Brett's Books

The Gang Book

Know Thy Enemy

The Gang Book
The Chicago Crime Commission
A detailed overview of street gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Thoughts Going In

I have a stack of books going. So, who knows exactly where it was in the line up, but a recent random find on Australia, got me interested in slang, which led to gang slang, which led to gangs.

The book before me may well be the Blue Book (as all great books of this nature tend to be called something similar... or thus is my experience) of the Modern Criminal Underworld.

A quick flip through shows street maps, faces, graffiti, and (I will assume) gang signs. It should be informative.

Non-Existent Gang Names

Demented Dragons
Uneven Elves
Disgruntled Dwarves

Running Thoughts

What we have here is the ficticious gang sign of the Broken Thumbs

The Debriefing

I enjoyed the book. But it is far more of a Who's Who or Yearbook than what I was expecting.

I like to believe I learned a little about reading graffiti and more of its likely (gangland) uses. There were many photographs of Ganger Bangers posing in front of tagged garages. It was not stated, but I assume these garages belonged to opposing gang members.

In the picture above, please find the Flash Sign (or Gang Sign, if you prefer) for the fictional gang The Broken Thumbs (also known as The Disjointed Thumbs, if they hit anyone holding their fingers like that).
We got your nose.

Thumb Life!
I have been having fun Flashing My Thumbs, as of late. It's a game to me. I wonder how many 'gangs' started as games... or in fact, how many gang members view it more as play than a hardcore criminal enterprise. After all, many a child plays Cops & Robbers.

There are severe penalties (by way of increased prison sentences) for belonging to a Criminal Gang. But I don't know how one accurately differentiates between a Social Club (or a group of boys at play) from a structure that is principally criminal in nature.

Many a Fraternity (or so I believe, having little personal contact with the institution) is structured around criminal activity (older Fraternity members buying alcohol for younger Brothers, under-age drinking as part of Initiation Rites, not to mention the procurement of harder drugs for House Parties). So, are Fraternities (or Fraternities which match this pattern) Gangs according to the Criminal Statutes?

In fact, many a Business Man (but certainly not all) has committed some sort of Crime the better to advance their career. And this may have been done (at least, putatively) at the behest of their employer. Is that Business Man a Gang Member?

In short, I view Sentencing Enhancements for Gang Membership to be supremely unfair. I feel pretty much the same way about Conspiracy Charges.

But then, none of this is what this book is about. This book is about Gangs, their operational areas, and identifying them in the field, including an analysis of Gang Signs, graffiti, and mug shots of known operatives.

It was time well spent.

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