Archive for gangs


Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Ramey Commentaries with tags , , on November 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson



In the fall of 2011, it was reported that a one well-to-do school corporation were the target of a police investigation. The police had discovered that a school-based gang was busily recruiting members for a larger, local gang.

Both gangs were involved in burglaries, car break-ins and other thefts.

Of course, parents were the last to know about the police probe.

The existence of school-based gangs may be new to parents, but they continue to grow rapidly. The cops know that they are there. Schools officials know that they are there. The students know that they are there–and eagerly join AND participate.

The ONLY people who seem to be left out of the loop…are parents.

In far too many cases; what’s done IN the school house, STAYS in the school house. Once more, the taxpayer is being asked to ‘foot the bill’ for those school officials who maintain the mantra that ‘all is well’.


Back in the mid-2000s, federal authorities estimated that there were some 800,000 gang members in America. In 2009 the number swelled to slightly more than 1 million. Now, a scant two years later, federal authorities issued a new study, reporting that there are some 1.5 million gang members in the USA. Two things clearly seen; 1) The programs which have been touted to fight gang activity since 2002 have NOT been working, and; 2) Our public schools are turning out to be safe havens for gang activity.

Forget the fake social flags about school house bullying and poor self-esteem. Gangs–and their recruiters–are on the march, leaving teachers, students, and administrators either caught in the grip of deliberate ignorance…or willful silence. The ‘basic’ attitude of many school officials, in my view? “Gangs are not a school problem until ‘good students’ get hurt, or, the children of school employees (often enrolled in so-called ‘better schools’) become gang targets.”

Parents are not the only ones left on the outside. Many local churches–some of them great helpers of public schools–are being left behind. The subject of religion has become blurred in the school house to administrators, but not to gang members. While Christian students who bring their Bibles to school or have prayer over their lunches are held to be troublemakers by some schools, many Modern Street Gangs have adopted a religi-criminal mode of communications. Students ‘rep’ their favorite gangs with relative ease–and scant comment–by wearing gang symbols appearing to be harmless religious icons such as crosses, crucifixes and prayer beads in plain sight on school grounds.


Those who follow the teen scene are familiar with ‘the hoodie’; an article of street wear. Little more than a sweatshirt topped off with a hood, it has become useful in masking the identity of gang members–or others. They started to ‘catch on’ in the early 2000s as teens had adopted them as ‘the’ main choice of street wear. More than a few school corporations around the country banned hoodies as being “…disruptive to the education process…”. Many of these same school corporations later backtracked on their bans. Why? Simple economics and internal pressure.

Athletic departments and PE teachers saw hoodies as a means of; 1) keeping their student athletes warm with an article of low-priced clothing, and; 2) having something that student athletes could use to inspire ‘school pride’ via incorporation of the school athletic logo. The ‘use’ of the hoodie eventually slipped into the schools via student athletes–even though it was officially ‘banned’ by school administrators. Soon hoodies started to turn up in a variety of school colors courtesy of eager vendors. Thus, a clear item of street culture–which was officially banned–was quietly ushered into the school house because officials saw it as an economic fix. The hoodie could be ‘useful’ IF students bought them FROM vendors of the school districts’ choice!


Let me state this again. What was once ‘banned’ was ‘unbanned’ because it became a ready revenue source for the schools. Of course, gang members and recruiters were overjoyed. They could ‘rep’ their gang in trendy school colors and be LEGAL.

Public schools have not always been overtly ‘money hungry’. Tax revenue provided by the public ‘used’ to be enough to satisfy many school corporations. Many schools lived within their means. It seemed rare to hear that school budgets ran tight. It seemed even more rare for schools to go to the voters and request more tax revenue.

This has changed. Over the last ten years or so, school corporations have gotten greedy. Every new innovation; every new consultant’s dream just had to be ‘inserted’ into the classroom. In the mind of ‘professional educators’, the ends may not jive with the means…as long as we can count on using public money to pay for it. Furthermore, school corporations could ‘double dip’ by insisting that parents provide ‘extra’ items for schools, as in parents needed to ‘provide’ two reams of copy paper per each of their students for each semester.

When do parents see ‘cash back’ from schools? Hardly ever. Should schools ‘save’ money on an innovation, the public never seems to get a refund.

Remember the ‘Channel One’ innovation from back in the nineties? Local school corporations were to receive ‘free’ televisions and video equipment ‘in exchange for’ five to seven minutes a day access to students ‘before’ they began their studies. Before the Channel One experiment, students were limited to the outside television influences they could receive during the school day. After Channel One arrived, it seemed that schools–especially at the secondary level–couldn’t live without the use of the television in the classroom.

Let’s fast forward a few years. Now we have name brand vending & snack machines placed in many schools; name brand franchises being allowed to provide their foods in the lunch line (or have a mini-restaurant on the school campus), endless PTA/PTU fundraising drives, and students drilled to compete as young pitchmen in order to ‘win prizes’ for themselves and their schools.

These days, the 3 Rs may be interpreted: ‘Raise Revenue Regularly’.


During my tenure as a probation officer, one certain word was kept in the forefront of every case heard by the juvenile court. That word was ‘confidentiality’. There were internal rules and external rules of confidentiality existed to protect the rights of those on probation. In short, while a juvenile had committed a very real crime, they were still held to be a juvenile. They–and their parents–were entitled to having their cases kept confidential; information was not to be released to the general public. Because of the uplifting of the hip-hop/criminal ‘gangsta’ lifestyle in society, many teens have opted to ‘brag’ about their being on probation to their friends, teachers and schools. The reason for the bragging is two fold: 1) To impress their friends, and; 2) To attempt to intimidate their teachers and school staff.

Some school corporations–in co-operation with their local juvenile courts–have tried to bring back some confidentiality standards by allowing for the placement of probation officers in the school setting. Unfortunately, this innovation didn’t last. School-based probation officers soon became bogged down in the school house machinery they were sent to be above. Many of them have been used by schools as extra baby sitters or social workers for all students of their respective school, leaving them of little use to their own clients or courts.


The bottom line for parents? In keeping your OWN teens and children safe, it is up to YOU to educate yourself as to gang activity in your school. Remember the saying: “What’s done in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” Your local school house has the same, basic attitude towards the safety of your children. While there is a never ending shortage of programs for the prevention of bullying to teaching the joys of homosexuality and lesbianism, basic training programs for administrators and teachers to learn how to spot and stop gang activity are often ignored–even though they are plentiful.

The safety of your children rests with Y-O-U!

Schools operate on a stair step approach to discipline. Modern gangbangers are very familiar with not only school rules in the rule book, they are also familiar with them in actual practice. Just as a ex-con knows the prison system, juveniles who are involved with gang activity know how their own schools and teachers functions. Gang recruiters know that as long as they operate ‘just under the radar’, they won’t encounter much resistance from parents or the schools.

Parents have to get ‘wise’ as to the school world their children exist within.

It begins with asking questions and doing your homework.

Let me give you just a few things to look for in your teens backpack, room, notebooks or school locker. These items–and others–are identifiers of possible gang activity of your child, or some of his/her friends:




Tattoos [Including New UV Tats] Eyebrows Shaved In Patterns

Hairstyles Hair/Head Symbols/Shavings Hand Signals/Signs

Nose Rings Earrings Rosary Beads/Cloths ‘Mean Mugging’

Markings In Webs Of Hand/On Knuckles Religious Art Facial Markings Nail Polish

Speaking Unusual Languages/Slang/Symbols Sores On Hands



Hoodies NFL NBA College MLB Sportswear & Hats

Scarves Doo Rags Hankies Jewelry Ringtones ’Special’ Songs

Notebooks With Gang Signs & Symbols Excessive Use Of School/Uniform Wear Colors IF Gang Colors Weapons Books On Advanced Subjects

C.D.s MP3s Ipods Alcohol Cell Cams Drugs Mouthwash Inhalants

Excessive Cash Burglary/Break-in/Lockpicks Advanced Computer Websites

Custom Gang Clothing with Street Names Notes/Codes/Gang Symbols On Journals/Non-school related paperwork



Articles on Specific Gangs Disciplinary Problems At School Gang Websites

Active On Probation/Parole Gang You Tube/Twitter Lists

Late Night Calls Visits/Hanging Out With Older Teens/Troublemakers/J.D.s

Strange Odors/Smells ‘Bragging’ About Friends With Juvenile Records

Spending More Time Out Of Home/Away From Home

A wise parent will do a quick ‘head to toe’ check of their child before they leave in the morning, and when they come home in the evening. If enough of these items are found, it is likely that your teen has been recruited by a gang–or is already involved. Don’t get hung up on which gang your teen may representing. They are ALL dangerous, as Modern Street Gangs are quick to change their ‘look’ inside of six to nine months.


Their hope is keeping the upright off balance and ignorant to their existence.


Parents, when you see these items turn up; WISE UP and turn up the heat as to where your teen may have gotten them.

Don’t wait until you see on the TV news, or read in the paper that the school of your child is the target of a police investigation.

By then, it may be too late.

MIKE RAMEY is the Lead Instructor of THE GANG LINE, Indianapolis, Indiana. RAMEY is a Certified Street Gang Specialist and does workshops for law enforcement or non-law enforcement agencies. He can be contacted at his Email ©2012 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.

Cleo Manago Speaks On “Crips & Bloods” Documentary

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , on May 18, 2009 by Gary Johnson

Cleo Manago

Los Angeles, CA – The voice of social architect, activist and visionary, Cleo Manago is certainly recognized as a distinctive one.  His articulated opinions have been documented in media nationally and internationally.  Brazen, outspoken and unshaken, Manago gets his point across in no uncertain terms.  HIs vision of truth is a beacon amid illusionary constructs and preconceived agendas.

Upon the viewing of the recent release of “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” produced by Cash Warren and Los Angeles NBA star Baron Davis, Manago felt compelled to put pen to paper.  His thoughts, as usual, transcend the norm and provoke dialogue.

“Crips & Bloods: Made in America” : Black Men Killing Each Other was Safer than Confronting Their Enemy by Cleo Manago

Throughout the long history of non-fiction, documentary film making, few examples have surfaced that deeply illuminate the struggle among Black males in America, since slavery, to retrieve some semblance of manhood and respect.  A new documentary called ‘Crips & Bloods: Made in America’ makes a successful attempt at contextualizing a disturbing, west coast version of this nation-wide, inter-generational, Black male struggle.

Produced by Cash Warren and Los Angeles NBA star Baron Davis,

“Crips & Bloods” features the voices and violent histories of former and current members of gangs, and the relevant history of Black (and White) Los Angeles.  It also features mothers and other loved ones left in the wake of the often deadly consequences of a self-hate directed war between dejected Black males, lost in a patriarchal (and racist) reality, in a country and [Black] community they believe does not see them as human or as men.

Through interviews, vintage footage and documented facts, the 40 year genesis of how legions of Black males in Los Angeles wound up going from baby-boys on their mother’s laps to the confines of a gang, a prison, or a cemetery is uncovered.  Stacy Peralta, the film’s director, sharply depicts how, historically, regardless of economic status, Black Angelenos faced brutal and cruel forms of racism which affected where they could live, how long many did live and the quality of their lives.

With pictorial examples, actual news coverage and a gripping narrative “Crips & Bloods” addresses how so-called gangs began as black youth who were not allowed to be in the [White] boy scouts, or to safely leave their communities for leisure.  Exposed is that up until very recently, the where abouts of Black people in South Los Angeles were patrolled by legally sanctioned and often deadly White police brutality.  It becomes clear that these are the seeds of how the frustrations of violently oppressed Black youth festered into a mutually implicit impulse to turn on each other, preconditioned to believe that the actual source of their pain was not practical or safe to directly confront.

Powerfully (and hopefully Blacks will learn from this), “Crips & Bloods” also illustrates how cooperative with each other, responsible, industrious and even prosperous a number of Blacks were before the systemic disruption of the community.  Upon close examination, it becomes apparent how the power of ingrained notions had by many Blacks – that their still not being White – ate at the integrity of simply enjoying, valuing and protecting being an independent, successful [Black] community.

Unlike the so-called blacks-ploitation films of the 70’s and 80’s, e.g. “The Mack,” “Superfly” and “Shaft,” or the more recent gangsta or thug culture that romanticizes Black male disorientation, contrived bravado and displaced rage, “Crips & Bloods” actually explains the origins of how this madness came to be. The film actually acknowledges how racist, deadly and corrupt law enforcement, along with the murder or compromise of iconic Black men like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Hampton and Huey Newton of the Black Panthers trickled down into a legacy of terror and confusion among Black males.  In addition, the typically unspoken psychological consequences of this period manifesting as serial fatherlessness, criminalization, joblessness, drug abuse and repressed Black male grief is acknowledged in “Crips & Bloods.”

Witnessing “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” for this writer was not just a visual field trip, but a revisiting of where I was raised (Watts and Compton) and what I personally observed growing up.   This revolutionary documentary may act as a buffer or a wakeup call to finally put into context what so many Black males silently contend with.  It may even help to inform health educators, law enforcement and mental health systems to recognize what they must know toward applying solutions to health disparities disproportionately had by Black males.  These would include: HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, incarceration, homicide, depression and suicide.

While the election of Barack Obama, America’s first president on record to have a Black father, who also brought the country its first Black First Lady, is symbolically powerful, a film like “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” may help us to acknowledge and resolve realities that still need attending too.

Next steps or a next film could explicitly engage solutions to what “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” explores. Maybe the film will spark local discussion on funding and building programs to help produce more healthy Black males.  This would be fundamental to developing a healthier Black community, and healthier Black fathers, husbands, sons and the productive partners of Black people.

To learn more about the film, visit the “Crips & Bloods:  Made in America” companion website, , which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmakers and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.

Cleo Manago is a behavioral health specialist and cultural expert, journalist and founder/CEO of AmASSI Wellness and Cultural Centers . E-mail him at

You can also learn more about Cleo Manago by visiting his blog at:

NOTE TO MEDIA: Cleo Manago is available for inteview.  Contact

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