Gang Related – Part Two the Olders
In part one, the reality of gang membership amongst the Youngers established that by nature many will mature out of the gang lifestyle when a better opportunity arises.
However, not all young people can leave the gang; the few we should be aiming to reach are those at a higher risk of becoming habitual offenders / career criminals and eventual Olders to the next generation.
So what do the Olders think?
“Raskal”, age 29, now youth worker in south London:
“They wanna prove that they’re bad men, they don’t have common sense yet because they’re so young. I feel bad because us on the roads have brought these kids up in this lifestyle. But we haven’t taught them right. We bigged up ourselves as bad men, but I don’t think we were as reckless as they are. They see what we portray but they don’t really have any idea what they are getting themselves in for. They feel pressurised to do things in their circles, they have low self-esteem, no idea what it is to be valued, they don’t have no positive role model, and that is our fault. We could have been their positive role models. The Youngers need inspiration and empowerment, they need to see positivity. I’m not saying there is no positive things going on but they are not highlighted half as much as the negative things. I think like you say for Youngers, this has become a lifestyle choice, some of them still become involved because of the same reasons we did, but there are a lot of wannabe gang members out there, that’s a sad reality”.
“Buckles”, age 28, community worker in north London:
“Back in the day, I’m not so sure our motivations were the same as the current youngers, in terms of relative poverty, we had it worse. We grew up in blocks that were falling apart and being demolished, amongst squalor. The government have spent millions on re-developing the housing stock and making things look nice, but the problems are still here. I don’t know maybe it’s just something about certain areas? When I grew up I saw my mum struggling, holding down two three jobs and still she was broke. Would you not even contemplate trying to earn some money anyway you could? And then you meet the older lads on the estate who look after you, treat you like family, give you the opportunity to make some money. I think back then they were really looking out for us but today, the Youngers are just being manipulated. Do you know how it feels to live in these blocks? We wanted something to be ours so bad, we made the estate ours. We took pride in being from that area, we repped our ends the same as kids do today, but deep down it was depressing. No-one really wanted to live around here. The lifts didn’t work, the stairwells stunk of piss, sometimes of heroin and that is a horrible smell. Graffiti all over the walls. Who really wants to live like this and take pride in it? Are we deluded, no, we just wanted to belong to something, the estate was central to that. Growing up here money was always an issue. But it became a motive. Crime provided us with a way to get what we wanted, the trainers, clothes, girls. You needed the right clothes and trainers to get any sort of respect, we live in a consumerist society, if your not up to date with the latest fashion then your excluded from society. I used to rob commuters, banks, travel agents. I rolled with the wrong people but what I was doing it was good money, you needed to have money in your pocket”.
SJ, age 26, youth worker in north London:
“The YouTube video hype is madness. They keep hyping themselves up so much that if they don’t back up what they are saying they look stupid. If they say they’re gonna do something, they have to. Ten to fifteen years ago if you told me man on the roads were gonna be beefin over music videos on the internet I would have said two things – what’s the internet? And, nah no way. I’m sure most of our beef as Youngers was still over petty arguments over girls and silly things like that, maybe there would be a little fight, but we didn’t go around killing other young people for no good reason. Being in a gang gets you into trouble though even if you’re not the instigator because you’re expected to back your man up no matter what. I think it is important to stick up for your friends, but at the same time, should you really be taking their side if they have done something out of order? You can’t back down because it just doesn’t work that way, but at the same time your man should realise what he is getting you in for, he is putting your life at-risk too sometimes. People can’t back down, it’s a real problem. No one wants to try and squash the beef because you don’t want to look weak. It’s a big contradiction, because man won’t make a truce because they are scared to be called weak. If you can be the man that tries to squash the beef you are going against the norm knowing that everyone is going to think you’re a pussy, that takes a big man to do that, but no-one views it like that. Everyone is scared to squash their beef’s when they’re young; no-one wants to be the bigger man and do the right thing. The personal beefs between individuals are the most dangerous”.
But these views are that of level headed individuals who are no longer part of the gang life. How do the Olders on the street see things? (NB: FOLLOWING OPINIONS ARE THE VIEWS OF SEVERAL OLDER GANG MEMBERS FROM DIFFERENT LONDON BASED INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARIES INCLUDING “BANG BANG IN DA MANOR” – THEIR OPINIONS HAVE BEEN AMALGAMATED FOR THE BELOW TEXT)
“Drugs and gangs go hand in hand. All these Youngers are moving food (drugs) for older man, and if you can’t see that your fucking dumb blood! Everyone in this game is selling bruv, everyone is tooled up. You gotta be protected, my strap is my protection. You need to be on point around here when peeps busting (breaking) in next mans yard (house) lickin (firing) shots. It’s mad. Drugs is the problem cos everyone wants to be a dealer, it’s getting crowded out here trust. Even the Youngers run up in mans yard (house) to take their food (drugs), robbing dealers all day, no long thing. You never know when people gonna roll up on you take your money, take your car and whatever else you got. Drugs is the quickest way to make money, bare (lots of) p’s (money) but you need to protect it. You can’t let people take you for a mug, get me (understand)? You think I give a fuck about doing time for holding (a firearm)? Fuck no, rather that than be dead with a bullet in the back of my head. Jail ain’t gonna stop me, I’m an addict for the paper (money) chase blood, get me? The Youngers respect me more than the feds (police). They wanna be me, they wanna be the man. They don’t know though do they? They hate the feds and don’t wanna snitch, but how you think older man on the roads staying out of HMP? Everyone’s snitching, but fuck it; as long as the Youngers think that we ain’t and keep their mouths shut I couldn’t give a fuck if one of my youngers goes in (to prison), get me? Most boys running for me only 14 or 15, plenty more wanna be in their shoes blood. They’re replaceable. One of the boys 17, ain’t really all there mentally, get me? He thinks that BMX I gave him was a gift to show I respect his loyalty? It’s to move him round to get more work done, but he don’t realise that. But he respect me, he thinks he owes me. They think they’re ‘hood stars’, well they ain’t. They think they have respect, reppin the ends (neighbourhood) beefin man from next ends rah rah rah. . .the older from next ends is just like me, he hooks me up. The Youngers are just game pieces to us still”.