Gangs Los Angeles County Probation

Introducing LA County’s 100 Kid, $1.1 Million Gang Plan


Last Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved
the county’s long-awaited gang violence reduction plan: The Regional Gang Violence Reduction Initiative. (The LA Times reported on the plan Monday. And here’s a link to the Which Way LA? podcast where Connie Rice and I discussed the matter.

It is, in a word, pathetic.

The so-called initiative is pathetic as a strategy, pathetic in its allocation of a mere $1.1 million dollars to address gang intervention and prevention in all of LA County, pathetic in the number of kids it intends to serve (a nice round 100 out of a county population of 10 million).

It is also pathetic in that, instead of maximizing its mini-reach by cooperating with existing programs and community based groups, or even with LA City, for no appreciably functional reason the county has elected to reinvent its own sad little wobbly wheel.

It is even more discouraging when one realizes it has taken three full years to get us to this woeful pass. Back in March of 2008, when I wrote these two posts, we’d already waited a year for the damn plan, and even that seemed like slow-dragging.


It was understood back in 2008—and more so now, what with the state’s budget meltdown—that the kind of multifaceted approach needed to begin to address the many elements in a community that allow gangs to flourish, was simply not in the cards. There is neither the money nor the political will launch such an initiative.

But the idea was that while we couldn’t afford the fully-functional locomotive to take us where we needed to go in terms of gang prevention and intervention, we could at least start to lay some tracks.

With that in mind, the committee (headed by the County’s Chief Executive Office, Bill Fujioka) tasked with coming up with said “tracks” has over the past three years presented the County Sups with a bunch of different iterations of the plan okayed on Tuesday. Discouragingly, each one of those pre-plan-plans have been deemed not ready for prime time.

Finally, however—whether because the plan was thought to be slightly better, or more likely because everyone was worn down—yet one more plan was presented, a vote was taken, and a strategy was approved—albeit with two crucial changes, (but I’ll get to that last in a minute).

So what is this much labored over plan? You can read the a version of the last iteration here. But let me summarize it for you.

First a few metaphors:

After the plan was approved, Connie Rice snapped unhappily —and correctly— that the county had labored to produce an elephant and had instead managed only to push out a mouse.

Or to use the locomotive versus tracks image, under this plan we have no train, no tracks, but four bus benches.

Put yet another way, after three years of dithering, we’ve got a strategy that could have been drawn up in 15 minutes on a cocktail napkin.

Here’s the heart of LA County’s one and only Regional Gang Violence Reduction Initiative:

In four “demonstration sites” the county will will find and focus on 25 kids per site.

Yep, you added right. The new initiative will serve a grand total of 100 kids out of an LA County population of 10 million— 850,000 of whom are kids living in high violence zones. All of the 100 kids chose for the program will be adolescents who are being released from one of the county’s juvenile probation camps. The idea is to help them transition back into community life and not to land back in the juvenile justice system.

As I mentioned up top, the budget for this massive 100 kid battle plan is $1.1 million—meaning we will spending about $11,000 per kid.


And what will each probationer kid get for our money to help him or her turn a life around? For those bucks the county will:

1. Make sure that every kid has a probation officer.
2. Refer them to the County Department of Mental Health, if they need mental health care.
3. Refer their parents to parenting classes, if that is needed.
4. Work with school officials to make sure kids get back in school and/or get tutors or whatever.
5. Make sure that all the County’s “appropriate services have been made available to probationer and family members.”

Call me crazy, but I thought that LA County was already supposed to be providing most of those five services for its kids coming out of camp, even without the new “initiative.”

Oh, yeah, I think there are some committees and “workgroups” planned too.
(I love committees and workgroups, don’t you?)

Like I said. Something far better could have been mapped out on a cocktail napkin.

To make matters worse, the 18-month plan was originally budgeted at nearly $2 million until Supervisors Mike Antonovitch and Don Knabe proposed at the last minute that the whole kit and caboodle could be run by LA County probation, which would allow the Sups to subtract another $891,000 from the budget bringing it down to its present $1.1 mil.

And so it was that the county’s one and only gang plan was handed over with minimal discussion to the same scandal-ridden LA County probation that was recently slapped with one big bad civil rights lawsuits for its failure to educate kids its probation camps, and that last month admitted to the LA Times that it had not managed to discipline scores of employees whom it was determined had abused juvenile probationers, and had allowed hundreds more complaints to go uninvestigated altogether.

And probation is just about to get a new chief, Donald Blevins, who has not been consulted on the gang initiative his agency is about to run—namely because he hasn’t taken his position yet.


Oh and it gets even better: What few people know, and what the county fails to mention in its press advisories, is that there is already $142 million being spent on miscellaneous programs scattered across LA county that have one thing or another to do with gangs or gang violence reduction, (most of them subject to no public evaluation to see if they, you know, work).

Yet do these programs coordinate with each other? Or will this new 100-kid program coordinate with the existing programs in order to maximize resources? Or will the new gang initiative pair up with LA City’s gang program for the same economies of scale purpose, or with successful community based programs like Homeboy Industries or Toberman House (among others) that are already helping kids transition of out the probation camps?

The answers to those questions would be no, no, no and no.

PS: The county did make a frail attempt to get UCLA to agree to evaluate the outcomes of its soon-to-be-launched 100 kid, four-site pilot program. Last I heard, UCLA had to regretfully decline—because for said evaluation the county had budgeted exactly: $00.00.

This is no way to run a railroad. (Or even bus benches.)

PS: The surly-looking fellow in the center of the above photo (taken in Boyle Heights in 1992) is now working as one of the head bakers at Homeboy Industries.

I don’t remember the curly haired guy on the right, but the sneering guy on the left is doing a 14-year federal sentence for drug dealing. I hadn’t seen him in years but just recently he has started writing me letters to tell me that he intends to use his time inside well, educating himself as much as he possibly can, so that when he gets out he can start over and make something of his life. I do what I can to encourage him to keep with his plan.


  • Celeste is worried about spending the money correctly. Tea Partiers know that government won’t do that, so it should stop most of the spending. But, you guys tell us where the money should go and what the chances are for that happening.

  • I know. Like, it’s so silly for Woody to believe that. We can see what their true motives are. It’s obvious. Their agenda is crystal clear. Taxes. Baloney.

  • The question, as always, for Woody and his ilk is if he would increase funding for programs that demonstrably DO WORK. We have evidence that there are effective anti-gang and crime reduction programs and we could use allies pushing legislators toward instituting them. In my experience, conservative antipathy toward government outweighs any pragmatic interest in successful social programs of any sort, but I look forward to being proved wrong.

  • The biggest drop of gang violence we’ve ever seen was after the ’92 riots, when many gangs formed truces. This tells me that the gangs have to stop themselves. Whatever programs the government could form that would assist the process of gang members doing this would be the best idea, in my view. Nothing else has worked. Law enforcement’s “war” approach has been a joke.

  • increase funding for programs that demonstrably DO WORK and Whatever programs the government could form that would assist the process of gang members….

    If the government adequately funded and managed border patrol and if it actually tried to fight illegal immigration, it wouldn’t need to spend even more on gangs.

  • I guess I get so sick of the typical liberal solution to problems — more money, and it’s rarely their’s. If paying more taxes gave us better government, we should be living in a utopia.

  • “The biggest drop of gang violence we’ve ever seen was after the ‘92 riots.”

    Rob, while the Crip/Blood truce was significant, in terms of numbers, that statement is nowhere close to being true. 1992 and 1993 had the highest number of homicides, gang-related and otherwise, in LA history.

    The truces are tourniquets that stop immediate bleeding. That’s all. They deal only with symptoms, not with causes. And, while helpful in the moment, they’re problematic in that they reinforce the gang structure, which is not a goal that we should want. So they have a purpose, but that purpose is limited, and has inherent liabilities within it.

    Yet it’s an interesting issue, so I’m glad you brought it up.

  • Celeste, I was referring to a larger time period than up to 1993. I read an article in LA Weekly years back about a truce between Grape Street Crips and Bounty Hunter Bloods that started after the Rodney King riots, and lasted nearly a decade, thanks to older gang members enforcing the truce. One resident in the area, who I believe isn’t a gang member, said in the article that the only reason the violence was heating up again in the early ’00s is because some of these older truce enforcers went back to prison, leaving the streets to the younger gang members, who obviously had other ideas than a truce.

    Truces deal only with symptoms, not causes? Really? It seems pretty simple to me. When gangs are warring, people die. When there’s a truce, people live.

    What is wrong with reinforcing the gang structure? What if gangs decided to stop killing, stop dealing in drugs, stop dealing in any kind of crime, and instead focused on strengthening their community and providing protection from a legitimate self defense standpoint, no different than legally hired body guards? Would you have a problem with that? If the gang structure is to crumble, what structure should they then take part of? The corporate structure, which has pretty much failed middle class America, as seen by the unemployment lines?

    I personally have never had a problem with the existence of gangs, my problem is with what they do. Gangs stop doing the bad, and start doing the good, who better than them to be leaders and sources of security in their community?

    The earliest black gangs spawned from black defense organizations. The earliest Latino gangs spawned from both defense organizations and car clubs. At what point did these clubs become geared toward illegal drug sales and violence? That’s worth discussing. Many have tried to discuss it, write books about it, and even make documentary films about it, yet they’ve been labeled as radicals and muckrakers. But why? For studying historical facts? That scares me more than any gang ever could.

  • Woody, and, again, most of the tea baggers don’t pay any taxes, anyway. As long as we’re talking about people dealing with other peoples’ money. When you really break it all down, the money trail leads right to the wealthy essentially brainwashing poor white people into focusing on minorities using government assistance to distract them from the fact that it’s the rich who’ve shipped their jobs away.

  • Regarding illegal immigrants and gangs, Woody, that huge round up of the mostly Latino Avenues gang last fall by LAPD? Not one illegal immigrant.

  • Rob, your statement about the Tea Partiers is not accurate. I see a lot of tax returns which show otherwise. Plus, they’re more concerned with upcoming tax increases to handle the Obama deficits, and a value-added tax is inevitable.

    The round up of Latino gangs would have been more successful if done thirty years ago, which would have made it less necessary today. A stich in time saves nine.

  • See, that’s exactly it. They’re concerned with upcoming tax increases that will only affect people who make more than 200k a year. At some of those tea party rallies you’d have to add everyone’s income together to come up with 200k.

    You said that if we had tougher border policies, we wouldn’t have a gang problem. We’re not talking about 30 years ago. So, again, how would tougher border policy stop gang violence when a gang that’s been in the news frequently over the past decade was just rounded up by the LAPD and not one of them was an illegal immigrant?

  • No influx of immigrants are ever, ever allowed into this country unless it benefits the government and the wealthy citizens who control it. Use your head, Woody.

  • Rob: will only affect people who make more than 200k a year

    Rob, don’t be stupid. That pledge has already been broken.

  • What’s all this talk about 200k a year? I thought it was 250k a year? Is it down to 200k?

  • It sure as hell isn’t down to the 10k a year those tea baggers earn as greeters at Wal Mart, you know, the ones who aren’t drawing unemployment insurance while they denounce government programs out of the other side of their mouth.

  • Obama can take that number down to 50k, for all I care. Anybody who’s making 50k right now is doing quite well for themselves and looks pretty funny bitching about taxes. They’re lucky to have a job.

  • Celeste, well said: The truces are tourniquets that stop immediate bleeding. That’s all. They deal only with symptoms, not with causes. And, while helpful in the moment, they’re problematic in that they reinforce the gang structure, which is not a goal that we should want. So they have a purpose, but that purpose is limited, and has inherent liabilities within it.

    Rob Thomas on the other hand said: I personally have never had a problem with the existence of gangs, my problem is with what they do. Gangs stop doing the bad, and start doing the good, who better than them to be leaders and sources of security in their community?

    People with an education, people that have had positive role models in their lives and have emulated them, people without criminal records, people who have a history of settling a beef without resorting to killing someone and people who don’t care where you live in any part of a given area.

  • SF, Gang members can get educated. Why would they need to dissolve the gang structure to get educated?

    A gang member can be a positive role model, too, if they simply stop doing negative things and start doing positive things. If a gang decided to stop killing, stop selling drugs, stop committing crimes, started going to school, started a legitimate business, yet still referred to themselves by their same old gang name and wore the same colors, what would be wrong with that?

  • RobThomas Says:
    April 13th, 2010 at 4:00 pm
    Regarding illegal immigrants and gangs, Woody, that huge round up of the mostly Latino Avenues gang last fall by LAPD? Not one illegal immigrant.

    How many were born of illegal parents Rob? How many illegal gang members have been arrested over the years for gang murders in Los Angeles alone?

    The Supreme Court at some point is going to have to deal with the birth issue at some point since are legislators don’t have what it takes to do it. I know that the children born here and whose parents are here illegally are granted citizenship, which in my opinion is ridiculous, but I find it hard to believe none of those types were represented in the arrests you speak of.

  • Whose going to convince thousands of gang members to turn over a new leaf and start doing all the positive things you speak of, you? What makes you think the vast majority of them even want to? What makes you think they won’t change beacuse they like their style of life and don’t want to be productive members of society?

    I’ve dealt with too many hard core gang members and dopers to think any of them will ever change until they really want to. Sadly, the vast majority don’t and family, friends, their kids and society are the victims of their selfish decisions.

    With all the years of gang warfare we’ve seen and the thousands of lifes lost due to gang violence, if gangs were going to get educated and turn over some new leaf in any meaningful number, wouldn’t it have happened by now?

  • That’s your problem Rob, you can’t argue without shoving your head up your ass and making a remark to show what a dope you are. You have no intelligent response you can make so you head to the gutter. That’s what makes you a weakling with no game.

  • IMHO a person who isn’t committing any crimes isn’t a gang member. A person who dresses up like a gang member, but doesn’t do what gang members do is a wanna be gang member. Check the middle schools in the rich white neighborhoods. They’re full of wanna bees.
    From what I’ve observed, the real gang members make fun of them and call them names. I can’t remember what they call them. Can anybody help me out? There is a name that the gang members use for people who dress like them, talk like them, etc. but don’t “do dirt”…”put in work”…insert any other gang slang for committing crimes.

  • Sure Fire, come again?

    When did I say I was going to convince gang members to stop killing each other?

    I clearly said that they would have to do it on their own. They would have to make the cognitive decision to form a truce, then they would have to put it into action, just as Grape Street and Bounty Hunters did after the riots, a long with MANY other gangs during that time.

    Remember, we’re discussing the veracity of the gang truce, here. You and Celeste insist it’s a futile process, while two very large and powerful gangs in Watts had a truce for nearly a decade. A decade I think goes clear beyond the “fluke” window. It was a real truce. Why shouldn’t we look at how and why that truce started, and where it went wrong? Because if we could get just half of LA’s gangs to do what they did for 10 years, imagine the loss of life that will be prevented.

  • Sure Fire, regarding your insult laden comment #30, I generally don’t care about the opinion of a cop who brags about brutalizing the citizens who pay him. Understand this clearly, from a moral standpoint and a legal standpoint, considering everything you’ve revealed thus far, you are no better than a gang member in my eyes.

  • First off, ATQ, the authors of gang injunctions sure view non criminals as gang members. Some gang injunctions include white t shirts in their criteria for classifying gang members to be served with an injunction.

    Secondly, the subject is the effectiveness of gang truces, not wanna bees. I’m talking about validated gang members who’ve been “jumped in”, or initiated into a gang, enacting a truce and calling for an end to all criminal behavior in their gang. If that disqualifies them from being gang members in your view, so be it. Call them whatever you want. In these gang neighborhoods, there are elders, “OGs” and “Veteranos”, who get respect from the youngsters. If we can get a significant number of them to form truces with rival gangs, a lot of lives can be saved.

  • Get ready to hit that delete button Celeste but do you truly think Rob doesn’t deserve a tart response?

    I don’t give a fuck what I look like to a fucking lying asshole like you Rob. You started throwing the fucking insults when you said I don’t like Mexicans. Than it’s me bragging about brutalizing citizens, which only a mentally deficient leftist bitch type like you could come up with, because your positions are constantly shown to be fucking bizzare and brainless so it’s the only response you have left. I said you’re only here to cause conflict and you prove my point every day.

    End of conservation dick head. I’ll answer others but if I want to have a conversation with a douche bag again I’ll be sure to let you know.

  • SureFire, why in the world do you react when Rob says this stuff? Seriously? Just ignore it. It just sends you into a bout of swearing. You and reg, while on opposites sides politically, do precisely the same thing when someone says stuff that you find offensive or dumb. You both go into paroxysms of name calling.

    And then it’s left to me to try to figure out who started what and where I should begin deleting. I hate this shit.

    I too think what Rob is saying about gangs is preposterous. But I don’t feel the need to work myself into a frenzy over it and begin tossing insults. Please find a new MO in this regard.

    (Sorry Rob, it just is terribly naive and mostly uninformed. I understand what you said seems logical. But it isn’t. And I don’t have the time or energy to explain why. It’s a much longer and more complex conversation. Read my book. Or read Fr. Greg’s book. Or Diego Vigil’s book. Or read my next book if I can ever get enough time away from these freaking comments to finish it. Or ask a gang member or three how possible it would be to turn their neighborhoods into nice, civic-friendly PACs.)

  • I brought up a valid example of a gang truce Celeste, written about extensively by LA Weekly a few years back. I’m surprised you gave such a harsh summation of my point of view without even acknowledging my source.

    Two huge Watts gangs formed a truce after the riots that lasted nearly a decade, and I gave you a clear explanation of it based on an LA Weekly article, which you have neither acknowledged or responded to. It’s not complex. I brought up an example, you simply ignored it.

    I’ve read your book. It doesn’t refute one word of what I said.

    As far as me asking a gang member, why don’t you? Ask Wayne “Big Honcho” Day of Bounty Hunter Bloods, who was noted by several people interviewed in the LA Weekly article as being one of the facilitators of the Grape Street/Bounty truce in the ’90s.

  • From part 1 of the story:

    “The 1992 treaty, which became official the day before the Rodney King verdict set the city ablaze, was born from older gang members who did not want their children to go through the dread they had long endured. It was marked by celebrations, by families and friends being able to visit each other in different projects without fear. But in the last year or so, as a new generation of gang members came of shooting age, which is about 13 to 16, word began to spread that the treaty was on the ropes.”


    Now, this article claims that the truce started immediately after the riots, in 1992, then says the truce was on shaky ground “in the last year or so”. This article was written in 2005, which means the “the last year or so” would be 2004. This would mean that the Grape Street/Bounty Hunters truce lasted 12 years. That is remarkable. And these are not a couple of chump “wannabe” gangs from the suburbs, as ATQ described earlier. Watts, California is about as ghetto as it gets. Granted, the truce didn’t last. But 12 years of peace between two rival street gangs is not a bad result, is it? Consider the body count that would have been attributed to these two gangs had there been no truce in those 12 years. It’s a start. And you have to crawl before you walk.

  • “I too think what Rob is saying about gangs is preposterous. But I don’t feel the need to work myself into a frenzy over it and begin tossing insults. Please find a new MO in this regard. (Sorry Rob, it just is terribly naive and mostly uninformed.


    Now, that is a comment we cal all agree on. Even Obama would agree with Celeste on her comment.

  • His comments on gangs are fine Celeste, wrong as they might be, calling me a racist and posting lie after lie about what I’ve written is however b.s. At some point a person has to make a little bit of a point to a jackass like that.

    That being said, I’m not responding to this idiot anymore.

  • “Regarding illegal immigrants and gangs, Woody, that huge round up of the mostly Latino Avenues gang last fall by LAPD? Not one illegal immigrant.”


    United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers today arrested eight people, including a couple and their son in Northeast Los Angeles, on drug-trafficking and human smuggling charges. The arrestees had close ties to the Drew Street Clique of the Avenues gang.

    According to a federal search warrant affidavit, the smugglers allegedly had plans to sneak Maria “Chata” Leon, the matriarch of a drug dealing family of gangsters who ruled Drew Street, into the U.S. after she had been previously deported.

    It didn’t work out, but the notorious Leon returned later to Los Angeles to attend her gangster son Danny Leon’s funeral in February of 2008. She was arrested again about a month later by federal officers. Leon is currently serving a eight-year sentence for selling crack cocaine and racketeering charges.

  • Sure Fire, my assumption that you’re racist against Mexicans is based on your desire to rewrite the constitution to deport children of Mexican immigrants who were born here, and are therefore legal citizens. Just what percentage of children born to Mexican immigrant parents do you honestly believe are criminal?

  • Sure Fire, I made no predictions. I only stated that the longest runs of non violence we’ve had in the gang world were products of gang truces, and nothing else. That’s what I said. No prediction. No this will happen, no that will happen. I leave such prognostications to the types of fear mongers and racists who want to change the constitution to have perfectly legal citizens deported. I deal in reality, not paranoia.

  • WTF, your link is noted, yet, as usual, beside the point. I never said that no gang members were illegal immigrants, nor did I say that gangs don’t involve themselves in immigrant smuggling. I said that considering a huge gang bust last fall netted ZERO illegal immigrants, the theory that closing the borders would stop gang violence is simply not based in reality.

    How many Crips and Bloods are from Mexico? Vice Lords? Skinheads? Hells Angels? Aryan Brotherhood members? Pen1 in Orange County, which is a white gang? Gangs in the United States of America do not, nor have ever needed, immigration to exist.

  • Almost all Latino street gangs in LA not only originated in Los Angeles, but were started by American citizens, according to most gang historians. Even 18th street, which has a considerable population of illegal immigrants today, was started by Mexican Americans, here in the US of A. Even MS 13 was started in the United States, and, started by Salvadorian Americans.

    Heck, Mexico should be the ones tightening their borders, because the gang culture that was born and cultivated here has invaded them, as later generations of gang members, who are illegal, were deported to these countries. 18th street and MS 13 are at war in El Salvador, just as they are here. Yet there’s no 18th street in El Salvador that they’re based upon, nor is there a prison gang in El Salvador that identifies itself with the number 13 that MS was originally loyal to. MS13, 18th street, the Mexican Mafia, all born, cultivated, and produced in the same country that brought you Ford and Chevy. Are there any gangs in LA that originated in Mexico? Are there any that have even named themselves after a part of Mexico? I’ll spot you Juarez Maravilla. I’m all ears if there’s more.

  • “Sherrills and his brother Daude, both of whom have been active in the gang peace movement for more than a decade and who have traveled the world speaking about it, say the current problem is a matter of leadership. The other gangs couldn’t agree more. Many PJ Crips and the Bounty Hunters lay most of the blame on the Grape Street gang, who they say have lost their leadership, which has cut loose a new generation of young gang members to go on shooting sprees. ”

  • You told me to ask a gang member, Celeste. Here’s two, from the article:

    “In a 1997 speech by Steven R. Wiley, then chief of the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders section of the FBI, Honcho was called “the Godfather of Watts.” That’s a slight exaggeration, but when told that Honcho may be getting out of prison soon, both Kartoon and PJ Steve consider it good news.

    “If Honcho was here, this wouldn’t be happening,” says Kartoon.

  • Celeste, you have been debunked by gang members and cops. You tried to pass me off as being naive when you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. Truces work. Gang members think so. Even some cops think so, including one who works Watts. It’s not naive. It’s not misinformed. It’s real. This is information. I’m reading it right now. What you said to refute it is what’s really misinformation. Maybe you were just trying to come off as “fair and balanced” when taking my ideas to task, to appease Sure Fire, I dunno. Whatever the case, you are flat out WRONG. Please read the LA Weekly article, Celeste, since it’s obvious you’re the one who needs to be informed.

  • I’m sorry to be so long winded and posting multiple comments, but being called naive is offensive.

    I’ll close with this quote from the article.


    As Aqueela puts it, “Peace is not a destination. It’s a journey with peaks and valleys along the way.”

  • Rob, do you honestly think you can lecture me on gangs? Seriously?

    “Please read the LA Weekly article, Celeste, since it’s obvious you’re the one who needs to be informed.”

    That, as a sentence, is genuinely hilarious.

    Rob, I’ve written on gangs for the LA Weekly and LA Times, among other publications, for twenty years. I have a book on gangs in its third updated version, that is taught as a classic in its field at colleges across the country, because it contains, among other things, a fifteen-year longitudinal study in which I track the same 30 gang members over time. And my articles and chapters on issues having to do with gangs and related topics are repeatedly anthologized, including in every new iteration of the Modern Gang Reader. And I’m writing a new book that follows two former gang members (and friends) over a four year period as it also explores incarceration policy in America. And….the reason Which Way LA called me to be on the show about the county’s new gang plan on Monday is because I’m considered to be an expert on, you guessed it, gangs.

    (Do I need to go on and tell you how many godchildren I have whose dads are gang members? Or how many times I’ve been shot at when out in the hood? (Twice. They weren’t aiming at me.) Or can we just leave it at that?)

    But, listen, I’m happy that you think that Michael Krikorian’s article can bring me up to speed.

    When I called you naive, it didn’t have to do with the truces, which can and have helped. The original Blood/Crip truce was unique. And there have been other, smaller truces, that have helped as well, like the one in Oakwood. But while they slow violence, they don’t stop it. More importantly, they don’t, as I said, solve the underlying problems that cause young men and women to join gangs. They staunch the flow of blood. But they are not cures.

    My remark about you being naive, had to do with the notion of turning gangs into positive organizations, a concept on which you serial posted.

    Yes, of course, I know the Krikorian article. It’s fine as far as it goes. (Although it gets facts wrong here and there.) But it tells only part of a very, very complex story. Every quote you have marched out needs to be interpreted within a context. You cannot simply wave them as flags.

    By the way, Sergio Diaz, whom you quote from the article, is a close friend. You’re unwise to try to tell me what he thinks and what he means about the myriad causes of gang violence.

    Aqeela Sherrills, whom you also quote, is one of the most remarkable people I know. Yes, he was one of the architects of the original Crip/Blood truce and, in years that followed, he worked for peace across South LA as a respected gang interventionist. However, in early 2005, his beautiful and beloved 18-year-old son, a college kid at Humboldt State University, was home on winter vacation, and was shot dead at a party in a gang altercation of which he had no part.

    I went to Terrell’s funeral where I watched Aqueela be full of the most terrible kind of grief, but also full of forgiveness. As he has been ever after. I don’t know if I could be so open-hearted under such circumstances. I hope I never have to find out.

    But Aqeela would be the first person to tell you he wants to move people away from gangs, keep kids from joining gangs in the first place, to help gang members transform and heal, not to preserve the gang structure.

    As I said, this is a complex issue. And what I’ve said above doesn’t begin to get to it. But it’s all the time I have on this topic.


  • People who speak about the Constitution should understand it.

    According to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to ensure citizenship for the newly emancipated African Americans, “all persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was intended to exclude from automatic citizenship American-born persons whose allegiance to the United States was incomplete. For example, Native Americans were excluded from American citizenship because of their tribal jurisdiction. Also not subject to American jurisdiction were foreign visitors, ambassadors, consuls, and their babies born here. In the case of illegal aliens, their native country has a claim of allegiance on the child. Therefore, some Constitutional scholars argue that the completeness of the allegiance to the United States is impaired and logically precludes automatic citizenship. However, this issue has never been directly decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Celeste, what makes you think you can lecture me on gangs? You have no idea who I am. Just because you worked with Father Boyle and wrote a few articles doesn’t automatically make you more of an expert on gangs than someone who comments on your blog. I think your question “Do you honestly think you can lecture me than gangs” is just flat out immature.

    Now if we can end this chest thumping of who’s more of a gang expert, and get back to the topic at hand. I brought up the Watts truce for a specific reason, Celeste. ITS LONGEVITY. 12 years. Read, 12 years. It wasn’t just over a weekend, Celeste. 12 years is an entire generation in the gang universe.

    In the article I posted, you had several members of Grape Street Crips, Watts PJ Crips, and Bounty Hunter Bloods, older and younger, not to mention a mother flipping LAPD sergeant, not only validating the veracity of the truce, but also the notion that OGs in the hood have the power to enact it. It proved that if the OGs and/or veteranos of two rival gangs decide it’s over, it’s over. The gang members also pointed out that the truce ended because many of those OGs went back to prison, leaving the neighborhood to “young shooters”.

    Celeste, why do you bother working with gangs if you think they’re incapable of becoming positive organizations? Gangs compromise of gang members, Celeste. They are people. They are not some revolving cyborg possessed by a giant rodent. They are human beings, all capable of making decisions. If gang members can enact a truce lasting nearly a generation, they can certainly turn their younger members toward education, and provide services for their community. It sounds to me like you just don’t think they’re capable of it. Well, I think you’re wrong. I’ve talked to some older gang members and their intelligence, not just on the streets, but in the big world a well, is remarkable. I’ll tell you this right now, the average gang member aged 25 and older is smarter when it comes to local and global political issues than the average white, west LA snob I’ve talk to, that’s for sure. And when you consider upper class LA’s unwavering support of law enforcement’s war like tactics in inner cities, you have to wonder if their belief that gangs can not come to peace with each other is rooted in their own inability to envision or work toward peace.

    Celeste, do you even consider the history of gangs when flat out rejecting this idea? Do you not believe White Fence was once a neighborhood defense organization?

    Do you not believe the first Crip and Blood gangs spawned from black political groups like the Black Panther Party? Are all of the documented accounts of this, by experts from all walks of life, completely wasted on you?

    I’m impressed that you know Aqeela Sherrills and Officer Diaz. Take your disagreements up with them. I merely echoed their statements in the ariticle.


  • Sure Fire, your unadulterated, steadfast, and disturbing fear and paranoia of some kind of Mexican takeover of the United States has you barking at your own shadows. Your interpretation of a constitutional amendment that clearly states that children born here are citizens is not only far fetched, it’s something that was made up by racists years ago, and that you’re merely repeating.

  • Wow, Celeste. What a mature and thoughtful response. Thanks for the insight. I guess you are the expert.

  • I’m not an expert on any gang, Woody, the Little Rascals or otherwise, lol. Nor have I ever claimed to be. And, I respect Celeste’s expertise. But her calling me naive for merely suggesting that gang members should and could stop the violence and become assets to their community, as most of Los Angeles’s older gangs were at their inception, was just short sighted and rude, imo. For her to then respond to my example of a long gang truce, that saved several lives, with chest thumping about expertise was just childish.

  • Rob, for me to comment further just continues the argument. No time. Sorry.

    But as you’re genuinely interested in the topic (I mean that, I’m not being snarky), both James Diego Vigil and Joan Moore have written a great deal about the origins of White Fence, and while a bit dry and academic, it’s nonetheless, good stuff, in terms of the information.

    As for the Bloods and the Crips, while there are lots of claims about the Genesis of both those gangs, off shoots of the Black Panthers, yadda, yadda, yadda, Tookie Williams memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption, is perhaps the most definitive on the origin of the Crips, and the most heartbreaking of accounts. It also has a lot about the formation of the Bloods as well.

    Also, Stacy Peralta’s very fine documentary film, Made in America, has a lot about Crip/Blood history.

  • It’s no problem, Celeste. I think we both said what we had to say. It’s unfortunate that the only examples you gave to demonstrate that I’m “naive” is that you’ve written a book and have talked to gang members. I expected something a little more in depth. But it looks like, “I don’t have the time” and “you’re naive” will have to do. I’ve made my arguments to the contrary, with clear examples. That’s about all I can do.

  • Whoah…that was clever. First you say you don’t have the time, then after I respond, you edit your comment, expanding it from a dismissive sentence to a whole paragraph. It’s fun being in the pulpit isn’t it?

    Anyhow, to respond to the revised edition of your comment, lol, I have seen Made in America. I don’t recall it ever refuting Crips and Bloods originating from the black political movements of the ’60s. Haven’t read Tookie’s book. Does he refute it? I’m actually planning on ordering one of Vigil’s books from Amazon. He has a couple of them, doesn’t he? I’ve read samples of his books at google before. I didn’t find anything “dry” or “academic” about it. What do you mean by that?

  • Be interesting if Rob would simply post how he became, what he’s obviously putting out here, a gang expert. I worked gangs for many years on local and multi-jurisdictional task force (same as I did with dope) as well as just having knowledge based on daily inter-actions with gangsters as a normal course of patrol work from the time I was first on until I retired. I don’t care who believes that, it was how I came to my opinions on gangs.

    No gang member I’ve ever spoke to, no gang class I’ve ever intended, no specialized unit I ever took part in whose primary mission was to work gangs showed me that gangs wanted or were able to do the things Rob feels they can with a chance, or somebody to direct them down the right path. That’s what his rap sounds like to me.

    It’s actually the opposite. The gangs or gang members that I personally know, or know of, that have morphed into something else (that haven’t left gangs) have done so to move into another criminal enterprise where tactic change is required for their new venture to work, not to become productive members or groups in society.

    The arrogance of Rob’s response to Celeste (Just because you worked with Father Boyle and wrote a few articles doesn’t automatically make you more of an expert on gangs than someone who comments on your blog) just shows how arrogant this guy is. Unless of course he can lay out his experience that makes him think Celeste is less knowledgeable than him.

    Hell, I know Celeste is way beyond me in certain aspects of gang life and I’m sure I’m past her in some based on my working gangs from a law enforcement side. I certainly, after being on this site for some months now, think way more of her expertise than what Rob posted and would never question her qualifications in the gang area, maybe some of her stances but that’s about it.

  • Jesus flippin Christ, you guys and your hair trigger, reactionary use of the term ‘gang expert’. What is the deal with that? If anybody talks about gangs other than you, suddenly they’re a self proclaimed expert? What more can I do than give examples of the very sources I was referencing when discussing gangs, which I have done, extensively? Sources that included several gang members, several residents of the Watts neighborhood, and a police officer. A police officer who has gone on record, btw, not some hot head that posts anonymously on a blog and calls himself a cop.

  • Celeste, your solution is to get rid of the symptoms that cause gangs?

    Would you mean things like broken homes?


    Poor schools?

    This is your solution, await these things to end?


    Just what sign have you seen anywhere in society where any of these things will go away any time, well, pretty much in our lives?

    Yes, I’m sure those things would end gangs, along with many other ills. But we’re going to forgo the idea of truces to await the miraculous day when poverty, broken homes, and poor schools go away? I mean, let’s be honest, what has the better chance of happening first? A gang truce, or flippin’ utopia? Remember, the gang truce in Watts lasted over a decade. It’s already happened. Your Utopian society that would erode the symptoms of gangs? Never in history.

    1) Release all drug offenders. This is something that’s going to have to be done anyway, to prevent the country from going bankrupt.

    2) Declassify gangs as criminal organizations, and end all gang injunctions. Just as the saying goes, if you treat them like animals, that’s how they’ll act. If you call them criminals, why shouldn’t they play the part?

    3) Focus on individual criminals. Law enforcement’s role in this solution should be to weed the individual criminals out of gangs, so that gangs can easier enact their mission of peace and community service. Gang members who simply don’t want a truce, and continue to show intentions of committing violent crimes, should be sought out by law enforcement and arrested. I know a lot of people on the right would say that this would pretty much end my idea, because they’re all criminals anyway, so they’ll all wind up getting arrested. This may be the case at first. But if parts 1 and 2 of my idea were enacted, part 3 would make it all the easier for gang members, particularly older ones, who are thinking about cease fires and truces, to work toward this goal. It would give them more of an environment to do so.

    What’s missing from this, Woody, ATQ, Gava Joe?


    For you fiscal conservatives…we haven’t spent one dime yet. In fact, this plan would save tax payer money by releasing drug offenders. The only aspect of this plan I could see spending money on is for oversight of law enforcement, to make sure they’re not circumventing it and carrying on their own agendas from the past. (Come on, Sure Fire, what would a Robbie Thommie comment be if there wasn’t one line in there to piss you off?)

    There are already movements today within the gang community to enact cease fires and truces, visit for more information, as that site has links to stories and youtube videos of it. This process of peace is an idea that’s already being worked on by many older gang members. I think the role society at large can play in this is to stop being obstacles to it, via supporting right wing political policies that lead to law enforcement policies and a prison system that has only seemed to perpetuate the problem.

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