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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Compton's 155th Street Gang

The Compton Varrio 155th gang, one of the oldest and most well known of the city's Sureño gangs, has intensified its attacks on blacks.

February 27, 2013  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

Photo via RapDict.com.
Photo via RapDict.com.

Compton was incorporated as a city by Los Angeles County on May 11, 1888, making it one of the oldest incorporated cities in California. To ensure the continuance of farming on the land, certain acreage was to be zoned solely for agriculture.

After the Second World War, the city experienced a housing boom. Compton attracted many black settlers from the South. Returning war veterans, a group that included my father, also found homes. The land parcels for housing remained spacious, and agricultural farmlands remained.

I lived in an unincorporated area to the north known as Willowbrook. To the west, there were disputed tracts of empty lots. Migrant immigrants were attracted to the farm work nearby and began squatting on these unoccupied lots. Mexicans, Pacific Islanders, blacks, and whites parked their trailers on the fields and built out-of-code housing. Compton would eventually annex this land but like the unincorporated Willowbrook area, paved streets, drainage and access to gas lines, water and electric power were problematic. These areas had no sidewalks until the late 1960s.

In the 1950s, street gangs had formed in these depressed areas. "You jive mouth farmer!" was an insult hurled by rivals at black gang members from Compton, in reference to their families being negro farm hands. The Compton Farmers was the name of one of the first gangs. Many more would follow. But colonies of other ethnic groups struggled to survive in areas primarily controlled by African American gangs. Some of the non-black gangs were allied to these black gangs (San Pedro's Dodge City Crips had Latino and black members), but some were bitter rivals.

In the area west of downtown Compton these former squatter lands became known by blacks as Taco Town, and by Latinos as La Calle Loca (the Crazy Street). The local Catholic parish was Saint Albert the Great Church. I attended tardiadas (afternoon dances) at Saint Albert. My first girlfriend lived on 152nd Street. The Lynwood sheriff's station patrolled this area and adopted their logo and "Viking" name from Saint Albert's middle school.

Because of changing boundaries, I was required to attend Compton High School rather than the closer Centennial. But I had cousins who lived in the 155th Street area and at Compton High they introduced me to several 155th Street gang members. I occasionally had to hang out with a few of the most notable 155th Street members like Danny "White Boy" Holmes, Ralph "Lettuce" Lechuga, "Sampson," as well as Pacific Islanders "Coconut" and his brothers "Pineapple" and "Saber," who always carried a machete.

Not being a 155th Street gang member eventually became a problem for me and my brother. The worst of these 155th Street members were usually high on "red devils" (Seconal) and drunk on wine. They were dangerous to everyone and lethal to rivals. They were as bad as any Willowbrook gang such as the Compton Varrio Tres, Tortilla Flats, Willowbrook Winos, or any black gang. The African American Compton gang Swamp Boys was a chief rival.

At that time, the official logo of the gang was a grim reaper standing under a streetlight with a street sign reading 155th Street. Lechuga had commissioned me to draw it for them on poster board in art class. Very few of these gang members ever made it to high school graduation, but several of us who avoided gangs and graduated became cops.

The bitter rivalry between 155th Street and the surrounding black gangs had its beginnings in this era. As a minority in another race's minority community, the non-blacks were often the victims of lots of bullying and sometimes violence. The 155th Street gang members soon learned that the best defensive tactic was to be very offensive. By being mas loco (crazier than) any surrounding gang, they established an atmosphere of intimidation that few dared to challenge.

After the Rodney King riots in 1992, the Sureño gangs under the control of the Mexican Mafia intensified their attacks against blacks. The 155th Street gang was an enthusiastic follower of this movement, being strongly influenced by Mexican Mafia members Alejandro "Fox" Tapia originally from the South Los gang and their own homeboy Raul "Dagwood" Vasquez from 155th Street.

Compton is now 65% Hispanic, and the gang has intensified its attacks on black residents.

Being a small gang, the activity associated with 155th Street gang seems to rise and fall with the influence exerted by the few hard-core gang members active and alive at the time. Upon their release (as in California's current "realignment program") the gang violence increases. Imprisonment also further indoctrinates and motivates these gang members in their Mexican Mafia/Sureño war against the African American community. Many in this community are calling for federal prosecutors to charge interracial violence committed by members as hate crimes.

Tags: Surenos, Hispanic Gangs, Street Gangs, Gang Intelligence


Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

Compton Katcha @ 3/19/2013 1:52 PM

Hey guys one question: How we gonna spot these guys on the street?

Mr.cinco @ 5/10/2013 8:29 AM

I don't agree with the media saying "The gang is racially motivated". Because that is not true!

Mike @ 5/21/2013 12:15 AM

Most of them are dead or in prison doing life.
The ones today are posers and wannabes,
not even gang banging, calling themselves
niggaz. Most of them just wall bang
and snitch. Gang banging died in the 80's
and 90's.

angela leday @ 5/28/2013 12:26 PM

wow thats deep im a vet from that gang they used to call me lil brains and my girls father was ernie armijo they call him brain brain or if u wanted to piss me off call me snake oil lol my old man was a mecanic when ernie pass on at the age of 32 yds old i left the streets for a bigger battle raiseing my 5 daughters and my homegirl edna daughter my she rip i have no regrets i rasie my sword for the lord my battle is keeping my daughters safe and healthy educated and successful wormen of the lord.

fabianguerrero @ 5/31/2013 5:29 AM

R.I.P BIG BOXER FROM CV155 THIS IS YOUR PRIMO FROM SOUTH SIDE RIVERSIDE JUST GIVING YOU A SHOT OUT ON YOU WAY TO HEAVEN.

Truth @ 6/18/2013 11:07 AM

It's funny that it is only a hate crime when black people are the victims, but never when blacks are the aggressors and non-blacks are the victims. It's part of the double standard. Blacks are the first to yell racism and while being equally/more racist

Marissa Diaz De Tafolla @ 8/28/2013 5:01 AM

@ fabian G... i heard about your primo, and may he rest in peace....

Scotty @ 8/28/2013 1:17 PM

I am still shaking my head. Blacks have been robbing, rapping and killing each other in Compton for 30+ years. But now that some latino gang is involved it's now a hate crime to attack a black person? Why don't you charge all those blacks who killed blacks with a hate crime? You are such morons.

fabian guerrero @ 9/4/2013 2:57 PM

Thank you marrissa diaz. Thankd for showing love.

fabian guerrero @ 9/4/2013 9:58 PM

Hey marissa if you don't mind me asking how did you here about my primo?

All be @ 4/29/2014 12:09 PM

When blacks attack Latinos it's gang related when a Mexican kills a fuken mayate it is a hate crime then they start to cry and snitch

troub-loc @ 9/5/2014 1:07 AM

Stupid ass mexicans y'all go thru the same struggle us niggas do we eff hould be together fucking these white devils up but fuck Cali and yall wack ass gangs bloods crips vatos all yall this GD we the real gangstas

Compton153 @ 9/29/2014 10:53 PM

R.I.p to my Boy Stitch! CV155ST !
Fuck Alondras! PK CK CUPPK PBK AK ABCCK BK

2TRAV13 @ 10/3/2014 1:33 PM

FUCCK FREANCH FRIES FUCCKEN RATS.. YALL NIGGAS CANT HANG WITH THE GUN PLAY.. ALL YALL FOOS DO IS TAGG AN WEN FOOS START SHOOTIN.. YOU BITCHES WANNA GO AN TELL THE COPS.. FUCKEN RATS FUCCK YALL HOOD.. ITS THAT EVERYBODY KILLA GANG SS COMPTON VARRIO SEGUNDO GANG PCHS PK NK SOY TRAV13 AN IDGAF.. DONT SLIP

2TRAV13 @ 10/3/2014 1:34 PM

FUCCK STITCH HE CAN SUCCK MY DICCK AN REST IN PISS..
CVSEGUNDO PCHS FRIE KILLA ALL DAY..

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