours later, Pony and Johnny are lying in the grass, watching the sunset. They fall asleep and when Pony wakes up again, it's already two o'clock a.m. Darry is so angry that he beats Ponyboy. That's when Pony decides to run away, because he has never been beaten before Darry is very sorry, but Pony looks for Johnny and the both hurry away. When they come to a park, they walk into a trap, because some socs are arriving Bob 5 among them. They are drunk and want to take revenge1 because of their girls. Two of them get hold of Pony and they nearly drown him in a fountain. When Pony wakes up again, he finds Johnny beside him and there's also Bob, who's dead. Johnny has killed him with a knife, because he was so afraid for Pony's life.
Pony and Johnny know that they have to escape. They go to DaIly, because he has a lot of experience in such things. He is quite amused and he gives them some money, a gun and tells them to go to a church. They have to go by train there. It is an empty church and quite a good place to hide. Pony and Johnny spend their time smoking, reading and they also cut their hair and bleach it. Greasers are very proud of their long hair, so it is quite hard for Pony and Johnny. Some days later, Dally comes to visit them and he gives Pony a letter from Soda. Dally invites Johnny and Pony for a Pepsi and he tells them that everyone is searching for them. Johnny decides to go to the police and tell everything, but things 90 a different way. When they come back to the church to get their things, there is a fire. There are still some children inside, because they wanted to play there. Johnny and Pony want to save them and so they run into the burning church. They succeed in saving the kids but both get hurt. When they arrive at hospital, everyone says that they are heroes. Pony and Dally are not badly hurt, but Johnny has very dangerous wounds and it is not sure that he will pull through. Soda and Darry come and end their fight, but everyone worries about Johnny. There is also another street battle where the greasers win against the socs, but Ponyboy is not happy. Johnny dies and therefore, Dally commits suicide. Then, Ponyboy becomes very ill and he does not want to believe all these things. His school marks are getting worse and the teacher asks him to pay more attention.
There is also a trial, but Ponyboy is not blamed. Bob's best friend, Randy also tries to speak to Pony. His opinion is that the battles between greasers and socs should stop.
In the end, Pony's teacher tells the boy that he has to write a good report to pass the year and so Pony decides to tell the whole story.

Bob, Cherry, Marcia, Randy:
Used Literature:
The Shadow Of The Dragon - Sherry Garland
The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier
The Outsiders - S.E.Hinton
Boys In The Hood - John Singelton

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