L.A. Gangs: Nine Miles and Spreading

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by syscom3, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    LA Weekly - News - L.A. Gangs: Nine Miles and Spreading - Peter Landesman - The Essential Online Resource for Los Angeles

    More codeless, arbitrary and brutal than ever... and coming to a neighborhood near you

    By PETER LANDESMAN
    Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 10:00 am

    Late Christmas Eve 2005, Demond Whiting and a friend left the recreation center at Nickerson Gardens and turned right down Compton Avenue. Whiting was 32 and an original gangster in the Bounty Hunter Bloods. The Bounty Hunters control and terrorize Nickerson Gardens, the sprawling housing development in Watts, and use it as a base for a nationwide drug-trafficking network. Whiting, who was fresh from a long stretch in prison for armed robbery, was chatting about his new life as a civilian, when someone stuck an AK-47 out the window of a passing car and fired two rounds. One hit Whiting in the back, severing his spine and paralyzing him.

    Early the next morning — Christmas morning — a Bounty Hunter named Antoine Staffer, a.k.a. Pig, left Nickerson Gardens, walked about a half mile to the edge of the dusty, treeless Jordan Downs housing project, strolled up to a car and shot the driver in the face. The victim was Brandon “B.L.” Bullard, a key player in the Grape Street Crips, the gang that controls Jordan Downs. Ten minutes later, a Bounty Hunter heading into Jordan Downs for a Christmas visit with cousins was ambushed and shot seven times. Two more Bounty Hunters were murdered in quick succession. The cycle of retribution — in the form of drive-bys with AK-47s, Uzis, MAC-10s and 9mm semi*automatic handguns — lasted six weeks, left 26 people wounded, nine dead, the local schools largely empty of students, and a large swath of Watts under siege.

    What triggered all this depends on whom you talk to. Some say it was an argument at a mall over a young woman, others say it was a yanked necklace. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t have taken much. This was just the latest spasm in a long-running vendetta between the Grape Street Crips and Bounty Hunter Bloods, just one of hundreds of hair-trigger blood feuds that disrupt or terrorize neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, the most gang-saturated city in the world. No one I spoke to could explain why the Grape Street Crips and Bounty Hunter Bloods revile each other so; they only know that they do.

    Even the gang members were feeling trapped. “I remember us thinking, how long is this going to go, how much is this going to trigger, how bad is this going to get, how many people are going to die?” a former Bounty Hunter named Damien Hartfield told me during the height of the conflict.

    Demond Whiting, who was shot in the back and is now paralyzed
    In March, I visited Demond Whiting at a rehabilitation hospital outside Watts. I drove with James (not his real name), a serious, powerfully built 30-something O.G. Bounty Hunter from Nickerson Gardens. James didn’t say much, only that he’d spent his 20s in prison for a variety of things, including armed robbery and involuntary manslaughter, and now was struggling to keep his gangbanging behind him.

    We found Whiting, a lean man with a wisp of a beard and prominent cheekbones, lying in a darkened room, his legs already heavily atrophied beneath the blankets. He was eager for visitors, and was strangely sanguine about his plight. “The only sense of direction [in the neighborhood] is to follow the negative,” he said with a shrug. “I never knew the walk of being a good guy.”

    Now, of course, he’ll never walk again. But there was little sense of catastrophe about him; his paralysis was merely a possible consequence of the life he’d led. I asked him how he felt about the Christmas Day retaliation against the Grape Street Crips, and the war it set off, and he said, simply, “They knew they had to do that.”

    James and I drove back to Nickerson Gardens and parked outside the recreation center. He didn’t move to get out, and we sat in silence for a time. It began to rain, lightly at first, then heavily. We faced the long front wall of the recreation center that had been turned into a memorial for Nickerson Gardens residents killed in gang violence. The names were listed in neat columns. There were 300 of them.

    Eventually, James started talking. He told me he’d started gangbanging when he was 12. “I got shot when I was 15, and that’s when it got bad,” he said softly. “I got extreme after I got shot.” James started teaching youngsters from Nickerson how to gangbang. Using rival gangbangers for practice, he taught his students how to hunt and kill. “You teach a person how not to take losses, how to be gladiators, run them down, gun them down,” he explained.

    James wasn’t remorseful, but he was far from proud. In truth, he seemed numb; his life of crime and death hung about him in a static haze. There is a personal demilitarized zone in the advanced lives of former hardcore gang members, should they survive their 20s, where they live as neither soldier nor citizen. James said he struggles to keep a gun out of his own hands every day, but that in January he was tempted to join the battle with the Grape Street Crips after a young Bounty Hunter he knew was killed.

    I asked him why he thought Whiting had been shot in the first place. He shrugged and then looked at me like it didn’t matter. This was all part of a continuum that stretched beyond his memory and over which he had no control. The thing that seemed to bother him most was that he probably knew who the shooter was. “Everybody knows each other in these projects — everybody,” he said bitterly. “A lot of people are related. Brothers and fathers — brothers and sisters on different sides.” Which only amps up the hate required to shoot someone in cold blood, he said. “When somebody closer to home violates you, it’s harder to accept.”

    The next day, at Jordan Downs, I put a similar question to a Grape Street Crip named Ronny Pugh. Pugh, 23, was wiry, and wore a necklace of purple beads — Grape Street colors. When I asked what his beef against Nickerson Gardens was, he didn’t seem to know. “I wish I could just take a big-ass can of roach spray and spray it all over the whole place and kill everybody. Mamas, children and all,” he said. “**** them and anything that can grow from there.”
     

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  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That "Welcome to California" sign in a rear view mirror has never given me second thoughts.
     
  3. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    You go into any major city in the US, they have gang problems. Hollywood, and the press, have given the impression that all of California is like that. It's not.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    And the car behind you is packed with gangsters!
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Headed to Vegas or Phoenix - it's too cold here for them...;)
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Very true to a point - depends where in SoCal you're at, unfortunately these little pricks find ways to get around.
     
  8. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I'll give the f*ckers a Glasgow Smile and after that they'll surely behave....
     
  9. magnocain

    magnocain Member

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    Advice from a Californian for not getting shot.

    Dont drive in central LA
    Dont wear a lot of red or blue
    Dont make it plane that you have an ipod or a wallet
    Dont comment on baggey pants
    When in LA, only go to Disneyland
    Shiney is bad.


    Only applies to LA, everywhere else has wanabee gangsters
     
  10. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Disneyland is in OC.
     
  11. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Oh please, spoken like someone who has never been here. Be street smart like in any major city and you will be ok.

    It SOUTH Central LA, number one. Wearing red or blue will not get you into trouble, unless it's a bandana. You think bloods don't wear blue jeans?! Don't make it plain you have a wallet??? Um, that's true anywhere. Baggy pants are in fashion for most youths today.

    Sheesh! Live your life in fear if you want, stay inside and for gods sake, don't risk anything....
     
  12. magnocain

    magnocain Member

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    Sigh...

    I live in Northern California and where i am it is sort of a game to exagerate gand violence.
    close enough
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I hate gang bangers. They are such losers. We are starting to get a problem with them here in Germany in the large cities. 99% of the gangs are made up of Turkish, Russians, Albanians, etc.

    I was talking to a Turkish man about this and he told me they were all the scum that Turkey does not want. I told him we dont want these scum either and they should police up there own kids.
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Let them dig ditches, clean the sewers, dig graves....
     
  15. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    And by doing so, perpetuating the myth that all of So Cal is inundated with gangs. It's one thing to do it in person, it's quite another on the web. People from all over the world read this forum, and not all of them are members. Guests can read this forum too. And by exaggerating a problem that is NOT local to you doesn't help people's impression of where I live. Get my point?
    So I suppose that you wouldn't mind if I used all the San Francisco stereotypes on everyone who lives in northern California, would you?
     
  16. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  17. magnocain

    magnocain Member

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    point taken:oops:
     
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