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Example research essay topic: African American Street Gangs In Los Angeles - 1,653 words

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... le 1 reveals that in each year where gang territory data was available, the growth in the number of gang territories was significant. In the six years between 1972 and 1978, 44 new black gangs formed, and only two gangs became inactive. In the 14 years between 1982 and 1996, 150 new gangs formed. However, the most dramatic growth was in the four years between 1978 and 1982 when 101 new gangs formed. In addition to the number of gang territories increasing, the spatial distribution of gang territories changed during these years, penetrating several new places within Los Angeles County.

Table 1. Number of black Gangs in Los Angeles County, 1972 - 1996 Year Number of gangs Percent change Number of defunct Net new gangs 1972 18 - - - 1978 60 233 2 44 1982 155 149 6 101 1996 274 76 31 150 In 1972 the Crips and the Bloods were operating in three cities; Los Angeles, Compton, and Inglewood (Figure 1). Eight Crip gangs, eight Blood gangs, and two independent black gangs were firmly established within the south-central area of Los Angeles, including Compton and Inglewood. Six gangs had territories that went beyond municipal boundaries into the adjacent unincorporated areas of Athens, Florence, Rosewood, and Willowbrook. The gang territories of these 18 gangs represented a contained and continuous region of gang territories in the south Los Angeles area of 29. 9 square miles (Figure 1).

By 1978, the number of gangs in the city of Los Angeles doubled. By 1982, 17 places within Los Angeles County had observable gang territories, with the most significant gains occurring in Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood and Inglewood. Twenty-one places within Los Angeles County had identifiable gang territories by 1996. Table 2.

Number of Gangs in Los Angeles County City/Area 1972 1978 1982 1996 Los Angeles 11 31 74 138 Compton 4 11 25 36 Athens 1 5 5 16 Inglewood 1 2 7 14 Carson 0 6 3 11 Long Beach 0 0 3 10 Pomona 0 0 4 7 Florence 0 0 4 6 Rosewood 1 1 2 5 Pasadena 0 0 2 5 Gardena 0 2 2 5 Hawthorne 0 0 1 4 Willowbrook 0 2 6 5 Altadena 0 0 2 2 Torrance 0 0 0 2 West Covina 0 0 0 2 Lynwood 0 0 9 2 Duarte 0 0 1 1 Lakewood 0 0 0 1 Paramount 0 0 1 1 Santa Monica 0 0 0 1 Total 18 60 155 274 To summarize, the research presented on gang territories for the four different years shows a growing trend in both the number of gang territories and the spatial extent of these territories. Not only did gang territories expand from the original regions of Los Angeles and Compton, but territories were being formed in several communities outside this area in the periphery of the county. Black gangs developed first in the central area of Los Angeles during the early 1970 s, then spread to the adjacent suburban areas by the late 1970 s and early 1980 s. During the 1980 s, black gangs appeared in peripheral suburban areas of the county.

The increases in black gang territories from Los Angeles to suburban areas of Los Angeles County coincided with the out migration of blacks from Los Angeles County that increased in the late 1970 s (Johnson and Roman 1990: 209). Migration patterns within Los Angeles County have, to some degree, influenced the spatial distribution and growth of gang territories within Los Angeles County. In nearly thirty years, gang territories spread to cover over 60 square miles of the county. The number of black gangs in Los Angeles dramatically increased from 18 gangs in 1972 to 60 gangs by 1978. This trend did not cease, and by the 1990 s, there were close to 300 black gangs in Los Angeles County. The accompanying expansion of gang territories led to the inevitability that gang conflict would spill into non-gang communities.

black gangs along with Latino gangs were no longer confined to the inner city of Los Angeles. By the 1990 s, the changing geography of these gangs, which were once confined to the inner-city during the 1970 s, became bizarrely juxtaposed with the affluent landscape of Los Angeles suburbia by the late 1980 s and early 1990 s. As the gang epidemic was unfolding in Los Angeles, other urban and suburban areas in the United States began to see the formation of street gangs. During the 1980 s, a number of cities reported street gang activity, with many reporting the presence of active Los Angeles-based Blood and Crip gangs. In 1988 police departments from all over the country, from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Kansas City, Missouri, to Seattle, Washington, were reporting that California gang members were extending their operations (Skolnick et al. 1993). Some of this was due to migration of gang members from Los Angeles, and some gang formation was the result of indigenous youths emulating Los Angeles gang culture, which was partly facilitated through the media and films.

Klein's research revealed that there were one hundred cities reporting gang activity in the United States in 1970 with a significant cluster of jurisdictions reporting gang activity in Southern California. Cities on the East Coast were believed to have a contained pattern of gang formation, while California's spatial distribution of "gang cities" reflected a pattern of regional proliferation's. By 1992, Klein's survey showed that 769 cities in the United States were reporting street gang activity. By the 1990 s, several cities in the Midwest were reporting gang activity while California led the nation in the number of cities reporting gangs.

Only four states in the 1992 survey did not report any gang activity (See Klein 1995: 193 - 195). Research by Walter Miller showed that by 1975, Los Angeles was en route to becoming the gang capital of the nation, with an estimated 580 gangs being reported in Los Angeles, the largest number reported in this survey. New York led the nation in gang membership with 24, 000, but Los Angeles was second in the country with 13, 500 estimated gang members. Table 3. Average Estimates of Gangs and Gang Members in Six Cities 1974 - 1975 [ 9 ] City Number of gangs Number of members Los Angeles 580 13, 500 Chicago 443 7, 000 New York 394 26, 875 Philadelphia 244 9, 800 Detroit 125 875 San Francisco 20 250 Source: Walter Miller 1975 The dramatic increase in the number of gangs from 1978 to 1982, which was most evident in Los Angeles, Compton, and Inglewood, occurred during the same time when unemployment was rising because of plant closures. A major phase of de industrialization was occurring in Los Angeles that resulted in 70, 000 workers being laid off in South Los Angeles between 1978 and 1982, heavily impacting the black community (So et al. 1983: 217).

Unemployment at the expense of base closures and plant relocations has been linked, among other factors, to persistent juvenile delinquency that has led to gang development (Klein 1995: 103, 194). Spergel found that gangs where more prevalent in areas where limited access to social opportunities and social disorganization, or the lack of integration of key social institutions including youth and youth groups, family, school, and employment in a local community, were found (1995: 61). Also the type of community was believed to influence the prevalence of gangs, and neighborhoods with large concentrations of poor families, large number of youths, female-headed households, and lower incomes were key factors (Covey et al. 1997: 71). In addition, poverty that is associated with unemployment, racism, and segregation is believed to be a foremost cause of gang proliferation (Klein 1995: 194).

These conditions are strongly associated with areas plagued by poverty, rather than the suburban regions identified in this study. By the mid 1990 s there were an estimated 650, 000 gang members in the United States (U. S. Department of Justice 1997), including 150, 000 in Los Angeles County (Figure 1. 1). In addition, in 1996 there were over 600 Hispanic gangs in Los Angeles County along with a growing Asian gang force of about 20, 000. With gang membership increasing, gang-related homicides in Los Angeles County reached epidemic proportions for black and Hispanic males that represented 93 percent of all gang-related homicide victims from 1979 to 1994 (Hutson, et al. 1995).

From 1985 to 1992, gang-related homicides had increased in each of the eight consecutive years (Figure 1. 2). However, the year following the Los Angeles Civil Unrest of 1992, there was a ten percent drop in homicides, the first reduction in gang-related homicides in Los Angeles since 1984. This drop in killings was the result of a gang truce implemented by the four largest gangs in Watts, the Bounty Hunters, the Grape Streets, Hacienda Village, and PJ Watts (Perry 1995: 24). In 1992, shortly before the urban unrest of April 29, 1992, a cease-fire was already in effect in Watts, and after the unrest, a peace treaty was developed among the largest black gangs in Watts. Early on, the police started to credit the truce for the sharp drop in gang-related homicides (Berger 1992). Homicides remained relatively stable for the two years following 1993, and in 1996, there was a notable 25 percent drop in gang-related homicides from the previous year.

By 1998 gang-related homicides were at their lowest rate in over ten years despite the increasing number of gang members over the same period. It is not known if the gang truce of 1992 is still responsible for the low number of homicides, or if some other factors such as an increase in police officers, a changing economy, or the implementation of new anticrime legislation have had an effect on the drop in gang crime. Additionally, the growing number of antigen programs may have had an influence on the reduction of gang-related crime.


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Research essay sample on African American Street Gangs In Los Angeles

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