By Clarence Lusane
Demanding more trees, an end to welfare and teacher merit tests, one well-thought-out proposal to rebuild Los Angeles has been virtually ignored by the local and national media. The proposal emanates from the city's infamous Black street gangs.
The Bloods/Crips $3.7 billion proposal to rebuild and develop LA is a heartfelt notion that touches on many issues dear to the political establishment. This includes demands concerning education, economic growth, social services, infrastructure repair and (gasp!) law enforcement.
Under the theme, "Give Us the Hammer and the Nails, We Will Rebuild the City", the simply named Bloods/Crips Proposal calls for $2 billion to reconstruct damaged and long-neglected areas of the city; $1 billion for human welfare programs that would bring hospitals and health clinics to South Central; $700 million for an education agenda that would refurbish the schools and build the writing, math and science skills of inner-city youth; and $20 million in low interest loans for minority businesses.
In what is certain to be perceived as their most controversial demand, the gangs want an additional $6 million to fund their law enforcement program. They are proposing creation of a community-based "police buddy" system that would have former gang members, after completion of a police training course, patrol and help secure the neighbourhood side by side with LA's finest. The usually loquacious chief Daryl Gates has not weighed in yet on this idea.
The Blood/Crisps Organisation, authors of this historic document, pledge that if their demands are met they will rid LA of drug dealers and will provide matching funds for an AIDS research and awareness centre. Few doubt that they could, to a great degree, meet those obligations. The proposal was sent directly to Mayor Tom Bradley.
It would be naive, of course, to think that in this transformation process all vestiges of gang mentality have disappeared. After a fairly solid and cogent discourse that surely surprised many, the proposal ends with a last word of bravado that demands a response within 72 hours and initial implementation within 20 days — or else!
The proposal buries the lie that all gang members are unrepentant hoodlums whose concern for their community reaches no further than the barrel of an Uzi. Going beyond the objective of achieving peace among themselves, a number of the gang members have shown themselves to be articulate spokespersons for their community's grievances and aspirations.
Fear is growing, however, that the process of reconciliation with the Rumours and signs of police intrigue — a la the '60s FBI Cointelpro — are everywhere. Wiretaps, police surveillance and mysterious leaflets threatening the police have already surfaced. Could there be any worse nightmare for Chief Gates than LA gang unity?
Whither the gangs? One OG (original gangster) believes that the gangs are at a crossroads and could either mature into a political force or degenerate into a pseudo-underground urban guerilla band. In any case, they can no longer be ignored, contained or crushed.
As LA social historian Mike Davis noted in the LA Times, any planning that does not take into account the city gangs is short-sighted and probably doomed. If the city seriously takes into account the positive impulses behind the gangs' proposal, even if not the proposal itself, then perhaps today's boyz in the hood will be tomorrow's boyz (and girlz) in the board rooms, university classrooms and political offices.
[Reprinted from CrossRoads (US).]