Monday, February 27, 2006

Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of children.

How many kids join gangs to find “family” because there is no family at home?
If you want an answer as to why children do some of the things they do it is important to understand the depth of the “mother …God”, quote. At first it may sound sacrilegious. However the deeper implications of what it means cannot be overlooked as it provides a window into who and what all of us are.

There is a movie, (The Crow), where in a pivotal scene the main character tells a drug addicted mother that “mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of children everywhere.” In this moment of clarity the mother begins to weep knowing that for too long she has left her only child unattended to be raised by the streets while she herself is absorbed in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and likely prostitution. It is a pivotal scene that needs to be played out in many lives in our society. How many kids join gangs to find “family” because there is no family at home?

What is “mother”? What should that mean to a child? Children see “mother” as the provider, the protector, the source of all life. That “mother” can be a savior. Mother is the one who is supposed to hear our cries for help. Mother is the one who is supposed to sooth our wounds. Mother is very much like “God” in this sense.

It is the parental figure where the entire idea of trust, love, and boundaries first originate from. This “mother” is the thing where we all get our first taste of what human society is supposed to be about. “Mother” goes far beyond being an example of what human interaction should be and becomes the blueprint for the entire interpersonal / social life of a human being.

This person will be a savior or a devil.
An infant recognizes his / her mother first by smell. Immediately after birth the baby is able to recognize his mother’s voice and scent from others. Before birth that very bond begins and should carry on for the rest of the child’s life. This is the person that the child first knows will either meet his needs or abandon them. This person will be a savior or a devil.

“Mother” will be the first example of humanity to a child. How mother behaves will form how the child views every other human in the world. Mother is a model for all humanity to a child. If the child grows up being afraid of or angry at his / her mother…then they will every other adult as well. That is until we prove them different. Sometimes “proving” takes a long time and it should. It should take a long time to undo a lifetime worth of pain created by an adult who should’ve been that child’s one source of protection, shelter, and love.

In the 50’s and 60’s children abandoned by their parents were often cared for in hospital nurseries. But because so many children ended up in these makeshift orphanages nurses often only had time to feed and change them. There was no time for cuddling, cooing, or otherwise emotionally nurturing these newborns. Though their physical needs were met, many of these children actually died. Those that did not often grew up to have difficulty developing relationships and forming bonds with others because no bond was ever formed with their mother. Many of these children grew up to be sociopaths.

No rules meant that killing could become easier.

Research into the lives of serial killers reveals some very disturbing details. In nearly all of the serial killers studied little or no bond was ever developed between the mother and the child as an infant. As the child cried out it soon learned that no one would respond. It didn’t develop a sense of boundaries or of limits. As time passed it did not grow the pathways needed in the brain to feel empathy. It began to feel that if no boundaries were ever established with it then there truly are no boundaries for anyone else. No boundaries meant no rules. No rules meant that killing could become easier.

The children I deal with in foster care have broken relationships with their mothers and fathers. It does not mean that they will become killers but it does mean that they have lost something deeply emotional that no child should be denied. If you believe in God I want you to imagine that God came to you one day and told you that you were worthless. That you didn’t matter. Imagine if God said to you that you are on your own in this world. Or worse yet what if that God beat you, used you for horrible things, or denied you basic shelter, food, and warmth. How would you feel?

If “God” acts like a devil…
Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of children. If “God” acts like a devil why do we wonder why kids mutilate themselves, seek closeness by sexual promiscuity, abuse drugs, or attack others with little or no provocation? From early childhood many of these kids learn to live in fear. Fear that mom or dad will not be there. Fear that mom or dad or someone else in the family will rape them. Fear that mom or dad will beat them to death.

Fear is a prime motivator for aggression. Fear in any animal makes it more dangerous. These children grow up living in fear. If their own mothers or fathers do not love or care for them then why would or should anyone else? Fear of being abandoned again to fear of being emotionally scarred again. Fear brings aggression as aggression gives the child some feeling of control. When a child cuts her arms, throws a desk, or curses an adult over minor issues he / she feels just for a moment some sense of control. Even though that may not make much sense to us.

If you are afraid you will be more likely to lash out. That is true with all of us. Many of us would never consider harming another human being, but if you threaten a petite mother of three with harming her children you most likely would have a fight on your hands. Fear with some individuals is different though in how it manifests itself. Though it may not be appropriate or even normal it can work the same. A man walks into a workplace and shoots up fellow employees almost always after a series of pre incident indicators. Some of which include, mental illness, abusive and violent attitude, and almost always the loss of some perceived important thing. Fear of the loss of “life” control is an underlying driver in many if not all of these shootings. We all fear being out of control but when you combine that natural fear with abnormal things such as mental illness and violent anger you have the recipe for aggression that seems very out of the norm.

We are all similar in some ways. We all do the things we do for a reason. The way we are raised, the love or lack of love we had growing up, the moral compass that was instilled in us or neglected all dictate how we will make choices. Choices that are fully ours but choices that nonetheless can center on who and what our version of “mother” was. If that parental figure was more of a devil than a god then chances are there will be hell to pay…

Saturday, February 25, 2006

This Isn't Your War

An Open Letter to Young Gang Members

I have worked with many of you for many years. Time and again I ask the question to young people locked up in juvenile facilities, “Since you have been locked up, how often has your ‘OG’ (gang leader) written you, called you, or visited you to see how you are doing?”

The answer has always been the same. “Never.”

After the adult leaders of gangs are through using you, they are through. Often the lives you have at home are no better…your families may not care or may not be able to be there like they should. You don’t deserve that. But becoming part of the gang, though it seems to be an answer, is only more abuse in disguise.

Another question I always ask to experienced gang members. You know the ones who go around and try and recruit new people in? I ask them, “If you had it to do over again…would you still have joined the gang?”

The answer has always been the same. “No”.

Why do you think that is?

Young people serve several purposes in the gang.

To make the gang leadership rich. (You do not get the majority of the drug / weapons money you make…the leadership gets the biggest cut….even though you are the one risking everything.)

To make the leadership famous. (For you Gangster Disciples…everyone knows who Larry Hoover is…but how many people know who you are? Yet you are the one risking everything.)

To serve their jail time for them. (Adults use kids to traffic drugs. Sell guns. To kill. Why? Because that way when you are arrested they can distance themselves from you. Claim they don’t know you. Manipulate you to use the “code of honor” as an excuse to let you rot in jail for their crimes. All the while they get richer, get the glory, and stay arrest free.)

To shed your blood for them. (This is their war. But they have you out there on the streets, fighting, killing, and dying in their place. You were drafted with the lie of love and brotherhood only to find a new source of never ending pain.)

Its going to get worse too my gang kids. Because a time is coming when some gang, maybe not yours, but some gang will play some role in a terrorist act. Maybe someone will get a bag of cash to drive a van somewhere. A van filled with explosives. Maybe someone will get paid a lot of money to kill someone political. It’s already been attempted…look up the Black P Stone Rangers also known as El Rukns. Look up Jose Padilla.

When that happens and the Feds tie part of this terrorist act to a street gang…the way law enforcement views you will change. If you think you are harassed now…wait until that happens. Gangs will be considered terrorist groups.

You know what they do to suspected terrorists right? You know you can end up in a prison somewhere were all those fancy legal rights you have now will mean nothing? There will be no TV. No nice meals. No phone calls or letters home. No lawyers. No sleep.

You may never be seen again. Ever.

So just be prepared if you are going to stay in the gang.

It is coming.

And when it does you will have a new war to deal with. You will become the same as al Qaeda and you will suffer their fate. It is a war that you will not win.

You should find a way out now. And get on the side that helps save lives rather than take them.

This isn’t your war…

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Different West Bank

Bus Attack December 2004:
"The bus was driving through the heavily populated neighborhood … when a car carrying an unknown number of armed attackers cut in front of it, forcing it to stop… The assailants jumped out of the car and began shooting, at the same time that other attackers in a second car fired from behind and then alongside the bus, he said. The police spokesman said more than 50 people were aboard the bus, the majority women and children...Assailants claiming to be members of a revolutionary group…opened fire on a public bus...killing at least 28 people, including six children."

Football Game Massacre January 2005:
"Ten members… have been arrested after six people were shot dead at an amateur football game…on Sunday.…members forced the players and about 100 fans to remove their shirts and lie on the ground before separating the six and shooting them in the head."

Kabul? Baghdad? The West Bank?

Al Qaeda? Hamas? Iraqi "insurgents?"

None of the above.

Bus Attack December 2004: Honduras mascommittedmmited by members of Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13)...the notorious street gang with origins in our own "West Bank"...Los Angeles.

Football Game Massacre January 2005: El Salvador mascommittedmmited by members of Mara 18 also known as the 18th Street Gang. Origins also in Los Angeles and noted rivals of MS 13.

Both gangs have thousands of members all across the United States.

Do I have your attention now?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Homeland / Gangland Security

Whether we are talking about Katrina and the gang insurgency afterwards or some other National Security related matter...still too many are missing the point. Thinking "inside the box" rather than out.

Terrorism is called asymmetric warfare for a reason. The threat comes from where we are not looking.

An excerpt from this article is telling:

'One city's gang problem is another city's gang problem'
"Especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when gang enforcement money and manpower became overshadowed by homeland security needs."

The article explains that gang units all over the country are suffering from a lack of funding. Due in part to changing the flow of resources to Homeland Security measures. You know measures like being able to respond effectively to thousands in need... Measures that still continue to fail those suffering from the after effects of Katrina.

The point that is being missed is one I continue to stress... Allowing gangs, deviant groups, and related individuals to expand IS a Homeland Security issue.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Tunnels under the Mexican / American border. The UAE company taking over several shipping ports in the United States. The security that we have no control over in third world countries with nuclear power plants. The ravings of a madman in Iran. Another madman in North Korea. The proliferation of untold amounts of information from AQ Khan on how to build a nuclear weapon. China looking for a way in. And a nuclear armed Pakistan waiting for their leader to die.

A crumbling Russia. An expanding Russian / Ukrainian Mob. A lot of out of work nuclear physicists. And the ultimate asymmetric warfare communications tool, the internet.

Over 600 hate groups in the United States. Over 700,000 gang members in the United States. More than 200 anti-government militia groups in the United States. Prisons full of recruitment pools. And a history of terrorism recruitment from the gang and prison crowd. The arrival of International Super Gangs trained in the art of guerilla warfare such as Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street, or the Latin Kings. And al Qaeda’s interest in them.

Not to mention all the lone wolves.

This is how the bomb will get in. Through wide open borders with closed minded security personnel with eyes wired shut. With the help of a mountain of red tape and bureaucracy and political games. With the help of political correctness over common sense. Through the hate and misguidance of home grown, blended in, terrorists in need of a cause right here in the United States.

Jeff Fort. Jose Padilla. Spc. Ryan G. Anderson. Tim McVeigh.

Impossible? Fear mongering? Far fetched? So was flying passenger planes into buildings.

Just pick a major city. Because it is going to happen.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Building the Perfect Beast

Gang Structure Typology

Gangs exist in many forms. Some are very cohesive while some are loosely organized. Some act like cells while others are completely autonomous. Gathering information (intelligence) locally is the key to understanding what kind of gang activity you may have in your area and is a critical element in determining the threat factor your community may face.

Localized Groups:
Localized groups are small groups not openly affiliated with national groups. Localized groups may be readily dismissed by the community. Localized groups have several potential outcomes.

1. They will fade away over time as their membership grows older and moves on.
2. They will continue on being localized but will pass their existence on through several generations.
3. They will integrate with other localized groups forming larger entities covering larger areas.
4. They will be absorbed or amalgamated into nation gangs / super gangs with whom they find a sense of familiarity with or as a result of national gangs moving into their environment.

Too numerous to mention. These groups tend to have "street names" or barrio names and do not include the name of Crip or similar recognized names in their titles.

Nation Gang / Super Gang Affiliated:

Nation Gang affiliated groups involve gangs that have an identity in association with larger groups across the United States. These groups may share the same colors, symbols, and liturgy as nationally known groups but may or may not be cellular in nature. These groups may be a part of a larger chain of command, drug distribution, or other illegal activity. In cases such as this these groups may be more directly involved in cellular type proliferation. Other groups may only be identified with Nation gangs by their similar liturgy, symbols, and colors. They may not answer to a direct chain of command but may alter their recognition markers / identifiers, liturgy, colors and symbols on command of a recognized patriarch of the gang they claim association with.

Gangster Disciples / Latin Kings / Vice Lords
There are some rumors mentioning factions of the Latin Kings also being in Mexico, however this is not fully confirmed at this time.

International Gangs:
International gangs, like the name implies, have territory that spans the borders of one or more countries. They may answer to a more specific hierarchal chain of command but also may involve gangs who are so far removed from their place of origin that their symbols, liturgy, and colors remain as the only tying factor.

It is important to realize that International Gangs such as the Crips began as localized gangs less than forty years ago. The Crip organization began with two founders. Now it has chapters as far away as in Europe.

Crips / Bloods / MS13 / 18th Street Gang
While it appears that many of the Crip sets across the globe are not connected to one another groups such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) appear to share a great deal of connection. At this time there is no apparent hiearchy of leadership with MS13 but some communication seems to take place between "cells" across the borders the group operates. MS13 stretches from El Salvador to Canada and is one of the fastest growing gangs on the planet.

One thing in the gang culture is consistent...the fact that things change...gang structure / organization, styles, identifiers, and names are often fluid in nature. This is why local gang intelligence is critical and should be constantly re-evaluated by law enforcement.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Cult of Gangsterism

An Unholy War.

No eating pork.
No eating doughnuts.
No eating cake
No fish on Friday
If you must eat fish, break it into 7 pieces and recite the prayer.

No, these are not rules from an organized religion or a cult per se. But rather from several different modern gangs.

Rules, organization, and structure. Not a fraternity, social organization, or club. These are elements of many of our modern street gangs. Many of which do not refer to themselves as gangs at all. But rather as organizations. Some refer to themselves as political and or religious in nature.

From a Gangster Disciple personal web page:

What B.O.S. is......
It is voluntary association of men.
It is a system of moral conduct.
It is a way of life.
It is a fraternal society.
It is religious in its character.
It teaches 360 degrees of Pure Knowledge.
It is based on firm belief in Growth and Development, the Brotherhood of Man, and the spirituality of the Soul.
B.O.S. is a fraternal organization for men which furthers the principles of brotherhood. When a man joins the Brother's of the Struggle, he enters into an opportunity for personal development and character growth. It enhances his community, strengthens his family ties and extends his involvement in righteous endeavors. Men who are B.O.S. take great honor in their membership for many reasons, prominent among which is that they are part of a giant force dedicated to worthy purposes. Brother's of the Struggle is a system of living; it seeks nothing for itself but to make it's members wiser, better and consequently happier. B.O.S. makes good men better men.

We all need structure. Especially young people. Though they will protest our parental advice from time to time, deep down inside young people function better with structure and discipline. We all do.

When they don’t get it at home they will seek it out elsewhere. The modern gang has capitalized on this basic principle to the highest degree.

When a young person doesn’t know what tomorrow holds or where his next meal is coming from or whether or not tonight will be the night his drunken father beats him to death; fear becomes prominent. Without structure fear arises. Fear of the unknown.

"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate to the dark side."
-Master Yoda from the Star Wars saga.

Structure, even structure in an antisocial environment is better than no structure at all. Structure restores some sense of control. And control and fear interact with one another in almost every conceivable aspect of human life. A loss of control brings about fear. Fear, as we see in situations of social chaos, leads most often to violence.

The most violent creature in the world is a cornered animal that is in fear of its life. Kids without a sense of structure (control) at home will seek it out elsewhere and sometimes in a gang. Though this structure often begins a destructive cycle of violence and increasing fear it at least initially “feels” better than having no direction or structure.

Gang leaders offer young people a lot of things. Money, jewelry, clothes, cars, women, and power. But the attraction of structure, a sense of belonging to an “organization”, is the underlying pull of gang life. Using religious symbols and or political ideology reinforces a sense of legitimacy. These things may also seem familiar to some young people. This sense of familiarity makes the lure of gang life all the more attractive. Yes, gang leaders and founders know how to work their respective audience.

The modern street gangs such as the Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples (also known as Growth and Development), or the Vice Lords call themselves “organizations” not gangs. They use legitimate sounding words to attract young people. Community Restoration In Progress? That’s one of the legitimate sounding names for Crips used by some gang leaders to sound more legitimate. To attract more young people. It is not uncommon for many of the modern street gangs to have “constitutions”, by-laws, prayers, creeds, and codes of conduct.

Most often when questioned by counselors or law enforcement young people in gangs will not answer “yes” to the question, “Are you a gang member?’ Because they are taught that their group is far more than a gang. They are a part of an “organization.”

There can be little doubt the adult gang leaders using children for profit know what they are doing. Like cult leaders, they pretty up the words, add in a little “brotherly love”, and mix it together with an undertone of fear, to bring in and solidify membership in at risk youth.

Photo Link:

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Being Unreasonable

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-George Bernard Shaw

We are encouraged too often to avoid rocking the boat. Stirring the ****. Raise a stink. Or thinking outside the box. We are told not to get upset about things outside of our “circle of control”.

But when we allow a cancer to breech that barrier, that circle of control, suddenly we want something done about it. Like those who didn’t protest the arrest of Jews in Nazi Germany eventually we may find ourselves with no one left to defend us when the predators come.

What does it take to make a difference? Whether we are talking about the lives of kids trapped in gangs, lonely people trapped in red tape and bureaucracy trying to get help , or those in need of life saving services too often we allow things like paperwork to get in the way.

Bureaucracy got in the way of open communication pre-9/11. Bureaucracy continues to get in the way of people in the Gulf Coast who need housing and help. And it gets in the way of addressing the safety and security of kids in the system. Plain and simple… bureaucracy kills people.

I have lost count of the number of kids I’ve worked with that have no mention of gang activity in their personal charts. Yet with limited interaction with them, gang involvement is obvious. Why is that? Is it that previous counselors, case managers, and social workers of all types didn’t recognize it? Or did they dismiss it as what they believed to be “wanna be” gang membership. (Even though they have no qualifications to determine what makes a gang member.). Or worst of all, could they have been afraid that they could not adequately “treat” such behavior so better not to mention it to make it look like a more successful treatment?

None of these things are excusable. None. Training is always available. It does not matter if a kid has a “membership card” that says: Crip. “Wanna be” gang membership is often far more dangerous than real membership. And to ignore the issue because they don’t know how to address it is deplorable.

People don’t want to rock the boat or make changes. They don’t want to stand up and be unreasonable, too often because they are comfortable. They just want to get the kid or (insert social problem here) out of their hair and pass it along.

Comfortable in their little lives as long as crime doesn’t directly affect them or their family. But ignoring the problems, socially promoting kids in school or in counseling is the equivalent of passing on the problem to someone else.

If you are a teacher and a 17 year old kid cannot read past a third grade level…he shouldn’t be a senior in high school. What do you think he is going to graduate to be? What will he be qualified for other than a gunman for the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, or Crips?

What is even more appalling is some of the aforementioned gangs stress the importance of getting an education!!! They stress political involvement and community resourcefulness. One of the 6 laws of the Gangster Disciples stresses the importance of education. In that group, if you do not know the “rules” you do not get to “graduate” to the next level of rank. The Latin Kings consider themselves a political movement. The Gangster Disciples have a political group known as 21st Century Vote, (and they have almost won seats in local Chicago government). Though it is twisted…most of these Nation gangs stress…discipline. Something that we too often as parents and society are neglecting to impart on our children. It is no wonder most gang members call their gang, “family.”

Sadly our school systems, social service systems, and the legal system do not take the same stringent approach to ensuring that kids get better opportunities.

We are not unreasonable enough. At least not until a gang takes over a city in the aftermath of a disaster. Then we want something done about it. Then it is too late.

Our schools tout “no child left behind”. But “left behind” for whom? The truth is no child is being left behind because gangs and other deviant groups are picking up where we choose to fail.

They aren’t left behind at all actually, they are passed on to the gangs, prisons, and cemeteries because we choose to be “reasonable” and not rock the boat when we see injustice.

It is not just criminals who commit injustice; too often it is our own bureaucracy and comfort in complacency.