AMERICAN GANGS: How It All Began. PART 1of 2. Extended Version.


Reverend Washington:
WHEN THEY WERE KILLING
EACH OTHER, THEY WERE TAKING OUT
GRANDMOTHERS WHO WERE
SITTING IN THEIR HOMES. THEY WAS KILLING
LITTLE BABIES WHO WAS JUST OUT
IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS
PLAYING. Narrator: THEY HAUNT
OUR CITIES… RESPECTING LITTLE
BUT EACH OTHER. Sal Sandoval:
WHEN I WORE
MY ZOOT SUIT, I FELT
A TREMENDOUS HIGH. I THOUGHT I WAS
KING OF THE WORLD. Narrator: THEY REPRESENT
THE DARK SIDE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM– A DREAM TURNED INTO
A NIGHTMARE. James Haskins:
THEY HAD A LIST. $100 FOR WHAT THEY
CALLED THE “BIG JOB”. THE BIG JOB WAS MURDER. Narrator: THEY ARE THE TARNISH
ON THE MELTING POT OF AMERICA… THE SUBJECT OF MYTH
AND A MALIGNED URBAN LEGEND. THEY ARE STREET GANGS, AND THIS IS THEIR STORY. Narrator:
IN EVERY AMERICAN CITY,
THEY CAN BE FOUND. THEY EXIST IN A SHADOW CULTURE
THAT OCCASIONALLY EXPLODES ONTO THE FRONT PAGES. THESE ARE THE VOICES
OF THE STREET GANGS, AND WE IGNORE THEM
AT OUR OWN RISK. Man: THIS IS A
TRADITION, YOU KNOW. IT’S BEEN GOING ON
LIKE THAT FOR YEARS,
YOU KNOW. IF A NIGGER AIN’T
GOT NO MONEY, YOU AIN’T GOT
NO GUNS. WHEN YOU GOT GUNS,
YOU GOT THE POWER, BUT YOU NEED THE MONEY
TO GET THE GUNS. Woman: IF MY HOMEGIRL’SD BY SOME GIRLS
FROM ANOTHER GANG,
I’M GONNA BACK HER UP. I DON’T CARE IF THERE’S
5 OF THEM, I’M GONNA TRY
TO MOVE THEM GIRLS OUT OF THE WAY,
GET OFF MY HOMEGIRL. SHE’D DO THE SAME
THING FOR ME. Gang
AS FAR A , YOU NEVER REALLY
GET OUT, MAN. YOU CAN SAY YOU
NOT FROM THERE
IF YOU WANT TO, MAN, BUT YOU KNOW WHO
YOUR HOMEBOYS ARE, AND YOU KNOW
WHAT I’M SAYING,
IMAT’S LIFETE. Narrator: THERE IS A SECRET
HISTORY TO STREET GANGS THAT PARALLELS
THE MORE CELEBRATED ACCOUNTS
OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. IT IS SAID THAT HISTORY
IS WRITTEN BY THE WINNERS. STREET GANGS HAVE ALWAYS
BEEN CONSIDERED LOSERS BY SOCIETY’S MAINSTREAM. BUT THEIR HISTORY
IS A DARK THREAD THAT IS INTERTWINED
THROUGHOUT THE AMERICAN
IMMIGRANT EXPERIENCE. STREET GANGS WERE CREATED
OUT OF THE SAME DESIRE
FOR INCLUSION THAT DROVE
SO MANY IMMIGRANTS SO FAR. FROM THE MOMENT
THE FIRST COLONIES FORMED ON NORTH AMERICA
IN THE EARLY 1600s, THE MAIN TASK OF DAILY LIFE
WAS SIMPLY TO STAY ALIVE. LEAVING BEHIND ORPHANED
AND OFTEN HOMELESS YOUTH. SOME OF THESE CHILDREN
WOULD BAN TOGETHER AND FORM THE FIRST
STREET GANGS IN AMERICA. Professor Haskins:
ORPHANS WERE BASICALLY
THE LITTLE WAIFS AND THE LOST CHILDREN
OF THE STREET– POVERTY-STRICKEN KIDS,
KIDS WHOSE PARENTS
HAD DIED, OR KIDS WHO HAD
NO PARENTS. THIS WAS ALSO
THE BEGINNING OF
ORPHANAGES IN AMERICA, A PLACE FOR
THESE LITTLE WAIFS AND THESE LITTLE
HOOLIGANS, AS IT WERE, THESE EARLY
STREET GANGS. WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE SOMEBODY
AT HOME YOU’RE TETHERED TO, THEN YOU GO OUT
TO THE STREETS, AND WHEN YOU’RE IN THE STREETS,
YOU NEED PROTECTION. Narrator: THE CHILDREN
FOUND PROTECTION IN NUMBERS. FOR MONEY TO EAT,
THEY HONED THEIR SKILLS AS PICKPOCKETS
AND CON ARTISTS. TO PASS TIME,
THEY SMOKED AND DRANK. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, THEY BANDED TOGETHER
AS A SURROGATE FAMILY. AS CITIES BEGAN TO FORM
FOLLOWING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR, SIMILAR GANGS
OF HOMELESS CHILDREN, MOSTLY BOYS, ROAMED THE BACK ALLEYS
OF PHILADELPHIA, NEW YORK, AND BOSTON. BECAUSE THEIR ACTIVITIES
WERE STILL FAIRLY HARMLESS, THE PUBLIC
VIEWED THESE GROUPS AS MORE OF A NUISANCE
THAN A THREAT. BUT THAT BEGAN TO CHANGE. IN PHILADELPHIA IN 1791, AMBIVALENCE TOWARD THE GANGS
SOON TURNED TO CONCERN. AT THAT TIME, FLYING CANDLE KITES
WAS A FAVORITE ACTIVITY OF STREET KIDS. ON SOME NIGHTS, DOZEN OF KITES
ILLUMINATED THE SKIES. BUT ON A HOT SUMMER NIGHT, THIS SEEMINGLY INNOCENT
ACTIVITY BECAME CRIMINAL. A LEADING PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPER
DESCRIBED WHAT HAPPENED. “THE CUSTOM
OF PERMITTING BOYS “TO RAMBLE ABOUT
THE STREETS BY NIGHT “IS PRODUCTIVE
TO THE SERIOUS
AND ALARMING CONSEQUENCE “OF THEIR MORALS. “IT IS BUT A FEW NIGHTS AGO
THAT A STABLE WAS SET ON FIRE “BY A CANDLE FROM A KITE, “AND YET THESE BOYS ARE STILL
PERMITTED TO GO ON UNMOLESTED, “EXPOSING OUR LIVES
AND PROPERTY TO IMMINENT DANGER ” DESPITE THE PROTEST, THE GANGS CONTINUED ON
UNIMPEDED. WE NEED TO REMEMBER
THAT BEFORE, ABOUT 1830, THERE WAS NO SUCH THING
AS A POLICE FORCE. NOW, THAT REALLY DEVELOPS
IN THE LARGER AMERICAN CITIES. AND BEFORE THAT TIME,
IF YOU WERE A VICTIM
OF A CRIME, IT WAS REALLY UP TO YOU
TO SOLVE IT. AS MORE AND MORE IMMIGRANTS
POURED INTO THE COUNTRY, AMERICA’S
SOCIAL DIVIDE WIDENED. THE IRISH ESPECIALLY
WERE DRAWN TO THE UNITED STATES. ONCE THEY ARRIVED, HOWEVER, MANY FOUND CONDITIONS WORSE
THAN WHAT THEY HAD LEFT BEHIND. JOBS WERE HARD TO COME BY. CITIES WERE FILTHY. AND DISCRIMINATION
WAS RAMPANT. MORE AND MORE,
THE IMMIGRANT FOUND HIMSELF TURNING TO GANG LIFE IN THE DAY-TO-DAY STRUGGLE
OF SURVIVING URBAN AMERICA. THEY’RE COMING
FROM RELATIVELY SMALL
VILLAGES IN IRELAND, THEY’RE PLOPPED
INTO A HUGE CITY WHERE THEY’RE
REALLY DESPISED BY
THE LARGER SOCIETY. THEY HAVE NO MONEY,
THEY HAVE NO SKILLS. THEY HAVE MOSTLY
NO PROFESSIONAL
EDUCATION OF ANY KIND. THESE WERE PEOPLE
AT THE VERY BOTTOM
OF SOCIETY. THE IRISH ARE THE FIRST
MAJOR AMERICAN URBAN
ETHNIC GROUP. THEY ARE THE FIRST ONES TO REALLY
HAVE TO DEAL WITH
THE URBAN EXPERIENCE, AND THEY
HAD NO EXPERIENCE
IN THE URBAN SETTING. SO THEY’RE TRYING
TO DEAL WITH
AN URBAN SETTING WITH NO SKILLS,
NO EDUCATION,
NO LITERACY. WELL, THEY’RE GONNA
BE TERRIBLY VULNERABLE TO TURNING
TO ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES OR JUST SIMPLY COMBINING
TOGETHER TO SURVIVE. REMEMBER, GANGS MS, AND CERTAINLY,
THEY VIEWED IT THAT WAY. Narrator: OUTSIDE OF BOSTON,
MOST IRISH IMMIGRANTS SETTLED IN NEW YORK CITY
IN A SINGLE-ACRE SLUM WHOSE TRIANGULAR CENTER
INTERSECTED AT 5 STREETS. THE AREA WAS KNOWN
AS THE FIVE POINTS. BY 1820, THE FIVE POINTS
SERVED AS THE HEART OF
NEW YORK’S IRISH COMMUNITY. Jackson:
IT WAS OVERCROWDED,
IT WAS UNSANITARY, THERE WAS NO REAL
RUNNING WATER. THERE WAS NO SEWERS,
THERE WERE
NO FLUSH TOILETS, THERE WAS NO REGULAR
GARBAGE PICKUP. THERE WERE E. YOU PUT THAT
ALL IN THE MIX, AND YOU GET YOURSELF
A NEIGHBORHOOD THAT IS NOTORIOUS
FOR ITS POVERTY
AND CRIMINALITY. THEY’RE LIVING
IN TENEMENTS
IN VERY TIGHT QUARTERS. IT WAS NATURAL
FOR THEM TO KIND
OF BAND TOGETHER IN VARIOUS KORDS ASSOCIATIONS. Narrator: IN 1826,
IRISH THUG EDWD COMAN ORGANIZED THE FIRST FORMAL
CRIMINAL STREET GANG IN AMERICA. NATHD THS,FORTY IEVE THGROUP IN
THMOST SOROF
FR THE FIVE POINTS. COLEMAN RAN AN ILLEGAL
LIQUOR OPERATION IN THE BACK
OF A LOCAL GREEN GROCER. BUT HIS GOAL WAS MORE
THAN SELLING BOOZE. HE WANTED TO CONTROL
AND PROTECT THE FIVE POINTS
FROM OUTSIDERS. THEY DEFENDED THEIR TURF. THEY KNEW
WHEN STRANGERS CAME IN,
DESPITE THE BIG CROWDS. THEY LOOKED FOR STRANGERS. THEY LOOKED FOR PEOPLE
WHO DIDN’T KNOW WHAT
THEY WERE DOING, WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN
UNWARY. SO VISITORS WERE TOLD–
DO NOT GO INTO
FIVE POINTS. THAT’S A DANGEROUS PLACE.
DON’T VISIT THERE. Narrator: BECAUSE OF GANGS
LIKE THE FORTY THIEVES, MANY PERCEIVED THE ENTIRE
COMMUNITY AS THREATENING. Dr. Elliott Barkan:
THE PEOPLE WHO TARNISH
THE GROUP ARE OUTSIDERS WHO SEE
THE GANG EXPERIENCES AND SOMEHOW USE THAT
TO LABEL OR CLASSIFY
THE MINORITY GROUPS AS IF SOMEHOW
THESE GANGS ARE
REPRESENTATIVE OF THAT WHOLE
ETHNIC GROUP. THIS WAS PARTICULARLY
TRUE WITH THE IRISH. OUTSIDERS WHO GET
ONLY NEWS REPORTS
ON THOSE GANGS TEND TO THINK
THAT THE WHOLE
COMMUNITY IS THAT WAY. THE FORTY THIEVES MAINTAINED
CONTROL OF FIVE POINTS
FOR 10 YEARS UNTIL 1838, WHEN COLEMAN WAS CONVICTED
OF KILLING HIS WIFE. THE MOTIVE:
SHE HAD FAILED TO MEET HIS EARNING EXPECTATIONS
SELLING CORN. HE WAS HANGED 2 YEARS LATER. BUT GANG ACTIVITY DIDN’T END
WITH COLEMAN OUT OF THE PICTURE. TURF WAS ONE OF
THE FEW POSSESSIONS
THE IRISH COULD CLAIM. ILLEGAL LIQUOR, GAMBLING,
AND PROSTITUTION WERE UP FOR GRABS. SO SEVERAL OTHER GANGS
QUICKLY ATTEMPTED TO TAKE
CONTROL OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD, GANGS CALLED
THE DEAD RABBITS,
THE PLUG UGLIES, AND THE ROACH GUARDS. BY THE EARLY 1840s, GANG FIGHTS BECAME ON THE STREETS
OF FIVE POINTS. THE FIGHTING
WAS HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT,
STREET STYLE, USING BRASS KNUCKLES,
BRICKS, BATS, AND KNIVES. DOZENS LOST THEIR LIVES WHILE OTHERS BECAME MAIMED
OR INCAPACITATED. IT WAS THE BEGINNING
OF GANG WARFARE. FROM THEIR HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
AS A REFUGE FROM POVERTY
AND HOMELESSNESS, STRE
PART LANDSCAPE. AND AS THE FIGHTING
ESCALATED, THE CITY WAS FORCED
TO RESPOND. Narrator: THE IRISH WEREN’T
THE ONLY GANGS IN NEW YORK CITY DURING THE EARLY 1800s. IN NEW YORK’S
LOWER EAST SIDE, JEWS, ITALIANS,
AND GERMANS ALL FORMED GANGS
OF THEIR OWN AND SOON WERE
FIGHTING EACH OTHER C PRIDE. THE CITY’S RESPONSE
TO THE GROWING CRISIS PERMANENTLY CHANGED
THE FACE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT. Prof. Jackson:
ONE OF THE REASONS WE GET
ORGANIZED POLICE FORCES IS BECAUSE WHEN THE GANGS
BEGAN TO FIGHT EACH OTHER, THERE WAS NO POLICE FORCE
TO CALL UPON TO PUT DOWN
THIS BEHAVIOR CIAL AT BEST. SO ONE OF THE THINGS
THE POLICE BEGIN TO DO IN THE 1830s,
1840s, 1850s, IS BEGIN TO WORK
AGAINST THE GANGS AND TO TRY TO CUT DOWN
ON SOME OF THEIR MOST
DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR. BY 1850,
GANG MEMBERSHIP HAD GROWN TO AN UNPRECEDENTED LEVEL. OF THE 500,000 PEOPLE
THAT LIVED IN NEW YORK, 30,000 BELONGED TO A GANG. YET, THE GANGS USUALLY STAYED
WITHIN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS. Dr. Barkan:
GROUPS THAT WERE
STARTING OUT TARGETED THEIR OWN
POPULATIONS. IT WAS SAFER, THEY KNEW THE PEOPLE. THEREFORE, THEY COULD
MAKE CERTAIN GUESSES ABOUT HOW PEOPLE
WOULD BEHAVE OR WHAT THEY MIGHT HAVE
OR NOT HAVE. AND VERY OFTEN
THE VICTIMS WERE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE
CLOSEST IN PROXIMITY. Narrator: WHILE POLICE
ATTEMPTED TO CONTROL
THE GANGS, SOME POLITICIANS SAW THEIR
SHEER SIZE AND POWER AS SOMETHING THEY COULD USE
TO THEIR OWN ADVANTAGE. TAMMANY HALL,
THE INFLUENTIAL AND CORRUPT
POLITICAL ORGANIZATION THAT RAN NEW YORK CITY
POLITICS COURTED THESE
GANG MEMBERS… ESPECIALLY THE IRISH GANGS
IN FIVE POINTS WHOSE INFLUENCE
WAS SO STRONG THAT THEY COULD DELIVER VOTES
BY THE THOUSANDS. Prof. Jackson: YOU WANT
FAVORS FROM THE POLITICAL
ORGANIZATION, DO YOU? YOU WANT TO GET HELP
IF YOU’RE ARRESTED
FOR DRUNKENNESS, P
LATE, IF YOU’D LIKE A LITTLE
EXTRA CASH WHEN YOU
DON’T HAVE IT… SO THERE’S MONEY,
THERE’S JOBS, THERE’S HELP
FOR THOSE WHO DELIVER. THERE’S GONNA BE
A HARD TIME FOR THOSE
WHO DON’T DELIVER. THE GANGS SAW THIS–
IT WAS A MUTUALLY
BENEFICIAL ORGANIZATION. THE GANGS SAW THAT
THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION COULD DELIVER THINGS
THE GANG MEMBERS NEEDED. THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS
SAW THAT THE GANG
HAD VOTES. BY THE MID-1800s, STREET GANGS ROUTINELY
HELPED POLITICIANS GET ELECTED. POLITICAL MACHINES FREQUENTLY USED GANGS AS A WAY OF
DISCOURAGING THE OTHER
PARTY’S VOTERS FROM COMING
TO THE POLLS, TO INTIMIDATE PEOPLE
OR THEMSELVES TO VOTE SEVERAL TIMES. Narrator: AS TAMMANY HALL
BECAME MORE POWERFUL, THE LINE BETWEEN
PUBLIC SERVANT AND GANG MEMBER BECAME BLURRED. IT’S REALLY HARD
TO THINK A MAJOR TAMMANY HALL
FIGURE IN THE SECOND
HALF OF THE 19th CENTURY WHO WAS NOT
A MEMBER OF A GANG. THAT WAS WHAT YOU DID, BECAUSE THAT WAS HOW
YOU SHOWED YOUR LEGS
IN A WAY. YOUR POLITICAL INITIATIVE,
YOUR ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE, YOUR ABILITY TO OVERCOME
OBSTACLES, TO SEE YOUR
OPPORTUNITIES AND TAKE THEM, THESE ARE ALL PARTS OF
THE KIND OF GANG PHILOSOPHY, THE POLITICAL ORGANIZATION
PHILOSOPHY. THEY ARE ALL WORKING TOGETHER
TO CREATE A REASON
FOR EXISTENCE. THE CITY’S RESIDENTS
GAINED SOME RELIEF WHEN MANY GANG MEMBERS
ELECTED TO FIGHT
IN THE CIVIL WAR. BUT AS SOON AS THE WAR
ON THE BATTLEFIELD ENDED, THE WAR ON THE STREETS
RESUMED. THE ERE RAISED AS GUNS BECAME EASILY
OBTAINABLE ON THE STREET. AND SOON, GANGS OFFERED
THEIR SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC AS PURVEYORS OF CRIME. ONE GANG, THE WHYOS, ACTUALLY CREATED A MENU
FROM THAT WAS CLANDESTINELY PASSED
AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD. THEY HAD A LIST.
$5.00 FOR A BROKEN
LEG, $10 FOR
A BROKEN ANKLE. $100 FOR WHAT THEY
CALLED THE “BIG JOB”. AND THE BIG JOB
WAS MURDER. GANG MEMBERS FLAUNTED
THEIR WEAPONS IN PUBLIC AND USED THEM
AT THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION. THIS DISREGARD FOR THE LAW
BECAME A MAJOR PUBLIC PROBLEM. S KEPT POLICE CONTROL LAX
UNTIL A GANG WAR FORCED CHANGES. IT BEGAN AS A TURF RIVALRY
BETWEEN 2 GANGS– THE EASTMANS
AND THE FIVE POINTERS. BUT AFTER 2 YEARS, THE FEUD EXPLODED
ON A HOT AUGUST DAY IN 1903 AT THE RIVINGTON STREET
RAILROAD STATION ON NEW YORK’S
LOWER EAST SIDE. THE 2 GANGS FACED EACH OTHER
ACROSS THE TRACKS AND THEN OPENED FIRE. AS INNOCENT CITIZENS
SCRAMBLED FOR SAFETY LETS, ANOTHER GANG HAPPENED
UPON THE SCENE
AND JOINED THE FIGHT. THE SHOOTING CONTINUED
FOR SEVERAL URS BEFORE POLICE FINALLY RUSHED IN
WITH GUNS ABLAZE. IN THE END,
3 GANG MEMBERS LAY DEAD, 7 WOUNDED,
AND 20 WERE ARRESTED. PUBLIC REACTION TO THE SHOOT-OUT
WAS LOUD AND SWIFT. EVERY NEWSPAPER
CARRIED ARTICLES. THE PUBLIC DEMANDED ACTION
FROM CITY HALL, AND WITHIN DAYS,
A GANG TRUCE HAD BEEN AGREED. BUT DECADE AND A CLEAN CITY ADMINISTRATION
HELPED TO CONTROL THE GANGS. IN 1911, NEW YORK ADOPTED
THE SULLIVAN LAW, WHICH MADE POSSESSION
OF A FIREARM WITHOUT A PERMIT A PRISONABLE OFFENSE. THE LAW WAS ONE OF THE FIRST
OL AND IS STILL ENFORCED TODAY. THEN, IN 1913, JOHN PURROY MITCHELL
WAS ELECTED MAYOR ON THE PROMISE TO END
POLITICAL CORRUPTION. THE POLICE WERE FORCED
TO CRACK DOWN ON GANG ACTIVITY. WITHIN A YEAR, MORE THAN
200 GANG MEMBERS WERE IN JAIL, AND THE BIGGEST GANGS
WERE OUT OF BUSINESS. ON THE EVE OF WORLD WAR I, MANY PROCLAIMED AN END
TO THE NEW YORK CITY
STREET GANG. GREW STRONGER
AS MANY MEMBERS RETURNED FROM THEIR STINT
IN THE MOB. STREET GANGS WERE ALSO
GROWING THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. ON THE WEST COAST, FOR MORE STREET GANG
VIOLENCE. Narrator:
DURING THE EARLY 1920s, POST WORLD WAR I PROSPERITY HAD GIVEN NEW OPPORTUNITIES
TO THE LESS FORTUNATE. IN ADDITION,
LAWS THAT RESTRICTED
EUROPEAN IMMIGRATION HELPED TO EASE THE BURDEN
IN MANY OF AMERICA’S
OVERCROWDED SLUMS. THESE FACTORS ELIMINATED
MANY OF THE CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH STREET GANGS. BUT IMMIGRATION FROM MEXICO
WAS LESS RESTRICTED. MEXICAN CITIZENS POURED OVER
THE CALIFORNIA BORDER TO FILL LOW-PAYING
AGRICULTURAL JOBS. 20s, MORE THAN 2 MILLION
LEGALLY ARRIVED
IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA. THEY WERE NOT MET WARMLY. Sal Sandoval: MEXICAN
PEOPLE WERE SEEN JUST
LIKE A BUNCH OF RAGS, YOU KNOW, JUST TOILING
FOR MEAGER ALLOWANCES. THE DISCRIMINATION
AGAINST THE MEXICAN
WAS ALWAYS UNDERGROUND. THEY TRIED
TO TELL THE WORLD THAT WE WELCOME
THE MEXICAN PEOPLE TO COME AND HELP
THE UNITED STATES, BUT DEEP INSIDE THEY HAD
THEIR OWN NAME FOR US– GREASERS… AND MANY OTHER
WORDS THAT OFFENDED
OUR PEOPLE. SLOWLY, THE MAJORITY
OF MEXICANS IN AMERICA ESTABLISHED THEMSELVES
AS LABORERS AND DOMESTIC WORKERS. IN THE PERIOD BETWEEN
THE 2 WORLD WARS, MANY MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS
HAD SUCCESSFULLY ASSIMILATED INTO AMERICAN SOCIETY. BUT NOT ALL WERE ABLE
TO ADAPT. OVER TIME, SOME OF THESE
ALIENATED MEXICAN-AMERICANS NAMED THEMSELVES PACHUCOS. THE NEWLY ADOPTED LABEL
DESCRIBED THE CONFLICT
MANY WERE FEELING. Diego Vigil:
PACHUCOS IS A WORD
THAT CAME INTO VOGUE BACK IN THE LATE
1930s, 1940s, OSE WHO WERE LIKE
THE MARGINALS, RIGHT? WHO WERE LOSING THEIR
SPANISH-SPEAKING AND MEXICAN-ACTING
ABILITY AND NOT QUITE MAKING IT IN TERMS OF
THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING AND ANGLO-ACTING
ABILITY. THEY WERE LOST
IN BETWEEN–MARGINAL. Narrator: FACED WITH
PREJUDICE ON THE STREETS AND DISCRIMINATION
IN THE WORKPLACE, MANY PACHUCO TEENAGERS
IN LOS ANGELES REBELLED AGAINST SOCIETY. SOME DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL, OTHERS REFUSED
TO JOIN THE MILITARY, AND MANY BANDED TOGETHER
ON THE STREET. Vigil: IT’S NOT
THE FIRST GENERATION. IT’S THE SECOND
GENERATION. IT’S THE KIDS
THAT ARE AMERICANIZED AND NOT FEELING
THAT THEY’VE BEEN
ACCOMMODATED IN TERMS OF BEING
AMERICANIZED, BECAUSE THERE WAS
A LOT OF RACISM, A LOT OF
CULTURAL REPRESSION, AND A LOT OF OTHER WAYS
MEXICANS WERE TAUGHT
AND LEARNED THAT THEY WERE
SECOND CLASS CITIZENS. Narrator: THE DISCRIMINATION
MOTIVATED MANY PACHUCOS TO JOIN TOGETHER IN
A DISTINCTIVE STREET LOOK, A LOOK THAT REFUSED
TO BLEND IN. THEY ADOPTED
A KIND OF UNIFORM– A FLASHY STYLE OF DRESS
THAT CAME TO BE CALLED
THE “ZOOT SUIT.” Eric Schneider:
THE ZOOT SUIT ITSELF WAS A BADGE
OF REBELLION. ONLY ADOLESCENTS
WORE ZOOT SUITS OR SOMETIMES HUSTLERS
AND JAZZ MUSICIANS AND PEOPLE WHO WERE ETY. AND SO THE USE
OF THE ZOOT SUIT BY ADOLESCENTS WAS A WAY OF DECLARING
ADOLESCENT WAR AGAINST
GROWNUP SOCIETY. Sandoval: WHEN I WORE
MY ZOOT SUITS, I FELT A TREMENDOUS HIGH. I THOUGHT I WAS
KING OF THE WORLD. I HAD MY HAT.
I HAD MY TIE. I HAD MY SHIRT,
MY COAT, MY OVERCOAT, AND MY DOUBLE-SOLED SHOES. I WAS REALLY SOMETHING. Narrator: BORROWED FROM
THE JAZZ CULTURE THE TERM “ZOOT SUIT”
SIMPLY MEANT SOMETHING WORN
IN EXTRAVAGANT STYLE. THE DRAMATICALLY PADDED
SHOULDERS AND TAPERED PANTS WERE USUALLY
TOPPED WITH A FEDORA
OR PANCAKE TYPE HAT. PACHUCO BOYS FELT ZOOT SUITS
BROUGHT THEM RESPECT AND ALSO HELPED
TO ATTRACT THE ATTENTION
OF MEXICAN-AMERICAN GIRLS. BUT IN LOS ANGELES, THE ZOOT SUITERS
HAD COMPETITION. Schneider:
THE SERVICE MEN IN LOS ANGELES
ON THEIR WAY TO WAR WOULD FREQUENTLY
GO TO CLUBS–
NIGHT CLUBS, JAZZ CLUBS– WHERE THEY WOULD PICK UP
MEXICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN. AND THERE WAS
A VERY NATURAL RIVALRY BETWEEN THE SERVICEMEN
TRYING TO PICK UP
MEXICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN AND MEXICAN-AMERICAN
MALE ADOLESCENTS WHO DIDN’T PARTICULARLY CARE
FOR THE FACT. Narrator: MANY IN THE MILITARY
RESENTED ZOOT SUITERS PLAC IANCE OF THE WAR BOARDS
RATIONING ACT– A LAW THAT FORBADE THE USE
OF EXCESS GARMENT MATERIAL. Schneider:
ETHNIC TENSION
ALSO EXISTED ESE AN KIDS
OOT SUIT WERE OBVIOUSLY
NOT GOING OFF TO WAR AND THE MOSTLY WHITE
SERVICE MEN WERE. SO THERE WAS A GOOD DEAL
OF–OF–OF TENSION BETWEEN THE TWO GROUPS THAT THEN EXPLODED
IN THE ZOOT SUIT RIOTS. IT HAPPENED ON THE EVENING
OF JUNE 3, 1943, WHEN A GROUP
OF 11 SAILORS CLASHED S ON A DOWNTOWN L.A. STREET. THE ZOOTUITERS
GOTHTHE ILST OF E SAORS. BUT T, SPREAD QUICKLY
TO THE NEARBY NAVAL ARMORY. Vigil: ACCORDING
TO THE SAILORS, WHEN THEY WENT BACK
TO THE ARMORY, THEY SAID THESE PACHUCOS
AND ZOOT SUITERS
JUMPED THEM. SO THE SAILORS
WENT ON THEIR OWN TO GO AROUND LOOKING
FOR ZOOT SUITERS AND BEATING THEM UP. Narrator:
FOR E REMAINDER
OF THE EVENING FIGHTS BETWEEN THE SAILORS
AND ZOOT SUITORS BROKE OUT AROUND THE CITY. PRESS ACCOUNTS THE NEXT DAY
FAVORED THE SAILORS, SO DID
THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. Vigil: THEY WOULD GO ON
AND ARREST THE MEXICANS AND PUT THEM IN JAIL
FOR DISTURBING
THE PEACE. THEY WERE THE ONES
THAT WERE BLAMED
FOR THE PROBLEM. IN OTHER WORDS,
IN THE NEWSPAPER,
HEADLINES WERE SAYING, “LET THE SERVICEMEN
CLEAN UP THE CITY OF ALL THESE GANGSTERS
AND ALL THESE PACHUCOS.” A LOT OF RACISM
TIED IN WITH THAT. Narrator: FOR THE NEXT 3 NIGHTS
THE SAILORS SOUGHT REVENGE, CRUISING THE STREETS
SEARCHING FOR ANYONE
WHO WORE A ZOOT SUIT. SASANDOVALE
, AT THTIMEWAS THER Sandoval: WE TOOK OUR
ZOOT SUIT OUTFITS OFF
TO MINIMIZE THE PROBLEM. WE’D WORE KHAKIS. SO I WAS COMING HOME
FROM WORK IN MY KHAKIS, AND I SAW THIS YOUNG MAN
WITH HIS WIFE. AND SHE WAS NICE.
SHE HAD A NICE SHAPE. AND THERE WAS TWO SAILORS
COMING ACROSS, YOU KNOW? SO THESE SAILORS,
NOT KNOWING THAT SHE
WAS THIS GUY’S WIFE, THEY STARTED, YOU KNOW– ALL OF A SUDDEN AND THE HUSBAND
TURNED AROUND AND HE SAID,
“WHAT’S WRONG?” “THIS GUY’S TRYING
TO PULL MY PANTS DOWN– PULL MY PANTS DOWN.” IN 5 MINUTES POLICE
WERE ALL OVER THERE,
MAN, AND WHO DID THEY TAKE?
THE HUSBAND AND THE WOMAN. THE SAILORS
GO BACK ON BOARD SHIP. I WAS THERE. I WAS THERE, YOU KNOW. Narrator: WITHOUT FEAR
OF ARREST, EMBOLDENED MILONARY
CONTINUED THEIR RAMPAGE THROUGH LOS ANGELES
FOR 2 MORE DAYS. Vigil:
THINGS GOT BIGGER. BY THE FOURTH AND FIFTH,
WE HAD THOUSANDS
OF SERVICEMEN GOING UP AND DOWN
THE STREETS
OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES BEATING UP ANYBODY
THAT WAS MEXICAN. AND THE MILITARY
AUTHORITIES, THE SHORE PATROL,
AND OTHERS, THEY COULDN’T
CONTROL THEM. Sandoval:
THEY STARTED COMING DOWN TO THE MAIN SECTION OF TOWN,
MAIN STREET, AND THEY STARTED
GOING INTO THE THEATERS, BUT THEY ENCOUNTERED
OUR DADS, NOT US. BUT THEY FIGURED
SINCE WE’RE ALL MEXICANS, WE WOULD BE IN THERE, SO THEY STARTED
BEATING UP ON OUR DADS, SO THAT MADE A GRAVE,
GRAVE SITUATION. Narrator:
AS THE FIGHTING SPREAD, RIVAL ZOOT SUIT GANGS
JOINED TOGETHER TO DEFEND THEIR COMMUNITIES. BY DAY 6,
OVER 100 ZOOT SUITERS HAD BEEN ARRESTED… BUT THOUSANDS OF OTHERS
REMAINED ON THE STREET AS THE BRAWLING ESCALATED. Sandoval:
WE STARTED RETALIATING,
YOU KNOW. THEY NEVER FIGURED
ON KNIVES. AND THAT’S
HOW WE SETTLED IT. KNIFING THEM. SHOWING THEM, YOU KNOW,
WE’RE NOT SCARED OF YOU. Narrator: THE RIOTING
MADE NATIONAL NEWS, PROMPTING SMALLER INCIDENTS
IN CALIFORNIA, TEXAS, AND ARIZONA– ALL CITIES WITH SIMILAR TYPE
ZOOT SUIT GANGS. BY JUNE 9, THE VIOLENCE
IN LOS ANGELES GOT THE ATTENTION
OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT ORDERED THE NAVY
TO CONTROL ITS SAILORS. 4 DAYS LATER WHAT IS KNOWN
AS THE ZOOT SUIT RIOTS FINALLY CEASED. IT’S A MISNOMER TO CALL
THE ZOOT SUIT RIOTS A ZOOT SUIT RIOT, BECAUSE IT WAS REALLY
A MILITARY RIOT WHERE THE SERVICEMEN
WOULD GO IN AND STRIP ADOLESCENTS
OF THEIR ZOOT SUITS, AND THEY WOULD
BEAT THE KIDS UP. Narrator: ALL TOLD,
95 MEXICAN RESIDENTS
HAD BEEN ARRESTED. ONLY 20 SAILORS
WERE PUT IN JAIL. OF THE 112 INJURED,
94 WERE ZOOT SUITERS. NO ONE WAS KILLED. WITHIN A DECADE,
ZOOT SUITERS WERE NOTHING MORE
THAN A CURIOSITY. THE RIOTS ILLUMINATED
THE RACIAL DIVIDE IN LOS ANGELES
DURING THE 1940s. FOR PACHUCOS
AND THEIR FAMILIES, THEY LEFT BITTER MEMORIES OF A COUNTRY THAT HAD
PROMISED SO MUCH. Sandoval:
IT KIND OF STUNNED US BECAUSE OUR DADS
AND OUR MOMS WERE NOT USED
TO THIS KIND OF THING. THEY CAME HERE
IN THE BELIEF THAT THIS WAS
THE BEST COUNTRY
IN THE WORLD, THAT EVERYBODY
WAS TREATED EQUAL. BUT I DO HAVE REGRETS. I WISH I COULD DO IT
ALL OVER AGAIN. I WISH THIS COUNTRY
COULD GIVE ME
THAT CHANCE TO DO IT
ALL OVER AGAIN. BUT THIS COUNTRY
HAS TO CHANGE. IT HAS TO CHANGE
TO GIVE ME
THAT OPPORTUNITY. Narrator:
WHEN THE BATTLE-HARDENED VETE ORLD WAR II THEY FOUND A CHANGED COUNTRY. EXUBERANCE AND OPTIMISM
REPLACED FEAR AND DESPERATION. THE RACIAL COMPOSITION
OF THE COUNTRY WAS CHANGING AS WELL. BLACKS FROM THE SOUTH
WERE MOVING NORTH. PUERTO RICANS WERE
FLOODING INTNEW YORK CITY. AS WITH THE IRISH
OF THE 1800s, MANY OF THE NEW ARRIVALS
TURNED TO STREET GANGS. BUT THIS TIME
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE GANGS HAD CHANGED. AFTER WORLD WAR II,
THERE’S A REAL CHANGE IN THE ORGANIZATION
OF STREET GANGS. WHEREAS
THEY HAD BEEN PART OF AN ADULT DOMINATED
SOCIAL STRUCTURE IN THE PAST, AFTER WORLD WAR II,
IT’S MUCH MORE SIMPLY N Narrator:
YOUNG GANG MEMBERS ADMIRED THEIR HEROIC WAR VETERANS AND SOON ADOPTED SEVERAL
MILITARY TACTICS AS THEIR OWN. GATHERING INTELLIGENCE
ON OTHER GANGS
BECAME COMMONPLACE, AND THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, WAR LINGO BECAME
PART OF GANG CULTURE. Llamas: WE WOULD USE,
UM, DEROGATORY WORDS
LIKE “JAPPING.” UH, YOU KNOW,
TO JAP SOMEBODY MEANT THAT YOU
SNUCK UP ON THEM
AND BEAT THEM UP. OR THAT YOU DIDN’T
FIGHT FAIR, OR THAT YOU DIDN’T WARN
THAT YOU WERE COMING
INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO HAVE A FAIR FIGHT. Narrator: IN TURN,
THE MUSIC CULTURE OF THE 1950s Schneider:
THE BOP-CHORDS,
FOR EXAMPLE, WOULD BE A REFLECTION
OF BOPPING, WHICH IS
THE GANG MEMBER’S
TERM FOR FIGHTING. SO THERE WAS A SYNERGISM
BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN POPULAR CULTURE
AND MUSIC AND THE LANGUAGE
OF GANG MEMBERS. Llamas:
IF YOU WERE A BOPPER, THAT MEANS
YOU’RE OUT TO FIGHT. WELL, WHO’S SO AND SO?
HE’S A BOPPER, MEANING THAT
HE’S A GANG FIGHTER. SO THAT ALREADY
YOU KNOW YOU DEFINE SOMEBODY
BY THAT TERM. HE’S A BOPPER. YET IT WAS
THE SILVER SCREEN THAT TRULY
BROUGHT STREET GANGS TO THE ATTENTION
OF MAINSTREAM AMERICA. THE GANG MEMBER
WAS ROMANTICIZED BY POPULAR ACTORS
OF THE TIME LIKE MARLON BRANDO
IN THE WILD ONES, AND JAMES DEAN
IN REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. IN 1 E STORY THE MUSICAL ABOUT
THE CULTURAL WARFARE BETWEEN A WHITE GANG
NAMED THE JETS AND THEIR PUERTO RICAN RIVAL
THE SHARKS WAS MADE INTO A FILM
THAT BECAME AN AMERICAN CLASSIC. Schneider: WEST SIDE STORY
SHAPED THE WAYS IN WHICH AMERICANS
AT THE TIME INTERPRETED GANG CONFLICT
AND GANG VIOLENCE. SO THAT THE SYMBOL
OF THE PUERTO RICAN
KNIFE-WIELDING GANG KILLER ENTERS AMERICAN CULTURE. AND WHEN REAL
GANG CONFLICTS OCCURRED, THE PAPERS WOULD COVER THEM
AS WEST SIDE STORY. SO IT WAS A CASE
OF LIFE IMITATING ART. BUT IT’S ALSO
A VERY ROMANTIC VIEW OF WHAT STREET GANGS
WERE ABOUT AND, I THINK, HAS
LEAD PEOPLE TO THINK
OF THE FIFTIES AS A RELATIVELY
BENIGN PERIOD OF TIME AND REALLY HAS LEAD THEM TO UNDERESTIMATE
THE BRUTALITY
THAT WOULD OCCUR WHEN GANGS WOULD FIGHT
WITH ONE ANOTHER. Narrator: THE RHYTHMIC GAIT
OF THE BOPPING GANG DEPICTED IN WEST SIDE STORY
WAS TRUE TO FORM. SO WAS THE RUMBLE,
THE RITUALISTIC BATTLE OST S OVER HONOR, TURF, AND OF COURSE, GIRLS. Schneider:
THE RUMBLE WAS
A PREARRANGED FIGHT. FREQUENTLY GANGS WOULD
SEND THEIR WARLORDS
TO NEGOTIATE. THEY WOULD AGREE
THAT A RUMBLE
WOULD TAKE PLACE IN A PARK OR A PLAYGROUND
AT A GIVEN TIME. THEY WOULD SET UP
RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT– WHETHER OR NOT
IT WAS ACCEPTABLE
TO USE KNIVES, OR WHETHER JUST BATS
AND BASEBALL CHAINS
WERE ALLOWABLE. THE ACTUAL
GANG FIGHT ITSELF
WAS EXTREMELY CHAOTIC, LIKE BEING IN
MILITARY COMBAT– MOMENTS
OF ADRENALINE RUSH AND UTTER CHAOS
AND SHEER TERROR– AND EVERYTHING
THEN WOULD BE OVER
IN 5 OR 10 MINUTES, AFTER EVERYBODY
WOULD BE RUNNING AWAY AND THE POLICE
WOULD ARRIVE. Narrator: PUERTO RICAN
NESTOR LLAMAS WAS IN
THE SEVENTH GRADE WHEN HE AND HIS
BRONX BUDDIES FORMED
THE SIMPSON STREET GANG. THEY OFTEN
HAD TO FIGHT THEIR WAY
THROUGH OTHER NEIGHBORHOODS TO GET TO SCHOOL. Llamas:
AND IT WAS CURIOUS THAT WHEN I SAW THE MOVIE
WEST SIDE STORY, THAT’S EXACTLY THE WAY
IT HAPPENED. YOU KNOW, YOU DON’T–
YOU DON’T KNOW
WHAT’SAPPENG, AND PRETTY SOON YOU–
YOU’RE FIGURING OUT WHO ARE YOU GONNA
FIGHT WITH, YOU KNOW, WHO’S YOUR
SIZE OR NOT YOUR SIZE. OR IF YOU SEE SOMEBODY
ON THE GROUND, IF IT’S
ONE OF YOUR GUYS,
YOU TRY TO HELP THEM, AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS. THE NEXT DAY
OR A FEW DAYS LATER, SOMEBODY
BA TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND MAKE KIND OF A PEACE
OR A TRUCE, SO LONG AS THAT IT–
EVERYBODY FOUGHT
HONORABLY AND THEY DIDN’T STAB
ANYBODY, AND THERE WAS NOTHING
LIKE THAT THAT HAPPENED, SO THEN
IT WAS FORGOTTEN. Narrator: POLICE
TOLERATED RUMBLES AS LONG AS INNOCENT BYSTANDERS
WERE NOT THREATENED. OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
TRIED TO STOP THE FIGHTS. ONE SUCH GROUP WAS
THE NEW YORK CITY YOUTH BOARD. ESTABLISHED IN 1947,
THE YOUTH BOARD HAD SERVED AS NEW YORK’S OFFICIAL
INDEPENDENT AGENCY FOR
OF J TROL Y. IN 1955, DUE TO A RISE
IN GANG VIOLENCE, THE BOARD INSTITUTED
ITS STREET CLUB PROJECT. BECAUSE REACTING
TO GANG VIOLENCE
HAD PROVED INEFFECTIVE, ITS GOAL WAS TO WORK
WITHIN STREET GANGS TO STOP FIGHTING
BEFORE IT STARTED. THEN WE LOOK AT OURSELVES
AND WE SAY, WHEN THIS MAN LEAVES, WHAT WILL BECOME OF US? YOU KNOW,
OUR WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD? Narrator:
TO WORK THE STREETS, THE YOUTH BOARD HIRED
FORMER GANG MEMBERS WHO POSSESSED
MORE CREDIBILITY THAN A TYPICAL
MIDDLE CLASS SOCIAL WORKER. Kurt Sonnenfeld:
AND THEN THEY WOULD EM AND SLOWLY
GET IN WITH THEM, AND SLOWLY LET THEM KNOW WHAT THEY CAN EXPECT
FROM THE WORKERS IN TERMS OF HELP,
INDIVIDUAL HELP, JOBS, COURT HELP, SCHOOL, AND GROUP HELP. THEY WERE INTERESTED
IN BEING HELPED GOING TOWARDS
THE MAINSTREAM. Narrator: AT ITS PEAK
DURING THE MID-1950s THE NEW YORK CITY
YOUTH BOARD HAD MORE THAN
200 STREET WORKERS FANNED OUT ACROSS THE CITY WORKING WITH OVER 300 GANGS. HOWEVER, MANY GANG MEMBERS
SAW THE INTERVENTION BUT Schneider: A SIGN OF STATUS, BECAUSE IT PROVED
TO THE WORLD THAT YOU WERE BAD ENOUGH
TO HAVE A GANG WORKER. SO THAT SHOWED THAT YOU
WERE REALLY TOUGH. SO FOR GANGS TO ACQUIRE
A GANG WORKER WAS A PERVERSE SYMBOL
OF THEIR SUCCESS
IN THE GANG WORLD. Narrator: THE YOUTH BOARD
MANAGED TO LEAD MANY GANG MEMBERS
INTO MAINSTREAM SOCIETY, BUT BY 1955, THOSE THAT STAYED IN GANGS
FACED HIGHER STAKES AS GANG MEMBERS BECAME
MORE TERRITORIAL DUE TO THE CONTINUED INFLUX
OF IMMIGRANTS. Llamas:
I WENT TO WORK, UH,
WITH THE STREET GANGS– WITH THE NEW YORK CITY
YOUTH BOARD. AND THINGS
HAD CHANGED RADICALLY FROM THE TIME
I WAS IN A STREET GANG. A LOT OF WEAPONS, A LOT OF GUNS
IN THE STREET, AND THERE WERE SHOOTINGS
ALL THE TIME, AND THEN THINGS
WERE REALLY DANGEROUS. IT WAS NOT
THE PLAYING AROUND
ANYMORE. Narrator:
TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, GIRL GANG MEMBERSHIP
SKYROCKETED. THOUSANDS OF YOUNG WOMEN
ASSISTED THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS AS INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS AND ARMS CARRIERS. BUT THE ROLE OF WOMEN WENT BEYOND SUPPLYING
TACTICAL SUPPORT. THEY WERE EXPECTED
TO PROVIDE SEXUAL FAVORS. INITIATION INTO THE GANG
OFTEN REQUIRED YOUNG WOMEN TO HAVE SEX
WITH ONE OF THE BOYS. SOMETIME
WENT UAL ROLE
TION AND BECAME A SACRAMENTAL FORM
OF GANG RAPE. Schneider:
THE SERIAL INTERCOURSE
THAT WOULD OCCUR WOULD BE IN ORDER
OF ONE’S STATUS
IN THE GANG. SO THE GANG LEADERS
WOULD GO FIRST, AND THE PERSON
WITH THE LEAST STATUS WOULD GO LAST. IT WAS A WAY
OF AFFIRMING THE UNITY
OF THE GANG AS A KIND OF
A COMMUNION RITUAL THAT UNIFIES
THE BODY OF THE GANG THROUGH THE CONSUMPTION
OF THE BODY OF A WOMAN. Narrator: THE YOUTH BOARD
ATTEMPTED TO RESCUE
YOUNG GIRLS FROM GANGS THROUGH A VARIETY
OF PROGRAMS– CHARM SCHOOL CLINICS… LECTURES ON POSITIVE BEHAVIOR
AND SELF-IMAGE… LESSONS ON HOW TO PREPARE
FOR JOB INTERVIEWS… FIELD TRIPS TO THE MOUNTAINS
AND BEACHES– ALL DESIGNED TO EXPOSE THE GIRLS
TO A BROADER WORLD. THE PROGRAMS WERE
MODESTLY SUCCESSFUL, AS HUNDREDS OF GIRLS
WERE COAXED OUT OF GANG LIFE. FOR STREET GANGS, THE FIFTIES WAS A TIME
WHERE HONOR WAS EXPECTED AND CHILDREN
RUMBLED THEIR WAY INTO ADULTHOOD. Sonnenfeld: THE LEGACY
OF THE YOUTH BOARD REALLY WAS THAT
IT PROVIDED A POSITIVE
HOLDING OPERATION BETWEEN THE YOUNG PERSON WHO MAY HAVE ENGAGED
IN SOME MISCONDUCT, AND THEN WAS ABLE
TO GET THROUGH
THE GROUP AND THROUGH THE WORKER
INTO SOME ASPECTS OF POSITIVE LIFE
RELATIONSHIPS. AND THEN WAS ABLE
TO GO ON INTO
YOUNG ADULTHOOD, INTO JOBS, FAMILIES, EDUCATION AND SO ON. Llamas: WHEN I LOOK BACK ON THE DAYS WHEN
I WAS A GANG MEMBER, I THINK
OF THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WERE BRIGHT,
NICE LOOKING KIDS WHO CARED ABOUT
HOW THEY LOOKED, AND A GREAT DEAL
OF HONOR, AND A GREAT DEAL
OF ETHNIC PRIDE, AND I THINK ABOUT THEM
VERY FONDLY. I THINK OF IT
AS VERY WARM, BECAUSE I FELT
A PART OF SOMETHING. I FELT WANTED. I FELT LIKE I WAS
PART OF A BIGGER THING.

98 thoughts on “AMERICAN GANGS: How It All Began. PART 1of 2. Extended Version.

  1. America is country born from immigrations but today immigrants are rejecting other immigrants !!

  2. Black gangs and Mexican gangs need to pay homage to the real OGs… The Irish GANGS… Respect from a Mexican…

  3. If your not native you trespassing our land all you levas go back to rusia or where ever the. F You from we run this 13

  4. The polish dutch irish italians germans etc started gang banging… and the drive by … violent social clubs i.e.. kkk…

  5. One thing I don't understand is why is it that the only show Hispanic gangs and black gangs what about all the white people that started this shit you never talk about the ones who really really really started gangs and I mean back in the wild west we had Jesse James and his posse we had Billy the Kid we had all of these people they're the ones that started gangs Jesse James and his gang wore red scarves to symbolize who they were but no nowadays it's only the Hispanics in the back so that's right hook an ignorant ass people at least know you're down history before you bash other people's cultures

  6. The gangsters of old have my respect they fought like men with their fists and objects but now its straight to the guns so the good days are done

  7. It's safe to NOW say…
    That there's good and bad in ALL cultures – nationalities – races etc. ….

  8. Before all these immigrants came we fought the slave masters crackers
    Then when we were set free we fought the Klan and the Police we had no choice but to gang.

  9. Don't try and give me that sympathy move about how hard the Irish and Italians had it here in America. The worst more poor discriminated against Irishman or Italian lived 1000 times better than any black person in America. Don't give me that bullshit about how bad the Irish and Italians were treated because they chose to come to America through Ellis Island. Blacks came to American welcomed by chains, whips, torture and death. So don't look for some sympathy from me about how the Irish and Italians were mistreated because we all know that the plight of black people were 1 million times worse than any Irishman or Italian ever experienced. Blacks didn't come through Ellis Island greeted to America. Blacks got off the slave ship greeted by chains, rapes, torture and death. period. I have absolutely no sympathy for what the Irish and Italians went through because in the end, they had a choice to be here in America or not and leave. The only choice black people had if they wanted to leave was to DIE.

  10. The cripes and blouds bouth are goin to be going the warlock s will tear you apart the FIB can't help you for that goin to diy twitchy you to the cripes by by you HOGS

  11. There was a law that banned the use of excess material? Racism knows no boundaries. I remember when all you had to do to join a gang was smoke cigarettes.

  12. What the homie said of having Guns mean you have the Power ??? …… "NO" ,YOU DON'T HAVE THE POWER, if the city or gov wanna run down …. THEY GONNA RUN THE FUCK DOWN. They have "Bigger" & " More" guns then ANYONE. But there's is a true POWER and that's UNITY.

  13. they should all be executed, human trash that creates it self, thye destroy they neighborhood then complain about how they had to join gangs to survive the gangs. Execute them and be done with them, thenlegalize and refukate all the drugs to keep them from getting money, kill the ones that are already lost then take away their money to keep new ones from popping up, that goes for the mafias, the gangs and the cartels, from the street hoods to the bosses kill them all, wipe them out and reeducate the rest. they show no mercy so they should be shown no mercy, it is the trash that should fear the law abiding citizens not the other way around.

  14. "Shooting continued (by THREE gangs) for HOURS before police showed up…" 2 DEAD?!?!? How shitfaced were they? 🤣

  15. ALL neanderthal garbage! NOTHING but losers with nothing as a future. Just killing to kill, anyone with a gun can do that, anyone!! Completely the most worthless so called humans on earth!

  16. GEE, Mexican zoot suiters gangs against Patriot sailors, wonder who they are going to believe! Those Mexican gangs refused to go into our military to fight for this country so those patriot sailors were pissed off. Do you blame them. THEN they have a nerve to call it racist?? You wont fight for this country but you want all its advantages! Screw YOU!

  17. zootsuitors ya essay we thought free country essay we thought can just hang around essay and break laws essay and not serve our adopted country but try to undermind it essay, whats the problem essay? ah never mind essay me so tired need to nap now essay.

  18. Once again, we whites make shit up to go after a whole brown race and racist Cops take the side of the whites with little to know information about the truth. If whites wore a particular suit and mexicans went and attack them based on a lie, there would probably a genocide on mexicans. But we whites can always do what we like.

  19. 38:30/38:40 So they do the same shit today they did back then to stop gangs and it still doesnt work. Sounds like a bullshit scheme to make people believe the govrnmnt is on your side. Because gangs are not brought about on there own as they spoke about in the beginning of this video, they start due to racism and poverty and are maintained through poverty, the way the black gangs are today.

  20. I literally just got ot of jail 3 hours ago. These macho assholes are gay as fuck. They will lay down with another man just like they would a women. They think if they don’t look them in the eye then it’s not gay.
    Fuck that, these gang fuckers are fairies. End of story.

  21. Zoot ZOOTERS start shit so sailors handled it. And its racist?
    Yeah, the Mexicans have always hated whites. Mexicans are racist.
    Stfu, we should all just get along and stop the stupid shit.

  22. THE WHITE MAN HATED US FOR BEING BLACK-! ENSLAVED US FOR BEING BLACK-! DEHUMANIZED US FOR BEING BLACK-! DEMONIZED US FOR BEING BLACK, SEGREGATED US FOR BEING BLACK-! RAPED OUR MEN/WOMEN & BABIES FOR BEING BLACK-!!LYNCHED US FOR BEING BLACK, DISCRIMINATED AGAINST US FOR BEING BLACK-! WE WEREN'T ALLOWED TO WALK THROUGH THE FRONT OF DOOR OF EVERY PUBLIC PLACE IN AMERICA-! CREATED NEGATIVE BLACK WORDS FOR BEING BLACK, STILL USED NEGATIVE BLACK WORDS TO HURT OUR PRIDE TO BE BLACK, WHITE PEOPLE WHITELISTED US WITH THEIR HATE, EVIL, PREJUDICES, DISCRIMINATION AND SO MUCH MORE THAN ANY ADEQUATE DISCRIPTION COULD EVER DISCRIBE –
    (They then psychologically dumped all of their WHITE EVIL in a CONVENIENT WORD they invented called BLACKLIST – meaning -(a list of people or things that are regarded as unacceptable or untrustworthy and should be excluded or avoided-!!!
    THE MEANING ARE QUITE CLEARLY REFERRING TO BLACK PEOPLE – A WORD I CORRECTED & RENAMED AS WHITELIST OR WHITELISTED-!!
    CAN YOU NOW BELIEVE IT, THE WHITE WORLD NOW WANTS THE WHOLE WORLD TO STOP USING ANY INNOCENT & INNOCUOUS WORDS THAT THEY FEEL MAY HURT THE LGBT FEELINGS AND COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE-!
    THEY EXPERIMENTED ON US FOR BEING BLACK-!! CREATED THE EBOLA VIRUS & OTHER VIRUSES TO KILL US OUT FOR BEING BLACK, TORTURED US FOR BEING BLACK, FOUGHT IN THE 2ND WORLD WAR AGAINST GERMANS – YET THEY HAVE MORE RIGHTS TO ENTER BRITAIN THAN BLACKS, BURNED DOWN OUR CHURCHES AND MURDERED US FOR BEING BLACK, BURNED DOWN BLACK WALL STREET FOR BEING BLACK, DUMPED DRUGS AND GUNS IN OUR COMMUNITIES BECAUSE WE ARE BLACK, ECONOMICALLY MAGINALISED US FOR BEING BLACK, MIS-EDUCATED US FOR BEING BLACK, SOCIALLY ENGINEERED US TO BE AGAINST US OURSELVES FOR BEING BLACK, EXPLOITED AFRICA'S RAW MATERIALS AND HER PEOPLE FOR BEING BLACK, DIVIDE AND RULE US TO WEAKEN US FOR BEING BLACK-!!!NOW THEY GOT US TO WHERE THEY WANTED US – HELPING OUR ENEMIES TO DESTROY OUR KINGS-&-QUEENS-16.7.19

  23. Stayin' alive the disco song changes its meaning now.
    Imagine the strut of mostly boys blasting their nuisance music with kites…
    Still happens now.
    I have fear every time I step out with my sharpened machete to slit throats..

  24. wait, why did they mention the zoot suits? were they a gang or just victims of sailors? if they were a gang, why didnt yall talk about their gang behavior?

  25. @1:25 "We ignore them at our own risk" Police? The real gangsters we're green,top of the top is the federal reaseve!

  26. Gangs beware – isis is now here – we continue to rise each day – take off your colors flags and patches – and put on the hoodie and masks – change up or lay up – the choice is yours !

  27. Would it be fair to say that, hypothetically, if let's say there was an abundance of legitimate work available, along with family-supporting wages, that perhaps the gang's may not have developed? With all their fighting each other, these people weren't exactly lazy. Yet it says that they formed/joined the gangs 'for survival'. So does that indicate that there was no legitimate work available, and that they individually couldn't think of productive things to engage in, i.e. starting their own business's? Or is there just a criminal element in every culture.

  28. American gangs started in the USA, that's where it all began, a racist, selfish, hypocritical society.

  29. Riiiight..
    I'm %100 sure the "zoot suiters" were all completely innocent and it was all white servicemen jealous because of the "mexican american" females… My ass.

  30. What about the Chinese Tongs who controlled China Town and also were gangs who did all the same shit. Nah, let's glorify the Irish who didn't go through nearly as much punishment as the Chinese. At least the Irish were White in the old world.

  31. Oh poor street gangs. They had it rough in the “American Experience.” Of course no one but gang members had it tough. Here again the bleeding hearts make it that they were forced into membership.
    In my opinion they are the product of criminals. Uneducated though school is free. Unemployed because they are repressed. Horse feathers!! They made the choice and must suffer the consequences!

  32. I don't know if gangs are considered by lossers by society anymore they're idolized now by society everybody imitates them & wishes they could be in a gang… Nowadays the gang culture is so watered down kids from 7 to 8 figure income homes want to be down with gangs and pretend that they're in gangs now it's sad … Most of us people in the hood would use gangs as a means to try to get out and find money to be able to provide a more luxurious lifestyle not vice versa…most of the time won't even be by choice or just be because that's the neighborhood your from nowadays people choosing to be in even if they rich or come from a good home

  33. @ 41:00 The origin of the word, Gangbang. As in a female having sex with multiple men in consecutive succession or with more than one male at a time.

  34. Many people say's united states is a sick country. I believe the 70% of the people all of the world are stupid !!!

  35. Never show your own white devil's from murder raping etc pilgrims were gangs recruited by Columbus fuck u devil's

  36. Hey boys and girls this documentary was intended to inform us on gang history not for us to be inspired by them remember when you fuck you get fuck so do not fuck stay safe yall

  37. basecally as every fuck up shit in the world…. gangs were made by whites, they invented that shit once they came from europa to USA. now they think is a black and latino shit.

  38. A case of life imitating art…Nah, its a case of elite using art to influence a certain group of people into being a certain type of way to control.

  39. American gangs started with the Jewish, Irish, Sicilian gangs. Not these exploited negreos and Mexicans. The former now run the Government. Peace

  40. STILL TODAY IN NYC LOL POLICE MAFIA….POLICE ,CASINO, LITTLE ITALY ,,,JEWISH QUATERS ,,,DIAMONDS… POLISH,,,,IRISH THE BOWERY !!!!!! GERMANS…..TRAIN STATIONS !!!!!
    NYC !!!!! GANGLAND !!!! GOOD MORNING AMERICA !!!!

  41. 2 million mexicans in cali in 1929……all white land owners irish ,german,polish,italian !!!!! why do you think the police mafia union is what it is ????

  42. all I can say is I am way happy to see you Americans kill each other off but please do it faster and make the world a better place. A big hole between Canada and Mexico would be nice

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