Yes, of course, you got it: absolutely nothing.
It's something I see a lot here in the world of juvenile crime, sadly, gang activity. Sometimes it's peer pressure, sometimes it's family replacement, and sometimes it's even family pressure.
It's a pet peeve for some of the judges, too, because (as they point out), Look where gang affiliation has gotten you!
Something I always want to point out to the kids, in addition, is this: "Look around the courtroom. How many of your gang-banger buddies do you see here supporting you?"
Go ahead, dear reader, guess how many gang members we usually see supporting their troubled colleagues?
Got that one right, too, didn't you? Zero.
The long-suffering family will be there, most likely a sad and over-worked mother who can't compete with the fun-sounding friends, the lure of instant cash, and who can't fulfill the need for a male role model.
And the one visceral reminder of the permanent damage these gangs can do to a young kid is often, and quite literally, etched on the bodies of the misguided: tattoos depicting area- or zip-codes, or straight up naming their gang. Subtlety is not gifted to the young.
Good luck getting a job in ten years with "Representing the 05" or "Rolling Crips" stained on your skin. Or, honestly the truth, the face.
But chatting with a cop recently I solved a puzzle I'd been pondering for a while. You see, on my weekly ride-outs in east Austin I have seen (and had it pointed out to me) two dudes walking down the street in happy harmony -- one wearing blue (Crip) and one red (Blood). When I see this, I am tempted to roll down the window and mock them heartily for their gang fail (mock them from the safety of a patrol car, of course, I ain't stoopid).
This officer, who studies gangs, explained it to me and it's not the result of weak or nominal allegiance to their gangs, it's an economic issue. As he explained it, in places like LA the gangs are territory-focused, they fight for their little patches of land because that's what matters to them. But here in Austin, and some other places, territory matters less than money. The cop said that gangs around here have figured out that cooperating makes for better profits than fighting, and now there's even a saying: Blue and red make green.
Pretty interesting, don't you think?
The irony is, at least in my experience, gang members don't have much green. Sure, a nice pair of sneakers, some extra baggy jeans and the latest in self-lowering boxers ("While you sell a little crack to your customers, we'll show a lot of yours to the world!"). These are people who gets rides to court from their parents or take the bus to visit their probation officer. The retirement plan sucks, too.
Ah well, there's only so much I can do but it's good to know APD is following the trends and we have some pretty impressive gang-intervention programs running in schools (and beyond) so with any luck, in a few years at least, we'll be seeing a lot less crack on the streets of Austin.
Yes, both kinds.