Social development often comes with a series of problems that generally identifies the concept of survival of the residents of a particular domain. As for the United States and its people, such series of problems could be accounted against the emergence of gangs and the conflicting values they share with the government and the society as a whole. In the discussion that follows, a distinct presentation on how gangs developed in the country and how such history redefined the face of the American society shall be given attention to.
Gangs and Drugs in the United States
The word ‘gang’ is simply noted as a term that refers to the coming together of people from specifically common backgrounds and forming of a group that serves as their social entity. Nevertheless, taking into account the value of the term itself, it could not be denied that the same term’s evolvement through time has created an indication that it is relatively connected to groups of people coming together to create a particular notion about their identities that usually connects them to law offences and specific crimes that could include drug use, robbery, homicide and other actions that often make people feel fear when they hear the term ‘gang’ and its existence in their community.
In the discussion that follows, the emergence of gangs in the United States shall be given specific attention to. Giving attention to how they affect the entire society and its relative perception over grouped organizations and their functioning purposes in the community. This discussion also aims to define whether or not the current justice system in the country is able to respond to such social condition, primarily protecting the values of the general public.
The Time it Begun
After the American Revolutionary war in the late 1700s, the emergence of street gangs became obvious in the early communities in the US. These gangs however were mere groups that came together to form their goals and create specific activities that would define them, their purpose and their function. Nevertheless, they were not yet considered solid or legitimate since the concept of gang creation was still being defined especially on the manner of identity it is likely to take. In the 1800s, more serious and more solid groups came into existence which specifically filled developing areas in the country such as New York and other urbanized areas at the time.
However, during the onset of the early 1800s, such connotation about gangs gradually changed. Given the pressures that were occurring in the society and the economic imbalance that was evident at the time, the gangs turned from mere groups to a collection of individuals who are more than enthusiastic when it comes to earning out from doing something evasive of others’ lives and condition. The psychology on the survival of the fittest has affected the desire of these individuals as they intend to embrace the concept of making more out of the opportunities given to them basically because they believe that they are not given enough resources for them to survive life. Taking advantage of others’ properties and lives seems rather normal among these individuals as part of the survival game that they are in. Among those who started such indicative identity of gangs in New York included the Dead Rabbits and the Forty Thieves. Specifically noted as low-lives, these gangs have formulated particular ways on how they are to take on the concept of surviving apart from simply getting by through a day. Given that they are a group, they intend to function as a unified unit of individuals who desire to survive. Notably, such condition insists on the fact that they intend to support each other [especially in depressing situations that involve the need to produce high rate of finances to support a particular emergency situation]. With the promise of such support, the gangs began to thrive as the cornerstone of hope for those who come in within the US boundaries and are seeking strong support and protection from people they believe have the same goals as they have.
Later in the 1800s, the gang setups have dramatically evolved especially focusing on the most distinct functions they play for their members. As mentioned earlier, they hope to provide the protection and support that their members need especially in consideration to surviving the city life. However, there comes a time when one member from a particular gang clashes with another individual coming from a different gang-affiliation due to particular reasons such as culture clash or personal issues that usually elevates into relationship tension, the groups then become involved in the conflict At times, no matter how seemingly small the conflict may appear, considering that the parties involved belong to specific gangs, the tension becomes hard to handle especially on the part of the police officers who are expected to give attention to the safety and security of the streets of New York. Street fights were then given birth; a situation that has brought about aggression and tension into the streets and fear towards the common people who passes through and live within the said areas. Due to such fear, the growth of gangs has even been given way especially in the hope of becoming a member of one gang that could protect a person from being victimized by other strong unites in the society. It seemed as if the people living in the city decided to join some gangs not for the sake of simply being a part of the group but for the sake of protecting themselves from being victimized by the actions of the said groups. Nevertheless, as the Civil War arises, the emergence of newer and stronger gangs has diminished. The concept of survival has been focused on individual survival as the groups and their members were dispersed out into the different areas of the country especially because of the hard courses of living that they were subjected to. Nevertheless, this dispersion affects the growth of the gang culture in the country in later years.
The New Era (1940-1990)
After the civil war, the American society began to embrace a way of life that was dependent on creating new opportunities for new emerging communities with members that are determined to survive to live in the new age America. The country had so much promise for those who trusted the system and the administration that lead it. The creation of work opportunities for those who were willing to work their way through personal progress was a definite goal to take into account for many during the time. Along with such development is the doubling of the number of immigrants coming into the country. More depressed and more desperate, these people desired to belong more than just to survive. The gangs whose members were dispersed around the US during the onset of the Civil War then began to reform their own groups, while others decided to form other units that were practically evident in identifying the course of development that they decided to incur especially in relation to how they are to survive in the communities they are thriving in. Hence, unlike the pre-Civil War existence of gangs where they are contained in New York alone, the gangs were then largely developing in areas around the west and Midwest regions of the country. Nevertheless, the largest and the most powerful gangs still decided to establish their grounds in New York especially because of the fact that most of their members come in and out of the city but are most often than not are considered common residents in the area.
The creation of new gangs to support incoming immigrants became common in the streets of New York, Chicago and other cities that were developing in the early 1900s. Along with the cities’ progress came the increase of number of gangs that were being formed within the said territories. For instance, the Chinese immigrants formed tongs which is defined as highly organized groups from all over the country that are dedicated to developing strategies to distribute the impact of gambling and drug trafficking in the country. On the other end, the Italians who came in the country created a version of their home-gangs and created an American based group known as the American Mafia. The American Mafia, like the Italian Mafia, functioned more as a group that is defined by sophisticated culture, a group that identifies well with the concept of elitism that thrives upon hundreds of strategies that are dedicated towards determining the course of life of the members being dependent on illegal acts which include high-paying illegal acts that make them one of the most feared groups in the country.
The Current Status of Gangs in the US
Majority of the existing gangs in the United States are generally multi-ethnic. This means that most gangs had members coming from different cultures and different nationalities. Bound by their beliefs and social standing, these gangs are often put up to support the needs of each other through undergoing particular unlawful acts that offends other individuals living in their community. Still believing on the core concept of the survival of the fittest, these gangs are determined to make sure that they get what they think they are due especially in relation to how the society is being administered in consideration to their rights as residents of the country. Most often than not, people who join within such gangs have low opportunities in getting a job that will fit their needs. Their desire to get more out of life cannot be sustained by the jobs that they are able to land on [if these positions could even be called as ‘jobs’]. Relatively, to get by, several immigrants coming from different cultures decide to join the gangs. Some American-locals are also noted to become members of such multi-faceted gangs. Primary stricken by poverty as well or are simply fascinated by the idea of belonging to something that people feared and people follow [by force], these American locals often find a sense of satisfaction from being part of such groups.
No matter how huge or how seemingly different these gangs are from each other, there are some common factors that identify well with their existence in the community and that includes drug use. The highest rate of drug sales in the country goes around several gangs within the US territory. Exchanging drugs in the black market has become a common culture that binds and breaks several gangs existing in the country. Although it was the Chinese gangs that made sure drug dealing would become a part of the culture of gangs in the US, the overall population of the individuals making up the said groups are considered to have the inkling on drug use. Somehow, the utilization of drugs along with being a part of the group has become part of the culture, something that identifies well with the concept of ‘belongingness’.
Apart from that, drug use enhances the capacity of the members to engage in violent, misguided acts that empower them to take on the chance to embrace assignments that are crime defined and are particularly violent in nature. This is the reason why there are often times when the new recruits of a particular group are encouraged to engage in excessive drug use as part of the initiation process. This allows the gang leaders to direct the new members into committing particular crimes with a stronger sense of self control. Drug use makes them forget of their ideals and personal values which makes it easier for them to come up with misguided decisions that are sure to put them into trouble.
The more sophisticated gangs often involve larger aspects of illegal activities apart from drug use. Human trafficking, a series of robberies and other criminal offences are fully embraced by these groups as part of the process of earning money from what they do. Since the group is huge, it is essential that the money they get from their functions amount to higher gains as well. The deterioration of the capacity of the lower-edge members of the gang to decide on what they should do, what is right and what is wrong, often results to a rampage of a series of illegal acts undergone by the said individuals. Gangs notably exist due to a hierarchy of command. Each gang has its independent system of governance. From the top leader towards the branch leaders, these groups operate as communities and as business partners. Engaging in the most scrupulous and most high paying criminal activities, the gangs welcome individuals who are willing to take everything into their hands and make sure that the gang’s goal is completed.
Controlling the Situation
The US Government and Policing System have been in constant battle with the emergence of gangs in the country. However, because of the fact that there are groups that are extremely strong and are at some point stronger than the government, there are instances when it is believed that it is the gangs that have the government and the police officers on a leash. While some factions of both the government and the police office are remaining on the brighter and more confident aspect of the fight against gangs, there are those who become accustomed towards supporting the cause of such groups. For whatever reason they have, they feel that supporting these groups is a necessary part of their personal survival.
While there are many hoax reports and negative assumptions about the position of the authorities in the matter, it should not be denied that there are those who stick to their responsibilities and make sure that the gangs are placed where they are supposed to be situated, in jail. Not tolerating their actions, some police strategies involve staging an inside man into the gangs as they know so much of how the groups operate especially in consideration to operating with intricate systems and plans that are designed to protect them, their members and their goals as a group. Breaking the solidity of these gangs may be hard to accomplish yet is not considered impossible.
The modern American society could be notably understood based on several factors that identify well with the communities that exist within particular areas of the country. It is an undeniable truth that the emergence of gangs in the country seems to be a stage-3 cancer that exists in the American society; it is hard to cure, but there is still hope of survival. Containing the situation through the creation of strict and specific policies against gangs and the creation of such groups is considered to be one of the most effective approaches towards controlling the growth of gang rate in the country. When such activities are taken into account, controlling issues of drug use, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other chains of large illegal actions could also be given attention to and responded to accordingly.
Nevertheless, the American society needs to stand as one. Their desire to eliminate the number of gangs existing in their nation for the sake of creating much safer streets and much secure lives for themselves should be communicated as a social responsibility. Fighting against the impact of gangs in their lives requires cooperation and connection between each other, something that again, might be hard to accomplish but is certainly not an impossible course to take into account. With leaders more determined to contain the situation and bring about security and safety into the homes and the streets of the American nation, such a fight could be won.
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