Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interview With A Gang Member

Sent in by Justin Powlison, a "freelance investigative journalist", and cross-posted to Scrutiny Hooligans. Justin offered it to the AC-T, but they passed:

"Jerome" is a pleasantly dressed teenage boy with a nice smile and an easy laugh. He attends a local high school, knows how to cook, and loves to watch cartoons. The only thing that sets him apart from any other teenager on the street is a red bandana draped over his right shoulder as he strolls past Pritchard Park on a warm Sunday afternoon.

"That's my flag," he explains. Well before his 16th birthday, Jerome is a full-fledged gang member in Asheville. The Bloods, a nationwide gang, also operating locally as "the five, SQ, and BK" awarded the bandana as part of the teen's initiation.

"I went 31. I lasted 31 seconds fighting a guy," the youth says. It was a boy his own age, already a member. After passing the test, Jerome received three things: his flag, the rules, and his mission.

The rules mostly involve respect, territory, and treatment of rival gangs. "You can't do the Crip call, you can't do the Crip walk, you can't wear their colors. If one of them comes in our home, they have to pay." The Bloods claim PVA and Deaverview, says Jerome, while Hillcrest is included in supposed "Crips" territory, the classic rivals of the Bloods.

The mission assigned to him by the man completing the initiation was to "find this guy who is false claiming. I'm supposed to... not beat him too badly, just enough so that he..." Jerome trails off. He speaks candidly but avoids eye contact. False claiming, apparently, is to claim membership in a gang that has not officially accepted you. This is a punishable offense.

There are also consequences for not respecting your own flag. "You have to keep your flag on you all the time. Even at home. If you wear it on the wrong side, everybody in the hood beats on you. If you drop your flag on the ground, you have to pick it up with your teeth. If you drop it on the ground again, everybody gets to beat you in the mouth."

Jerome has not one but two absent parents in his life. He was invited into the gang by a member of his extended family, who was in turn invited in by a member of his extended family. The teen describes the gang as being "pretty big" as well as containing a hierarchy of leaders. There is a low-level leader, a mid-level leader, and so forth up the chain of command.

His reason for joining? Simple. "Respect." If you are in a gang, you "get respect and nobody messes with you." He has somewhat of a point. A few months ago Jerome was "jumped" and he had to be admitted to Mission Hospital for his injuries. Two weeks later he decided to become a Blood.

1 comment:

aaron said...

you shouldnt be in a gang to get respect you have to earn respect