1975.03.01: Gang Explosion (Red Tide)

Gang Explosion

Red Tide #16

March 1975

Gang Explosion
[By Michael Letwin]

Howard Morrison, the young black man convicted of the shooting of Robert Brisco one year ago, was himself shot while standing on an apartment balcony, January 17, in Los Angeles. He was apparently the victim of a gang vendetta.

Morrison’s victim, Brisco, had the bad luck of jogging around the track when Morrison suddenly opened fire. Morrison was arrested and released after 90 days. The talk in the streets after the shooting was that Morrison would die for it. Sure enough, Morrison’s death came just 5 days before the anniversary of Brisco’s death.

GANGS ON THE RISE

This could be any city in the US today. Every major city has its gangs and its gang members. According to recent estimates, there are over 35,000 organizing gang members in the communities of Los Angeles. The same holds true for all of the nation’s big cities: San Francisco, Chicago, New York.  Most young people have friends, acquaintances, or at least have heard of others who have been blown away, either by a gangster or a cop.

Gangs are bigger today than they have been in a long time. This is because of the state of the economy, and the depression conditions in these communities. Now that the economy is all shot to hell, unemployment, poverty and violence are hitting hardest in areas where people are the last hired, the first fired and first messed up by the system.

POLICE VIOLENCE

One of the counterparts to the black, Asian, and Latin gangs is the police, whose presence in these times is felt more than ever. The number of cops in the schools is increasing, as people take out their anger and frustration through bumping each other off. Many times people in these situations are more frightened of being hassled or killed by the cops than they are by the local gangs. They know that the gangs have something to be scared of if they kill someone, but the police only are accountable to the rich who own them, and have no concern for the life of a poor person.

To be sure, what the system is most afraid of is that these gangs will figure out it’s more effective to fight the sources of our frustration than it is to be killing your friends and partners. Whether this happens in the forms of the summer rebellions of the ‘60s, or by the political organization of the masses, it is going to happen.

Things are getting hotter in the cities these days. It seems as if there is no escape. Gang warfare isn’t the answer, whether that gang wears badges or people who can see nothing ahead of them in their lives. Only by building a fighting movement of working and poor people can a solution be found.

[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/]

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