Ethnic Cleansing Close to Home

Ethnic Cleansing Close to Home - FR SEM ETHNIC CLEANSING...

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FR SEM: ETHNIC CLEANSING Ethnic Cleansing Close to Home
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Ethnic Cleansing Close to Home The phrase “Los Angeles gangs” is anything but incongruous. Movies like Boys n the Hood and Assault on Precinct 13 have transformed the gritty reality of gang life in L.A. into pop culture. White suburban middle school students know the hand signals that the Bloods use to identify themselves, and jokes are made in films such as Knocked Up about choosing which gang to be in based on their well-known color codes. America seems to be able to stomach the internal presence of gangs as long as they maintain the image of troubled youths fighting each other for a scrap of status amid their overwhelming underprivilege. When gangs begin murdering 14-year-old citizens, however, America is quick to react. Cheryl Green was a 14-year-old African American girl talking with some friends on December 15, 2006 in an L.A. neighborhood called Harbor Gateway i . Members of the Latino 204 th street gang opened fire, killing her and wounding three of her friends—because they were black ii . This is hardly an isolated incident. Six years ago, in the L.A. neighborhood Highland Park—which has now been claimed by Latino gangs—21-year-old Anthony Prudhomme was shot in the face in his own apartment. In 2002, African American teenager Kareem Williams was attacked by members of Latino gang the Pomona 12. His uncle, who came to his aid, was told, “Niggers have no business living in Pomona because this is 12 th street territory.” iii The violence is total; in 1999, Kenneth Wilson—a visitor to Los Angeles—was shot and killed by a member of the Avenues 43, another Latino gang iv . Apparently, for an African American, merely stepping foot in Latino territory is grounds to be killed. These tragedies have not gone unnoticed. Kenneth Wilson’s murderers were the first non-white supremacists to be charged with civil rights violation conspiracy laws v . Typically, the charges brought against these four men are reserved for members of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups. Their use in this context reflects an understanding of the dynamics of the concepts of dominant discourse and persecution, as well as the observation by the government that what is happening in Los Angeles has left the bounds of gang turmoil. The gang to which these four men belong, the Avenues 43, is not an extraordinarily violent one. It came about during World War II, when the Highland Park community was still
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one of European and Latino immigrants vi . Its origins are without racial agenda; like most other street gangs, it was formed for the protection of territory, assets, and status. However, when the Avenues fell under the control of the Mexican Mafia during the 1980’s, the racist constitution and anti-black ideology of the Mexican Mafia seeped through the foundation of the Avenues until the Mafia’s ideal of a black-free L.A. became the Avenues’ reason for being vii . The Mafia’s racism is twofold: it is built upon and framed by the Mafia ideology, and
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course HIST 150W taught by Professor Frusetta during the Fall '07 term at William & Mary.

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Ethnic Cleansing Close to Home - FR SEM ETHNIC CLEANSING...

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