bloods and crips- newark
My Day In Newark-
In American, especially in the inner cities, we have a long history of gangs, clubs, cliques, that have formed for various reasons- like for social concerns, similar interests, to define and protect certain areas or businesses legal and/or illegal. One of the negative manifestations of these collectives can be deadly conflict.
The origin of the conflict may be long forgotten, but the result of the original disagreement can turn into a long and protracted war. The consequences of the fighting over differences can be serious and often lead to violence, leaving victims of the violence scarred, maimed, crippled, or even murdered. The warring factions can be of the same race, be related, and live in the same approximate area. The area that they are fighting over may be of little commercial value. The on going fighting can make living in the area dangerous and unsafe for families to reside in. The symbols that people get killed for can be something as simple as a color a person wears, like a red or a blue. The nature of the struggle is such that it may affect the choices a person can make in their life. Where you live can determine what you wear, where you can travel to, whom you can hang out with, date or marry. The conflicts can go on for decades and be inter- generational, in which case, it can mean it makes no difference if the enemy is a child or an adult. Similar to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, dispute, war whatever you want to call it.
In Newark NJ there has been a deadly feud going on between the Bloods and the Crips. Certain community members have been trying to work out a peace agreement between the two rival neighboring groups. The most recent attempt to bring the Bloods and the Crips together was a basketball game. Both sides agreed to meet at a neutral location. A named leader from each side would represent each team. So the game was billed as Jiwe (Bloods) and Arsonal (Crips) presents 1st Annual Unity in the Community Crip and Blood basketball tournament at Central High School. 4/25/2010. Then the politicians got involved the game was first cancelled, and then moved to Essex County College 303 University Ave Newark NJ. The game starts at 5pm sharp.
A little background- The people who made Captured, the documentary movie about my struggle, Dan Levin, Jenner Furst, now working for Blowback Productions, lead by the legendary documentary filmmaker Marc Levin, are working on an Sundance reality television documentary series called Brick City. Brick City is based in Newark NJ. The program explores as many different aspects of the Newark society as they can penetrate, from having access to the Mayor, the police department, as well as, the gritty street life.
Marc Levin, and crew, is making a heroic effort to help open up the political and social process, to help explain to the American public what the obstacles and problems are facing this complex urban city. Exposing the enormous struggles as the city leaders work on Newark becoming a viable and competitive modern metropolis, as the leaders attempt to entice new commerce, as well as, making the city a good and safe place for workers, families, and attractive to tourists. This undertaking is a little like rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina.
Through Brick City I met an unusual, gifted leader and writer, an extraordinary person by the name of Dashaun “Jiwe” Morris. Jiwe wrote a book, which I would recommend everyone, read: Memoir War of the Bloods in My Veins. Read the book and you will get a deeper understanding of life in the hood. Jiwe invited me to document the basketball game.
Back to the basketball game. I took the 14 street Path train to Newark. Got there at around 4:40 PM. It was a rainy day. I hailed a cab. It took me around 5 minutes to get from the train to the college. Turns out that I was let out on the wrong side of the college. Since this was unfamiliar territory to me I had to ask people were to go. My journey lead me into wrong buildings, wrong floors, asking a wide cross-section of people: where is the basketball game- 4th floor- this building that building, until finally, and not the first security guard I asked, I got the proper directions. I made my way to the right building, but as the security guarding this entrance told me, I had to go outside, around to the front of the building. At 5 o’clock, I finally go found the right location and what did I see?
A speaker talking to a somewhat concerned group of people. Not a lot of people, maybe 30 citizens in all, as well as, 3 uniform cops, accompanied by a couple of plainclothes backups. The game was cancelled- again- a second time. First time they moved the location. The second time they shut the game down. Who and why?
Not sure Who gave the order to shut down the game, but the public reason- the Why?- I heard at the speak out, was that someone had called in a phone threat: saying an FBI agent would be killed. I thought what! First off it is a city game, and it would be out of place to threaten an FBI agent. Why would the FBI even be there? What idiot and for what reason would anyone want to make this a federal case? And if the threat was against a local cop, everything about this threat made no sense.
After the cancellation, since a celebratory cake had been made for an after ceremony, the good people decided to meet at bookstore to break cake and to keep the peaceful vibes alive. I hooked up with a small posse and we walked the several blocks in the rain to the bookstore.
Walking to the bookstore I was running through my head what I had just witnessed. First off, I have to say; I have documented many different kinds of conflicts between the public and the police. I have been in situations, more than once, where the emergency was kicked up to Code Orange, witnessed and documented maneuvers dealing with someone holding a hostage, a bomb threat, a distressed individual ready to commit suicide, a political conflict which ended in a person held up in a building shoot someone sitting in a van on the street, documented riots, got the 1988, August 6th 7th riot classified as a police riot, was at the WTC as 9:11 unfolded, and so on. None of what I had just witnessed and felt seemed real or justified. I smelled a lie.
First off. Since I came in a cab, I saw no at the ready riot cop reinforcements standing in formation or sitting in busses stationed around the perimeter of the college- no cops on horses, no tank. All the buildings I entered the movements of the people, the hanging around security guards talking to friends or students, the general vibe was casual, no drama, no hysteria, no code orange alert. I get to the right building location and there are only 3 uniform cops, and they are wearing normal uniforms (no riot helmets, no batons in hand, no mace containers), one in rain gear (not great for fighting or running after someone). They were not tense, nor were they aggressive. On the multi block walk to the bookstore. Even though it was obvious the crew I was with was related to the feud, we were not followed. Hmmm. Something stinks.
So I have to ask myself. What idiot would want to stop these 2 feuding factions from making peace? Who benefits from this bloody conflict continuing? It has to be high up, or this action of stopping the game would not have happened. It has to be understood, at a high level, that it is a false alarm, after all this is a community college and it is the duty of municipal leaders and the police to protect the public, especially considering that this death threat was against a public employee and was to take place in a college at a busy time of the day. Remember when a Chinese man breeched the security at Kennedy airport to kiss his lover goodbye? The whole airport was shut down! There was no media at this basketball event! Hmm. You draw your own conclusions.
One has to remember, it is possible, that my opinion may be different from most other people. I have lived, for more than 30 years, on the LES. No question the part of the community I lived in was saturated with drug dealing. On my street, and surrounding blocks, there was an active and mostly 24/7 thriving drug business, and it was seen as a crime-ridden section of the neighborhood. First night we moved in we saw someone murdered across the street. However, after awhile, and even though most of our neighbors were Hispanic, Elsa and I fit right in. I took hundreds of photos of the people who populated the streets, put them in my front window and make them famous in the hood (see the Front Door Book published OHWOW).
Over the years, what I experienced was a connection to some of the most loving, kind, generous, friendly and wonderful people I have ever met and lived around. In the bookstore, at the end of my day in Newark, what I experienced and saw was a group, from teenagers to middle-aged adults, hanging out, conversing, having a pleasant time in a harmonious atmosphere. At the bookstore the people, including gangsters, I met, were all genuine, friendly, warm people who deserve to live in a peaceful and harmony.
It is time that America started to rebuild America- bring the troops, the money, the jobs, the industry, and the manufacturing back to America. Let’s rebuild America.
As a side bar if we start to rebuild America we will not have to worry about the Mexicans invading America, in fact, we will be clamoring for them. Think about this- what jobs are the illegal Mexican workers taking from Americas? They are not cops- or firemen- or teachers- or civil servants- or truck drivers- those kinds of jobs go to Americans- they are not x-ray technicians- computer experts, or the people you speak to when asking questions about your bank statement- those jobs are out sourced to workers in India- animation artists- no- people in places like Taiwan are eating up those jobs- magazine, book, and other forms of printing- no- those trades have been exported- are they the ones manufacturing clothing- or shoes- or baby carriages- or batteries- or- or- or- no-no- no- and, in fact, we are even getting simple products like toothpaste and dog food “Made In China”. With Mexican workers or not- for the most part we cannot even make dog food!
Go to the computer and research how many products made in China have been recalled.
We all know where the Mexicans work- they are bottom tier restaurant workers- or doing menial minimum wage jobs for the Koreans groceries. The illegal Mexicans are not even working at MacDonald’s. The Mexicans are doing the jobs Americans will not do. Let’s get off the Mexicans backs, and put Americans back to work by rebuilding America- once again- bring back- the military- the money- the jobs- the manufacturing- the industry back to America and lets rebuild America- with the help of the Mexicans. 19 century America used the Chinese workers- 20 and 21 century we use the Mexicans for this kind of work.