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December 13, 2005
Life under The Crip Imperium
The death of Tookie Williams today got me to reminiscing about my days living under the shadow of the Crip Empire. My first memory of the rise of modern street gangs in Los Angeles was in the early 60's. One of my older sisters was a member of the Slausonettes, a predecessor to the Crips later rival, the "Bloods" who were originally called the "Brims." My earliest impressions of gangs were romantic.
My sister and her compatriots wore long leather jackets, had huge Afros and talked Black Power. They were the closest thing to Black Panthers we had at that time, and everybody knew the Black Panthers were cool! All these 'cats' used to hang out at my house and call me "'lil brother." They were hard assed, take no shit "mutha's," who were not afraid of the police, dissed white folk, and were generally cool. It was a radical time in the U.S. (The Early 60's), and our heroes wore leather coats, sported big afros, and expressed Black Power through forceful action and rage.
My first bad experience with "gangstas," came when I was in the third or fourth grade. A kid named Michael Coleman, who's big brothers were all hard core Brims, used to extort lunch money from all the other kids, including myself.
I used to hide from him when I could, and when I couldn't, I simply went hungry after turning over my $.25 lunch money. One day I mouthed off to some guys in my class that I was tired of giving Michael my lunch money and would not do it any more. It somehow got back to him and when he confronted me I told him to, "fuck himself." That resulted in a threat to, "kick my ass," after school. I don't know how I made it through the day that day, but sure enough he and half the student body were waiting for me after school.
Through sheer fear I think, I managed by all accounts to win the fight. I was warned that his Big Brother, "Fat Rat," would settle the score with me later. I told my sister about it, and for whatever reason... probably due to her intervention, I never met "Fat Rat."
By the time I got to Junior High School, the gang culture had fully evolved and I was living on 73rd and Hoover in Los Angeles.
Now anyone who knows Crip Mythology knows that the Hoover Crips, one of the most virulent of the Crip strains were headquartered in the same neighborhood. I went to school with some of the founders of the Hoovers, and some of them were even my friends. But the Hoovers were only one of the gangs that colonized Bethune Jr. High School in 1972. There were the Bounty Hunters, Acey Duce's, Pirus, Rolling 60's and a bunch of other gangs of Crip or Blood affiliation by that time. And they were constantly at war.
Once the school was shut down due to a threat of attack by one of the rival gangs. On the 6 o'clock news that day there was a report of an arms cache being discovered near the school. The cache included grenades and various automatic weapons. The school was always tense, and one had to be constantly on guard as to not to get on the bad side of one of the local gangsters.
One day I had the misfortune of doing so. His name was, "Pee Wee". He was one of the leaders of one of the school's Crip factions, and not one I knew anyone in. Pee Wee like most of his "boys," wore a style of shoes called, "biscuits." The shoes were always shined to a super high gloss. One day standing in the lunch line, I stepped on his foot. Realizing my error I turned to him to apologize. He started screaming at me, calling me names and insulting me. I knew when I opened my mouth in response, there would be hell to pay. At that point I did not care as my own pride was on the line. "Fuck your shoes," I screamed back at him. Now Pee Wee was a lot smaller than I, and I knew I could beat him in a one on one fight, but I also knew who he was and knew that there would be no, "mano a mano."
After school I was on my way home with a friend when I saw him standing on a corner with about twenty other guys. I knew I could not out run them, and that my only chance was that one of the frequent police patrols around the school would pass and break up the group. I turned to my friend and said, "Dude you aint in this... go while you still can." He did not need a second warning, he took off running in the other direction, while I continued on towards my destiny and my ass kicking. I shouted back at my friend. "Go to my house, get my big brothers." I am not sure he heard me, but there would be no Calvary that day. My friend never went to my house, and when and my brother found out what happened when he was called by the school to pick me up.
I turned into an alley a few hundred feet from where they were waiting and took off running. All I remember after that was the sound of running feet and a fist to the back of my head... then, "biscuits," a lot of them. I rolled into a fetal position and tried to protect my face and groin from the feet. When I came too a bit later, I was in a police car being taken back to the school. I told the cops who did it... Not sure why, maybe I was just too dazed to realize how potentially stupid that was. The next day I was a hero at school. A lot of people had seen me get the crap beat out of me, but apparently I had got a couple of good licks in before I went down. I honestly don't remember hitting anyone. But I think most of all those who were not gangsters were proud of me for standing up to one of them. I will never forget this really cute girl saying to me, "It took 20 of them to take you down David, you aint got nuthin' to be ashamed of." I wasn't ashamed. I was just scared and I was for a long time after that.
My second experience with the Crips came a year later, when one of Tookie's boys decided he did not like fat kids and decided to make me the object of daily abuse. He lived in some projects at the end of my block and every day I had to pass him on the way home. He would sit on the front porch of the apartment he lived in and shout insults at me every day. One day I just got tired of it. As I passed he started with the, "Hey fat boy," shit and I screamed back. "Fuck you rag head." He wore a blue Crip rag on his head. He looked surprised for a second and then picked up a bat and came off the porch. I took off running like a mad man for my house, but I was no match for him. I never saw him coming but I felt the bat as it impacted my head just above my ear. When I woke up I was staring up at my Older Brother and a bunch of folks from the block. My head was wet from the blood that came out of a small gash the bat had opened. My brother looked down at me... "Who did this..." I did not know the guys name, so I just pointed at the apartments. By that time, my attacker was gone.
I learned a very important lesson after that day... actually a couple. One, keep my mouth shut... The other... that most of the "gangstas," were cowards who away from their "homeboys," or without a weapon, were nothing. A few days after the incident, my brother, a decorated Vietnam War Veteran, took me in his car to look for my assailant. We came upon him in front of the local liquor store. I pointed him out. My brother ran the car up on the curb in front of him. Before he had a chance to run, my brother was on him. He slammed him up against the side of the building. "You see the little homie in the car?" He screamed his face just inches from my attackers. "That be my little brother. If you so much as come within 50 feet of him again Motherfucker, I will kill you and your whole family." As if to emphasize his point, my brother pulled out a hunting knife and put it to his throat. "And if you think you and your Cuz's are bad asses, you don't know me." He stuck the point of the knife in the guys earring and literally ripped if out of his ear. Then he threw him to the ground like a rag doll and straddling him he pulled a gun from his waistband. He leaned over and placed the gun on the guys forehead, chambering a round in the process. "I just got back from "Nam," motherfucker and I am not afraid to die! Are you?" The guy probably pissed his pants, but I just remember him laying there on the ground shaking violently. My Brother kicked him in the side, returned to the car and we took off. I don't know if he lived in those apartments or not. But I never saw him again. Nor did I have any gang problems again.
Those were some scary times in Los Angeles. While Tookie Williams claims that the Crips were founded originally to protect the neighborhood are debatable, the truth is that the Crips, Bloods and all their various affiliates were nothing less than a form of Mafia. They created a sense of fear in our communities that have and continue to have profound historical effects. It was street gangs that led the burning of Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict. It was street gangs, led by Crips who introduced rock cocaine into our neighborhoods. Tookie paid today for a series of murders, but in retrospect, no man could in ten lifetimes pay for all the pain he and his compatriots caused. So NO I don't feel sorry for him at all. Every time I venture back to those times in my head. I realize that I suffered from my own imprisonment, and lethal injection... A lethal injection that killed much of the joy of childhood for me.
UPDATE: Jay tracks back with a piece on Wizbang, and for once we agree.
Sortapundit links with the perspective of someone who grew up in an entirely different world.
Posted by David A at December 13, 2005 02:43 PM
Filed Under Crime | 1883 Words
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» Tookie's Legacy from Wizbang
Tracked on December 14, 2005 10:00 AM
» Tales from Tookie's world from Sortapundit
Tracked on December 14, 2005 10:28 AM
» Tookie’s Legacy: First Hand from Verum Serum
Tracked on December 14, 2005 11:59 AM
» What Tookie Hath Wrought from dcthornton.com
Tracked on December 14, 2005 12:59 PM
» F. U. Mike Farrell from Conservative Revolution
Tracked on December 14, 2005 01:14 PM
I lived on 70th and Normandie. Although we were years and blocks apart, I will agree with you that those were scary times. Only by the grace of God we live to tell the stories.
Posted by: D.C. Thornton at December 14, 2005 01:03 PM
Tell me about it Bro. I am still amazed that I managed to make it out and to make something of my life, when so many of my friends did not.
Posted by: David Anderson at December 14, 2005 01:08 PM
To all of you who supported Stanley Williams,
What is wrong with you people? How can you extol as a hero a convicted, condemned, and executed four-time murderer and notorious gang leader and, at the same time, wonder why your neighborhoods are rife with crime, drugs, and bloodshed? Can?t you see that the behaviors that put bars on your windows and teenagers in the morgue are the very same you are fighting to preserve; that honoring self-proclaimed criminals like Stanley Williams promotes everything that is killing your neighborhoods? Where is the sense?
Over and over the blight that plagues the inner cities of this country are blamed on ?The [White] Man? when it is the members of these communities who refuse to stand up and fight the gangs and fight the drugs and fight the violence; blame comes easier than solution, I suppose.
When [you] give Stanley Williams the honor of being ?King of the Kwanza Parade? or mourn him with a hero?s funeral, then you forfeit the right to complain about the natural result; increased gang activity and more coffins for your babies. You don?t get to create and support murderers and then complain when the streets run red with the blood of your children.
As a community, either stand up and say no to the violence or quit whining about it and relegate your kids to early graves, but you don?t get to do both.
Posted by: Chaden Brooks at December 14, 2005 01:52 PM
Eh, Chaden... I don't see either a post or comments that supported Tookie, what is your point?
Posted by: David Anderson at December 14, 2005 02:18 PM
It looks like Chaden wrote/found something he thought was witty and searched out blogs just discussing the issue to post it on. I doubt he will even be back to see what was said.
Posted by: Rogue at December 14, 2005 02:23 PM
Hehe... You are probably right.
Posted by: David Anderson at December 14, 2005 02:27 PM
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