Is This How Gangs End?

I’m very proud of my cover story in the January’s edition of Pacific Standard Magazine about the decline of gang violence and gang presence in Southern California.gangs-illo

I’ve been watching this phenomenon quietly unfold for several years. It amounts to a revolution in criminal behavior in the region that essentially invented the modern street gang, then exported it to much of America.

It’s not necessarily to say that, literally, all gangs have stopped existing, though some have. Rather, it’s to say that their behavior is so much more underground, low-profile, so quiet, that it amounts to about the same thing for many working-class neighborhoods that were besieged by these guys for so long. Some are still active but none is as active as gangs were a decade or two ago.

These were truly street gangs, meaning they took their power, identity and reputation from their streets and how well they “defended” them.

Areas like Drew Street, mentioned in the piece, are now seeing a resurgence that was denied them for many years due to the stifling presence of their local gangs.

Anyway, I hope you like the piece. Daily Beast selected it as one of the Best Longreads of the Week – so that was nice….Let me know what you think, please.



Filed under California, Gangs, Los Angeles, Southern California

6 Responses to Is This How Gangs End?

  1. Kathy Kolnick

    Enjoyed your article and passed it on our colleagues and students. Thought it was well-constructed and more nuanced than so many I’ve seen.

    Would like to have seen more on the city’s GRYD program (we’ve assisted the city since the beginning of the program). The prevention side has screened over 10,000 youth at risk for gang joining since 2008 and offered individual and family services. We’ve turned our attention to the intervention side for over a year now and are working with the agencies who are providing family case management to current gang members who are thinking about moving in a different direction.

    Guillermo Cespedas, Jeff Carr’s successor (until the end of 2013), did amazing and inspirational work. Hard to pin down given his current international work on gangs and violence, but he would be worthwhile to talk to given your interests.

  2. chris

    The Mafia mobs went through the same kind of transition maybe, from completely illegal business to more legitmate businesses, slowly. Maybe this is the same kind of thing.

  3. Richard Alvarado

    I always enjoy your articles and insight Mr. Quinones. This one in particular held my attention for personal reasons. I am an aspiring writer and am ready to submit a manuscript about criminality to the publisher…when I read your article I realized our interpretation of crime, law enforcement response and street gangs was similar in most respects but the outcome – reduced gang members – was drastically different. I would like to offer you an advanced copy of my book: 10-33 On the West Yard: A True Crime Story about Politics, Policies and Prison Gangs, when it is printed. If your schedule permits, I would be very grateful for any critique you can offer. You can see my bio on LinkedIn as a reference. Thnaks for your time.

    • samquinones

      Feel free to send it on when it’s done, Richard. I’m not sure I always have time, but we’ll see….Good luck with it. Sam

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