Gang schools

Gangs control enrollment at Los Angeles high schools, writes the LA Times. The district must transfer students out of their neighborhoods to alleviate overcrowding. But a “blue” (Crips) student can’t be sent to a “red” (Bloods) campus.

In a sign of the pervasive presence of street gangs in this city, the nation’s second-largest school district has been forced to bend to the gangs’ mob-like influence. Police officers patrol all 49 high school campuses. Administrators rely on student informants to warn them when gang feuds are brewing. Student transfer plans are color-coded to keep kids from rival neighborhoods apart, whether or not they are gang members. It is no longer just the locked gates, chain-link fences and metal detectors on campuses that evoke a penitentiary comparison, but the machinations required to blunt the effect of gang rivalries in classrooms and schoolyards.

It’s youth relations counselor Joel Juntilla escorting a 14-year-old with gang ties around his new school, so the “shot-callers” of a resident rival gang can meet him and let Juntilla know whether the kid’s likely to make it through lunch without getting jumped. It’s a San Fernando Valley vice principal turning away a transfer student because he hails from a neighborhood that is at war with a gang whose members already attend the school. It is understanding that you can’t send a Crip to Fremont High; that Jefferson High is home to the Bloods; that kids crowded out of Manual Arts, considered “mostly blue,” will be bused past closer uncrowded schools out to Chatsworth or Taft in Woodland Hills, because Crips are safe on those campuses. It’s a dress code that is dictated by danger: no baggy pants, caps or bandannas, no shoelaces that are red or blue — nothing that might signal gang ties.

The city also has violent Korean youth gangs — but they earn A’s.

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  1. Peter Zawilski says:

    The Administrators are caving in to the thugs and criminals. There should be a uniform for all of the schools. There should be no worry about red, blue, or whatever color.

    The uniforms should be tartan plaids (all of the colors, red. blue, green, yellow)–in the spirit of English boarding schools. Neither gang faction could claim “rights” to the colors. Shirts and ties and both men and women. The only “gang” colors perhaps would be ties distinguishing the schools. Most ot the students want to go to school to learn.

    It is time to show who is boss. Criminals and bullies who jump other students deserve respect from no one and should be dealt with decisively. Some may protest that these gang members (who are sorry excuses for human beings) may have rights; I believe that the rights of law-abiding students, who want to better themselve, should have preference.

    My two cents.

    Peter Z

  2. Those Korean gangs are something else. During the LA riots, they actually provided protection to all those businesses that paid up during the preceding years.

    I wish it was an urban legend, but it’s not. At least I hope not, since it makes a great story.

  3. Its a public school. You either not allow them in which is against the law. Or you implement new procedures that will infuriate parents and civil liberty broups nationwide.

    No win situation.

  4. Fuzzy Rider says:

    The more I hear about nonsense like this, the more I like the idea of vouchers. I have no sympathy for the gangbangers, for they have chosen their own destinies- but my heart bleeds for the bright, motivated, and talented children who are trapped in such an absurd situation; it is almost impossible for them to avoid being taken down. If vouchers lead to public schools becoming places for only the ‘low end’ kids, how is that substantially different than what we are seeing here? These schools should have the motto of ‘No Child Gets Ahead’, or perhaps ‘Success Is Not An Option’.

  5. As goes California, so goes the country.

    Makes you think.

  6. Does the current CA gov. (Arnie) have a policy/action-plan regarding this? It seems that the public school system is being held hostage by gangs. Surely that rises to a gubernatorial issue.

    Has the rest of the state written off LA as “no-man’s land”? What is to prevent this from spreading to an ever-larger geographical area?

  7. Walter Wallis says:

    As much as I detest deviating from fundamentals, effective education is not possible under these conditions. The first lesson they all should learn is that gangs are the hiding holes for cowards. Violence in any form should never be accepted, with violent kids removed to a more structured environment. Conspiracy laws should be enforced, with every member of a gang guilty of the criminal acts of any gangster.

  8. jeff wright says:

    Sure, these criminals should be nailed. Sure, the decent kids (and we taxpayers) are being cheated. Sure, the state should do something. But the truth is nothing will happen. Why? Nobody cares. Nobody has the will. L.A. and many other big-city school districts were effectively written off years ago. This is old news.

    Which is why I continue to believe vouchers, flawed as the concept may be, represent just about the only hope left for a lot of poorer people who genuinely want an education and to be productive members of society. The logical outcome of a robust voucher system in L.A. and elsewhere would be the hastening of the arrival of the public schools at their penultimate destination: holding pens for junior criminals. The endgame then would be closure of the schools and abandonment of all pretense that education might actually go on there.

    And the long-suffering taxpayers might get a break.

  9. Richard Brandshaft says:

    3 Points:

    1) The schools could “cave in to the gangs.” Or they can stand on principle and let bystanders stop an occasional stray bullet. Conservatives, who balk at paying taxes when the country is at war, naturally would prefer to stand on principle — as long as it isn’t them or their kids who get shot.

    2) It takes state financing to sustain the kind of terrorists who are too much for the law to deal with. The youth gangs of our cities are a borderline case. We fight them with one hand and finance them — via the heroin, cocaine, and marijuana price support programs — with the other.

    3) I lived in LA for 20+ years. The LAPD pioneered a system for dealing with youth gangs that was so successful it has been copied by many other police departments. They do nothing until things really go to hell. When people are so desperate they will lick the boots of any thug who claims to be on our side, they sweep the streets and arrest a lot of people at random. This produces a temporary decrease in crime, since the cops deny the criminals — and everyone else — the safe use of the streets. Civil liberties are considered less important than “taking back our neighborhoods.” No one asks who should have prevented loosing our neighborhoods in the first place. (Conservatives, of course, will say the problem is that pesky Bill Of Rights and the lawyers who take it seriously.)

    The LAPD method is a great success — for cops. You didn’t think they were seriously interested in public safety, did you?

  10. “Its a public school. You either not allow them in which is against the law. Or you implement new procedures that will infuriate parents and civil liberty broups nationwide.”

    Armed teachers and other good guys might help, too.

    “2) It takes state financing to sustain the kind of terrorists who are too much for the law to deal with. The youth gangs of our cities are a borderline case. We fight them with one hand and finance them — via the heroin, cocaine, and marijuana price support programs — with the other.”

    Indeed. If we’d just unleash those bastards at Phillip Morris and let them drive the thugs into bankruptcy, we’d all be a hell of a lot better off.

  11. And Viet Namese gangs in the South Bay and Chinese gangs in the San Gabriel Valley and Armenian gangs–the list just goes on and on. Since a million people moved here last year, the schools (already lousy) are just overwhelmed. Vouchers would help kids escape for LAUSD likes the money rolling in.

  12. Fuzzy Rider says:

    Why are we off chasing terrorists in foreign lands when we ignore our own home-grown variety?

    These gangs have, cumulatively, done more damage to this country than all the jihadists put together

  13. Comparing street gangs to world terror network jihadis is disingenuous. But suit yourself.

    Would vouchers salvage some of these kids? Maybe.
    The sytem is broken. The old solutions don’t work.

  14. Fuzzy Rider says:

    The new solutions aren’t doing such a screamin’ good job either. Should we avoid rescuing some because we can’t rescue them all? Vouchers would give every one of the kids a path out of the hell they are in now, it would just be up to them to follow it. This is far preferable to the present situation in LA (and many other places).

  15. They’d just take their hell with them. Preserving the peace as best they can is keeping the other kids safe (ish). They can’t get rid of the gangs, so that strikes me as a practical approach.

    When they closed schools here and rearranged the boundaries, they ignored the gangs. There was an explosion of school violence. That was just short-sighted and ignorant.

    Dress codes are only marginally useful; the kids tattoo their gang insignia on themselves. A lot of them do like Burberry plaid, though. You might get some mileage out of that.

  16. The Bloods and Crips were fairly contained to California until the “supposed” sale of crack cocaine by CIA agents to help fund Iran/Contra pushed them into the big leagues by filling their pockets with money. As a poor inner city youth it is easier to wish to be the rich gangster even if you only live a short time, than the poor guy who flips burgers at McDonald’s and hasn’t even respect for himself.

  17. I worked for the Mercury News when it published — and then retracted — a series alleging that CIA-backed Nicaraguans sold crack to finance their civil war, thereby starting the crack epidemic. I know a great deal about the story. It was wildly inaccurate.

  18. When school officials were told that they couldn’t administer corporal punishment, that is when the decline in scores, attendance, and discipline hit the skids. And all we hear now is the multitude of problem kids we have in schools. Go figure.

  19. A few comments, from a former L.A. City Schools student (I graduated from Reseda High, in the San Fernando Valley, in 1985 – we were a Crip-receiving school).

    1) Corporal punishment is irrelevant. It was re-instated in L.A. schools when I was in Jr. High (it wasn’t used much, but we all were very aware the administration had that option). There were still frequent fights on my Jr. High campus – not between Crips and Bloods, but between Lowriders and Surfers, or between two girls (shredding each others clothes and hair over some boy), or whatever. Our campus was very mixed: Local white, hispanic, and Korean kids, plus voluntarily bused black bus kids from downtown. It was also probably overcrowded, which had a lot more to do with the fights than anything else.

    2) The color-coded transfer system is an improvement over the blind transfering that was done when I was in High School in L.A. Every fall, there was one day when all the transfered kids were shifted at once to their new schools. I vividly remember one lunch period my senior year, seeing two new little 9th or 10th grade boys strolling across campus – all decked out in Blood colors. They had red shoe-laces, one had a red baseball jacket, the other red on his shirt. I was just a white kid from the Valley, but I wasn’t stupid – I ran straight to the Vice Principal’s office and told him there were two new kids waiting to be trampled. He headed out immediately to fetch them in and make them change clothes.

    We had a very safe school – the V.P. was terrific, and he clamped down tightly on two things: gang colors and Nazi symbolism. We were also technically “undercrowded”, which works amazingly well for cutting tension on campus. But those two boys were very likely to be jumped and beaten the minute they stepped off the bus on the way back home to L.A.

    If the administration is now color-coding where they transfer kids on transfer day, that sounds like a great improvement to me, for the safety of the incoming kids more than of the schools themselves.

  20. Walter Wallis says:

    First we make everyone come to school wearing the same size shoes – say 6AAA.
    Then we educate everyone the same.
    Then we give everyone the same grade.
    Sooooo simple.

  21. I wonder if they did start removing the gang members, how many people would be taken out of the class rooms? Why don’t they just start special gang schools so all the students who are bloods end up at one or two schools and for the crips the same?

  22. PJ/Maryland says:

    Or better, put all the Bloods and Crips at the same school, and sell the television rights!

  23. Walter Wallis says:

    Put them all in neighborhood schools, install complete video surveilance and put violent actors in jail instead of negotiating with them.

  24. How about getting rid of the politicians who pander to ethnic groups & allow, even encourage illegal immigration? Massive, unfettered immigration, both legal & illegal, is destroying our country. What will it take for American citizens to grow a spine & demand an end to it??????

  25. kellye flanagan-vogel says:

    How ridiculous! So what is to discuss and negotiate? Throw the offenders out so that the decent kids will have a chance to do what they go to school for in the first place. Learn! Don’t these gang members have parents? They should also be held accountable. I wouldn’t be surprised though if the parents are just as nonsensical as their children. If these “kids” (young criminals in the making) have nothing better to do than to worry about what color someone is wearing (which is more than idiotic), they must be extremely bored. If they have so much energy and free time on their hands maybe they should be put to work (not to get paid)cleaning, picking up litter, etc., in other words, community service! Yeah, yeah! Some probably don’t want to hear that, but it sure makes sense to me.

  26. Mr. Fonzo says:

    12,000 young people, nearly all black, brown and male, have died in LA’s gang wars since 1980. Across the nation, the numbers are hard to get, but it’s safe to estimate a body count of 25,000.

    But few people seem to care, as if these young people were incorrigible and their deaths somehow deserved. For example, I was checking the decline of gang numbers in LA with a law enforcement data specialist the other day, and I said “why don’t you just declare victory and declare that the threat has declined?” and he laughed and replied, “Why don’t the gang members announce the progress they’re making in killing each other?” That’s the attitude.

    But if 25,000 white people were killing each other in the streets, you would hear calls for a peace process, for jobs, for loan packages, for bringing the factions to the table.

    Our attitude seems to be good riddance.


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