A gang is a group of three or more persons who have a common identifying sign, symbole, or name who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in, criminal activity which creates and atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Criminal activity includes juvenile acts that if commited by an adult would be a crime.
Gang History and Dynamic
Since 1987 gang activity has risen remarkably in New England and throughout the United States. Street gangs comprise many different races and ethnic backgrounds, and philosophy including Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians. Gangs are also involved in a considerable amount of violence of which law enforcement personnel encounter on a daily basis.
New England, has five main groups of gangs, which law enforcement and citizen are confronted with:
- African - American (Crips, Bloods, Folks and Peoples);
- Hispanic/Latino gangs
- White, African - American Supremacy groups
Some these gangs are then divided into sets, posse's and crews. There is no limit to the size of these particular single sets of gangs. Some gang sets may consist of as few as three members, while others may have hundreds of individuals claiming to be members. The sets normally originate in neighborhoods and the neighborhood then becomes the usual area of operation for the set.
The areas of operation for a particular gang, set, posse or crew. Can be identified by observing the graffiti, the gang displays in their neighborhoods. Street gangs will mark their territorial turf to establish their existence in these areas. Note: Once graffiti appears you have had a gang problem in that community and schools that has been present for 6 months or longer.
Some of the earliest signs of gang presents normally will appear in the middle and high schools of the community.
- Gang related graffiti appearing on book covers, walls, school papers and test sheets.
- Changes in a students behavior.
- Siding off in the lunch room during breaks. i.e.(all wearing the same type of clothes, throwing insults at another group. You may even have reports that these groups are extorting money from other students)
- Appearance of gang related clothing, beads and shoelaces.
- Appearance of gang related symbols on book bags i.e. ( lions head, VL, thespian heads
Gang members are usually between the ages of 9 and 24. However, some "original gangsters" have been identified as old as 30 years of age. Most of the criminally active members are between the ages of 14 and 18. Though loosely organized within the gang, there is a certain structure or hierarchy which is adhered to by the members of the gang.
- Are the upper echelons of the gang.
- This status is usually achieved by, the gang member being identified with the more violent crimes in which s/he has been involved.
- This status may also be achieved by, the individual having served time in prison for one or more gang related crimes.
- Have most of the influence, in their set.
- In some cases they plan, narcotics trafficking strategies and manage large sums of money (usually drug money) and its distribution throughout the gang.
- They make decisions about gang affairs, including drive by shootings and other violent assaults.
- The OG'S tend to remain apart from the day to day gang activities, with many, actually running legitimate business fronts for their gang's involvement.
Gangsters are the backbone of the street gang:
- They are usually younger than the original gangsters and average between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.
- They carry out their gang activities and supervise the young gang members in their set.
- These members are usually active participants in the narcotic trade and may be responsible for distributing crack cocaine. They may also be active participants in drive by shootings, and many are also noticeably active in various other criminal dealings.
Baby Gangsters are usually identified:
- As being between the ages of 9 and 13 and are used by senior gang members to perform various tasks.
- They may act as runners, sentries, or may be given the job of writing gang graffiti.
- The baby gangsters are usually trying to gain recognition and the status of a gangster within their set.
- Baby gangsters tend to be especially prone to violence because they are very easily persuaded and want to be recognized as having status among their peers.
- The more crimes they commit and the more violent the crimes are, the higher the level of status they achieve.
- Baby gangsters may be carrying weapons. In many cases the older gang members know that a juvenile will be treated less severely by the juvenile court system.
NOTE: Baby gangster in recent years have presented major concerns within the criminal justice system because of the number of homicides these young people have committed. This has resulted in changes to Federal and State laws making them eligible to be tried as adults.
The General Profile of Gang Members
- Generally look for males between 15 and 22 years of age.
- These individuals rarely have identification and frequently use alias names.
- They are often identified by monikers such as "G-Loc," "Hamburger," and "D-Dog," to name a few.
- They often wear starter jackets and caps which bear the names of professional and college athletic teams.
- They may also wear Dickey or other will known designer pants and wear them in a fashion called the L.A. sag (the pants sag down below the hips, revealing the buttocks).
- The colors worn by gang members tend to reflect their gang colors. Although these colors and styles present a general profile of most gang members, many have learned that the police watch for these signs and often dress more discreetly, especially when dealing narcotics.
- Are large sums of money, gold jewelry, pagers or mobile phones.
- However, these indicators are general, and gang style clothing changes continually.
- Has increased steadily throughout the Regional area since 1986.
- During the years 1986 and 1987, a minimal number of gang related police contacts were made throughout New England and its surrounding States.
- Members of the street gangs were frequently observed traveling to and from New England, Southeast, Chicago and California areas.
- Police authorities suspect that much of this travel was to supply drugs to New England and its surrounding States.
- During the early development of gang activity in New England and its surrounding States, only a few gang members and their associates were identified.
Around 1988 - 1990, media attention began to focused on Los Angeles street gangs and their existence in New York City and Connecticut. As different gangs began to reveal their existence in neighborhoods throughout the region, the media began to bring their activities to the attention of the public. Law Enforcement Officers began to focus on these gangs and their activities.
In order to observe gang problems first hand, these officers received individualized and organizational training on the street gang culture. In the beginning, police agencies down played the role of gangs and their involvement in local violence in order, to not glamorize them.
In some cases, local governments, and school districts denied the existence of organized street gangs in many inner city, urban and rural communities, this denial still purists to this day for many rationalized reasons i.e. (this can't happen here; community image; will effect the tax base; families will not settle; business will move out. etc...)
In 1988 and 1989, the gang activity began to grow and the gangs more firmly established their own territorial turf's. Drug trafficking became a major problem in New England between New York and Boston. There also began a noticeable increase in gang related crimes, including drug trafficking, assaults, robberies and drive by shootings. And at the same time there was a marked decrease in classic juvenile crimes, such as burglaries and larcenies. It was common to see large groups of young males congregating at locations which became known as gang hangouts. Frequently when these gangs began to congregate, violence erupted.
Between 1990 and 1993, gang violence increased steadily. The schools around the New England Region started reporting students coming to school carrying guns and writing graffiti on school property.
Street gang violence began to erupt in neighborhoods throughout the major metropolitan areas. Gang crimes also started being reported in small rural communities throughout New England and its surrounding States. In New England, Police Departments began to monitor street gang activity through gang intelligence resources and began identifying gang members in the region.
With the implementation of Multi-Gang Task Force Units in early 1992-93, the focus was to combat street gang violence as well as organized gang narcotic trafficking under both state and federal racketeering laws..
New England Sets
Southeastern Connecticut Gang Activities Group, Gang Investigators Association in cooperation with Federal and Local law enforcement and corrections agencies, have identified (287+) active gangs and sets since 1992. Which currently have (4 to 7000) gang members on of which (250+) are female. These numbers are conservative and may not reflect the actual numbers which may be higher at the time this was written.
Some street gangs have California or Mid-west connections and others are simply molded after the California gangs with no direct link. None of these gangs are comprised strictly of California or mid-west gang members. Typically, if a set has a California connection, it is through one or only a few of the individuals who know someone in California.
In 1998, as a result of a gang related homicide on a military installation, the U.S. Armed Forces, began to look at some of its personnel and dependents, who may have had ties to street gangs/militia groups and internal terrorists activities.
- Do to the high mobility of the military personnel and their dependants, this has become a problem for military commands, as will as local law enforcement agencies.
- Today, gang members have been identified throughout the Region from the poorest to the most affluent neighborhoods.
Hand signs, are a form of nonverbal communication, that gang members use to indicate their gang affiliation. Many gangs have stated using signs common or simular to the American Sign Language of the Deaf. This has not only in the local region but nation wide has resulted in assults and deaths of hearing impaired students and adults. Hand signs are often used to form the initials of the gang or to form a common identifier with a particular set. When a member uses hand signs, it's commonly referred to as "hitting up", "throwing down", or "flashing" their set.
- A gang member throws hand signs to identify their set and to intimidate others. Gang members use hand signs to show disrespect towards Law Enforcement Officials and rival gang members.
- The gang member accomplishes this by hitting up the officer or rival, or by "throwing down" a rival set by turning the rival's hand sign/s upside down.
- When rival sets exchange hand signs, it is commonly referred to as "set tripping" in the gang culture. This is considered as a grave insult by rival gangs, and often escalates to violent confrontation. Many of the drive by shootings in region are a result of two rival gang's members set tripping.
Even our judicial system can be effected by street gangs by:
- Intimidation, of witnesses.
- Intimidation, of juries.
- Homicides, involving witnesses, juror's, law - enforcement officers, rival gang members and judges.
- Fights in and out of the court house.
- This has resulted in high levels of security being taken in and outside of courtrooms and buildings. Especially during high profile gang cases.
The purpose of this page was to give the reader a very brief overview of gang dynamics and how to possibly recognize gang formation in your area before it becomes a problem or a young life is again taken as a result of Gangs and drugs which get glorified on websites such as interdope.com.
It is very important for Citizens, Law Enforcement, Educators and Government leaders of a community to work together for the benifit of our youth. This can be accomplished through education, not only for the youth, but through programs which educate our citizens and leaders.
The citizens, leaders and law enforcement, must begin to work together to provide, appropriate anti gang legislation, as will as funding, that allows for positive after school, summer activities, mentoring programs, and employment not just for the young kids but for our teen and young adults as well.