A street gang can be described as a group of individuals who share a unique name or symbol, attempt to control certain territory (“turf”) in a community and engage in a variety of violent or illegal behaviors that effect the general population (vandalism, drug dealing, assaults, drive-by shootings).
People often assume gangs are a ‘big city’ problem. The truth is that gangs are present everywhere in America, from major urban areas to surrounding suburbs and rural communities. Gangs have been glorified through music videos, and movies, and have made their way onto the internet – hosting web sites, or creating profile pages on popular networking sites to lure recruits. They have even established a global presence. Gangs are breaking through racial, cultural and socio-economic barriers to grow their memberships. Young people from all economic and social backgrounds have been lured into gang life, from as early as age six or seven.
Today’s gangs participate in a number or destructive and violent behaviors that target rival gangs and impact innocent bystanders. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, gang members participate in “a variety of anti-social behaviors, including battery, mayhem, sexual assault, damage to property, larceny, murder, gang wars and other criminal activity”. Gangs profit from criminal acts, such as narcotic sales, robberies and auto thefts. They vandalize property with gang graffiti. They possess assault weapons and deadly firearms to use on the streets or in drive-by shootings. Gang-related crimes devastate our families and unravel the fabric of our communities.
Gang Names and Nicknames
Gangs use various names to represent their gang, crew, or clique. The gang name may have reference to a commonly-known gang (“Crips”, “Vice Lords”), while the clique name may have a connection to the gang’s neighborhood (street name, geographic location). Most gang members adopt nicknames when they are recruited to a gang. These nicknames might identify certain physical traits (“Shorty), describe a skill or the recruit’s personality.
There are an estimated
within the USA, with a membership of over
Source: Gangs Or Us
Percentage of U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies Reporting Gang Problems
Los Angeles Monthly Gang Statistics