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Gang Leader for a day

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Aliyah Wasserstein

on 2 December 2012

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Transcript of Gang Leader for a day

Chelsea Lowry
Claire Lysaght
Angie Smith
Tim Cantzler
Aliyah Wasserstein
Tejas Sinha Chapter 1: How Does It Feel to Be Black and Poor? Question: How are young blacks affected by specific neighborhood factors? Does growing up in or near specific housing projects lead to differences in job/educational outcomes? Methods:
1. Quantitative Sociology: Use of quantitative and statistical techniques to study sociology.
Ex: Standardized Surveys
2. Ethnography: Study life by direct observation, often by living among a group of people. Venkatesh’s Initial Approach: Based on the work of his advisor (William Julius Wilson), decided to use quantitative methods and standard survey questions. Quantitative vs. Qualitative Methods Quantitative Pros:
-Uses large data sets
-limits bias
-methods are standardized and can be verified

-Does not answer specific questions, such as what makes a particularly policy work for some families but not for others? Qualitative Pros:
-Can give more intimate and genuine information.
-Allows one to answer specific questions

-Observations can become biased.
-Observations may only apply to group being studied and not all people. Interviewed several old black men at Washington Park, a predominantly African American neighborhood next to University of Chicago, to get an initial understanding of African American culture. History of Gangs: “They talked about the Black Panther Party of their youth and how it was radically different from today’s gangs. ‘The Panthers had breakfast programs for kids but these gangs just shoot em and feed and feed em drugs’” p.6

On Race: “You got two kinds of whites in this city…and two kinds of blacks. You got whites who’ll beat you if you come into their neighborhood…Then you got another group that just won’t invite you in. They’ll call the police if you come in their neighborhood…You got blacks who are beating their heads trying to figure out a way to live where you live…And then you got a whole lot of black folk who realize it ain’t no use. Like us. We just spend our try trying to get by, and we live around here, where it ain’t so pretty, but at least you won’t get your ass beat. At least not by the police.” p.7 Decided to find young blacks to survey
Went to Lake Park Projects in Chicago.
Held overnight by Black Kings, who thought he was a rival Mexican gang member, while attempting to survey them
Meets JT: educated and charismatic leader of the Black Kings.
Realizes that survey methodology is flawed as he is presented a unique opportunity.
“You shouldn’t go around asking them silly-ass questions…With people like us, you should hang out, get to know what they do, how they do it. No one is going to answer questions like that. You need to understand how young people live on the streets.” p.21
-JT on the proper way to study people. Question: Which feature of Miller’s Lower Class Value System was displayed by the old men in Washington Park when discussing race? A. Trouble
B. Smartness
C. Fatalism
D. Excitement C. Fatalism Chapter 2:
First Days on Federal Street After 8 months, JT was reassigned to run Black Kings' operations in the Robert Taylor Housing projects, the largest public housing project in the US at the time. Vocabulary “Five-Oh in 26”: Five-Oh= police; 26=Refers to building number 26 in Robert Taylor
“Fiftieth”: Robert Taylor Medical Clinic
“Foot soliders”: lowest rank in gang hierarchy, not able to sell crack
“Cobras”: Rival gang
“Raw Product”: Cocaine
“Shorties”: younger gang members Building =
Organization Gang ran buildings, maintaining order and providing services for different residents in exchange for small payments. Gang Motives for keeping order in buildings: $...The less trouble that residents cause, the less likely that the police would come to the projects and interfere with the gang’s drug trade. Protect Squatters: give them a place to stay and store their possessions
Protect prostitutes, even lend money and help with health care when necessary
Provide money to tenant patrol for after school parties for the kids: keeps tenants happy and minimizes interference with gang operations. Question! JT’s gang was involved in selling crack cocaine, which of the following words is not related to a crack user? A. Rock Star
B. Shortie
C. User
D. Hype B. Shortie -Venkatesh estimated that 15% of the residents were hardcore addicts while 25% were casual users, paralleling the usage to that of alcohol in the suburbs. Chapter 3: Someone to Watch Over Me 1990: Peak of the Crack Epidemic: Very profitable time for Chicago gangs involved in drug trade.

Academics/Politicians/Law-Enforcement offered solutions, but little success
Liberals: Get gang members back in school or help them find entry level jobs, unfortunately the lure of money and status from drug dealing was too much
Conservatives: Support mass arrests and hefty prison sentences, but there was always a surplus of willing and eager replacements. JT was paranoid about his authority (and profitable drug trade) being challenged
“Everyone wants to kill the leader, so you got to get them first.” p.71
Found different ways to avert the public challenges against his drug trade. Wanted the gang to have a “legit” image
-Laundered money to hide gang profits
-Paid off various city alderman
-Worked with various community based organizations (CBOs) and had young gang members attend life-skill workshops
-Register voters, albeit unsuccessfully most of the time. “But he also admitted that the ‘legit’ image was vital to the gang’s underlying commercial mission: if law-abiding citizens viewed the gang as a politically productive enterprise, they might be less likely to complain about its drug sales…More than anything JT was desperate to be recognized as something other than just a criminal” p. 83 Consequences of Gang affiliation for Venkatesh: “Because I’d been spending so much time with the Black Kings, a lot of tenants wouldn’t speak to me except for a quick hello or bland comment about the weather” p.95
-Decided to spend time at Boys & Girls club in opposite part of Robert Taylor (controlled by Disciples)
-Tries to attend meeting of the various gangs leaders but quickly rebuked by JT: “If you walk in there, the first time all these other niggers see you, then you’re with Autry [Head of B&G club], not me. You didn’t think about that, did you?...You walk in there and I can’t do nothing for you. No More” p. 102 Bottom Line: Although the gangs maintained order in the community at Robert Taylor, gang affiliation also splintered the society into factions and this resulted in violence. Question! The policy solutions implemented to combat the crack epidemic were unsuccessful. What two factors kept young people involved in gangs? A. High Rates of Unemployment
B. Interests in local politics
C. Served as adult play groups
D. Per Capita Income Inequality High Rates of unemployment
Per Capita Income Inequality Sudhir’s view on JT’s job: Decision: 1st Issue: JT as a Leader Things to Consider: Chapter 4: Gang Leader For A Day Very active and involved leader
Key role as a mediator in disputes between gang members
Strict rules for gang members
Encourages gang members to take pride in their work Remarks to JT that he thinks his job is easy since he doesn’t do any work all day and just orders people around.
JT offers Sudhir a chance to walk in his shoes for a day and to see what he goes through on a daily basis The gang needs to clean the building and do some community service, which crew should be taken off of selling crack to do it? Who hasn’t done clean up in a while? Leaves decision between two crews
One crew wasn’t very profitable so it would make sense (economically) for them to do the clean up work
One crew was very profitable, putting them on clean up may not make sense economically but it may prevent them from getting too big headed and keep them in their place. Unfortunately, the leader of this crew is also sleeping with the building supervisor, complicating matters. Put the profitable gang on clean up to keep them in their place 2nd Issue: The gang needs to hold a meeting (>250 members), where can this meeting be held without attracting too much attention from police? Things to Consider: -Even summoning 50 gang members to a street corner would bring out the police

-Pastor Wilkins offers the Church for the gang one night a week, but the gang must decide how much to pay the Pastor to avoid getting the attention of the police. More money, more privacy Decision: Spend $750 to get the Church just for the gang and to minimize interference 3rd Issue: A convenience storeowner didn’t allow members of the Black Kings inside anymore and those that he did allow inside, he charged extra Things to Consider: -The gang is collecting from the storeowner in return for their protection
-Some gang members were taking advantage of the store and demanding free items
-Storeowner responded by banning gang members/over charging them Decision: Make gang members stop demanding free food. The store owner agrees to not overcharge gang members and pay his $200 fee to the gang as long as their members spend $200 a month on items. 4th Issue: Settle a dispute between two members of drug selling crew: the leader says that the dealer lied and didn’t report all of his sales. The dealer accuses the leader of not paying him. Things to Consider: -Listen to each gang member present their side of the story
-The leader is known to be more responsible, the dealer has had a violent past
-The dealer never denies taking anything and only says that he is owed money
-Determine punishment to deter further behavior Decision: The dealer was definitely lying so he was punished with a beating and by being forced to work a week for free. It is unknown whether the leader actually paid him enough so he went unpunished. Question: Based on JT’s personality and ability to handle gang affairs, what type of leader is he? A. Militaristic
B. Fascist
C. Charismatic
D. Underground Answer! Charismatic Tenants in Ms. Bailey building had many problems/complaints -Robert Taylor Building President of the Local Advisory Council.
-Heavily involved in the affairs of the Robert Taylor residents. Questioned the basis of JT’s research and encouraged him to consider how life outside Robert Taylor affected the residents Lobbying CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) for building maintenance
Obtaining funds for tenant activities
Managing the needs of the residents, etc… Chapter 5: Ms. Bailey's Neighborhood “You want to understand how black folks live in the projects. Why we are poor. Why we have so much crime. Why we can’t feed our families. Why our kids can’t get to work when they grow up. So will you be studying white people?” p.148 Clothing Drive -Mothers on drugs, not able to take care of their children
-Deal with legal/illegal residents
-Manage complaints about the gangs and accusations that she benefitted personally from them
-Deal with women being abused but being unable to call the police, this led to “vigilante justice” from tenants
-Mange complaints about the CHA Ms. Bailey: “Sudhir, you have to remember something, In the projetcts it’s more important that you take care of the problem first. Then you worry about how you took care of the problem.” p. 164 Question: Ms.Bailey and the residents of Robert Taylor often resorted to unconventional tactics to survive, which mode of adaptation to anomie did they display? A. Conformity
B. Innovation
C. Ritualism
D. Retreatism Answer! B. Innovation Chapter 6: The Hustler and the Hustled Officially 96% of Robert Taylor’s adult population was unemployed, but many tenants had part time jobs (legitimate and illegitimate)
Tenants hid legitimate income from CHA as much as possible, so they could keep their lease and other welfare benefits
As the housing authority became unsupportive and the gang & drug problem grew, tenants had to become resourceful and find unconventional ways to solve their problems.
Women often helped each other in the building and found different ways to get by: More than 90% of the 4000 households in Robert Taylor were headed by females. Men would often hustle by fixing cars or other items, cleaning schools, gathering scrap metal, and selling stolen clothes/cigarettes Some residents would take in boarders Ms. Cordella Levy Some women would form networks and pool money. Ex: One women’s apartment has hot water, another’s has air conditioning, and another has working refrigerators/stoves Prostitutes Some would exchange food and child care services Ways to Hustle: The Underground Economy of Robert Taylor Paid gang taxes and paid extra fees to use rooms/stairwells Pimps: Those managed by Pimps were called “affiliates” and the others were “independent” “affiliates” are less likely to get beaten up and earned more money Question:
Most of poor families in Robert Taylor were headed by females (90%). In class we discussed the feminization of poverty, what percentage of poor families in America are headed by females? A. 10%
B. 25%
C. 75%
D. 50% Answer! D. 50% C. Fatalism! Heaters Coats Blankets Alcohol Old woman who ran a small candy store in her apartment Gang Leader For a Day
by: Sudhir Venkatesh Presented by:
Group 4 Ms. Bailey Official Duties In Mertons Strain Theory, innovation is a mode of adaptation where people use non-institutionalized means to fulfill their goals Chapter 7 Black & Blue Sudhir asked to write grant proposal to US Dept of Justice
-Told to meet with Officer Reggie to get better
understanding of Crime
Discovers cops are corrupt/ will often raid gang parties Suhdir has a near violent encounter with Officer Jerry.
Discovers that police nervous about what he’s writing and Feds coming to town for drug busts
-“…they’d use allegations of police improprieties to leverage local
cops into turning over their gang intelligence. This in turn would
disrupt the relationships that cops like Reggie had carefully built in
the community” p.241
Sudhir’s car is broken into by policemen trying to steal his notes
-Autry: “But you need to do what I do. Never, never never piss off the
police” p. 239 1995: Clinton administration decides that high rise housing projects around the country should be demolished
-Projects: “Islands of Poverty”, people need to be
pushed to interact with people of different
-Urban Renewal: Negro removal
Robert Taylor Homes at the top of the list to be demolished. Chapter 8 The Stay Together Gang JT receives a promotion in the Black Kings and a substantial raise in income but is anxious
Sources of Anxiety:
-Federal Indictments
-Demolition of Robert Taylor homes:
loss of substantial customer base
“We need to be careful in these times of war he told me", alluding to the arrests and their potential to create turn-coats within the gang. “Don’t trust nobody, especially your friends. I love these niggers, they’re my family, but now is not the time to go soft”
p. 252 Where did they end up?? 150,000 in 200 buildings relocated, only 1/4th received help from CHA with relocation. Robert Taylor
Residents T-Bone: Turned over gang’s financial ledgers to Sudhir before his arrest Died in prison, but celebrated in death for never cooperating with police JT: Grew tired of gang life after a few years Failed at starting barbershop, managed cousin’s dry cleaning businessSupplemented lower income with savings from gang days Sudhir: Received prestigious fellowship from Harvard Professor at Columbia
Has done significant research on underground economy with Economist Steven Levitt Chapter 7&8
Review Question: The Robert Taylor Homes were demolished in 1996, what is another term for Urban Renewal? A. Anomie
B. Diaspora
C. Disorganization
D. Gentrification D. Gentrification Answer! Questions?
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