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Friday, May 28, 2010

New Blood Gang 2010

new blood gangThe images as chilling as they are heartbreaking: An infant with a semiautomatic handgun next to each tiny shoulder. A child no more than a year old decked out in blood-red gang gear.

"They call them Blood drops, stains, rims," a former Staten Island Bloods gang member said of the nicknames gang parents give their children.

Incredibly, parents "bless" and initiate their babies into violent gangs like the Crips and Bloods - teaching chubby little fingers to fold into gang signs even before the tots mouth their first words.

Drive-by shootouts, murder and drug deals have always been a sad part of gang life, but recruitment from one generation to the next has become more prominent in the city where gangs only started showing their might in the mid-1990s.

"We're seeing more children who are being exposed to the gang world because their parents are members," said Deanna Rodriguez, Brooklyn district attorney gang bureau chief.

"This is part of their identity," Rodriguez said. "As long as they can remember, they've been part of the Bloods, Crips or the Latin Kings. This is what life is and they don't understand the concept of what life is outside that."

NYPD statistics bear out the sad truth: There were 713 gang incidents in New York last year, up from 554 in 2006.

While city officials estimate there are about 17,000 known gang members here, experts say the actual number is double that - not even including small neighborhood gangs.

The nation's three biggest gang cities are Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, said Arlen Egley of the National Youth Gang Organization.

Some of the misguided parents think teaching little ones the gang life is cute. Others have learned the hard way.

"My first child - he was only 6 months old when he got blessed into it," said King Ironman, a Bronx member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation gang.

Then the boy was killed in a drive-by shootout.

"The target was me ... he was only 2 years old," Ironman said.

Although he says he hasn't been active for nearly 10 years and now tries to talk young people out of joining gangs, Ironman still "blessed" two more sons into the predominantly Puerto Rican gang. "Families have to do that to be part of the nation," he said.

One son was blessed at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Morningside Heights four years ago during a quasi-religious ceremony. "It's like a christening," he said. "The priest holds the baby and we say our prayer at the same time. We have to have the window open and the baby pointed toward the sun."

Once blessed, the child is given yellow beads - the gang's color.

"He's a true gangster. The way he acts with people, the way he just wants to beat you up and punch you," Iron said of the 4-year-old "Latin Prince" he hopes will preach peace within the gang.

One Espicopal priest who "blessed-in" about 300 children kids into the Association Neta and the Latin Kings said he did not see anything wrong with the ceremony.

"It's not a criminal organization," said the Rev. Luis Barrios, who is also a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Barrios was removed from St. Mary's after tussling with his superiors in the Episcopal church.

"It's a street organization with the capacity to bring together young people in search of power, collective identity ... [and] belonging in the society that's rejecting them," Barrios said.

To get into a gang, a recruit often has to get beat up and hurt others to prove their loyalty, but born-in babies gain automatic acceptance.

"The ones that are born in have a little more power and respect," a 21-year-old former Brooklyn Crips member said. "I've seen little kids that you could tell their father is affiliated."

Crips parents refer to their kids' birthdays as "C-Day," instead of "B-Day," so as not to glorify the rival Bloods, he said.

Kids who grow up with gang parents are likely to become bullies at a young age, said Andrew Grascia, president of the New York State Gang Investigators.

"No child is born evil. They're taught evil things," he said. "You're taking a young, very fragile child who's being taught crime by the people who are supposed to secure and


nydailynews.com

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