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New York Street Gangs of the 70's: A Decade of Violence

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 28 Dated: (December 1980) Pages: 22-26,30-32
H C Collins
Date Published
8 pages
During the 1970's, New York City experienced significant problems with delinquent street gangs who indiscriminately used violence to terrorize communities.
In some neighborhoods where much of the street activity was controlled by powerful street gangs, it was almost a necessity for youth to come under the protective umbrella of a local gang in order to survive. Often, core gang members stationed themselves outside the perimeter of a school or playground and solicited school children for membership through intimidation. In the Bronx, a violent street gang called the Dirty Dozen frequently invited prospective members to its gang party nights. The Satan Priests and the Undertakers, two other Bronx gangs, often required new apprentices to demonstrate their sexual prowess by drinking a six-pack of beer and having sex with six female gang members. Virtually all gangs collected weekly dues, and gang leaders controlled the funds. In 1972, gang-related homicide complaints reached a high of 54. Between 1971 and 1979, at least 436 gang members were arrested for homicide. After the 1970-1974 period, however, gang homicides decreased appreciably. Gangs in the South Bronx were known to be ex- junkies and ex-drug users in 1971. Gangs usually made a distinction between hard and soft drugs and had certain restrictions on sexual activity. Police investigations indicated that most gang-related crimes involving sex were not reported. Victims were generally frightened of gang retaliation or were too ashamed to complain to the police about what happened. Robbery appeared to be the most common criminal act committed by street gangs. Other crimes included extortion and shakedowns. 1 table, 1 figure, and 2 photographs