1973.01.01: Gangs in L.A. Schools (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]

Red Tide, Vol. 2, No. 4 [Issue #8]
January 1973

Gangs in L.A. Schools
[By Michael Letwin]

Gang violence is a phenomenon which has been familiar to many people in the past few decades [and] in the past few months, we have been hearing a lot about the problem of gang violence in L.A. Most of this gang violence has taken place and around black and Chicano schools in South Central and East L.A.

We have seen or heard stories of students and teachers being shot and killed, beaten up, frightened, of school buildings being vandalized, and of arsenals of weapons being found in students lockers.

Many members of the Board of Education and of the police have come up with “solutions” to this problem, such as having hundreds of police and patrol the schools (even more than they are already doing) to constantly search students, halls etc.

Their “solution” is to repress this of gangs, to turn the already repressive ghetto schools into pure police states.

We disagree completely with this “solution”. Gangs are flourishing now because of deteriorating schools, [and] because the curriculums are not relevant to the needs of the community. Gangs are popular because of the fact that there is over 50% unemployment in the black community, for instance.

This is not because blacks are lazy, as so many officials would have us believe, but rather because there are no jobs to be had, and those that do exist, pay next to nothing. When there are no jobs, the blacks and Chicanos are the first to be laid off, and the last to be re-hired.

Young people in these communities feel these and other problems, but in many cases, only have a vague feeling that this society is to blame. So anger, frustration, problems are taken out in unproductive violence.

So what is the solution to gang violence? Well, if certain social conditions have produced the problems, then these social conditions must be disposed of. Poor housing, unemployment, police harassment irrelevant and incompetent schools, subsistence wages and standard of living, all of these are the reasons for the gangs.

We do not believe that the Board of Education will recognize these things as the basis of the problem, or that even if they did, that they would do anything about it. These problems are built in to the way that this society functions.

Rather we feel that the solution to these problems lies in the entire removal of the economic and social system (capitalism) that has bred them [and] that these gangs must stop fighting among themselves, and organize together to educate about what will bring about significant changes in this society, and in the quality of life for all.

This has happened before. After the Watts Rebellion of 1965, a feeling of black unity was developed. Instead of fighting among themselves, people got together to fight against their common oppression. Gang violence dropped to an all time low. During this time, groups such as Black Panther Party worked together with gang leaders to involve the gangs in this struggle.

We feel that until this is done again, not only will these kind of problems not get better, but they will get much, much worse.

In the next issue, we hope to have a fully researched article on the gangs.


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