Another Cop Gone, Another Cop Gone,
Is all I’m Hearing, Another MF Cop Gone
It’s Like a MF Countdown, Armed and Dangerous
We Go Mutherf__n’ Balls Out, Just Show That We Roll
And How The Southeast Rides, Committing All These Muthaf__n’ Crimes
"All At One Time"
—Hawaiian Gardens Gang Rap Song
Recently a Hollywood producer sent me an article on gangs from the Feb. 17 edition of The California Real Estate Journal. The article was written by R. Konrad Moore, who I understand is with the Alternate Public Defenders Office, and it was titled “Trying to Out-Tough Gangs Won’t Rid Neighborhoods of Violence.”
The author suggests in the article that citizens of a community can peacefully co-exist with local gangs if the residents give the gang members respect and tolerate their presence. Mr. Moore also seems to suggest that increased police and gang unit activity only causes gang members to dig in their heels and possibly increases violence.
The author cites the example of a Hawaiian Gardens neighborhood market store owner. Mr. Moore tries to give a store owner, the title of gang expert for his “special knowledge” that he developed by living and working in this high crime area. The store owner claimed that his market had never been robbed. He said, “You don’t want to play tough guy with them because it’s not going to work,” and “You respect them; they respect you.”
Konrad Moore calls the store owner’s ideas duel truths; you are not going to out-tough gang members, and respecting these gang members is the path to peaceful co-existence. He says these “truths” are in conflict with the traditional law enforcement methods of combating gangs. He says when neither side backs down tragedy follows. Young men wind up dead or in prison and the next generation fills the power vacuum.
Having grown up in Compton California during the turbulent ’60s, I have heard this kind of fuzzy thinking expressed before. This kind of tolerance leads to what Compton became: the home of the Crips and the Blood gangs. Or as naive Father Greg Boyle might say in the mist of the Big Hazard gang, “there is no such thing as a bad boy.”
Evil does exist, there are real bad boys, and pretending they won’t hurt you is sticking your head in the sand. This is why civilized societies developed philosophy, morality, and the law.
This Hawaiian Gardens store owner is no more an expert on gangs than a cancer victim is an oncologist. Being Hispanic and living in Hawaiian Gardens and even knowing some gang members gives him no special knowledge about street gangs. Gangs are not part of any Hispanic culture; they are a secretive and deviant criminal culture, and they share this truth only with their own.
This store owner represents the foolish man who, seeing a leprous sore growing on his nose, decides to ignore it and peacefully co-exist with it. This leprous infection can then spread and possibly destroy, not only the foolish man, but his family and community as well. The writer Moore, the store owner, and people like them abdicate their civic duties to safeguard the city, and they condemn their communities to victimization and control by criminal gangs.
Why should we compromise with outlaw criminal gangs? Although they claim to be “soldiers for the neighborhood,” they rarely have any financial stake in the community. They own no property, contribute no money, and do nothing worthwhile in the community. And by their very nature, they leach from and victimize those who do. Like schoolyard bullies, once you let them take your lunch money they will take more and more every day. Only fools would allow criminal gangs to claim their neighborhood community as the gang’s turf.
If you don’t read history, if you don’t understand the four-millennium tradition of Judeo- Christian ethics, maybe you understand Hollywood movies. Remember the movies like “High Noon” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” In these movies the townspeople are reluctant to defend their communities from criminal bullies. They try to peacefully co-exist with the bad guys. Only the courage of one or two good men saves them all from wanton violence.
Less than 10 percent of the kids from even the worst neighborhoods join criminal gangs. Recognizing and giving gang members: “respect,” after they choose to ignore society’s rules and community standards sends a confusing sign to the good kids who play by the rules. The very word respect does not mean the same thing to gang members as it does to us. “Respect” equals “fear” to gang members. Respect is only gained when one is feared by another. Having respect for your elderly grandmother is inconceivable to today’s gangster.
Blaming gangs and gang violence on youthful male testosterone, a territorial nature, ethnic or cultural factors, or lawful police activity is an exercise in negligent thinking. Worse, it codependently enables dangerous predators.
When working in Hawaiian Gardens, my Prison Gang Team nicknamed it “148 City.” California Penal Code section 148 covers resisting and obstructing a police officer. We named the city that because many of its residence would attempt to obstruct our arrests and hide and defend criminal gang members. It is a small wonder that the city has a history of public corruption, and it was the home of Luis “Huero Buff” Flores and “Hando” Lachuga of the Hawaiian Gardens Gang later founding fathers of the Mexican Mafia.
On June 24, 2005, LASD Operation Safe Streets (OSS) Gang detective Jerry Ortiz was ambushed and murdered by Hawaiian Gardens Gang member Jose Luis Orozco of the “Loquitos” Clique. Nicknamed “Sepy,” this 29-year-old had devils horn tattoos on his forehead. During the trial Sepy was identified as Ortiz’s shooter and also implicated in a hate inspired shooting of an African American. (The Hawaiian Gardens Gang members call their gang “The Hate Gang” because they pride themselves in their tendency to commit hate crimes against blacks.)
After Dep. Ortiz’s murder, Sepy’s homeboys praised the killing in their street rap songs and gang graffiti. One wall read “f--k the cops 187” and “rest in piz Ortiz.” As for Sepy himself, he was convicted and now sits on California’s Death Row.
Anybody who knows me knows I have often helped gang members. I would help anyone willing to disassociate or resist these criminal gangs. However, I would never council anyone to tolerate or peacefully co-exist with these destructive criminal gangs. Only a fool would.