Mike Davis. Chapter 5, 'The HAMMER and the Rock,' from City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. pp. 267-322.

Perhaps 6 April 1989 will go down in history as the first 'designer drug raid'. As heavily armed and flak-jacketed SWAT commandoes stormed the alleged 'rock house' near 51st and Main Street in Southcentral L.A., Nancy Reagan and Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates sat across the street, nibbling fruit salad in a luxury motor home emblazoned 'THE ESTABLISHMENT'. According to the Times, the former first lady 'could be seen freshening her make-up' while the SWATs roughly frisked and cuffed the fourteen 'narco-terrorists' captured inside the small stucco bungalow. As hundreds of incredulous neighbors ('Hey, Nancy Reagan. She's over here in the ghetto!') gathered behind police barriers, the great Nay-sayer, accompanied by Chief Gates and a small army of nervous Secret Service agents, toured the enemy fortress with its occupants still bound on the floor in flabbergasted submission. After frowning at the tawdry wallpaper and drug-bust debris, Nancy, who looked fetching in her LAPD windbreaker, managed to delve instantly into the dark hearts at her feet and declare: 'These people in here are beyond the point of teaching and rehabilitating.' This was music to the ears of the Chief, whose occupation thrives on incorrigibility. 'Gates fairly beamed as television cameras pressed in: 'We thought she ought to see it for herself and she did....She is a very courageous woman'.'l

It was a heck of a heavy date, even if Nancy's press secretary Mark Weinberg complained obnoxiously the next day about the media's failure to take better advantage of the photo opportunity. In the larger picture, however, Nancy Reagan -- who had lived in Southern California for nearly fifty years -- had made her first visit to the ghetto, and Chief Gates, who dreams of becoming governor, had his perfect drug bust. It was an easy victory in a drug 'war' the LAPD secretly loves losing.


Tonight we pick 'em up for anything and everything.
LAPD spokesman (9 April 1988)2

Flashback to the previous April. A thousand extra-duty patrolmen, backed by elite tactical squads and a special anti-gang taskforce, bring down the first [268] act of 'Operation HAMMER' upon ten square miles of Southcentral Los Angeles between Exposition Park and North Long Beach, arresting more Black youth than at any time since the Watts Rebellion of 1965. Like a Vietnam-era search-and-destroy mission -- and many senior police are proud Vietnam veterans -- Chief Gates saturates the street with his 'Blue Machine' jacking up thousands of local teenagers at random like so many surprised peasants. Kids are humiliatingly forced to 'kiss the sidewalk' or spread-eagle against police cruisers while officers check their names against computerized files of gang members. There are 1,453 arrests; the kids are processed in mobile booking centers, mostly for trivial offences like delinquent parking tickets or curfew violations. Hundreds more, un-charged, have their names and addresses entered into the electronic gang roster for future surveillance.3

Gates, who earlier in the year had urged the 'invasion' of Colombia (in 1980 he offered Jimmy Carter the LAPD SWAT team to liberate the hostages in Tehran), derided civil libertarian protests: 'This is war...we're exceedingly angry....We want to get the message out to the cowards out there, and that's what they are, rotten little cowards -- we want the message to go out that we're going to come and get them.' To reinforce the metaphor, but meaning it literally, the chief of the DA's Hardcore Drug Unit added: 'This is Vietnam here.'4

The 'them' -- what a local mayor calls 'the Viet Cong abroad in our society'5 -- are the members of local Black gangs, segmented into several hundred fighting 'sets' while loosely aligned into two hostile super-gangs, the 'Crips' and the 'Bloods' -- universally distinguished, as every viewer of Dennis Hopper's Colors now knows, by their color-coding of shoelaces, T-shirts and bandannas (red for Bloods, blue for Crips). In the official version, which Hollywood is incessantly reheating and further sensationalizing, these gangs comprise veritable urban guerrilla armies organized for the sale of crack and outgunning the police with huge arsenals of Uzi and Mac-10 automatics. Although gang cohorts are typically hardly more than high-school sophomores, local politicians frequently compare them to the 'murderous militias of Beirut'.6

Across town, or increasingly in Southcentral itself, there is another large, traditional constituency of Latino gang membership, frequently depicted in the same lurid images. Indeed the primary focus of gang hysteria [270] in the 1970s was the rising violence amongst the third generation of East L.A. vatos locos. But a major community counter-offensive, unabetted by the police, and led instead by priests, parents and gang veteranos appealing to 'Chicano unity' managed to dramatically reduce Eastside gang killings from 24 in 1978 to zero in 1988.7 A major recrudescence of Latino gang warfare in recent days may be directly attributable to new liaisons with the crack trade.

If anything made ghetto turf rivalries so much more deadly than the Eastside's during the 1980s, it was the incomparably higher economic stakes involved in control of the retail cocaine trade. 'Gangbangin' rose in a murderous arc from 1984 in rough synchronization with the emergence of crack as the narcotic equivalent of fast food and the rerouting of the main cocaine trail from Florida to Southern California via Mexico. Since the beginning of 1987, 'gang-related' slayings, principally in Southside city and county areas, have averaged over one per day.8

This very real epidemic of youth violence, with its deep roots (as we shall see) in exploding youth poverty, has been inflated by law enforcement agencies and the media into something quite phantasmagoric. In a numbers game that ceases to distinguish the authentic 'high rollers' and 'stone killers' of the gang world from the 'claimers' and 'wannabees' the city attorney's office has steadily escalated its estimates of hardcore gang membership from 10,000 to 50,000. Local media have amplified this figure to 70,000-80,000, while Sheriff's 'gang experts' have invoked the spectre of 100,000 'rotten little cowards' overrunning Los Angeles County. Meanwhile an Andromeda Strain of Crips and Bloods is reported to have infected the entire West, from Tucson to Anchorage, before invading Middle America itself (with new sightings from Kansas City to Buffalo).9

Like the Tramp scares in the nineteenth century, or the Red scares in the twentieth, the contemporary Gang scare has become an imaginary class relationship, a terrain of pseudo-knowledge and fantasy projection. But as long as the actual violence was more or less confined to the ghetto, the gang wars were also a voyeuristic titillation to white suburbanites devouring lurid imagery in their newspapers or on television. Then in December 1987 frisson became fear as Southside gang hit-men mistakenly gunned down a young woman outside a theater in the posh Westwood Village entertainment district near UCLA. Westwood's influential merchants, who had recently induced the LAPD to enforce curfew ordinances to repel nonwhite youth from the Village, clamored for extra police protection, while local Councilmember Zev Yaroslavsky, then essaying a Koch-like challenge to Mayor Bradley, posted a huge reward for apprehension of the 'urban terrorists'.

The dramatically different press coverage of, and preferential police response to, the Westwood shooting ignited the simmering resentment of Black community leaders, who blasted Yaroslavsky, Bradley and the LAPD for failing to respond comparably to the mayhem in their neighborhoods. For several weeks the council chambers resounded to an arcane debate over relative police response times in different divisions and the comparative allocations of department personnel. This ideologically circumscribed and loaded debate, focusing exclusively on the demand for a more equal and vigorous prosecution of the war against gangs, was a cue for the ambitious and media-hungry Chief to reclaim center-stage.


This is the era of the police. If I were chief, I'd ask for as many as could.
Councilmember Richard Alatorre

Since the days of the legendary Chief William Parker in the early 1950s, the LAPD has been regarded by L.A.'s Black community as a redneck army of occupation. On the eve of Daryl Gates's appointment as chief in 1978, the so-called 'Masked Marvel' a white ex-cop who had served five years in 77th Street's 'Fort Apache' appeared in disguise on a series of local television shows to luridly chronicle the pathological racism and trigger-happiness of the 'blue knights' towards ordinary Blacks. Gates, the third Parker protégé in a row to command the LAPD, ridiculed these charges and the 'liberals' who listened to them. Soon afterwards came the police killing of Eulia Love, a 39-year-old Black widow in default of her gas bill. Community outrage was so great that Watts Assemblymember Maxine Waters demanded, 'Chief Gates, we want you out!' As Gates defended the twelve 38-caliber holes in Mrs. Love's body before a cowed Police Commission, several hundred Black clergymembers petitioned the Carter administration [272] to intervene. They asked the Justice Department to probe a pattern of systematic abuse of non-whites, including 'more than 300 police shootings of minority citizens in the last decade'. Meanwhile, the Coalition Against Police Abuse (CAPA) collected tens of thousands of signatures calling for the establishment of a civilian police review board.'12

The LAPD rode out this storm in alliance with a silent Mayor Bradley, whose gubernatorial ambitions seemed to preclude any stance that could be interpreted by white voters as 'anti-police'. Thus insulated from political accountability, Chief Gates was only emboldened to taunt the Black community with increasingly contemptuous or absurd excuses for police brutality. In 1982, for example, following a rash of LAPD 'chokehold' killings of young Black men in custody, he advanced the extraordinary theory that the deaths were the fault of the victims' racial anatomy, not excessive police force: 'We may be finding that in some Blacks when [the carotid chokehold] is applied the veins or arteries do not open up as fast as they do on normal [sic] people.'13

By 1987, however, after the crack blizzard had hit Southcentral in full force, some Black leaders began to weigh police misconduct as a 'lesser evil' compared to drug-dealing gangs. Groups like the Urban League and SCLC redefined the community's problem as 'too little policing' instead of 'too much' and repudiated attempts to restrain the LAPD. The 'equal policing' furor after the Westwood shooting gave Gates an unexpected opportunity to convert some of these former critics into born-again fans of his aggressive policing. While politicians merely worked their jaws, he was seen to respond dramatically to Southcentral's urgent outcry for police protection. With a typical eye for media exposure, the Chief launched the first of his heavily hyped anti-gang sweeps. (The LAPD already conducted regular sweeps to drive homeless people off the streets of Downtown.) This so-called Gang Related Active Trafficker Suppression program (GRATS) targeted 'drug neighborhoods' for raids by 200-300 police under orders to 'stop and interrogate anyone who they suspect is a gang member, basing their assumptions on their dress or their use of gang hand signals'14 Thus, on the flimsy 'probable cause' of red shoelaces or high-five handshakes, the taskforces in February and March mounted nine sweeps, impounded five hundred cars and made nearly fifteen hundred arrests. By Good Friday, Gates was gloating over the success of GRATS in drastically curtailing street violence. A few hours after his self-congratulatory speech, however, some rogue Crips mowed down a crowd on a Southcentral street corner, killing a 19-year-old woman.

Hysteria again took command in the Civic Center. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn called for the mobilization of the National Guard, while Yaroslavsky claimed that the city was 'fighting a war on gang violence...that's worse than Beirut's Gates, frantic to keep the LAPD in command of events, announced that the full manpower reserves of the Department would be thrown into the super-sweeps called the HAMMER. Although one high-ranking LAPD veteran would later admit that the catch-as-catch-can strategy was just 'a hokey publicity deal' it was billed as L.A. law enforcement's 'D-Day'.16 And like the Marines hitting the beach at Danang in the beginning of LBJ's escalations in Vietnam, the first of the thousand-cop blitzkriegs made the war in Southcentral L.A. look deceptively easy.

Black politicians generally applauded Gates, even if that put some 'civil rights leaders' in the awkward position of undermining the civil rights of Black youth. But as state Senator Diane Watson's press secretary rationalized it, 'when you have a state of war, civil rights are suspended for the duration of the conflict'. The local peasantry, on the other hand, were wary and even belligerent. As an LAPD spokesperson complained: 'People in the neighborhood instead of being on our side, make all kinds of accusations.' Indeed the NAACP reported an unprecedented number of complaints, in the hundreds, about unlawful police conduct.17 Community members also claimed that the police were deliberately fueling gang violence by leaving suspects on enemy turfs, writing over Crip graffiti with Blood colors (or vice versa) and spreading incendiary rumors.18

Given an open season to terrorize gang members and crack dealers, the LAPD predictably began to exceed the call of duty. On 5 April they shot down an unarmed teenager cowering behind a small palm tree on Adams Boulevard. He was alleged to be reaching suspiciously into his pants; more importantly, he was a 'suspected gang member' -- a category that now seemed to justify abuse or even execution. A few weeks later, HAMMER forces, storming one of the nearly five hundred 'rock houses' that they claim to have put out of business in 1988, poured double-ought buckshot into an 81-year-old retired construction worker. No drugs were actually found -- there was strong suspicion that the police had an incorrect address, and the [275] victim's niece, a witness, testified that he was killed with his hands held up. The LAPD merely replied that gangs were now paying off elderly people to use their homes as sales points. No disciplinary action was taken.'19

In a year when every gang murder had become a headline atrocity, these two police homicides caused barely a blip. With most of the Black political family arrayed behind the LAPD, civil libertarians spoke in tiny voices. Looking back on the beginning of the HAMMER, journalist Joe Domanick would later ask: 'Where was L.A.'s liberal community? A community that boasts the largest American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chapter in the nation?' In fact the Southern California chapter of the ACLU, an organization that in past decades had been frequently spied on and victimized by the LAPD, did condemn the HAMMER. ACLU attorney Joan Howarth, who specializes in defending youth civil liberties ('an endangered species'), was eloquent in exposing the hypocrisy of Chief Gates's Rambo-style gimmicks. But Howarth was soon transferred to other responsibilities, while the ACLU shifted the bulk of its energies to confront the right-to-life movement. Meanwhile another group of prominent liberal attorneys, who had been carefully preparing a class action suit against the police based on affidavits taken from victims of the HAMMER, suddenly dropped the project. It was latter revealed that they had been hectored and even red-baited by one of the city's most notable 'civil rights' leaders, now a crusader for police saturation of the streets.20

With legal opposition thus chilled out, the gangbusters had little reason to look over their shoulders as they started ronsoning hootches and boosting body counts in the rice paddies of Southcentral. The raid on Dalton Street in August 1988, if not quite the My Lai of the war against the underclass (an infamy that better attaches to the 1985 MOVE holocaust in Philadelphia so much admired by Chief Gates)21 was nonetheless a grim portent of what 'unleashing the police' really means. A company-sized detachment of eighty-eight police from the Southwest Division -- an outpost wracked internally by charges of racial abuse against Black officers -- swooped down on a group of apartments in the 3900 block of Dalton Avenue, near Exposition Park and not far from the infamous 'Black Dahlia' murder site of 1946. Wielding shotguns and sledgehammers, as well as racist epithets and a search warrant, the assault force, as Chief Gates would later admit, 'got out of hand'. [276]

Residents ... said they were punched and kicked by officers during what those arrested called 'an orgy of violence'. Residents reported the officers spray-painted walls with slogans, such as 'LAPD Rules'.

They also accused the officers of throwing washing machines into bathtubs, pouring bleach over clothes, smashing walls and furniture with sledgehammers and axes, and ripping an outside stairwell away from one building.

Damage to the apartments was so extensive that the Red Cross offered disaster assistance and temporary shelter to displaced residents -- a service normally provided in the wake of major fires, floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters.22

At Southwest Division the thirty-two terrified captives of the raid were forced to whistle the theme from the 1960s Andy Griffith TV show (apparently the Horst Wessel song of the LAPD) while they ran a gauntlet of cops beating them with fists and long steel flashlights. (At least they did not have to meet Nancy Reagan.) When it was all over, lives and homes were devastated, and the LAPD had two minor drug arrests. Despite allegations in the search warrant, the police found neither wanted gang members nor weapons, just a small quantity of dope belonging to two non-resident teenagers. Moreover for the first time in memory the LAPD blew the cover-up. The cyclone-like destruction at Dalton Street was too extreme to tally with initial police accounts of the incident; the many victims all told the same horror story; and the Dalton Raiders stumbled over their alibi that the damage had been gang-inflicted. With its dirty linen waving in the breeze and the FBI investigating possible civil rights violations, the LAPD initiated disciplinary or criminal action against thirty-eight officers. These included former Southwest Division Captain Thomas Elfmont -- the Lt. Calley of this incident -- who was accused of ordering his raiders 'to 'level" and 'make uninhabitable" the targeted apartments' and Sgt. Charles Spicer who reiterated Elfmont's orders in the field ('This is a Class-A search -- that means carpets up, drywall down').23

But 'physician heal thyself is not Chief Gates's favorite motto. Within months of the Dalton Street raid, the Chief was again blustering away in apparent defense of police brutality. After being called to testify in the case of the Larezes -- a Chicano family beaten by other police raiders -- he told reporters that 'Mr. Larez was lucky to have only his nose broken'. The jurors in the Larez suit were so outraged by this remark that they raised the victims' damages by $200,000, which they ordered Gates to pay out of his own pocket -- an unprecedented attempt to hold the Chief liable for his incitements. (At Mayor Bradley's urging, the City Council paid the fine -- as it will the $3 million in damages for the Dalton Street outrage.)24

In the meantime, as the HAMMER mercilessly pounded away at Southcentral's mean streets, it became increasingly apparent that its principal catch consisted of drunks, delinquent motorists and teenage curfew violators (offenders only by virtue of the selective application of curfews to non-Anglo neighborhoods). By 1990 the combined forces of the LAPD and the Sheriffs (implementing their own street saturation strategy) had picked up as many as 50,000 suspects. Even allowing for a percentage of Latino detainees, this remains an astonishing figure considering there are only 100,000 Black youths in Los Angeles. In some highly touted sweeps, moreover, as many as 90 per cent of detained suspects have been released without charges -- an innocent victim rate that belies LAPD demonology as well as evoking an analogy with inflated VC body counts in Vietnam.25

As we saw in the last chapter, Chief Gates's response to the declining shock value of the HAMMER was to institutionalize the sweeps as semi-permanent community occupations, 'narcotic enforcement zones' acting as the urban equivalents of strategic hamlets. (Actually what the Chief really wanted was to intern gang members in 'abandoned military bases with land mines planted behind barbed wire fences'.) Claiming that the Pico-Union neighborhood had become 'a veritable flea market for drug dealers' the Chief ordered a 27-square-block area sealed off with barricades and police checkpoints in October 1989. The next month, while the Berlin Wall was being spontaneously dismantled, the LAPD extended the barricades ('Operation Cul-de-Sac') to a barrio in the Valley and then to a huge stretch of Central Avenue in Southcentral.26 But the real bite in this new escalation came less from LAPD's visible barriers than from the invisible legal partitioning of the city instigated by Los Angeles's aggressive young city attorney, James Hahn.


The continued protection of gang activity under the guise of upholding our constitution is causing a deadly blight on our city.
City Attorney Hahn27

'Hahn' is a strangely magical name in the flatlands of Southcentral Los Angeles. For nearly forty years, Kenneth Hahn, a white Democrat, has been [278] one of the 'five little kings' on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors thanks to his impregnable support from Black voters. In return, Supervisor Hahn, who has more personally disposable power than any of Los Angeles's Black politicians (including Mayor Bradley), has engraved his name across a series of showpiece government projects in the ghetto, ranging from a fortress shopping mall in Willowbrook (described in the last chapter) to the new General Post Office on Central Avenue. He also receives a lion's share of credit for the integration of the County's 90,000-strong civil service, the major employer in otherwise deindustrialized Black neighborhoods. Perpetually attuned to the complaints of his older, more conservative constituents, he has always been a 'hawk' on the gang question. As far back as 1972 when the first sagging pants and blue bandannas announced the advent of 'Crippin' in ghetto high schools and playgrounds, Hahn was off the mark with a 48-point plan to 'quarantine...juvenile terrorism' indeed, he was one of the first politicians in the 1970s to apply that most loaded of terms to inner-city thirteen-year-olds.28

James Hahn is a chip off the old block who used his father's clout (including Southside patronage) to win the city attorneyship in a bloody battle with a Manatt Phelps protégé from the Westside (no mean feat, as we saw in chapter two). Like his predecessor, the current County District Attorney, Ira Reiner, Hahn is an ambitious, younger Democrat trying to turn the law-and-order tables on older Republicans (like Chief Gates and ex-Chief, now state Senator, Ed Davis) by being an even tougher cop in the courtroom. This is not to say that the younger Hahn is without liberal scruples; in fact, he has compiled an extraordinary record prosecuting slumlords and other vampires of the poor. But since the scalps of gang members, not slumlords, are the current wampum of political fortune, Hahn has determined to make Los Angeles the showpiece of an unprecedented attempt (since emulated nationally by Drug Czar Bennett and HUD Secretary Kemp) to criminalize gang members and their families as a class. If Chief Gates sometimes seems too much like a Barnum playing at Dragnet, with his trick-bag of rock-house raids and mega-sweeps, Jim Hahn is, as they say on the street, 'serious as a heart attack'. Liberal conscience aside, he has probably traveled further than any metropolitan law enforcement official in the country towards establishing the legal infrastructure of an American police state. [280]

Hahn ingeniously reworked his dad's old 'juvenile terrorism quarantine' as the opening gambit in his own war on gangs. In the fall of 1987 he surprised the legal establishment by filing a civil lawsuit against the 'Playboy Gangster Crips -- an unincorporated association'. The Playboy Gangsters, one of the countless neighborhood isotopes of the Crip subculture, were singled out because of their unusual proximity -- in the 26-square-block Cadillac-Corning area, just south of Beverly Hills and east of Beverlywood -- to rich white neighborhoods. An amalgam of gang members from several Westside high schools (Hamilton, University and even Palisades), the Playboy Gangsters moved into the Cadillac-Corning neighborhood around 1981. Originally peddling marijuana, they shifted into the more lucrative rock-cocaine or 'crack' trade as it appeared in 1983. Because of its adjacency to the world of Rodeo Drive, Cadillac Corning is an ideal drive-in drug market, catering to rich white youth and giving the Playboy Gangsters an enviable locational advantage over other Southside gangs.29

No individual was specifically cited in Hahn's suit, only 'Does 1 to 300'. The court was requested to issue a temporary restraining order with twenty-four separate provisions, spelling out a range of activities that would become illegal. These included 'congregating in groups of two or more' 'remaining in public streets for more than five minutes at any time of day or night' and 'having visitors in their homes for less than ten minutes' (an allusion to drug sales). Hahn also demanded the banning of gang colors and the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew for juvenile members.30 Finally he asked for a 'pass law' provision: within the 26 square blocks of Cadillac Corning, any 'Doe' would be subject to arrest unless they could produce a signed letter from a 'lawful property owner or employer' authorizing their presence.

As the ACLU was not slow to point out, Hahn's inversion of the usual corporate immunity, that is, his demand for collective liability for gang offensives, mirrored the reasoning of the contemporary South African court that sentenced the 'sharpeville Six' to death for mere 'membership' in a mob that lynched an informer. Joan Howarth icily observed that the City Attorney's proposed remedies -- a 'dress code' a curfew, contempt citations, and so on -- were 'weak trade-offs' for the suspension of the Constitution. Superior Court Judge Deering, hearing the case, agreed with the ACLU that abatement actions were only constitutional if applied against named and served individuals.32

Although Hahn was upbraided in court, the debate continued in the pages of the Times. The ACLU's new chairperson, Danny Goldberg, stellar rock producer and leading Democratic fund-raiser, accused fellow Democrat Hahn of being a 'headline hunter with simplistic solutions'. The unabashed City Attorney slashed back at the ACLU's 'silent surrender to misplaced notions' about civil liberties of gang members 'in a city under siege'. Maintaining that 'no constitutional rights are absolute' and evoking the precedent of war, Hahn virtually accused the ACLU of being responsible for the perpetuation of gang violence.33

Despite the setbacks in the Playboy Gangster lawsuit, the City Attorney's office redoubled its search for a means to outlaw gang membership. In November 1987 they dusted the cobwebs off California's 1919 Criminal Syndicalism Act to indict Michael 'Peanut' Martin, an eighteen-year-old high-school dropout alleged to be the ringleader of seven self-proclaimed 'working-class Aryan youth' from the San Fernando Valley.

This tiny skinhead malignacy, accused of harassing Latino immigrants, was obviously the legal in locum for gangs in general. The Criminal Syndicalism Act, enacted specially to destroy the IWW and the fledgling Communist Party, is an ancient horror. Last utilized, unsuccessfully against two organizers of the Maoist Progressive Labor Party in the 1960s, most reporters and civil libertarians were surprised that it still remained on the books, much less that any prosecutor would brashly attempt to resuscitate it. In the event, Hahn was predictably stymied by constitutional considerations, and forced to reindict Martin under more prosaic misdemeanor statutes.34

Still, Hahn had made his point. He could now claim that he had exhausted available legal remedies and that only the legislature could rescue Los Angeles from the 'gang siege'. His position was neatly echoed by his predecessor, County D.A. Ira Reiner, another candidate yearning for higher office. While at Hahn's post in 1982, Reiner had anticipated the principle of collective liability by getting the court to order gang members (whether or not they were individually responsible) to remove graffiti or face jail. Now, at a histrionic press conference he announced that he was no longer concerned with the rehabilitation of street criminals but only with 'putting [282] every one of these little murderous hoodlums in jail for as long as possible'. To achieve this objective he promised that his office would abandon plea-bargaining in gang-related cases and instead fight for maximum sentences regardless of extenuations. 'The objective is to use each occasion that a gang member is arrested for a crime, no matter how minor, as a means to remove them from the streets for as long as possible.'35 Together with Hahn he also called for decisive action in Sacramento.

Governor Deukmejian's special state taskforce on gangs and drugs attempted to oblige Hahn and Reiner by proposing legislation to try sixteen-years-olds as adults, impose life sentences in cases involving Uzis and other automatic weapons, and reopen vacant military bases as gang detention centers. State Attorney General John Van de Kamp -- another Los Angeles law-and-order liberal -- called for massively augmented state aid for Los Angeles's gangbusters as well as an 8,000 capacity prison for gang offenders in the Mojave Desert. He also brightened the day for a particular group of ethnic entrepreneurs by announcing that, compared to the Crips and Bloods, 'the Mafia have become the least of our problems'. Meanwhile Los Angeles's new FBI chief Lawrence Lawler, taking over a scandal-ridden regional office, promised that street gangs would be his chief priority and hinted at new applications of the all-encompassing federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which the Feds had already invoked against L.A. Crip 'infiltrators' in Seattle.36

But the new iron heel of the war against the gangs, crafted by Reiner's and Hahn's staffs, and co-sponsored by two L.A. Democrats -- state Senator Alan Robbins from the Valley and Assemblywoman Gwen Moore from Southcentral -- is a state-level 'son of RICO'. Although state Senator Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) warned that the bill 'would have justified the internment of the Japanese in World War Two' the 'street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act of 1988' (STEP) was passed with frenetic bipartisan support from Southern California. In the spirit of the original Playboy Gangster suit, STEP makes membership in a 'criminal gang' a felony. The law allows prosecution of 'any person who actively participates in a criminal street gang with knowledge that its members have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity and who willfully promotes or assists any felonious conduct by members of that gang'. In explaining the implementation of the law, Reiner noted that a gang member would now face three years in prison for loaning a car used in commission of a crime -- 'even if he had not otherwise participated in the act'. What Reiner did not emphasize was that the fine print of the law also provides for the prosecution of parents of gang members who do not exercise 'reasonable care' to prevent their children's criminal activities.37

In Spring of 1989 (Year Two of the HAMMER) Hahn's office tested STEP's 'bad parent' provision with the sensationalized arrest of a 37-year-old Southcentral woman whose 15-year-old son had earlier been arraigned for participation in a gang rape. In an elaborately contrived expose for the press, detectives and city attorneys feigned horror at discovering the Oedipal command post of the gang conspiracy:

Authorities said they were stunned at the pervasive atmosphere of gang activity within the household. 'It looks like the headquarters for the local gang' said Robert Ferber of the city attorney's gang unit. 'There was graffiti all over the walls'. 'I was amazed. I couldn't believe my eyes,' said Southwest LAPD Detective Roy Gonzaque. 'In all my 20 years on the police force I have never seen anything like this. It was obvious that the mother was just as much a part of the problem because she condoned this activity.'

Unsurprisingly anti-gang crusaders avidly latched onto this image of 'Mama Crip' in order to villify inner-city 'welfare queens' supposedly breeding a generation of baby street terrorists. But as Hahn's assistant Robert Ferber meditated on the severity of her penalty ('I certainly don't think she is the type of woman who will benefit from counseling'), and Southwest Division Detective Commander Nick Bakay promised that he would keep arresting the parents of gang members ('as many as necessary'), the contrived portrait of maternal malevolence began to disintegrate. Instead of a 'gang mother' reporters discovered a hard-working single parent of three, coping as best she could with overwhelming problems. They also found that the police investigation into her background was hasty and error-ridden. In their race to apply STEP against ghetto parents, Hahn's office and the LAPD anti-gang unit had only managed to reenact the moral equivalent of the Dalton Street raid against an innocent woman. After smearing her name in the press for weeks, the STEP charges were quietly dropped.39

Although the ACLU temporarily reentered the fray to denounce the use of 'headline justice to whitewash ineffective and constitutionally [284] indefensible laws' City Attorney Hahn was undeterred. While STEP allowed his office to add centuries of additional jail time to sentences, new abatement laws -- patterned after the 1912 Red Light Abatement Act authorized the City Attorney to drain 'cesspools of drug dealing' by suing landlords, evicting tenants and even bulldozing houses suspected of being 'drug nuisances' ('Operation Knockdown'). Patterned after HUD Secretary Kemp's controversial national policy of expelling from public housing the families of those arrested (not necessarily convicted) for drug dealing, these new abatement regulations, acting in concert with STEP and barricaded 'Narcotics Enforcement Zones' imply a 'West Bank' strategy towards the troubled neighborhoods of Southcentral L.A.40 The 'terrorism' metaphor has metastasized as Hahn and Reiner have criminalized successive strata of the community: 'gang members' then 'gang parents' followed by whole 'gang families' 'gang neighborhoods' and perhaps even a 'gang generation'.


I think people believe that the only strategy we have is to put a lot of police officers on the street and harass people and make arrests for inconsequential kinds of things. Well, that's part of the strategy, no question about it.
Chief Gates41

As a result of the war on drugs every non-Anglo teenager in Southern California is now a prisoner of gang paranoia and associated demonology. Vast stretches of the region's sumptuous playgrounds, beaches and entertainment centers have become virtual no-go areas for young Blacks or Chicanos. After the Westwood gang shooting, for example, Don Jackson, an off-duty Black policeman from Hawthorne, precisely in order to make a point about de facto apartheid, led some ghetto kids into the Village. They carefully observed the law, yet, predictably, they were stopped, forced to kiss concrete, and searched. Jackson, despite police identification, was arrested for 'disturbing the peace'. Afterwards at a press conference, Chief Gates excoriated him for 'provocations' and a 'cheap publicity stunt' descriptions more aptly applied to the LAPD.42 Similarly, a few weeks later, a busload of well-dressed Black members of Youth for Christ were [286] humiliatingly surrounded by security guards and frisked for 'drugs and weapons' at the popular Magic Mountain amusement park. Park managers adamantly defended their right to search 'suspicious' (i.e., Black) youth as a matter of policy.43 More recently twenty-four Black and Latino kids out to play baseball at Will Rogers State Park were arrested for violating some white cops' personal Jim Crow law. The Times reported the kids' account of how they 'spent 90 terrifying minutes held face down on the polo field...while a group of LAPD taunted and brutalized them....One officer was quoted as having told them that the scenic park in Pacific Palisades was 'for rich white people' only.' (The NAACP and Mexican American Political Association have jointly filed suit against the LAPD for this incident.)44

As we saw in the last chapter, curfews have become essential weapons in the LAPD's campaign against the subversive crowd. Residential curfews are deployed selectively and almost exclusively against Black and Chicano neighborhoods. As a consequence, thousands of youth in Southcentral acquire minor records for behavior that would be legal or inoffensive on the Westside. During daylight hours, moreover, the post-Bird California Supreme Court has given police carte blanche to stop and search any youthful person for suspicion of truancy. As with the random drunk-driver checkpoints that the Lucas court has also authorized, or the random car weapons searches that the legislature has enacted as part of anti-gang legislation -- the 'probable cause' safeguard against capricious stop-andsearch is rendered practically extinct. Police now have virtually unlimited discretion, day or night, to target 'undesirables' especially youth.

One of the most disturbing instances of such police 'targeting' has been the LAPD Ramparts Division's relentless campaign against Salvadorean youth in the MacArthur Park district just west of Downtown. Community workers in this poor and overcrowded neighborhood, the home of tens of thousands of refugees from US-financed state terrorism in Central America tell biEter tales of police brutaliq. Ramparts cops were particularly incensed by church efforts to work with members of Mara Savatrucha (MS) (liberally translated: 'cool Salvadorean dudes' but also known as 'Crazy Riders'), a vast, loosely organized gang grouping. When the Joffrey Ballet in 1988 offered some free seats to Salvadorean youngsters studying dance at a local church center, Ramparts Division warned the Ballet that the kids were the most 'ruthlessly violent in the city' and that the church was basically a gang hangout. The terrified Ballet withdrew the tickets. Meanwhile, coincident with the HAMMER sweeps in Southcentral, the LAPD's CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) program launched a new offensive to 'decimate' the leadership of MS. Howard Ezell, Western regional commissioner for the INS (whom we shall meet again in the next chapter), assigned eight teams of federal immigration agents to work with the LAPD identifying and deporting gang members. As the leader of the INS agents explained, gang membership, not necessarily criminal activity, was the qualification for deportation. 'If a gang member is out on the street and the police can't make a charge, we will go out and deport them for being here illegally if they fit that criterion.' Fifty-six of the 175 youth deported were returned to El Salvador, to uncertain fates at the hands of the military and death squads.45

But the growing authoritarian reach of police control is nowhere as disturbingly evident as in Los Angeles schools. Another of Chief Gates's publicity-generating 'body count' projects is the so-called 'school Buy' program. As ACLU attorney Joan Howarth describes it, 'up to high school, kids are taught to look on cops as friends; after the eighth grade, 'School Buy' cops are trying to entrap them into drug deals'. Youthful undercover cops, in fact, infiltrate high schools, enticing students to sell them drugs. Howarth particularly denounces 'the exploitation of peer pressure to create narcotic offenses; in many cases the undercover police (male and female) exploit sexuality and attractiveness. For this reason, 'special education' [educationally handicapped] students, approached for possibly the first time in their life by an attractive member of the opposite sex, are especially likely to become entrapped. The program is a complete fraud.' With little impact on the actual volume of drug sales and negligible success in capturing suppliers, the School Buy program is a cheap source of the felony arrests that make the Chief look heroic in the media.46

Thanks partially to such police 'vigilance' juvenile crime in Los Angeles County is increasing at 12 per cent annually. One out of twelve kids in Los Angeles, aged eleven to seventeen, will be arrested, half for serious felonies. For older juveniles tried as adults, moreover, conviction rates have soared ominously over the last decade as prosecutors routinely overcharge suspects, threatening them with long sentences, in order to force them to 'cop pleas' to lesser charges. Public defenders and civil libertarians alike [288] have denounced this practice of railroading thousands of poor and frightened teenagers into undeserved criminal convictions.47

At the same time, the new punitive increments that STEP and federal and state anti-drug laws have added to sentencing expose a terrible class and racial bias. As the Times points out:

Under new federal statutes, defendanls convicted of selling 5 grams or more of crack cocaine, worth perhaps $125, receive a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. However, it takes 500 grams of the powdered drug, nearly $50,000 worth of 'yuppie cocaine' to receive an equivalent sentence. Consequently, someone caught in a drug bust with a relatively small amount of cocaine can receive a sentence that is two to three years longer than a person convicted of selling nearly 100 times that amount.48

A few illustrations of this new, Kafkaesque class justice: in Southcentral L.A. a young Black three-time loser, never charged with violent crime but holding a weapon, was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibity of parole for the possession of 5.5 grams of crack. A 20-year-old Chinese man received two life terms (parole in forty years) for being accessory to the murder of federal agents even though he was not at the scene, did not know that the murders would occur, and was described by the judge as playing 'only a minor role'. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old Baldwin Park Chicano, high on PCP, who ran into the back of a truck and killed his passenger was charged with murder because he was a suspected gang member. Finally an elite LAPD stake-out team the Times had exposed as a virtual police death squad, ambushed four young Latinos who had just robbed a MacDonalds in Sunland with a pellet gun. Three Latinos were killed by the cops, while the fourth, seriously wounded, was charged with murder for the deaths of his companions!49

Processed by such 'justice' (which since 1974 has arrested two-thirds of all younger Black males in California), a flood of captives, four-fifths of whom are substance addicted and less than half of whom have committed violent crimes, overwhelm the state prisons -- 84,000 inmates in a system with room for 48,000. With the prison population expected to continue to soar, as a result of the 'victories' of the war on drugs and gangs, to 145,000 by 1995, California is creating a time-bomb of multiple-Attica potential. Lacking minimal educational, job-training or drug-treatment resources. the [289] prisons of today have all but abandoned the pretense of 'rehabilitation'.50 Some are merely minimum security warehouses, where the inmate populations are turned over to endless television game-show viewing; others, especially designed to accommodate the hardcore gangsters from Los Angeles's ghettoes and barrios, are Orwellian hells.

The ultimate destination for a damned generation is an Antarctica of solitude moored to the picturesque Redwood Coast, just south of the Oregon border. The prison's name 'Pelican Bay' evokes a nature reserve or peaceful sanctuary, but this is only a cruel joke in face of the incredible social isolation and sensory deprivation contained inside. As journalist Miles Corwin describes it:

Pelican Bay is entirely automated and designed so that inmates have virtually no face-to-face contact with guards or other inmates. For twenty-two and a half hours a day, inmates are confined to their windowless cells, built of solid blocks of concrete and stainless steel so that they won't have access to materials they could fashion into weapons. They don't work in prison industries; they don't have access to recreation; they don't mingle with other inmates. They aren't allowed to smoke because matches are considered a security risk.

The justification for this kind of isolation -- 'unprecedented in modern prisons' according to one authority whom Corwin interviewed -- is simply that 'these inmates are the worst of the worst'. As a prison officer elaborates:

Prisons are representative of what's going on in tbe streets....You've got more gangs and violence on the streets, so you've got more gangs and violence in the prisons. You need a place to put these people...that's why a place like Pelican Bay is necessary.


We have to learn to fight Black oppression as much as we fight white oppression.
Earl Caldwell

I challenge you because I love you.
Jesse Jackson52

As the high-tech gulag of Pelican Bay suggests, the spectre of the Black criminal underclass has begun to augment, even replace, the Red Menace [290] as the satanic 'Other' which justifies the trampling of civil liberties. George Bush's notorious 1988 'Willie Horton' television spot, which destroyed Michael Dukakis's commanding lead, has terrified a whole generation of Democrats into believing that their political survival depends on being even more bloodthirsty than Republicans (for instance, witness the role of death row in California's 1990 gubernatorial campaign). In California, Hahn, Reiner and Van de Camp are exemplars of younger Democrats trying to ride the gibbet (or, more literally, the gas chamber) to higher office. Moreover, as we noted earlier, there has been little effective opposition from their left.

In a 1988 interview, Joan Howarth of ACLU complained, more in sadness than bitterness, that

progressives have virtually deserted us on this issue...the Left has been largely shut out of the policy debate which is now framed by the Reaganite Right and its Democratic shadow. There is no progressive agenda on crime, and consequently, no challenging of the socio-economic forces that have produced the burgeoning counterculture of gang membership.53

The LAPD likes to rub the ACLU's face in the new, post-liberal balance of power. In June 1988 the police easily won Police Commission approval for the issuing of flesh-ripping hollow-point ammunition: precisely the same 'dum-dum' bullets banned in warfare by the Geneva Conventions and previously kept out of their hands by ACLU lobbying. At the press conference a gloating LAPD spokesperson told the civil libertarians 'to eat your hearts out'.54

In philosophically justifying the HAMMER, STEP and other encroachments on the Constitution, the gangbusters have had to look no further than Moynihanized recapitulations of traditional white prejudice. 'Family failure' in the ghetto, abetted by indulgent welfarism, the decline of paternal role models, and the flight of the Black middle class, have connived to create a feral population of grave social menace. Thus once-and-future mayoral challenger Yaroslavsky, in his student days McGovern's UCLA organizer, snarls when asked about the 'economic roots of the gang problem' and tells a nasty little story -- of doubtful accuracy -- about a drunken welfare mother in the ghetto abusing police for arresting her gang- [291] member son.55 As head of the Council committee overseeing the police budget, Yaroslavsky has made it clear that gangbusting deserves a blank check. In a city where emergency medical care for the poor has virtually collapsed, where 100,000 sleep without beds, and where infant mortality levels are inching upwards toward third-world levels, Yaroslavsky has put police firepower above all: 'A budget is a statement of priorities and if fighting gang violence in this city is our highest priority, it should be reflected in our budget and it will be at the expense of virtually anything else.'56

In past years this pitiless approach to juvenile crime might simply have been dismissed as the venom of white backlash, racism in its law-and-order guise. But this time there is an unprecedented 'Black-lash' as well. The qualitatively new and disturbing dimension of the war on the underclass is the swelling support of Black leadership for the approaches of Gates, Hahn and Reiner. Thus the NAACP endorsed Hahn's attempt to impose martial law on the Playboy Gangsters, while the influential South Central Organizing Committee (SCOC) -- the church-supported local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) -- has been a major voice calling for greater police deployment against street youth.57 Even Maxine Waters, a respected legislator from Watts-Willowbrook and co-chair of the California Rainbow Coalition, has reluctantly endorsed police sweeps and 'street terrorism' laws.

The trend is national. Although Jesse Jackson continues to campaign for the rescue of ghetto youth, including hardcore gang members, others argue that vigilantism has become the order of the day. In an essay written from Oakland 'ground zero' the novelist Ishmael Reed predicts that the time is fast approaching when the Black working class -- 'people who've put in time at stupid dull jobs all their lives and suffered all manner of degradation so that their children might become achievers' -- will have to take the offensive against 'Black terrorists...the brutal crack fascists'. Comparing daily existence in East Oakland or Watts to the oppression in Haiti under the Tontons Macoutes, Reed scorns white liberals from the hills 'who have "Out of Nicaragua" bumper stickers on their Volvos but are perfectly willing to tolerate drug fascists who prey upon the decent citizens of Oakland'.58

[292] In order to save Black America, Reed canvasses the idea of a curfew for 18-to-24-year-olds and a much sterner community invigilation of youth. But Harry Edwards, organizer of the famous Black Power protests at the 1968 Olympics and former Minister of Propaganda for the Black Panther Party, doubts the efficacy of anything short of the permanent removal of a large stratum of youth from the streets. Now a professor of sociology at U.C. Berkeley and a highly paid consultant to professional sports, Edwards gave a chilling account of his views to an interviewer from a San Francisco magazine. When asked how he would 'turn around' a 13-year-old kid selling crack in the streets, he replied:

Edwards: The reality is, you can't.

S.F. Focus: So then what?

Edwards: You gotta realize that they're not gonna make it. The cities, the culture and Black people in particular have to begin to move to get that garbage off the streets.

S.F. Focus: How?

Edwards: It means we have to realize that there are criminals among us and we have to take a very hard line against them, if we're to preserve our next generation and future generations. Even if they are our children.

S.F. Focus: So what do you do if you~re a parent and you discover your 13-year-old kid is dealing crack?

Edwards: Turn him in, lock him up. Get rid of him. Lock him up for a /on~,a time. As long as the law will allow, and try to make it as long as possible. I'm for locking 'em up, gettin em off the street, put 'em behind bars.59

Black middle-class revulsion against youth criminality -- indeed the perception that dealers and gangs threaten the very integrity of Black culture -- is thus translated, through such patriarchal bluster, into support for the exterminist rhetoric of the gangbusters. It is a dismal sign of the times that once fiery nationalist intellectuals, like Reed and Edwards, can openly float the idea that a 'sacriflce' or 'triage' of criminalized ghetto youth (i.e., 'the garbage') is the only alternative to the dissolution of a community fabric heroically built up over generations of resistance to racist white America. How is it that inter-generational relations within the Black community have suddenly grown so grimly foreboding?


The drug-taking, apathetic young Black people we bemoan today are the result of our failure to protect and cherish the Black Panthers during the Sixties.
Sonya Sanchez60

It is time to meet L.A.'s 'Viet Cong'. Although the study of barrio gangs is a vast cottage industry, dating back to Emory Bogardus's 1926 monograph, inspired by the Chicago school, The Ciy Boy and His Problems, almost nothing has been written about the history of Southcentral L.A.'s sociologically distinct gang culture. The earliest, repeated references to a 'gang problem' in the Black community press, moreover, deal with gangs of white youth who terrorized Blacks residents along the frontiers of the southward-expanding Central Avenue ghetto (see chapter three). Indeed, from these newspaper accounts and the recollections of oldtimers, it seems probable that the first generation of Black street gangs emerged as a defensive response to white violence in the schools and streets during the late 1940s. The Eagle, for example, records 'racial gang wars' at Manual Arts High in 1946, Canoga Park High (in the Valley) in 1947, and John Adams High in 1949, while Blacks at Fremont High were continuously assaulted throughout 1946 and 1947. Possibly as a result of their origin in these school integration/transition battles, Black gangs, until the 1970s, tended to be predominantly defined by school-based turfs rather than by the microscopically drawn neighborhood territorialities of Chicano gangs.61

Aside from defending Black teenagers from racist attacks (which continued through the 1950s under the aegis of such white gangs as the 'spookhunters'), the early Southcentral gangs -- the Businessmen, Slausons, Gladiators, Farmers, Parks, Outlaws, Watts, Boot Hill, Rebel Rousers, Roman Twenties, and so forth -- were also the architects of social space in new and usually hostile settings. As tens of thousands of 1940s and 1950s Black immigrants crammed into the overcrowded, absentee-landlord-dominated neighborhoods of the ghetto's 'Eastside' low-rider gangs offered 'cool worlds' of urban socialization for poor young newcomers from rural Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Meanwhile, on the other side of Main Street, more affluent Black youngsters from the 'Westside' bungalow belt created a status-oriented [294] simulacrum of the ubiquitous white 'car club' subculture of Los Angeles in the 19 50s. As J.K. Obatala would recall, 'besides the territorial factor, there was an element of class warfare in the 1950s':

Members of gangs such as the Flips and the Slausons were Westsiders whose families usually had a little more money and who considered themselves more socially sophisticated than their Eastside counterparts. The Eastsiders, in turn, IQoked upon their rivals to the West as snobs and sometimes deliberately ventured into their sphere of influence to break up parties or other social events.62

While 'rumblin'' (usually non-lethally) along this East-West socioeconomic divide, or sometimes simply in extension of intermural athletic rivalries, the Black gangs of the 1950s also had to confront the implacable (often lethal) racism of Chief Parker's LAPD. In the days when the young Daryl Gates was driver to the great Chief, the policing of the ghetto was becoming simultaneously less corrupt but more militarized and brutal. Under previous police chiefs, for example, Central Avenue's boisterous, interracial night scene had simply been shaken down for tribute; under Parker -- a puritanical crusader against 'race mixing' -- nightclubs and juke joints were raided and shuttered. In 1954 John Dolphin, owner of Los Angeles's premier R&B record store near the corner of Vernon and Central, organized a protest of 150 Black business people against an ongoing 'campaign of intimidation and terror' directed at interracial trade. According to Dolphin, Newton Division police had gone so far as to blockade his store, turning away all white customers and warning them that 'it was too dangerous to hang around Black neighborhoods'.63

After smashing interracial 'vice' on Central Avenue, Chief Parker launched his own 'all-out war on narcotics' in Southcentral and East L.A., alleging that heroin and marijuana were being exported to white neighborhoods. He charged in the press that 'the Communists furthered the heroin and marijuana trade, because drug use sped the moral degeneration of America'. Prefiguring Gates's call years later for the invasion of Colombia, Parker demanded the closing of the Mexican border, while his principal newspaper supporter, the Herald-Express, called for the execution of drug dealers.64

Chief Parker also did his bit to support the Times's crusade against 'socialistic' public housing (see chapter two) by using phoney crime statistics [295] to paint lurid images of 'jungle life' in the projects -- a political manipulation of police data which some critics feel has continued through the present. Like his protege-successors, Chief Parker invoked racialized crime scares to justify his tireless accumulation of power. As one of his retiring subordinates observed in 1981, Parker constantly and self-servingly projected the specter of a vast criminal reservoir in Southcentral L.A. ('all Blacks as bad guys'), held in check by an outnumbered but heroically staunch 'Blue line'. Accordingly, any diminution of the police budget or questioning of Parker's authority would weaken the dike and release a Black crime deluge on peaceful white neighborhoods.65 Consider, for example, the Chief's extraordinary testimony before the US Commission on Civil Rights in early 1960:

A belligerent Parker characterized the LAPD as the real 'embattled minority' and argued that the tensions between L.A.'s minority communities and the cops had simply to do with the fact that Blacks and Latinos were statistically many times more likely than Whites to commit crimes. Indeed Parker assured the Commission that the 'established [read Whitel community thinks cops aren't hard enough on Black vice'. Parker sparked a 500-strong protest rally in East Los Angeles when he went on to offer his insight into the high crime rate in the barrios, explaining that the people who lived there were only one step removed from 'the wild tribes of Mexico'.66

Since 'wild tribes' and gang perils were its golden geese, it is not surprising that Parker's LAPD looked upon the 'rehabilitation' of gang youth in much the same way as the arms industry regarded peace-mongering or disarmament treaties. Vehemently opposed to the extension of constitutional rights to juveniles and loathing 'social workers' Chief Parker, a strict Victorian, 'launched a concerted attack on the Group Guidance Unit of the Probation Department' a small program that had emerged out of the so-called 'Zoot Suit Riots' of 1943. The original sin of Group Guidance, in the Chief's opinion, was that they 'gave status to gang activity' by treating gang members as socially transformable individuals. Like the contemporary rhetoric of the HAMMER or 'Black-Lash' the LAPD in the 1950s and early 1960s dichotomized youth offenders into two groups. On one hand, were mere 'delinquents' (mainly white youth) susceptible to the shock treatment of juvenile hall; on the other hand, were 'juvenile criminals' (mainly Black [296] and Chicano) -- miniature versions of J. Edgar Hoover's 'mad dogs' destined to spend their lives within the state prison system. Essential to the LAPD worldview was the assertion that ghetto gang youth were composed of the latter: a residuum of 'hardcore' unrehabilitable criminality. Moreover, as Black nationalist groups, like the Muslims, began to appear in the ghetto in the late 1950s, Parker, like Hoover, began to see the gang problem and 'militant threat' as forming a single, overarching structure of Black menace.67

The LAPD's own abuses, in fact, were a self-fulfilling prophecy, radicalizing gang subculture in Southcentral. After the LAPD's unprovoked attack on a Nation of Islam Mosque in April 1962, which left one Muslim killed and six wounded, a community uprising against Parker's 'army of occupation' became envisioned as justified and virtually inevitable. Thus in May 1964 Howard Jewel memoed his boss, California Attorney General Stanley Mosk, that 'soon the "long, hot summer" will be upon us. The evidence from L.A. is ominous'. Jewell blamed Chief Parker for inciting racial polarization and predicted widespread violence.68

At the same time the Black version of the Southern California Dream, which had lured hundreds of thousands of hopeful immigrants from the Southwest, was collapsing. Excluded from lucrative construction and aerospace jobs, Black youth experienced the 1959-65 period -- the white kids' 'endless summer' -- as a winter of discontent. The absolute income gap between Black and white Angelenos dramatically widened. Median incomes in Southcentral L.A. declined by almost a tenth, and Black unemployment skyrocketed from 12 per cent to 20 per cent (30 per cent in Watts). Despite deceptive palm-lined streets and cute bungalow exteriors, the housing stock of Southcentral was dilapidated: the 'largest blighted area of any US city' according to the Regional Planning Commission.69 But every attempt by civil rights groups to expand job or housing opportunities for Blacks was countered by fierce white resistance, culminating in the 75 per cent white vote in 1964 (Proposition 14) to repeal the Rumford Fair Housing Act.

Yet, unlike today's social polarization, this was also the heroic age of the Civil Rights Movement, of epic debates about strategies of liberation. Southcentral gang youth, coming under the influence of the Muslims and the long-distance charisma of Malcolm X, began to reflect the generational awakening of Black Power. As Obatala describes the 'New Breed' of the 1960s, 'their perceptions were changing: those who formerly had seen things in terms of East and West were now beginning to see many of the same things in Black and White'. As the gangs began to become politicized, they became 'al fresco churches whose ministers brought the gospel [Black power] out into the streets'.70

Veteran civil rights activists can recall one memorable instance, during a protest at a local whites-only drive-in restaurant, when the timely arrival of Black gang members saved them from a mauling by white hotrodders. The gang was the legendary Slausons, based in the Fremont High area, and~ they became a crucial social base for the rise of the local Black Liberation ! movement. The turning-point, of course, was the festival of the oppressed in August 1965 that the Black community called a rebellion and the whit~; media a riot. Although the 'riot commission' headed by old-guardJ Republicans John McCone and Asa Call supported Chief Parker's so-called 'riff-raff theory' that the August events were the work of a small criminal minority, subsequent research, using the McCone Commission's own data, proved that up to 75,000 people took part in the uprising, mostly from the stolid Black working class.71 For gang members it was 'The Last Great Rumble' as formerly hostile groups forgot old grudges and cheered each other on against the hated LAPD and the National Guard. Conot cites examples of old enemies, like the Slausons and the Gladiators (from the 54th Street area), flashing smiles and high signs as they broke through Parker's invincible 'blue line'.72

This ecumenical movement of the streets and 'hoods lasted for three or four years. Community workers, and even the LAPD themselves, were astonished by the virtual cessation of gang hostilities as the gang leadership joined the Revolution.73 Two leading Slausons, Alprentice 'Bunchy' Carter (a famous 'warlord') and Jon Huggins became the local organizers of the Black Panther Party, while a third, Brother Crook (aka Ron Wilkins) created the Community Alert Patrol to monitor police abuse. Meanwhile an old Watts gang hangout near Jordan Downs, the 'parking lot' became a recruiting center for the 'sons of Watts' who organized and guarded the annual Watts Festival.74

It is not really surprising, therefore, that in the late 1960s the doo-ragged, hardcore street brothers and sisters, who for an extraordinary week in 1965 had actually driven the police out of the ghetto, were visualized by [298] Black Power theorists as the strategic reserve of Black Liberation, if not its vanguard. (A similar fantasy of a Warriors-like unification of the gangs was popular amongst sections of the Chicano Left.) There was a potent moment in this period, around 196~9, when the Panthers -- their following soaring in the streets and high schools -- looked as if they might become the ultimate revolutionary gang. Teenagers, who today flock to hear Eazy-E rap, 'It ain't about color, it's about the color of money. I love that green'75 -- then filled the Sports Arena to listen to Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown, Bobby Seale and James Forman adumbrate the unity program of SNCC and the Panthers. The Black Congress and the People's Tribunal (convened to try the LAPD for 'the murder of Gregory Clark') were other expressions of the same aspiration for unity and militancy.

But the combined efforts of the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program and the LAPD's Public Disorder Intelligence Division (a super-Red Squad that until 1982 maintained surveillance on every suspicious group from the Panthers to the National Council of Churches) were concentrated upon destroying Los Angeles's Black Power vanguards. The February 1969 murders of Panther leaders Carter and Huggins on the UCLA campus by members of a rival nationalist group (which Panther veterans still insist was actually police-instigated) was followed a year later by the debut of LAPD's SWAT team in a day-long siege of the Panthers' Southcentral headquarters. Although a general massacre of the Panther cadre was narrowly averted by an angry community outpouring into the streets, the Party was effectively destroyed.

As even the Times recognized, the decimation of the Panthers led directly to a recrudescence of gangs in the early 1970s.76 'Crippin'' the extraordinary new gang phenomenon, was a bastard offspring of the Panthers' former charisma, filling the void left by the LAPD SWAT teams. There are various legends about the original Crips, but they agree on certain particulars. As Donald Bakeer, a teacher at Manual Arts High, explains in his self-published novel about the Crips, the first 'set' was incubated in the social wasteland created by the clearances for the Century Freeway -- a traumatic removal of housing and destruction of neighborhood ties that was the equivalent of a natural disaster. His protagonist, a second-generation Crip, boasts to his 'homeboys': 'My daddy was a member of the original 107 Hoover Crip Gang, the original Crips in Los Angeles, O.G. [original gangster] to the max'.77 Secondly, as journalist Bob Baker has determined, the real 'O.G.' number one of the 107 Hoovers (who split away from an older gang called the Avenues) was a young man powerfully influenced by the Panthers in their late sixties heyday:

He was Raymond Washington, a Fremont High School student who had been too young to be a Black Panther but had soaked up some of the Panther rhetoric about community comrol of neighborhoods. After Washington was kicked out of Fremont, he wound up at Washington High, and something began to jell in the neighborhood where he lived, around 107th and Hoover streets.78

Although it is usually surmised that the name Crip is derived from the 107 Hoovers' 'crippled' style of walking, Bakeer was told by one 'O.G.' that it originally stood for 'Continuous Revolution in Progress'.79 However apocryphal this translation may be, it best describes the phenomenal spread of Crip sets across the ghetto between 1970 and 1972. A 1972 gang map (see p. 301 ), released by the LAPD's 77th Street Division, shows a quiltwork of blue-ragged Crips, both Eastside and Westside, as well as miscellany of other gangs, some descended from the pre-Watts generation.80 Under incessant Crip pressure, these independent gangs -- the Brims, Bounty Hunters, Denver Lanes, Athens Park Gang, the Bishops, and, especially, the powerful Pirus -- federated as the red-hankerchiefed Bloods. Particularly strong in Black communities peripheral to the Southcentral core, like Compton, Pacoima, Pasadena and Pomona, the Bloods have been primarily a defensive reaction-formation to the aggressive emergence of the Crips.81

It needs to be emphasized that this was not merely a gang revival, but a radical permutation of Black gang culture. The Crips, however perversely, inherited the Panther aura of fearlessness and transmitted the ideology of armed vanguardism (shorn of its program). In some instances, Crip insignia continued to denote Black Power, as during the Monrovia riots in 1972 or the L.A. Schools bussing crisis of 1977-9.82 But too often Crippin' came to represent an escalation of intra-ghetto violence to Clockwork Orange levels (murder as a status symbol, and so on) that was unknown in the days of the Slausons and anathema to everything that the Panthers had stood for.

Moreover the Crips blended a penchant for ultra-violence with an overweening ambition to dominate the entire ghetto. Although, as Bakeer [300] subtly sketches in his novel, Eastside versus Westside tensions persist, the Crips, as the Panthers before them, attempted to hegemonize an entire generation. In this regard, they achieved, like the contemporary 'Black PStone Nation' in Chicago, a 'managerial revolution' in gang organization. If they began as a teenage substitute for the fallen Panthers, they evolved through the 1970s into a hybrid of teen cult and proto-Mafia. At a time when economic opportunity was draining away from Southcentral Los Angeles, the Crips were becoming the power resource of last resort for thousands of abandoned youth.


Gangs are never goin' to die out. You all goin' to get us jobs?
16-year-old Grape Street Crip83

What would the Crips and Bloods say about the carnage if they could talk? It is, of course, a tactical absolute of 'anti-terrorism' -- whether practiced in Belfast, Jerusalem or Los Angeles -- to deny terrorism a public voice. Although terrorism is always portrayed precisely as inarticulate malevolence, authorities expend enormous energy to protect us from its 'ravings' even at the cost of censorship and restriction of free speech. Thus the LAPD has vehemently (and usually successfully) opposed attempts by social workers and community organizers to allow gang members to tell 'their side of the story'.

A major exception was in December 1972, just as Cripmania was first sweeping Southside schools in an epidemic of gang shootings and street fights. The Human Relations Conference, against the advice of the police, gave a platform to sixty Black gang leaders to present their grievances. To the astonishment of officials present, the 'mad dogs' outlined an eloquent and coherent set of demands: jobs, housing, better schools, recreation facilities and community control of local institutions.84 It was a bravura demonstration that gang youth, however trapped in their own delusionary spirals of vendetta and self-destruction, clearly understood that they were the children of deferred dreams and defeated equality. Moreover as 'hardcore' Black and Chicano gang leaders have always affirmed, in the handful [302] of other instances over the last eighteen years when they have been allowed to speak, decent jobs are the price for negotiating a humane end to drugdealing and gang violence.85

So, what has happened to the jobs? It is necessary to recall that the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s was sustained by the real promise of reformism. While the Panthers were mesmerizing campuses, civil rights politics gained new momentum with the rise of the Bradley coalition of Blacks, Jews and Liberals. Moreover in the superheated summit of the Vietnam boom, young Black men at last began to find their way, in some substantial number, into factory and transportation jobs, while Black women thronged into the lower levels of the pink-collar workforce. And, for teenagers and the younger unemployed, the federal government supplied a seasonal quota of temporary 'weed-pulling' jobs and bogus training schemes to cool out the streets during the long summers.

But the illusion of economic progress was shortlived. By 1985 -- the tenth anniversary of the Watts Rebellion and year two of the Bradley eraa special report by the Times found that the 'the Black ghetto is not a viable community...it is slowly dying'. In the face of double-digit unemployment (1975 was a depression year for Southland Blacks), overcrowded schools, high prices, and deteriorating housing, 'the fighting mood of the 1960s has been replaced by a sick apathy or angry frustration'. With rebellion deterred by the paramilitarization of the police and the destruction of the community's radical fringe, Times writer lohn Kendall described despair recycled as gang violence and Black-on-Black crime.86

Seen from a perspective fifteen years further on, it is clear that the Times, and other contemporary observers, did not fully appreciate the complexity of what was happening in Southcentral Los Angeles. Although the image of overall community demoralization was accurate enough, a sizeable minority was actually experiencing moderate upward mobility, while the condition of the majority was steadily worsening. In simplified terms, Los Angeles's Black community became more internally polarized as public-sector craftworkers, clericals and professionals successfully entrenched themselves within city, county and federal bureaucracies, while the semi-skilled working class in the private sector was decimated by the dual impact of job suburbanization and economic internationalization.

[304] Paradoxically it may be equally true that Black political leadership in Los Angeles County has sponsored significant economic advance and contributed to the community's benign neglect at the same time. Critics who accuse the Bradley administration of 'killing Southcentral L.A.' usually ignore its achievements in integrating the public workforce. It has been a dynamic Black public-sector job base (together with smaller-scale Black professional advances in the aerospace, flnancial and entertainment industries) that is responsible for the prosperity visible on the Black 'new Westside': the nouveaux riches hilltops of Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills, and the tidy tractlands of suburban Inglewood and Carson.

At the same time, communiy economic development has been a total failure. As we have seen, the Bradley administration chose to accommodate the redevelopment agenda of the Central City Association, not the NAACP or the Mexican-American Political Association. Working-class Blacks in the flatlands -- where nearly 40 per cent of families live below the poverty line -- have faced relentless economic decline. While city resources (to the tune of $2 billion) have been absorbed in financing the corporate renaissance of Downtown, Southcentral L.A. has been markedly disadvantaged even in receipt of anti-poverty assistance, 'coming in far behind West Los Angeles and the Valley in access to vital human services and job-training funds'.87 Black small businesses have withered for lack of credit or attention from the city, leaving behind only liquor stores and churches.

Most tragically, the unionized branch-plant economy toward which workingclass Blacks (and Chicanos) had always looked for decent jobs collapsed. As the Los Angeles economy in the 1970s was 'unplugged' from the American industrial heartland and rewired to East Asia, non-Anglo workers have borne the brunt of adaptation and sacrifice. The 1978-82 wave of factory closings in the wake of Japanese import penetration and recession, which shuttered ten of the twelve largest non-aerospace plants in Southern California and displaced 75,000 blue-collar workers, erased the ephemeral gains won by blue-collar Blacks between 1965 and 197 5. Where local warehouses and factories did not succumb to Asian competition, they fled instead to new industrial parks in the South Bay, northern Orange County or the Inland Empire -- 321 firms since 1971.88 An investigating committee of the California Legislature in 1982 confirmed the resulting economic destruction in Southcentral neighborhoods: unemployment [305] rising by nearly 50 per cent since the early 1970s while community purchasing power fell by a third.89

If Eastside manufacturing employment made a spectacular recovery in the 1980s, it offered little opportunity for Blacks, as the new industry overwhelmingly consisted of minimum-wage sweatshops, super-exploiting immigrant Latino labor in the production of furniture or non-durables like clothes and toys. (Borrowing the terminology of Alain Lipietz, we might say that. a 'Bloody Taylorism' now operates within the ruined shell of 'Fordism'.)90 This extinction of industrial job opportunities has had profound gender as well as socioeconomic ramifications for the Black labor force. Young Black women have been partially able to compensate for community deindustrialization by shifting into lower-level informationprocessing jobs. Young Black working-class men, on the other hand, have seen their labor-market options (apart from military service) virtually collapse as the factory and truckdriving jobs that gave their fathers and older brothers a modicum of dignity have either been replaced by imports, or relocated to white areas far out on the galactic spiral-arms of the L.A. megalopolis -- fifty to eighty miles away in San Bernardino or Riverside counties.

Equally, young Blacks have been largely excluded from the boom in suburban service employment. As we saw in chapter three, it is a stunning fact -- emblematic of institutional racism on a far more rampant scale than usually admitted these days -- that most of California's 1980s job and residential growth poles -- southern Orange County, eastern Ventura County, northern San Diego County, Contra Costa County, and so on have Black populations of 1 per cent or less. At the same time, young Blacks willing to compete for more centrally located, menial service jobs find themselves in a losing competition with new immigrants, not least because of clear employer opinions about labor 'docility'. As a result, unemployment amongst Black youth in Los Angeles County -- despite unbroken regional growth and a new explosion of conspicuous consumption remained at a staggering 45 per cent through the late 1980s.9' A 1985 survey of public housing projects in the ghetto discovered that there were only 120 employed breadwinners out of 1,060 households in Nickerson Gardens, 70 out of 400 at Pueblo del Rio, and 100 out of 700 at Jordan Downs.92 The scale of pent-up demand for decent manual employment [306] was also vividly demonstrated a few years ago when ffy thousand predominantly Black and Chicano youth lined up for miles to apply for a few openings on the unionized longshore in San Pedro.

This deterioration in the labor-market position of young Black men is a major reason why the counter-economy of drug dealing and youth crime has burgeoned. But it is not the whole story. Correlated to the economic peripheralization of working-class Blacks has been the dramatic juvenatlon af povery amongst all inner-city ethnic groups. Statewide, the percentage of children in poverty has doubled (from 11 per cent to 23 per cent) over the last generation. In Los Angeles County during the 1980s, a chilling 40 per cent of children either lived below, or hovered just above, the official poverty line. The poorest areas in the County, moreover, are invariably the youngest: of sixty-six census tracts (in 1980) with median family incomes under $10,000, over 70 per cent had a median age of only 20-24 years (the rest, 25-29).93 As the political muscle of affluent homeowners continues to ensure residential segregation and the redistribution of tax resources upwards, inner-city youth have been the victims of a conscious policy of social disinvestment. The tacit expendability of Black and brown youth in the 'city of the angels' can be directly measured by the steady drainage of resources -- with minimum outcry from elected officials -- from the programs that serve the most urgent needs.

Most telling, perhaps, have been the successive attacks on youth employment schemes, beginning with the Nixon administration's decision, echoed by then Governor Reagan, to roll back Great Society community activism and redirect urban aid from the cities to the suburbs. The dismantling of the Neighborhood Youth Corps, followed under Reagan by the termination of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and the evisceration of the Jobs Corps, were the landmarks in this retreat from the inner city. In Los Angeles the major, current source of public youth employment is the Los Angeles Summer Job Program -- a typical 'fire insurance' scheme that is a pale shadow of its abolished federal predecessors. Ironically, at the very moment in 1987-8 when the klieg-light scrutiny of Hollywood and all the media was focused on illicit youth employment, the Summer Job Program was cut back by the City Council.94

Job alternatives for gang members have been almost nonexistent, despite widespread recognition that jobs are more potent deterrents to [307] youth crime than STEP laws or long penitentiary sentences. As Charles Norman, the veteran director of Youth Gang Services, observed in 1981: 'You could pull 80 per cent of gang members, seventeen years old or younger, out of gangs, if you had jobs, job training and social alternatives.'95 State Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti, the top Democrat from Hollywood, acknowledged eight years later that 'Proposition 13 had ripped inner-city neighborhoods apart' preventing Norman's strategic expenditures on gang prevention.96 Finally, as the LAPD's budget crept above $400 million in 1988, the City Council begrudgingly approved a $500,000 pilot program to create one hundred jobs for 'high-risk' youth. In the vast escalation of hostilities since the mid 1980s, this pathetic program is the only 'carrot' that the City has actually offered to its estimated 50,000 gang youth.97

The school system, meanwhile, has been travelling backwards at high speed. At the state level, California's celebrated educational system has been in steep decline, with per capita student expenditure falling from ninth to thirty-third place, or merely a third of the per capita level of New York. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest serving 600,000 students, has classrooms more crowded than Mississippi's and a soaring dropout rate of 30-50 per cent in its inner-city high schools. The term 'Unified' is a misnomer, as for many years the District has operated de facto separate systems for Blacks, Latinos and whites. One result is that Black males from Southcentral are now three times more likely to end up in prison than at the University of California. As the NAACP has charged in a major lawsuit, segregation remains rampant and school quality is directly reflective of the socioeconomic levels of neighborhoods. Moreover, as NAACP attorney Joseph Duff has explained, racial isolation in schools has been ramified by historic rental discrimination against farnilies with children:

Certain areas of the city with high-density, low-cost apartments and older, large single-family homes have become veritable 'children's ghettoes'. Public schools have been burdened by the concentration of school-age children in these family areas. The racial isolation has assumed an overlay of class isolation.98

Ill served by an overburdened and separate-but-unequal school system, lowincome youth fare even worse after school. In Los Angeles County there are [308] an estimated 250,000 to 350,000 'latch-key' kids between the ages of five and fourteen who have no adult supervision between the final school bell and their parents' return from work. In the meantime the Bradley administration, applying triage to city programs in the wake of fiscal austerity, has virtually abandoned public recreation. In 1987 it allocated a paltry $30,000 in recreational equipment for one hundred and fifty centers serving hundreds of thousands of poor children. It has also adopted the principle of apportioning its reduced park budget through a formula based on park size, while encouraging parks to operate as 'businesses' based on user fees. Since the wealthy areas of the city have disproportionate shares of park area and fee-generating facilities, this has entailed a regressive redistribution of park resources. The result is 'recreational apartheid' and a calamitous deterioration of public space in the inner city as parks become increasingly run down, unsupervised and dangerous.99

There has been desultory political mobilization against the hollowing out of the economic and social infrastructures of Southcentral or the pauperization of a generation of inner-city youth. Of the leadership generation of the Watts Rebellion only a handful have continued to raise hell about the fate of the community. Thus Assemblymember Maxine Waters and Watts Labor Action leader Ted Watkins did pressure the legislature to finally hold hearings on local plant closures and economic distress (no comparable City Council initiative was taken). Despite a harrowing accumulation of testimony, the legislature, so keen to succor law enforcement, did nothing to address the economic decline that was obviously fueling crime rates.

Bolder action has been advocated by the surviving cadre of Los Angeles's 1960s Black Power movement, particularly Michael Zinzun of the Committee Against Police Abuse and Anthony Thigpen of Jobs with Peace. But their dogged attempts to build precinct-level organization in the community and to develop a grassroots agenda of 'critical needs' have been repeatedly sabotaged by various power structures, including ostensibly 'liberal' Democrats. Thus the Jobs with Peace campaign for a citywide assessment of the impact of military spending on local communities was countered by a vicious propaganda barrage from the political consultants to the Westside 'Berman-Waxman-Levine' machine. Zinzun's efforts, meanwhile, to expose police brutality led to a savage, unprovoked beating by Pasadena police and the loss of an eye. It is no criticism of the courageous [309] dedication of these inner-city organizers to point out the David and Goliath character of their struggle. Unlike Chicago in 1986, where economic devastation in the ghetto could be laid neatly at the door of white political supremacy, in Los Angeles the Bradley regime, with its inner circle of Southside ministers and cronies, has been a powerful deterrent to the coalescence of Black protest or electoral insurgency.

Without the mobilized counterweight of angry protest, Southcentral L.A. has been betrayed by virtually every level of government. In particular, the deafening public silence about youth unemployment and the juvenation of poverty has left many thousands of young street people with little alternative but to enlist in the crypto-Keynesian youth employment program operated by the cocaine cartels. Revisiting Watts nearly a generation after a famous pioneering study of its problems, UCLA industrial relations economist Paul Bullock discovered that the worsening conditions described by the Times's 'Watts: 10 Years Later' team in 1975 had deteriorated still further, and that endemic unemployment was at the core of the community's despair. Bullock observed that the last rational option open to Watts youth -- at least in the neoclassical sense of utility-maximizing economic behavior -- was to sell drugs.100


What's right? If you want something, you have the right to take it. If you want to do something, you have the right to do it.
Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero101

Since the late 1970s, every major sector of the Southern California economy, from tourism to apparel, has restructured around the increasing role of foreign trade and offshore investment. Southcentral L.A., as we have indicated, has been the main loser in this transformation, since Asian imports have closed factories without creating compensatory economic opportunitieS for local residents. The specific genius of the Crips has been their ability to insert themselves into a leading circuit of international trade. Through 'crack' they have discovered a vocation for the ghetto in L.A.'s new 'world city' economy. [310]

Peddling the imported, high-profit rock stuffto a bipolar market of final consumers, including rich Westsiders as well as poor street people, the Crips have become as much lumpen capitalists as outlaw proletarians. If this has only underwritten their viciousness with a new competitive imperative, it has added to their charisma the weight of gold-braided neck chains and showy rings. In an age of narco-imperialism they have become modern analogues to the 'gunpowder states' of West Africa, those selfish, rogue chieftaincies who were middlemen in the eighteenth-century slave trade, prospering while the rest of Africa bled. The Latino Eastside gangs, by contrast, are still trying to catch up. Dealing largely in homegrown drugs, like PCP, amphetamines and marijuana, with relatively low turnover values in a market consisting almost entirely of other poor teenagers, they are unable to accumulate the fineries or weaponry of the Crips. They have yet to effectively join the world market.

The contemporary cocaine trade is a stunning example of what some political economists (after the MIT duo of Sabel and Piore) are now calling 'flexible accumulation' on a hemispheric scale. The rules of the game are to combine maximum financial control with flexible and interchangeable deployment of producers and sellers across variable national landscapes. At the primary producer end, of course, coca has been the major economic adaptation of the Andean economies to the bank-imposed 'debt depression' of the 1980s. Tens of thousands of peasants have migrated to 'coke rush' frontiers like the famous Huallaga Valley of Peru, where they increasingly enjoy the protection of the 'Inca-Maoists' of Sendero Luminoso against the Green Berets and the Peruvian Army. In the late 1980s, the Colombian overlords tried to ensure the continuity of their supply, as well as their ability to impose a buyer's price on peasant producers, by opening their own auxiliary coca plantations using wage labor. Like oil production, however, the strategic instance is the refining process, centralized in Colombian laboratories under the personal supervision of the Medellin Cartel (or its Cali-based rival).

In popular imagination the Medellin Cartel has replaced the Mafia as the symbol of a super-criminal conspiracy of almost occult power -- indeed, Bush and Bennett often talk as if America is fighting a 'war of the worlds' against extra-terrestrial invaders. The reality, of course, has always been more prosaic. Washington wages war on the same invisible hand that it [311] otherwise deifies. As Fortune pointed out a few years back, the Medellin group have always been distinguished by their 'businesslike mentality' and their success 'in turning cocaine trafflcking into a well-managed multinational industry'.102 Eric Hobsbawm, an aficionado of bandits and imperialists, made the same point several years ago in a review:

Left to themselves and the principles of Adam Smith, the consortia of Medellin investors would no more see themselves as criminals than did the Dutch or English venturers into the Indies trade (including opium), who organized their speculative cargoes in much the same way...the trade rightly resents being called a mafia. It is basically an ordinary business that has been criminalized -- as Colombians see it -- by a U.S. which cannot manage its own affairs.102

Like any 'ordinary business' in an initial sales boom, the cocaine trade had to contend with changing relations of supply and demand. Over-production, due both to the cartels' deliberate promotion of supply and to the peasants' desperate stampede toward a saleable staple, has been endemic since the mid 1980s. Despite the monopsonistic position of the cartels vis-a-vis the producers, the wholesale price of cocaine fell by half. This, in turn, dictated a transformation in sales strategy and market structure. The result was a switch from haute cuisine to fast food, as the Medellin Cartel, starting in 1981 or 1983 (accounts differ), designated Los Angeles as a proving-ground for the mass sales potential of rock cocaine or crack.

Shortly before its demise in 1989, the Herald-Examiner published a sensationalized overview of 'Cartel L.A.' that synthesized law enforcement viewpoints on the history and organization of the crack economy. According to this account, the Colombian cartels responded to the militarization of federal drug enforcement in south Florida after 1982 by rerouting cocaine through Mexico with the aid of the 'Guadalajara Mafia' run by Miguel Gallardo (the 'godfather' presumed to have ordered the torture-murder of DEA agent 'Kiki' Camarena in 1985). Upon its arrival in Southern California via couriers or light aircraft (the Drug Enforcement Authority claims there are 'over 100 clandestine airstrips' in the California desert), the cocaine -- by 1988 estimated to total 450,000 pounds annually -- is supposedly warehoused and processed for wholesale distribution by [312] Colombian nationals bound to the cartels by unbreakable omerta. Originally estimated to number a few hundred, the Colombians in 1989 suddenly became an 'invading army...thousands strong' organized into as many as '1,000 cells'. (An IRS official described cell workers as 'soldiers coming into this country who are doing their tours of duty and then getting out'.)103 Alarmed by news of the 'invasion' nervous Southern California residents were put on the lookout for 'suspicious' Latin Americans, especially 'polite, well-dressed' families or individuals with penchants for quiet suburban neighborhoods.105

In any event, the financial turnover in L.A.'s rock and powder markets appears easier to estimate than the number of Cartel 'foot soldiers'. Los Angeles has been described by the Justice Department as 'an ocean of drug-tainted cash'. Between 1985 and 1987 (the real take-offyears for crack) the 'cash surplus' in the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve system increased 2,300 per cent to $3.8 billion -- a sure index, according to federal experts, of the volume of illicit coke dollars.106 In early 1989 a small army of Feds overwhelmed Downtown L.A.'s Jewelry Mart in 'Operation Polar Cap' -- a spectacular attack on 'La Mina' ('the Gold Mine'), a billion-dollar per year money-laundering operation supposedly run on behalf of the Medellin Cartel by several dozen immigrant Armenian gold-dealers.107 The disclosure of La Mina seemed to confirm earlier assertions by US Attorney (now federal judge ) Robert Bonner that L.A. had surpassed Miami as 'the principal distribution center for the nation's cocaine supply' -- a claim that the Justice Department officially recognized in August 1989.108

The vast, three-volume 'Dunn and Bradstreet Primer on the Pervasiveness of Drugs in America' that Attorney General Thornburgh presented that month to drug czar William Bennett also proclaimed that L.A. drug gangs were firmly allied with the Medellin Cartel in a plot to flood American inner cities with crack. Quoting copiously from LAPD sources, the report pictured L.A. overrun by Colombians and the USA overrun by their Crip henchmen:

Los Angeles street gangs now dominate the rock cocaine trade in Los Angeles and elsewhere, due in part to their steady recourse to murderous violence to enforce territorial dealing supremacy, to deter cheating and to punish rival gang members... the LAPD has identified 47 cities, from Seattle to Kansas City to Baltimore, where Los Angeles street gang traffickers have appeared.109

[313] Washington's official adoption of the LAPD's characterization of L.A. street gangs as highly organized mafias in cahoots with the Colombians (a view also embraced by the California attorney general's office) was challenged by two USC professors who had been carefully analyzing arrest records of crack dealers over the previous two years. In studying 741 cases in 'five gang-infested sections of Los Angeles County' they discovered that only 25 per cent of the alleged dealers were active gang members. Although acknowledging that the direct role of gangs might have substantially increased since their 1984-5 data, the USC team stood by their principal conclusions:

The explosion in cocaine sales was engaging a number of street gang members but was in no way dominated by gang involvement. The drug parameters simply overwhelmed the gang parameters.... the cohesiveness of the gangs themselves is very low.... To expect a group like that to take on Mafia characteristics seems very unlikely.110

Responding to this study, the LAPD's 'gang-drug czar' Deputy Chief Glenn Levant, admitted that 64 per cent of the seven thousand suspected dealers arrested through his Gang-Related Active Trafficker program were not identifiable as gang members. But he denied that the Department had 'overstated the problem' since '36 per cent gang membership is very significant' and many, if not a majority, of the other arrestees were older ex-gang members."' But Levant's revision of the USC study -- that is, a more significant direct participation of gang members and a large, if not dominant, role played by adult 'O.G.s' -- still seemingly leaves in place the USC team's key finding that the gang role in drug distribution is too 'incoherent' to qualify for the 'organized crime network' badge that Levant's boss, Chief Gates, and most other law-enforcement officials want to pin on the Crips and Bloods.

All of which is to say that the Southcentral gangs are definitely in the drug business, but as small businessmen not crime Corporations~ and usually under the supervision of older dealers who, in turn, answer to a shadowy wholesale hierarchy of middlemen and cartel representatives. On the other hand, the very diffuseness of a crack trade organized through hundreds of competing gang sets and smalltime dealers, while it belies the demonic [314] power that the gangbusters would attribute to it, also defies all efforts to deliver the decisive 'knockout' blow. In the ghetto itself there are hundreds of independent rock house franchises, each turning over (according to LAPD estimates) about $5000 per day ($25,000 on welfare and social security check days). The constant attrition of such outlets to LAPD raids (like the one Nancy Reagan used as a media picnic) has become an ordinary business cost. Moreover if Levant's estimate of 10,000 gang members making their livelihood from the drug trade is anywhere near correct, then crack really is the employer of last resort in the ghetto's devastated Eastside -- the equivalent of several large auto plants or several hundred MacDonalds.112

Of course this is 'reindustrialization' through disease and the redistribution of poverty. When twenty-five-dollar rock hit the streets of L.A. in volume during 19845, hospital and police statistics registered the cataclysmic impact: doubling of emergency room admissions for cocaine trauma, 15% of newborns in public hospitals diagnosed drug-addicted, quintupling of juvenile arrests for coke-dealing, and so on.113 It is important to remember that crack is not simply cheap cocaine -- the poor man's version of the glamor drug stuffed up the noses of the marina and country club crowd -- but a far more lethal form. Whether or not it is actually the most addictive substance known to science, as originally claimed, it remains an absolute commodity enslaving its consumers, 'the most devastating of all the monster drugs to afflict any American adolescent generation thus far'.114

For this epidemic bred out of despair -- which, like heroin, inevitably turns users into petty dealers -- the only treatment on demand is jail. In Los Angeles County, where infant mortality is soaring and the County traumatreatment network has collapsed, it is not surprising that medical care for crack addiction -- which experts agree requires long-term treatment in a therapeutic community -- is generally unavailable. Thus Skid Row, Downtown's nightmarish 'Nickle' has the largest single concentration of crack addicts -- young and old -- in the city, but not a single treatment facility. Wealthy Pasadena is fighting crack-based gang activity in its Northwest ghetto with its own version of the HAMMER, including humiliating stripsearches in the field and a drug-tenant eviction policy, without spending a single cent on drug rehabilitation.115 The examples could be depressingly multiplied, as drug treatment is filed in the same bottom drawer of forgotten liberal nostrums as youth employment or gang counseling.

[315] In the meantime gang members have become the Stoic philosophers of this cold new reality. The appearance of crack has given the Crip subculture a terrible, almost irresistible allure. Which is not simply to reduce the gang phenomenon, now or in the past, to mere economic determinism. Since the 1840s when tough young Irishmen invented the modern street gang in the slums of the Bowery, Five Points and Paradise Alley (making the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits just as dreaded as the Crips and Bloods are today), gang bonding has been a family for the forgotten, a total solidarity (like national or religious fervor) closing out other emphathies and transmuting self-hatred into tribal rage. But the Crips and Bloods -- decked out in Gucci T-shirts and expensive Nike airshoes, ogling rock dealers driving by in BMWs -- are also authentic creatures of the age of Reagan. Their world view, above all, is formed of an acute awareness of what is going down on the Westside, where gilded youth, practice the insolent indifference and avarice that are also forms of street violence. Across the spectrum of runaway youth consumerism and the impossible fantasies of personal potency and immunity, youth of all classes and colors are grasping at undeferred gratification -- even if it paves the way to assured self-destruction.

There is little reason to believe that the crack economy or the new gang culture will stop growing, whatever the scale of repression, or stay confined to Southcentral Los Angeles. Although the epicenters remain in the ghetto zones of hardcore youth unemployment -- like Watts-Willowbrook, the Athens district, or the Escher-like maze of the Crenshaw 'Jungle' -- the gang mystique has spread (as Bakeer documents in CRIPS ) into middle-class Black areas, where parents are close to panic, or vigilantism.

Meanwhile, as Southcentral itself undergoes an epochal (and surprisingly peaceful) ethnic transition from Black to new immigrant Latino (Mexican and Central American), the kids of the mojados look jealously at the power and notoriety of Cripdom.116 In the absence of any movement towards social justice, the most explosive social contradiction in Los Angeles may become the blocked mobility of these children of the new immigrants. As a 1989 UCLA study revealed, poverty is increasing faster amongst Los Angeles Latinos, especially youth, than any other urban group in the United States."' While their parents may still measure the quality of life by old-country standards, the iron rations of Tijuana or Ciudad Guatemala, their children's self-image is shaped by the incessant stimuli of [316] L.A. consumer culture. Trapped in deadend low-wage employment, amid what must otherwise appear as a demi-paradise for white youth, they too are looking for shortcuts and magical paths to personal empowerment.

Thus they also enter the underground economy with guns blazing. Some of the Black gangs (especially the Eastside Crips) have accommodated the aspirations of the new immigrants by integrating Latino members (the police estimate at least 1,000 of these) or licensing crack-dealing franchises. In the MacArthur Park area, on the other hand, the upstart Salvadoreans of Mara Savatrucha have had to fight a bloody war against the established power of the 18th Street Gang -- the largest and fastest growing Chicano gang which threatens to become the Crips of East L.A. But simultaneously in East L.A., and throughout all the barrios old and new, traditional gang topography is being radically redrawn by the emergence of a myriad of micro-gangs, more interested in drug sales territories than neighborhood turf in the old-fashioned sense.

Aside from the 230 Black and Latino gangs which the LAPD have identified in the Los Angeles area, there are also 81 Asian gangs, and their numbers are also rapidly growing. In Long Beach gangs of wild, parentless Cambodian boat-children terrorize their elders and steal their hoarded gold. While the Filipino Satanas favor Chicano gang styles, the role-model of the Viet Crips (supposedly robbery specialists) is obvious. In Pasadena some Chinese high-school dropouts -- unwilling to spend lifetimes as busboys and cooks -- ambushed and killed a carload of crack DEA agents, before they too were cut down by a vengeful posse of nearly a hundred cops.118

These particular contradictions are rising fast, along a curve asymptotic with the mean ethos of the age. In a post-liberal society, with the gangplanks pulled up and compassion strictly rationed by the Federal deficit and the Jarvis Amendment, where a lynchmob demagogue like William Bennett reigns as 'drug czar' -- is it any wonder that poor youths are hallucinating on their own desperado 'power trips'? In Los Angeles there are too many signs of approaching helter-skelter: everywhere in the inner city, even in the forgotten poor-white boondocks with their zombie populations of speedfreaks, gangs are multiplying at a terrifying rate, cops are becoming more arrogant and trigger-happy, and a whole generation is being shunted toward some impossible Armageddon. [318]


1. Story by Louis Sahagun and Carol McGraw, Times, 7 April 1989.

2. Times, 3 April 1988.

3. 'The commitment of the chief seemed to rub off on his officers, several of whom said arrests were being made for infractions that might normally be overlooked. In the east San Fernando Valley, a defiant 14-year-old wearing a Fred Flintstone T-shirt -- and not much else -- was booked on suspicion of indecent exposure after he 'mooned' a passing patrol car.' (Ibid.)

4. Times, 3 April and 15 May 1988; Hcrald Examiner, 3 April 1988.

5. Mayor James Van Horn of Artesia quoted in Stanley Meisler, 'Nothing Works' Los Angeles Times Magazine, 7 May 1989.

6. Times, 6 April 1988.

7. Ibid., 27 May 1979; 4 November 1988.

8. Ibid., 29 February 1988; 4 May 1990.

9. Ibid., 12 April 1988; New York Times, 25 Novembr 1988.

10. Ibid., 3 April 1988.

11. Ibid., 23 November 1978.

12. Ibid., 21 September and 6 October 1979; 2 June 1980.

13. Ibid., 28 March 1988. Fifteen people were reported to have died from the controversial police chokehold.

14. Ibid., 8 May 1988.

15. Herald-Examiner, 3 April 1988; Times, 6 April 1988.

16. Ibid., 14 January 1990.

17. Ibid., 10 April and 8 May 1988.

18. The LAPD seems to relish the upswing in inter-gang violence. In late 1986, eighteen months before GRATS and the HAMMER, Chief Gates lashed out at Community Youth Gang Services (CYGS) for trying to arrange a truce between forty local gangs. Steve Valdiva, the embattled rector of the tiny agency, in turn struck back at the LAPD's uncompromising bellicosity and its characterization of all gang kids as 'stone killers'. (See Los Angeles Sentinel, 1 January 1987.)

19. Ibid., 5 April and 8 May 1988.

20. Joe Dominick, 'Police Power: Why No One Can Control the LAPD' L.A. Weekly, 16-22 February 1990; my intepretation of events here relies upon conversations (1988-89) with Michael Zinzun, the founder of the Coalition against Police Abuse, who expressed his dismay over the new reluctance of civil libertarians to defend the rights of Black youth.

21. Interviewed on CBS's 'Face the Nation' in 1985, Chief Gates called Mayor Goode of Philadelphia a 'hero' for his bombing of the MOVE headquarters -- an action that resulted in the incineration of a dozen men, women and children, as well as tbe destruction of a residential square-block.

22. Times, 5 and 6 January, 23 June, 26 June, 8 and 26 August, 2 September (chronology) 1989

23. Ibid., 26 and 29 August, 2 September 1989; see also Dominick.

24. Ibid., 22 December 1988.

25. Ibid., 13 and 19 January 1989.

26. Ibid., 19 February 1989.

27. Ibid., op-ed, 2 May 1988.

28. Ibid., 5 January 1973.

29. Testimony, Charles Zunker, West Bureau CRASH and Maurice Malone, West Los Angeles Division, LAPD -- in ACLU files.

30. The Inland Empire city of Fontana (the subject of chapter 7) also attempted to outlaw 'gang colors' until a profound legal mind pointed out that two-thirds of the American flag (i.e. the red and blue) would become illegal. [319]

31. See 'People of the State of California vs. Playboy Gangster Crips, an unincorporated association, Does I through 300, inclusive. Complaint for Temporary Restraining Order and for Preliminary and Permanent Injunction to Abate Public Nuisance' -- in ACLU files.

32. Times, 17 May 1988. While rejecting the 'overly broad' demands of Hahn's suit, the Superior Court did ratify a subsequent specification of the complaint to 23 named, 'hardcore gang individuals'.

33. Ibid., op ed, 2 May 1988.

34. Ibid., 1 November 1987.

35. Ibid., 3 April 1988; see also Dominick. Reiner's merciless zeal against gang misdemeanors contrasts with his laxity toward possible police felonies. The Coalition for Police Accountability was formed in 1989 to dramatize the DA's failure to file charges in sixteen cases since 1985 involving Blacks or Latinos unlawfully killed by sheriffs or police. (Ibid., 12 July 1989.)

36. Times, 12 June, 22 August, and 7 September 1988. In August 1988 the US Attorney's office in Los Angeles also assigned DEA agents to a special anti-gang taskforce.

37. Ibid., 6 January and 21 April 1989. Accordung to Lockyer, STEP was the 80th piece of anti-gang legislation passed by the California Legislature.

38. Ibid., 2 and 10 May 1989.

39 Ibid., 31 May and 10 June 1989.

40. Ibid. 2 April 1988; 19 January and 23 February 1989; 23 January 1990. Kemp's war on drug families was prefigured by the 'tripod' program that former Councilmember Pat Russell and City Attorney Hahn invented to rid the maze-like apartment neighborhood in the Crenshaw area known as the 'jungle' of gang-based drug-dealing. One leg of the 'Tripod' was landlord responsibility for the immediate eviction of anyone arrested for drug charges -- a policy, like Kemp's, that not only punishes entire households but also throws away the constitutional pre-trial presumption of innocence. (See ibid., 12 February 1987.)

41. Ibid., 8 May 1988.

42. Jackson later was videotaped by network television while being abused by a Long Beach cop -- an incident that led to a much-needed housecleaning in that notoriously racist department. Continuing to challenge L.A.-syle apartheid un a variey of contexts, Jackson has become a Black folk hero.

43. Not that the average inner-ciy youth is ever likely to see the inside of any Southern California theme park -- quite apart from racism, the average family of four admission to the five major centers is now $75. (See Times, Calendar, 19 June 1988; ACLU files for cases of discrimination.)

44 Ibid., 11 April 1990.

45. Internew with Carmelo Alvarez of El Centro; Douglas Sadownick, 'Tchaikovsky and the Gang' Times, Calendar, 19 June 1988; ibid., 12 April 1989.

46. Interview with Joan Howarth. One perverse byproduct of 'School Buy' is that new kids transferring into L.A. schools from out-of-town are now regularly ostracized as possible 'narcs'.

47. Times, 2 February and 27 April 1988; interview with Howarth.

48. Times, 22 April 1990.

49. Ibid., 22 April and 3 May 1990.

50. Cf. Report of the Criminal Justice Research Program quoted in the Oakland Tnbune, 3 March 1987; James Ridgeway, 'Prisons in Black', Village Voice, 19 September 1988; the Legislative Analyst's summary of the proposed New Prison Construcrion Bond Act of 1990 in the 1990 State Primary Ballot Pamphlet.

51. Maes Corwin, 'High-Tech Facility Ushers in New Era of State Prisons' Times, 1 May 1990.

52. Caldwell quoted in Ishmael Reed, 'Living at Ground Zero', Image, 13 March 1988, p. 15; Jackson quoted in Times, 18 May 1988.

53. Howarth interview, 16 March 1988.

54. Times, 12 June 1988.

55. Yaroslavsky questioned at public meeting. February 1988.

56. Times, 6 April 1988.

57. Ibid, 18 March 1990.

58. Ishmael Reed, pp. 12, 13. 15.

59. Interview by Ken Kelly in San Francisco Focus. March 1988. p. 100.

60. Guardian (New York). 18 May 1988.

61. Eagle, 20 March 1946 (Fremont), 2 5 July 1946 (Manual Arts). 30 January 1947 (Canoga Park), 20 March 1947 (Fremont), 2; September 1947 (Fremont), and 6 October 1949 (John Adams). It should be emphasized that this partial list includes only major incidents or 'riots'.

62. J.K. Obatala, 'The Sons of Watts' Los Angeles Times, West Magazine, 13 August 1972.

63. Quoted in Sophia Spalding, 'The Constable Blunders: Police Abuse in Los Angeles's Black and Latino Communities, 194~196;' UCLA Department of Urban Planning, 1989, unpublished, p. 7.

64. Joseph Woods, The Progressives and the Police: Urban Reform and the Professionalization of the Los Angeles Police, PhD thesis, Dept. of History. UCLA, 1973, p. 443.

6;. Joe Dominick quotes Chief Parker warning a 1965 television audience: 'It is estimated that by 1970 45% of the metropolitan area of Los Angeles wlll be Negro; if you want any protection for your home and family...you're going to have to get in and support a strong police department. If you don't do that, come 1970, God help you.'

66. Spalding, p. 11.

67. Cf. Robert Conot. Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness. New York 1967, pp. 114-19 (on 'junior criminal' theory): and Frontier, July 1958, pp. 5-7 (on Group Guidance) and October 1965, p. 9 (on Parker's elimination of gang counseling): Woods, pp. 494 5, 611 (n 159).

68. Conot, pp. 97-8: California Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Report on California: Police-Minority Group Relations in Los Anaeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. August 1963, pp. 3-19.

69. Ibid., p. 101: Times, 2 2 October 1972 .

70. Obtala.

71. See Roben Fogelson, 'White on Black: Critique of the McCone Commission Report on the Los Angeles Riots' in Fogelson. ed., Mass Violence in America. New York 1969, pp. 120 21.

72. Conot, p. 244: the oral history project associated with 'Watts '65: To the Rebellion and Beyond' organized by the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research is gathering new eyewitness testimony about the Rebellion.

73. Times, 19 March and 23 July 1972 (renewal of gang warfare in 1972 contrasted to post-Watts riot period). James O'Toole argues that until the Watts Rebellion politicized the young male gang leadership, there was no indigenous political activity within the ghetto except for the matriarch-preacher organizations'. He also claims that the Black vote was 'packaged and delivered from the outside' by middle-class Democratic acti-ists loyal to Jesse Unruh. See Watts and Woodstock: Identity and Culture in rhe Unired States and South Africa, New York 1973, pp. 87, 89, 91.

74. Obatala; personal reminiscences.

75. Eazy-E quoted in Times, Calendar. 2 April 1989.

76. Times, 23 July 1972.

77. Donald Bakeer, CRIPS: The Story of the L.A. Street Gang from /971-1985, xeroxed, Los Angeles 1987, pp. 12-13.

78. Bob Baker in the Times, 26 June 1988.

79. Ibid.

80. Ibid., 24 December 1972.

81. Ibid.

82. On the display of Crip insignia during the Monrovia riots, see ibid., (San Gabriel Valley edition), 2 April 1972. Seven months after the riots (during which one Black 17-year-old had his eye shot out by whites), a 13-year-old Black child was found hung in his cell in the city jail. (Ibid., 16 November 1972.)

83. Quoted in ibid, 10 Aprll 1988.

84. Ibid. I5 December 1972.

85. For example, at the 1988 'End Barrio War' Conference sponsored by Father Luis Valbuena in Pacoima, 24 Valley gangs demanded less police harassment, and more job opportunity and youth recreation as a solution to increasing teenage violence (see ibid., 7 December 1988.)

86. Ibid., 'Watts, 10 Years Later: A Special Report' 23 March 1975.

87. Ron Curran, 'Malign Neglect: The Roots of an Urban W ar Zone' L.A. Weekly, 30 December to 5 January 1989, p. 2. Also see the Economic Justice Policy Group. 'Policy Memorandum Economic State of the City'. presented to the City Council, 25 January 1990, p 4.

88. See Mark Ridley-Thomas 'California Commentary'. Times, 29 January 1990. Ridley-Thomas argues that neither the office-based' nor 'shopping center-based' models of community redevelopment can compensate for a healthy industrial base

89. California, Joint Committee on the State's Economy and the Senate Committee on Government Organization, Problems and Opportunity for Job Developmenr in Urbon Areas of Persistent Unemployment, Sacramento 1982, pp. 29, 50, 58, 94, 108, 111, 115.

90. For a typology of contemporary industrial regimes, see Alain Lipietz, Mirages and Miracles, London 1987.

91. This is the official estimate of the church-sponsored South Central Organizing Committee in 1988. For Watts, which has been more regularly surveyed than other areas of the community, youth joblessness (16-24 years old) has stayed near the 50 per cent mark since the early 1970s. (See data collected by UCLA's Institute of Industrial Relations)

92. Times, 16 May 198; Hundreds of women in the projects who desperately wanted to work were unable to because of the absence of childcare.

93. 1983 L.A. Roundtable for Children: Policy Analysis for California Education. The Condirions of Children in California, Sacrament~ 1989.

94. Times. 19 April 1988: Paul Bullock, Youth Training and Employment from the New Deal to the New Federalism, Institute of Industrial Relations, UCLA, 1985. p 78.

95. Quoted in ibid., 30 January 1981.

96. Ibid., 30 January 1989.

97. Times, 3 August 1988.

98. Ibid., 28 June, 18 October, and 25 November 1987; M.J. Wilcove, 'The Dilemma of L.A. Schools' L.A. Weekly, 6-12 November 1987

99. Cf. Times, 20 .March 1988; and Jack Foley, ''Leisure Rights'' Policies for Los Angeles Urban Impact Parks', paper presented to the People for Parks Conference, Griffith Park, 4 February 1989.

100. Cf. Paul Bullock, Youth in the Labor Market. PhD, UCLA. 1972: Youth Training; and interview, 1983 (Southern California Library for Social Research). U.C. Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster has estimated that Black youth unemploymtnt nationally was four times higher in 1983 than in 1960. (See 'Social Implicatons of the 'New' Black Urban Underclass'. Black Scholar, May-June 1988, p. 3.)

101. New York 1986, p 189.

102. Louis Kraar, 'The Drug Trade' Fortune, 20 June 1988, p.29.

103. 'Murderous Colombia', New York Review of Books' 20 November 1986, p 35.

104. 'Cartel L.A.' series, Herald-Examiner, 28 August to 1 September 1989. Also see the Times's account of the 1989 Justice Department report (a 'Dun and Bradstreet primer') - 4 August 1989.

105. The Herald Examiner reassured its readers that 'the 63,000 Colombians living in the Los Angeles area do not all work in cocaine distribution cells' - 'only 6OOO'.

l O6 . Ibid., 28 August 1987 .

107. Times, 30 March 1989; Evan Maxwell 'Gold, Drugs and Clean Cash', Los Angeles Times Magazine, 18 February 1990.

108. Times, 15 May and 12 lune 1988; 4 August 1989. [322]

109. Ibid.

110. Malcolm Klein and Cheryl Maxson quoted in ibid., 8 September 1988.

111. Quoted in ibid.

112. Ibid. Earnings of the youthful employees of the illicit drug industry have been vastly exaggerated by the police and media, with the inadvertent or deliberate effect of discouraging employment schemes as a realistic alternative to repression. Judging from the most detailed study available (based on extensive surveys amongst the street trade in Washington DC), youth are more likely to make $700 per month, not per day as usually depicted. See Jack Katz, op-ed, ibid., 21 March 1990.

113. Ibid, 2; November 1984: 13 February 1989.

114. Novelist Claude Brown quoted in ibid. 17 May 1988.

115. Pasadena Star-News, 17 September 1989

116. The Black population of Southcentral has fallen by 30% since 1980 as families flee crime and economic decay for Inglewood, the Inland Empire or even back to the South. The Latino population, on the other hand, has increased at least 200% (Mayan Indians now live in the Jordan Downs projects) and Black youth are suddenly minorities in the four major high schools. The old Slauson turf of Fremont High, for example, was 96% Black in 1980: it is now 71% Latino. (Times, 30 March 1990.)

117. See Paul Ong (project director), The Widening Divide:Income Inequality and Poverty in Los Angeles, UCLA, June 1989.

118. Times, 1 September 1988. Inter-ethnic gang warfare, surprisingly, remains rare in the gang-saturated Los Angeles inner city. One of the insidious deceits of the film Colors is its portrayal of a Black gang attacking Chicanos. Except for an outbreak in the Oakwood section of Venice in the late 1970s (which gang members blamed on the instigation of the LAPD), such a thing has never happened. On the other hand, antagonisms have mounted between Black youth and Asian adults. There have been bloody exchanges between Korean storekeepers and Black teenagers, and in May 1988 there was a pitched battle between Cambodians and local Bloods at the Pueblo del Rio housing project. The Bloods threw Molotov cocktails, while Cambodian men replied with fusillades from UZIs and AK-47s. (Ibid., 13 May 1988.)