Alert and paranoia could probably best describe the day those elements saved my life. There I stood posted up on the intersecting corner of Budlong and Jefferson Avenue, and as typical of me, I was gee’d up (donned in gangsters clothes from head to toe). I was sporting the typical gangster pants of the day – some heavy creased burgundy corduroys and complimenting them, was a fresh pair of red chuck Taylor tennis shoes with the red shoe strings. And to top it all off, I had on a heavy red and black Pendleton shirt.
I had been waiting some odd minutes outside the corner liquor store on my homeboy Big Jimbo, who had vanished inside to buy some Old English 800 malt liquor. It was about this same time, I first noticed a small Toyota Corolla smashing hard up Jefferson Avenue in the east bound lane. Both occupants of the car eye-fucked me unmerciless. Their hard staring immediately got my blood flowing, but only tentatively.
As the car continued to careen up the avenue out of sight, I soon rationalized that both occupants weren’t some L.A. gangsters: the kind with Jheri curls, large afros or even corn roll braids. At the time, the black gangsters of Los Angeles were like that of a unique tribe: they looked a certain kind of way, they dressed, walked and spoke in a particular manner. And the occupants of the white Toyota didn’t fit into any gangster profile I had in mind.
In fact, with their low-cut waves, the two inside the car reminded me of a crowd that we labeled G.Q. The G.Q. crowd back in the 80s -mostly wore crew cuts- Le Tigre shirts and Penny loafers. As with a real L.A. gangster, he wouldn’t be caught dead in any of it. On the other hand, our wear consisted of 501 jeans, khaki suits, corduroy pants, puma shoes/chuck Taylor shoes, Crocker sack and Romeos.
We wore golf hats and donned ourselves in Pendleton shirts. But times were changing, as I would soon learn. And the gangsters of L.A. were adopting a guerilla style tactic now. Instead of making incursions into enemy controlled territory, all dressed as a rival gangster would, the new and improved gangsters were coming through low-key and incognito. This tactic of penetrating our defenses would nearly cost me my life.
It was a warm sunny day out that 85 summer and the suns long tentacles stroked against the side of my face. I thought nothing of the car that passed me with the two occupants. Until an R.T.D. city transit, pulled along and made one of its scheduled stops on the north side of Jefferson at Budlong Avenue.
The bus was filthy coated. It was one of those old ugly buses which looked to have driven through a garbage truck for its washing. In glancing over my left shoulder, I snaked my eyes in the direction of where Jimbo would come from. Then suddenly I heard the low building gutter thunder of the old city bus pulling off. The noise saved my life. If I had taken another fraction of a second to look up in the direction of the bus I probably would be dead.
In that nanosecond of hearing the bus pulling off to, registering the noise, to looking up a second later gave me that one more breath on earth. There directly in front of me, running hard in my direction, was one of the G.Q.’s with thick waves in his head.
Danger! Danger! Danger! I took evasive actions. In a blurry vision I was able to make out the brown paper sack in the troopers right hand. A second later he withdrew the gun the bag had concealed.
It was at that moment my asphalt jungle built-in paranoid measure had become justified. “Boom!” The large chrome gun was barely out of the paper sack before the person behind it began firing it in my direction. “Boom!” By the second slug I was into a mad dash up the center of Jefferson Avenue. “Boom!” By the third shot I started to hear screams in the air. I wasn’t sure if it was me screaming from being hit or somebody else. Fortunately it was somebody else.
In fact, the screams I was hearing were coming from in front of me. It was my homeboy Jimbo’s sister, Tricia. She had been standing on the second floor level of her apartment unit on Walton Avenue, eye-witnessing the entire shooting.
Everything after that started to become a blur. I didn’t understand much of nothing that was going on around me. I had only one goal in mind, that of surviving. By the fourth and fifth shot I kept thinking the next one would catch me. I was under the impression that day would be the day I’d rest in peace. I had never had somebody chase me for so long, take such time and expend bullets as calculated as my predator was doing.
I knew there was only one bullet left and I figured if I could reach Walton Avenue, a block west of Budlong, I probably would live to see another day. I was inches from the corner of Walton and Jefferson Avenue, stepping onto the sidewalk when the predator fired off his last round. He was hoping that it would have counted, while I was wishing that it missed like all the other slugs.
After the terrifying bang noise I only had a fraction of a second to wait on the pain. It didn’t come. Instead the bullet slammed hard on impact into a car’s rear fender. No sooner had the G.Q. killer arrived inside my neighborhood, looking to take a soul; he also disappeared in the same way.
Some time later at the headquarters inside our neighborhood I stood around other foot soldiers of the Rollin 20s gang, discussing and recanting the seconds that almost snatched my life away. Sitting on the steps at the Budlong and 27th hangout was my homeboy Thunder, Big Tall Dogg, Gumboe, Skunn, Big Tray Kay, Big Ratt, P. Dog, Don Don, Dipps, Madd Ronald and Kountry. They watched my intricate body language as I told them about the enemy who had evolved drastically in the present on-going civil war.
The enemy had changed their tactics on warfare and as I spoke we all knew that we had to change ours as a collective, especially if our neighborhood expected a fighting chance in surviving the always evolving dynamics of the gang world. Soon discussions were brought up on what method we should use to infiltrate the rivals stomping grounds.
A day later, around noon, a few dozen republican troopers and I stood on 29th and Budlong Avenue. We were making preparations for an immediate incursion into enemy controlled territory. Myself and all the gangsters around me, were all dressed in Crip wear.
Each one of us had on some type of Crip style clothing; in which any hard core Crip across the city would wear on any given day – we looked like Crips ourselves. Our target location that afternoon was the Denker and Jefferson intersection, a military strong hold of our rivals.
During the mid 1980s, plenty of Crip factions were consolidating across similarities in their identities. This measure was taken due to the Crip epidemic of Crip vs. Crip violence. And during the time, the Rollin 30s were a tight ally of the Rollin 6Os Crips – a gang we planned to perpetrate that day.
After a last minute pow-wow, discussions were centered around which front line soldiers would be in the front ranks of our entourage. I was chosen as one of those front line soldiers. I was packing an 8-shot 22-revolver. I stood there amongst other republican personnel, thinking of how Cripped out we were all dressed.
I gave myself the once over and was satisfied with the Crip gear I was wearing. Before long we were on our hazardous trek into the killing field of our supposed Demilitarized Zone.
Recon teams that morning had spotted sizable enemy movement on the east corner of Denker and Jefferson Avenue. By the time we crossed over Normandie Avenue up Jefferson I remember giving thought to the infiltration tactic we were deploying to make sure our mission was a success.
We were some two dozen feet away from the intersecting corner of Denker Avenue when sonic boom sounds of having an adrenalin rush began to explode inside my head. But I was on point.
My autopilot killing mode was locked and loaded as the first visibility of enemy sighting came into clear view. There they were. Our enemy, the Rollin 30 Harlem Crips. And they had spotted us. The element of uncertainty grew within that pregnant second. Each one of the rivals instantly froze where they stood, casting long stares mixed with fear and something else.
Maybe it was that desire of wanting to badly recognize one of the sea of faces coming at them. Our pre-planned chant began once the ball was obviously rolling. I set it off first, “West Side 6-0 Crips! Rich Rollin 6-0 gang!” All around me other troopers of the republic began our chant call, which was an indigenous call of the Rollin 60s Crip.
The deception had worked perfectly. Immediately into our chanting with the 30s now recognizing it as their ally call began their retort in unison. Their own chant grew louder as we neared them – it was then that I realized their trooper personnels were deeper than ours. Our recon team had definitely gotten the enemy count wrong. But it wasn’t much of a worry by that time.
We were there right in the midst of our rivals playgrounds. And they were right in the midst of our crosshairs. I found myself having a second adrenalin rush as I walked towards a group of my rivals, who had accosted an ice cream truck. They were screaming and I was screaming. On both sides of me the republic personnel, who were chosen to be the front line soldiers -those with heats in their waistlines continued our moderate advancement on the enemy’s large perimeter.
Some odd 20 seconds later, the cape of deceit was- snatched off and our words of allies, comradeship and rich rollin allegiance, turned into that of rival enemy and west side 20s Bloods. The fox was loose and the hunt was on would be an adequate description of the atmosphere that suddenly exploded within the pro’s and con’s and the gives and takes – I was looking to take something. A soul maybe.
Without any further delay I snatched my revolver free from my waist line, paused for a fraction of a second, zeroed in on a target for elimination and squeezed the trigger mechanism in rapid succession.
I fired into the crowd of Crips who were in front of the ice cream truck, “Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!” A target went down immediately. I continued my advance and I continued to fire as I wanted to see more downed enemy personnel in my killing view.
The entire Denker and Jefferson area had turned into a killing field -our killing field. Revolvers exploded on the Denker block from those which made simple popping sounds to the distinctive booms coming from the 38s. I capped off my last few rounds I had left and back pedaled towards the Jefferson Boulevard.
Our second line of offensive soldiers moved in after the capping had stopped and caught any stragglers who were shot or trapped and placed hands and feet on them with the gangster stomp outs.
In another wild minute of activities our small fragment of the republics, large and still growing numbers, retreated across our established demilitarized zone of Jefferson Avenue, back into the safe haven of the Rollin 20s sovereignty.
Later that same night, on Raymond and Adams Boulevard, we celebrated our successful incursion into the 30s. I hated the 30s and as the drive-by madness increased in numbers with casualties on both sides piling up this hatred for the 30s would grow.
Neighborhoods all across the City of Angel in the 1980s were expanding, growing and swallowing up more territory in a desperate land grab to determine which neighborhoods would control and monopolize the city through terror.
We knew the 30s were expanding and so we to started on our expansion. In the summer of 1985, we had three clicks within our territory jurisdiction, the 25th Street, 27th Street and the 29th Street. And our rivals had three clicks, Denker Parks, Avenue 30s and the 39th Street.
We felt it was time to add on another click and to expand our territory and make our neighborhood slightly bigger by taking over an area northwest of Adams Boulevard. My homey Head from the 27th Street would be instrumental in helping the neighborhood 20s to exploit our desires of wanting to expand our borders. And before long we soon had areas of our neighborhood as far west as Pico Boulevard.
Once it became official that we would in fact add another click, who would call themselves the Avenue 20s. OG Santa Klaus promptly called a neighborhood meeting of all our clicks to make it all official.
The day of officiating the Avenue 20s into the threshold of the neighborhood Bloods, our capital, Loren Miller recreation center was steep with a sea of gangsters from all our ranks and file. Our number strength from our three clicks were immeasurable to the naked-eye.
We all waited for the arrival of our new comrades, our new brothers in arm, the Avenue 20s. Then finally they appeared. Coming around the corner off Lasalle Avenue out onto 27th Street, were our new members addition to the turf.
In the next second the republic chant call rose from the center of our park, exploding into a full celebration. Up the block and inside the parks center all the neighborhood Bloods were chanting our distinctive tribal call, “West side, west side neighborhood!”
It was probably one of the most exciting moments in our neighborhood’s history — the experience of adding on more troop personnel, and the experience of being accepted by a reputable Blood hood. Our republic ceremony of adding on yet another click to our now growing neighborhood was being watched closely by the hateful gaze of all our rivals – especially our immediate rivals – the Harlem 30 Crips.
Not soon into the proceedings with Santa Klaus speaking and officiating the 2nd Avenues indoctrination, cadres of Harlem Crips descended into our neighborhood on a military incursion and had done so by attacking both sides of our park, boxing us in.
Instantly the ceremony proceedings ceased and numerous republic personnel snatched out warpath courses looking to collide with the rivals. I followed Santa Klaus, who was by now, sprinting towards the eastern side of our park in his attempt to thwart the rivals attack plan. I ran with my small caliber in hand at the same time watching the unfolding events before me.
Car loads of rivals had pulled up, stopped and some had even jumped out, running towards the trunks of their cars; most likely to retrieve some of their heaters (guns). Unfolding in typical Sun Tzu style, the republic personnel all around the parks perimeter performed one of the ancient teachings of the great sage on warfare- attack your enemy plans.
The 30s had obviously wanted to pull up on both sides of our park, reach their trunks in a timely fashion, retrieve their guns, (most likely some heavy artillery) pin us in from our west and east angles, and wreck havoc on us. Their plan back fired.
Without knowing that we were perfectly executing one of the Sun Tzu’s tactic, we attacked our enemy’s plan of attack. Once in range Santa Klaus extended his right arm, finding his comfortable placing and opened up the gates of hell through the barrel of his pistol, “Boom! boom! boom!”
Within the next ticking moment I was along side Santa Klaus, squeezing off my desperate shots of hatred at an enemy that I vowed to eliminate from the acceptance of my pledge as a neighborhood Blood member. In quick succession the republic personnel thumped the Harlem plans and as fast as they had arrived on the scene they quickly departed in the same manner.
Even after the rivals had vanished back across the border of Jefferson Avenue the republics large army was up in arms singing one solid tune of wanting to take our vast numbers and launch an invasion into the 30s. I too was apart of this consensus. I wanted to show the Harlem Crips that they had angered a still growing giant.
But Santa Klaus didn’t share in our sentiments. He had other plans for the republic army that day. After our desire of wanting to show the Harlems our capabilities was squashed, Santa Klaus lead us out onto our main boulevard -Adams Boulevard.
Once there we terrorized any and everybody who had the slightest infraction of a violation against them, on both sides of Adams Boulevard stomp cuts were being administered by troopers from the republic. In the excitement surrounding the beat downs we had completely dropped our guards on being vigilant in watching out for enemy incursions into the hood.
At the Golden Birds, on Brighton Avenue, some of my homies were beating the shit out of a man who had been accused of snatching one of my homeboys mother’s purse. The unknown person was knocked out, revived and knocked out again. In the heat of the drama the Harlem Crips slide through on an incursion as expected; no one had spotted the enemy personnel until they had already slide within reach, with arms extended out the side of their windows.
Myself, Santa Klaus and a thick number of troopers were across the street at Sonny’s liquor store when the revolver gunfire demanded our undivided attention outside. And in rapid succession the gunfire from the enemy’s, now boiling anger, unleashed a roll call of hot slugs meant to take a soul of one of our military personnel that day.
Quickly we ran outside with cannons in hand; ready to retaliate for the attack. But we were too late. By the time we reached the out doors of the liquor store, ready for the attack, the enemy cars were sliding a hard right onto Normandie Avenue blending out of gunfire range.
Later that same night we retaliated against the Harlems, with news in the air days later, confirming our military expedition had been successful. With the neighborhoods noticeable increase, our rivals from both sides of our borders – the Jefferson side and the Crenshaw side – launched massive attacks into our republic.
On the Adams side, my side of the turf, we fought against the Harlem Crips – our rivals ever since inception. The summer war of 1985 was personal. The Harlem Crips who waged war against us continuously, knew all of us by name, as we knew them by their first names.
Huckabuc, one of their most famous ghetto celebrities at the time, had developed a larger then life reputation by carrying out amazing military incursions into the 20s. And I would be the one who would make him pay for his deeds of disrespect towards us.
One day while being posted up at our summer headquarters, on Budlong Avenue and 27th Street, we received a surprised visit from the then infamous Huckabuc.
A small Toyota size type car, slide to a complete stop directly in front of our headquarters – called the Decision Porch – Right away Huckabuc’s face was recognized. “It’s Huckabuc!” Instantly, out of fear of what would happen republic personnel scramble for safety thinking the bullets were close behind the arrival.
That was Huckabuc’s second mistake that day – not opening up right away. The first was the fact that he had arrived on a location of where I happen to be at. It was our first run in.
And like himself, I was building my own reputation, but from our side of the fence. After the initial confusion with Huckabuc and some other Harlems now sitting inside their car in the center of Budlong Avenue, staring at us, Thunder, my OG homeboy began to speak.
Thunder was an OG Rollin 20s and Huckabuc knew just who he was.
“Look here Blood, y’all niggas can’t be coming through our hood like this always with this bullshit!” While Thunder spoke his sentiment I was on my hands and knees just behind the wooden brown gate undetected still.
From the second Huckabuc pulled up, to his name being screamed out, I yanked free my pistol and ducked behind the cover of the wooden gate. I was moving towards my target like a shadow in the night.
As Thunder continued to lay verbal law to Huckabuc and his croonies I was slowly inching closer towards the brown wooden gate in the direction of the voices coming from the stationed car. Just as the dialogue thicken to words of disrespect between Thunder and Huckabuc, I made my move.
Suddenly I rose from my stealthy position with my right arm extended forward, and for a nanosecond I took great pleasure in the sight of seeing fear stenciled across Huckabuc’s face. I justified the fear he felt in that moment by pulling down on the trigger of my 22, “Pop! Pop! Pop!” By the third explosion at such proximity, the reality of them being played had unfolded itself.
“Pop, Pop!” By my fifth and last round expended the driver had completely freaked out. Instead of pulling off with a growing speed the unknown driver tried to smash out. He slammed his entire foot onto the gas pedal with the car tires only spinning in one spot.
Fortunate for Huckabuc and his homies, I had run out of ammunition. Not soon after they had pulled away licking their wounds of being capped at by an active y.g. foot soldier of the republic, my homeboys and homegirls swarmed on me, congratulating me for my brute and overt anti-Harlem Crip actions.
I couldn’t understand all their enthusiasm, I was a Rollin 20 Blood and my sole mission in life was to eliminate a Rollin 30 Crip. It was all hood to me. After the close assassination attempt on Huckabuc’s life he made sure that I felt the pressure he would apply.
Not soon after Huckabuc lead a retaliation mission for the gangster move I put down on him. He would catch me, my homeboys Gumboe, Skunn and Jay Dee inside the liquor store on the corner of Adams and Kenwood Avenue. We never seen the gunman step into the liquor store and the only thing which saved us was the spoken words one of them spoke when they stepped inside, “There he go, cuz!” We reacted swiftly as we knew danger was behind the voice.
Without yet seeing a gun or the person behind the gun we still possessed enough street experience to know that some gunplay was coming next. And by the time the first round signed its signature in the empty space between us and the rivals we were all moving in one synchronize motion.
“Boom! boom! boom! boom! boom! boom!” Our split second street experience had just saved all our lives. Our second lifesaver came in the form of the store owner who knew all us and was sympathetic towards the republic and its members.
As if he were on full time military duty for the neighborhood Bloods, the store owner stepped from behind his work counter and began laying law from the back portion of the store, saving our lives in the process.
Huckabuc and one other of his homeboy had been forced to retreat under the automatic gunfire the store owner was unleashing on them. After that night, the beef between me and Huckabuc would only increase ten-fold.
Like me, he to wanted to put his name on the gang scene as that of the ultimate gangster. And in one sense, we would use each other to accomplish our same goals. The drama between us would intensify during one of our military recon missions into their neighborhood. The recon mission would lead up to the gives and takes and the seriousness of warfare. I would leave the battlefield against Huckabuc with one valuable lesson inside my heart- kill or you will be killed.
To up the ante for the Harlem’s latest attack into our threshold we decided to attack the rivals in their weak chain of defense. We knew from years of warfare against our life long foe, the Denker Parks and the 39th Street would always put up a credible confrontation against us, but their Avenue 30 click was weak and in some sense disorganized when it came to our brute tendencies.
It would be them who would pay for Huckabuc’s latest move on us. Days following the attack by Huckabuc, an attack on my life, we finally launched our response call into the city-state section of the Avenues.
With the Avenues, it always proved a difficult task in locating one to eliminate. They were unlike their other two clicks, who would hang out and be seen, parading their defiant gestures to all enemies. That night me, my homeboy L. Bone and Lil’ Jerr rode through many backstreets of the Avenues, looking for anything to cap at.
Initially we found nothing. Unlike L. Bone, who was driving me and Lil’ Jerr were faded off a sherm stick we had pulled on right before our planned incursion, By now we were feeling the drugs potent effect on our psychics. “Lil’ Jerr sat in the passenger seat with a 38 special, which was wrapped inside a red bandanna. He had demanded that he be the one to pull the trigger on the enemy that night once they were sighted. He claimed I was the one who was always capping whenever I was along for a drive-by,
This was all true indeed. Whenever I was in the car on any military expedition into the rival’s playground, it was always my intention to turn it into my killing field. My personal dislike and hatred against the Harlem Crips would be expressed many times during our summer war against them.
Enemy! Enemy! Enemy! From the backseat on the passenger side- I spotted a countless amount of enemy personnel, sitting in the echelon of darkness, which blanketed the porch they were sitting on. Enemy troop movement began to move about at the sight of our unrecognizable car; they were alerted to our presence, but we still had an advantage. They knew neither of our status – friend or foe.
L. Bone pulled the car to a complete stop at the stop sign. Then slowly he made a left turn up the syrupy dark black. That’s when the shit hit the fan. Without words being spoken, Lil’ Jerr being under the influence of the Sherman stick, sprung into action, completely absent-minded of what he was doing.
I watched the thick drama unfold from the backseat. L. Bone had turned the corner perfectly, placing Lil’ Jerr with a direct line of fire on the enemy. But what Lil’ Jerr did when the car finally stopped, was something unforeseen. He tucked the gun up against L. Bone’s head, just close enough and pulled down on the trigger, “Click!”
The car and the world around us, fell dead silent it seemed. And fortunate for L. Bone, we possessed one of those janky guns in which most had during the summer wars of 1985. L. Bone slammed hard on the brakes and we came to a screeching halt. The rivals bum-rushed the night, disappearing into the landscape around us.
Through all this, despite being high as hell, I watched it all with a calm set of eyes. The sherm sticks we smoke in the 1980s were more powerful than the sticks of the 1990s and 2000s. Lil’ Jerr didn’t realize the seriousness of what he had come close to doing, until well after the fact. But L. Bone was screaming shit hot. “Give the goddamn gun to Loko!”
The reality of almost being murdered by the homeboy was evident from the deep gaze in L. Bone’s blazing eyes. He was in total disbelief that his life almost flashed before him and us. In a slow, fully off the sherm stick hard grip on the mind motion, Lil’ Jerr finally handed over the pistol to me.
After making sure I had a firm grip on the pistol, L. Bone finally pulled off, heading for the Jefferson Boulevard. Our incursion into the 30 Avenues was all but over. We decided then to go and hit the Denker Parks near their park location at one of their known hangouts – the intersecting corner of Jefferson and Denker Avenue. It didn’t take long to reach our targeted location. And instead cf sliding up Jefferson until we reached Denker Avenue, we decided to come up Denker and head north towards Jefferson, cap at all visible enemy troopers and vanish across our vast border of Jefferson Avenue.
We made a left on 35th, reached Denker Avenue made another left and instantly we spotted a roll call of rivals on our right hand side – my trigger hand side. L. Bone cruised the car up the block at moderate speeds, and just as we slithered within reach of my aim, Lil’ Jerr blew my advantage by clarifying our position.
“What that Neighborhood Blood gang be like?” With no other choice, but to now or never capitalize off of what I was working with, I swung into action, to rid the earth of another Harlem 30. From the waist up, I pushed my torso through the window, took aim at the now petrified rivals, who realized they were being hunted in that very moment and began to cap off the hot lead, which had the neighborhood Bloods venom on each tip. “Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!”
With the last volley released into the confused crowd of enemies, L. Bone made a straight bee-line across Jefferson Avenue back into the grip of our republic. That night of madness against our most hated rivals would be only one of innumerable amount of drive-bys- drive-bys which placed focus on the City of Angels. And it wouldn’t be long before we found ourselves neck deep in other unforeseeable wars with enemies thirsty enough to kill or be killed.
Also check this out by Loko and his upcoming book 2 Live and Die in LA