History of Gangs in LA

I was really interested in this topic because I live and hang out around gang areas. Another reason that I chose this topic is because I want to know more about how gangs were formed in Los Angeles. The two questions that I want to know about are “Why did gangs start forming in Los Angeles in the 1940s” and “Why did the gang violence start rising in the 1980s throughout the 1990s?”

Prior to the 1940s, there were many Latino and Black clubs and clicks but very few outright gangs. The population grew in Los Angeles as people came to work building ships and weapons for the military during World War II. Both Latinos and Blacks were restricted in where they could live. Blacks had to live along Central Ave and Latinos had to live in East LA. As the population grew, whites feared that they will start living in white neighborhoods. As a result, large white gangs started to seek out to harass and beat up Latinos and Blacks. What is implied with this information? What might be the underlying ideology? What are your thoughts and evaluation of what is implied?

After the Watts Riots of 1965, “white flight” led to much of South LA and the surrounding areas becoming mostly Latino and Black. This was also the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Many gangs almost ended during this time. Many gangs joined organizations such as the Black Panthers and the Brown Berets. The Black Panthers and the Brown Berets wanted to act as a community army and organized people against police brutality and racism. The government and the police were very concerned about the Black Panthers and the Brown Berets. They actively worked to break up these organizations by jailing members,spying on members and placing undercover agents in these organizations. The government called this COINTELPRO. As these organizations began to dissolve, street gangs came back. The Bloods and the Crips quickly formed as well as the Surenos and the Northenos.

In the 1980s, there was a huge increase in the number of gangs. The ideas of the Black Panthers and the Brown Berets were completely lost by this time. The gangs were exclusively focused on territory and crime. The beginning of the Crack Epidemic only worsened the effect. The Crack Epidemic started in South Central and spread throughout the US. It had a terrible effect. People became addicted. This led the families being broken up. There was a dramatic increase in crime during this time. South Central became very separated. As the introduction of drugs in the community,in the early 1990s saw some of the highest homicide rates ever. The homicide rates dropped after the LA Riots. Much of it had to do with gang truce. Gangs had major truce with other gangs to end drive-bys and the killing of innocent people. Although the 1990s began very badly, it ended with a decline in the number of gang related deaths.

Through this research, I see why Hispanic and African American gangs originally come to existence because of racism. What I mean by this is… I learned more about why people joined gangs and why they became more and more violent over the years. I’ve also learned that gangs weren’t gangs but rather associations for both Hispanics and African Americans.