Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Public Enemy #1."

Think it's the Scary! urban black rappers from last decade? Think again:

White supremacist gang gains clout

BUENA PARK, Calif. - The white supremacist gang Public Enemy No. 1 began two decades ago as a group of teenage punk-rock fans from upper-middle class bedroom communities in Southern California.

Now, the violent gang that deals in drugs, guns and identity theft is gaining clout across the West after forging an alliance with the notorious Aryan Brotherhood, authorities say.

Police say the gang has compiled a "hit list" targeting five officers and a gang prosecutor — a sign of just how brazen Public Enemy has become.

"They make police officers very, very nervous," said Cpl. Nate Booth, a gang detective with the Buena Park Police Department in Orange County.

...The pact has increased Public Enemy's wealth and recruiting power, said Steve Slaten, a special agent for the California Department of Corrections.

In the past three years, its ranks have doubled to at least 400, but authorities suspect there could be hundreds of other members operating under the radar. They said heavy recruiting is taking place throughout California and Arizona, and members have been picked up by police in Nevada and Idaho.

"They move around. We find them everywhere," said Lowell Smith of the Orange County Probation Department.

The gang traces its roots to the punk rock subculture in Long Beach in the 1980s. It soon shifted its base to nearby Orange County and in the 1990s began recruiting what police call "bored latchkey kids" — white teenagers from upper-middle class neighborhoods.

Public Enemy is now involved in identity theft. Booth said the gang has gone from swiping personal information from mailboxes and trash to stealing entire credit profiles with the help of girlfriends and wives who take jobs at banks, mortgage companies and even state motor vehicle departments.

Money from those operations is used to fuel its methamphetamine business, he said...

My favorite part of this?

"bored latchkey kids" — white teenagers from upper-middle class neighborhoods.

I can vouch that they're out there and have been out there--oldest kid in the family living across the way from us, me growing up in a mostly-white upper-middle-class Southern California neighborhood was a skinhead. White power pamphleteering, gang warfare in L.A., arrest, the whole deal.

Whatever happened to baby Johnny?


R. Mildred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belledame222 said...

Maybe I ought to give my family a heads up, first; they're still there.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

i just saw that at rawstory. i didn't like it at all.

R. Mildred said...

Maybe I ought to give my family a heads up, first; they're still there.

Nah, due to how evil is neutrally boyant, we can just skim the non-evil off the top of the sea afterwards.

KH said...

One reason we hear so little about white gangs is that the data are terrible, & systematically underreport them: many police departments literally do not count white gangs as "gangs," the concept being that they're by definition a phenomenon of minority communities.

Mildred's proposal is a bit rash, but if she's serious, she needs to include San Diego.

Rootietoot said...

At the risk of having something thrown at me,
A responsible parent in the house when the kid comes home from school: A Good Thing.

belledame222 said...

Well, -someone-, at any rate. Any actual responsible and caring adult would be better than, like, a Playstation.

belledame222 said...

...although, it also depends what those adults are like, i expect.

not sure what went on with the nabes across the way, but: they were a strange lot. i think Mom did actually stay home. i also think she drank a lot. and i gather Dad was probably fairly ummm angry? racist, even? perhaps? to begin with...

our other Mrs. Kravitz-like neighbors next door swore that the parents had a big Nazi flag tacked up on the bedroom wall. since, unlike them, we're not in the habit of peering in other peoples' windows, that sadly remains unconfirmed.

belledame222 said...

I remember that the daughter, who was my age, was the only one in our health/sex ed/driving class whose parents refused to give her the permission to take the sex ed part, for whatever that's worth.

she also used to bully me on and off throughout junior high and high school.

Trinity said...

"...although, it also depends what those adults are like, i expect."

Yeah. I was just going to say that. I'm not sure that just being home by yourself convinces even already problem kids to join racist gangs.

I was a latchkey kid. I'm not saying it's a great thing -- it isn't -- but I mostly did homework and watched cartoons.

ArrogantWorm said...

On latchkey kids, I think it depends more on what the adults around them believe and the actions that go with it than wether or not there are adults at home after school. Kids learn by example, if the parents are fuckwits (like racist attitudes or upholding a strong vs weak attitude) than their kid'll either pick up and agree with the behavior or disregard it as they see fit, the former happening more often than the latter, I think. Doesn't matter wether the parent's are home after school or not for that to happen.

Although a responsible adult in the house is still a good idea with young kids. But preteens and teenagers (at least, the ones I'm familiar with) can take care of themselves, for the most part.
'Course, there's always exceptions.

Most cops could stand to revise how they define a gang. Can't take care of it if people refuse to define it, and it ain't fair shoving hoodlums under the rug just cuz they're white.

But then, the latchkey kids they're talking about are middle class, ain't they? A generalization, but maybe the kids're raised to believe they're special, and they might miss the attention. Nothing seems to say 'look at me' and inflatin' an ego like bein' in a gang, where it actually is all about you.

belledame222 said...

well, and there is also such a thing as "quality time." With kids that age, it's not so much "be there to take care of them and make sure they don't get into trouble" as y'know, pay attention, be an actual caring presence, not just a body who plonks food on the table and barks at 'em to turn the damn TV down once in a while.

there is also of course the fact that "upper middle class" in no way precludes "serious abuse going on behind closed doors."

doesn't automatically mean it IS happening either of course, but...

belledame222 said...

but the classic pattern i guess would be: parent is authoritarian and abusive and probably also at least somewhat racist; it's too scary to take it out on the parent so instead the kid takes it out on a safer target.

and/or: lack of exposure to actual members of the Enemy class, the feelings of belonging to the gang are much too exciting to pay attention to any vestigial sense of guilt; peer bonding, iow.

belledame222 said...

also, i think the lack of ritual and initation in mainstream culture is a big part of the draw to somewhere that -can- provide it.

ArrogantWorm said...


Yea, you bet, but I thought the authoritarian and possible abuse was kind of a given for the mindframe needed to be part of a violent gang. I suppose what I meant was the appeal of such a gang to a kid.

There's lots of ritual and initiation in mainstream culture, though. The whole blasted thing is mostly ritual and initiation. Not saying more wouldn't be a draw, but I'm still not clear why it's attractive in the first place. Yeah, I suppose it may produce concrete memories of belonging, something one may point to and go 'We all did that, we all experienced that.' But can't you get the same feeling from joining, I dunno, a club with a hazing process or a church where you have to do so many good deeds before you're invited to the luncheon?

R. Mildred said...

but the classic pattern i guess would be: parent is authoritarian and abusive and probably also at least somewhat racist; it's too scary to take it out on the parent so instead the kid takes it out on a safer target.

Well that, and there's didn't get some sort of sense of affirmation from his/her parents, so looks to groups like the far righters who create a surrogate enviroment to fill those psych-holes, however inclusion into such groups requires endearing to certain behaviors and at the least pretending to believe certain beliefs, which draws them further into the group until self/group identity begin to merge.

And that's street level facism of the socio-political kind folks, the corps is mother, the corps is father.

R. Mildred said...

Or indeed, all of the above, at the same time.

belledame222 said...

but I thought the authoritarian and possible abuse was kind of a given for the mindframe needed to be part of a violent gang.

Usually; but I think serious neglect and chaos can have the same results, more or less. Instead of using the gang as a quasi-rebellion that actually ends up replicating the authoritative structure, they gravitate toward an overkill in structure because they didn't have any at all, and felt lost.

belledame222 said...

The other thing is--you know, it's not -just- the parents. But the parents' role takes on even more weight when there's no extended family, no street like, no safe local hangouts, no real "neighborhood..."

...which, again: I mostly grew up in one of those.

For two years before we moved to that small city/suburb, we lived in a somewhat more "neighborhoodly" town/suburb in O.C., probably not as upwardly mobile, in retrospect, kind of solid middle class, army base nearby.

but there, I had friends living across the street and down the street; one of the neighboring dads taught me to ride a bike; we were constantly ringing each other's doorbells and playing at each other's houses and in the street, you know. The adult neighbors were more likely to come out on the front porch or into the street or ring bells themselves. Trick or treating, sparklers on the 4th, and so on.

Then we moved, and I didn't do well with change in general, and I'm sure the upheaval itself was part of it; but, I did try to recreate what I'd had in the other street; there were a couple of neighbor kids here and of them being the daughter of the Nazi family (we started calling them that, years later, among ourselves), very briefly; the bullying followed pretty quickly. Didn't really take. And: it was and is damn -quiet.-

I felt vindicated years later when reading a bell hooks essay on cultural differences between her own experience growing up in an extended family, with different expectations and mores, i guess, than a lot of middle class white suburban folks.

but, specifically, she mentioned my hometown by name, as an illustration of what she found so foreign and bewildering (she'd been giving a speech at one of the colleges or something), basically saying it was one of the quietest damn places she'd ever been in.

so, there's that.