In California gangs are a way of life and LA is gangbanger ground zero. The Crips, Surenos, Nortenos, Eighty-Eights and Bloods all hold court in the streets, they all perpetrate in some form or fashion. Gangs in the city of Angels are recklessly rampant and gang activity doesn’t just happen in the big city. The blueprints for bangin’ have infested smaller towns and spread across the nation. The ideology has transgressed ethnic, racial and geographical boundaries. Gangbanging exists in the hood, the suburbs and even rural areas all over America. Gangs have become a trend and the gang mentality is accepted in popular culture and society as a whole to a large degree. But how did it all start and what’s it really like inside a set?
Gorilla Convict decided to get the 411 and take a closer look at the Bloods and in particular the Rolling 20 Neighborhood Bloods, one of the largest blood clicks in LA today. Legend has it that the Bloods started in the summer of 1972 when a member of the LA Brims, a westside independent gang was shot and killed by a Crip member after a confrontation. Being heavily outnumbered by the Compton Crips and thus no match for them in a gang fight the LA Brims turned to the Piru Street Boys, Lueders Park Hustlers and Denver Lanes, three other non-crip gangs, for assistance. Before the ensuing rumble a meeting was called on Piru Street in Compton where the 4 non-crip gangs met and metamorphosed into the Bloods. To distinguish themselves from the Crips and their traditional blue bandanas the newly form Bloods decided to fly red rags and so the war of colors was launched. According to Blood legend the red symbolizes the blood they’ve shed, the white in the red symbolizes the celestial bodies, stars or heaven and the black in the red symbolizes the bangers as black people.
Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and into the 90’s the Blood/Crips rivalry grew as did the numbers associated with the gang and their presence in cities and areas across the nation. The warfare has raged on unabated. Bloods aimed to be known as Crip Killers but recently the state of the war has changed as more and more Crips and Bloods have been fighting a more common enemy. The fight in LA has turned from Blood versus Crip and black versus black to Blood and Crip versus Surenos (Mexicans/Chicanos) and black versus brown. It’s rumored that the Mexican Mafia or Erne shotcallers have green lighted all blacks in Los Angeles. From their cells at Pelican Bay the Erne have started a war in the streets of LA. And this racial war has turned vicious. Because we are Don Diva we go right to the source for our interviews. In this case we went to the California Department of Corrections to speak with Rolling 20’s Neighborhood Blood soldier and O.G., Terrell C. Wright aka Loko, age 38, who is serving time for a Beverly Hills jewelry store robbery. We spoke to Loko about set life, what being a blood is all about and what the current climate in LA is concerning gang warfare.
When did you first get involved with your set?
For many, many years I sustained that wanna-be status, amongst that rank and file who mostly stood on the side lines, jocking the gangsters shadows and presence. Until finally, I crossed that threshold of no return in 1982, blindly committing myself into that cesspool of violence, death and destruction.
What neighborhood do you all represent?
Me and my homies represent a gang calling itself the Rolling 20′s Neighborhood Bloods. A gang that’s reputable on the west side of Los Angeles, and practically one of the largest blood gangs inside Los Angeles today.
Did you grow up there?
As shocking as this may sound too many who may have never known this, but I didn’t grow up in my neighborhood; at least not in the traditional sense of growing up somewhere. But I’ve been a part of the fabric and interior for so long, many probably haven’t even noticed.
Was it always like that?
I would have to say yes. As far back as I can recollect it’s always been the way it is today: the gangs, the drama, the shootings, the murders and those that are legendary inside the gang scene. It’s always been like that as far back as I can recall.
What kind of things did you all get up to?
As far as the neighborhood was concerned back in the early 80′s we mostly hung-out on Vermont and 29st, drinking, smoking and flirting with the women who strolled by admiring our machismo. That was then, but as the drama intensified across the city with all the gangs vying to be dominate over the next, me and my homies committed ourselves neck deep into that which was taking the city by storm — (The era of the drive-by shooters).
When did things start progressing towards crime?
From the first inception into the Neighborhood Bloods as a member I soon learned that crime was an intricate part of the gang-bangers persona. Committing a criminal act for the gang-banger was no different than eating, sleeping and breathing. Plus back then crime paid. Our earliest form of hustling, prior to crack digging its claws into the many communities and jurisdictions, was that of snatching purses, jewelry snatching, home burglaries, stealing cars and selling its parts. As I mentioned to commit a crime was the gang-bangers hustle. So it’s always been there; an intricate part of the gang-bangers life.
Give me a history and breakdown of your set?
Prior to my click -the 29st click of the Neighborhood Blood – becoming a part of the NHB’s, we were known as the Vermont Villain Boys. Basically, we were youths who thought they were cool. And we had such names as Lover D. – soon to become Zig Zag; Ranger, soon to become Stranger; Baby Black, soon to become Big De Bopp; and me as Baby Boy, soon to become Mr. Loko. That’s how we started off as players, wanna-be’s, until finally we became known as the 29st click of the NHB’s. Today we’re one of the biggest click inside the Rollin 20′s gang with a few hundred click members from our click alone.
Where are all your homies now?
Wow, that’s deep to me, because I always think about the generation of homeboys I grew up with, especially my click of members. Homeboys like Lace Dawg, T-Dawg, Sparky, Boodha, Joker, Hen Dawg, Te-Bopp, De-Rock, Be-Rock, Nutty-Boy, Gumboe, Dez, L-Bone, Lil Jerr, Big-Tee are either retired, dead or strung out on drugs…and I haven’t even listed those who are in jail. There are a few success cases, but not many. I always reflect back on my homies and those I started off with. I often wish I could go back to those early time periods to be able to hang-out with my homies that I miss.
Looking back how do you reflect on it all?
Looking back now I have many regrets in one sense. I would be lying if I said otherwise. And in the same sense I don’t have many regrets. I don’t know how much sense that makes, but that’s the way it is inside my heart. I am what I am: a soldier of the field who’s totally equipped for any shit that hits the fan. I’m that gangster who stands his grounds when many suckas break and run, not certain of themselves. I am an epitome of a gangster, thug. So once more looking back I have regrets but not many.
Why did you all form in the first place?
If you’re asking as to why the neighborhood was started, I’m not exactly certain about that in particular, as the voyage was a generation before my time. But as far as my particular click, the 29st is concerned, it gave us the opportunity to be a part of something grandeur, majestic, mystical and dominating in the hearts and minds of those who stood on the side line, admiring and awing over the gang-bangers life.
What is the history of the color?
The choice of choosing red as the symbolical representation of being a blood, is beyond my reach in knowledge. In fact, I don’t have the slightest inclination as to why the color red was chosen for the bloods, and even more so, why the Crips chose blue. I’m totally lacking in that area of history.
When did you first get involved?
Before I was an official made-man on the gang scene, I had my few tumultuous years circa 1979-1981 of being a wanna-be gangster. So I started in the gang-bangers track some time ago, and it wasn’t much time later, where I concluded that I was ready to make that commitment.
What’s it like for the young kids growing up there?
It’s a continuance struggle for the youngster growing up in Los Angles. Especially, inside a city where the gang-bangers aura have a strong grip on the youths minds from an early age onward. They have to always battle the decision, of joining the rank and file of those before them, into the gang scene, or to march down a separate path. But in my humble opinion, it’s a struggle in every aspect.
How do you see things in your neighborhood today?
Today is no different than the old: gang wars, funerals, lives destroyed and many more adversities to overcome. The only difference today, is instead of the traditional Blood -vs- Crip wars, and Mexican (cholos) -vs- Mexican warfare, the two predominate groups in Southern California, have now turned their guns on each other. It’s the new trend of black gangsters -vs- brown gangsters. But it’s a no win situation, as the only for sure outcome, is that there will be more chaos and destruction left behind then it was the day before. All across the L.A. county lines, and its many highways and byways, the black and brown gangsters are drawing up new battle lines, re-drawing and re-establishing new Demilitarized Zones, inside communities they once happily shared together, and are killing each other at an alarming rate. The excrement blood baths have the two groups taking it to dimensions of warfare that’s considered something new to the many L.A. gangsters: racial targeting and culture clashes. It’s the new trend and sadly enough it’ll be here for a while and as it buries itself deeper into the fine woven material of the L.A. stage of drama, more lives will be lost, and many more heart breaks of family, friends, homies, brothers, cousins, fathers, and uncles loss of lives will continue to rise out of control.
What are all the dudes into?
Now days most of my homies are into grinding (hustling). Trying to attain that almighty dead president (money). And even some (although it’s rare in a larger sense) are attempting to take their illegal proceeds and take a shot at making a legit living by up starting a legalize business of some sort. But for the most part most of my homies are grinding on one level or another.
How do you feel about all this?
I have no qualms with any of my homies. Just as they find that niche to do them, I’m doing me. My philosophy is you make your bed you sleep in it. That’s how I feel.
What would you do to change how it is?
If you’re referring to the gang scene inside the blocks I grew up on, I’d be more than willing to take a step forward to try and bring about some type of change for the betterment of the neighborhood as a whole, and for those who make up the community. I would be willing to make an attempt at trying to form a peace treaty of some sort to rid at least my neighborhood of the violence that have plagued it for so long. I’m at that point in my life where I’m comfortable saying the aforementioned and sincerely meaning it.
What can society do?
What can society do, huh? In my mind, society can assist in many, many ways. I would love to be a part of a (think-tank) from the many echelons of society, to try and come up with some radical solutions, viable solutions to bring about an overdue change inside the hoods. I wouldn’t mind doing my part, as long as society does their part. In the end, it’s a group effort.
Will it ever stop or just stay the same?
In my philosophical mind frame, nothing stays the same — absolutely nothing. To me the one thing that remains constant is change. So in my humble opinion, I have a philosophical inclination to say that it will change one day. But the mystery behind that fact of life is what type of change will come. Will it be for the worse or for the better? But as a collective it would be most wise to have a hand in the dynamic that will be, so that change that is inevitable will hopefully bear something positive and not something negative.
Who were your biggest rivals?
Undoubtedly, the Rolling 30′s Harlem Crips, are our biggest rivals, and always have been. We battle on sight, and the only time that we’ve had a tentative peace treaty with each other was during the 1992 L.A. riots, peace-treaty period. But keep in mind, it was a tentative agreement. We had rules in place, that we would stop our drive-by against them, and they would stop theirs against us. And unlike most rivals during that period, who openly visited each other’s turfs as a sign that the warfare was over, the Neighborhood 20′s (my turf) and the Harlem 30′s had an understanding, that we were not to visit each other’s stomping grounds. For months the tentative agreement held until one late night on Brighton Avenue and Adams Blvd my roll dawg, Lil Moe was shot 8-9 times at close blank range. And despite the early rumors that the Hoover Criminal (Crips at the time) had done the shooting, the Republic of the Neighborhood Bloods took our boiling wrath out on the entire Republic of the Rolling 30′s. We struck at them from every angle, sending out messages that the L.A. peace treaty was officially over with, on the west side of the city.
What did you all beef for?
In the early days we beefed simply because we were Bloods and they were Crips. That was the unique dynamic all across the city. Simply because we were from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Does the animosity still exist today?
Yes! It still exist but not as it once did. The wars are fewer than it once was, but when they do commence they’re bloody and violent. Unlike back in the days when the wars were more rampant as many L.A. gangs vied to be the biggest fish in the ocean. We did what damage we could with our simple revolves. But in today’s time when wars jump-off the automatics are brought out and most times multiple body count of dead are the results. So most wars today are brief, but very, very traumatic. But don’t get me wrong either it’s always a state of warfare between the warring tribes.
What do you have to say to all the young kids coming up?
To not follow in any gangsters footsteps. To stay focused on something positive, and to remain steadfast in some constructive belief that will yield positive results. And never ever join a gang.
As an O.G. (Original Gangster) who are your contemporaries?
In my line of work, many of my contemporaries are either dead, doped out, or have fallen off the face of the earth. But there are some, and since I’m asked to acknowledge them, specifically from my particular tribe, I would have to say my homeboy Big Tray-Kay from the 27th.st, Big Krazy-Kay from the Avenue’s, and Big Spook from the 29th.st. There are plenty, plenty more to be listed of who I would tilt my hat to, but those I mentioned, are active Generals in the field, directing, showing and leading divisions of cadres on the field of battle.
Who are the fallen soldiers that need to be recognized?
I have a laundry list of soldiers that I’d like to mention, who I feel need to be mentioned. First, I would like to tilt my gangsta hat to my O.G. homeboy, Original Gangster Santa-Klaus. For years I ran underneath his tutelage, absorbing all the street knowledge he had. And he taught me well. As well as my big homey O.G. Thunder. And of course, I have a list of names that I’d like to tilt my hat to, and of course who I would want many to remember: Billy Rob (1978), Fish-Bone (1984), Stoney (1986), Dopey (1987), L-Bone (1987), Don Don (1987),’ Lil No-Good (1988), Sweaty-Teddy (1989), Tee-Lok (1990), Dez (1990), Lace Dawg (1990), Dipps (1991), Wicked (1992), Santa Klaus (1993), Lil Squidd (1993), Baby Reese (1993) Cee-Kay (1993), Lil Krazy-Kay (1993), Insane Wayne (1993), Killa Kal (1993), Wino (1994), Loko-Moe (1995), Lil Dee-kapone (1995), Tiny-Spook (1996), Tee-Spoon (1996), Kay-Dee (1997), Belizean Jerry (1999), Fat-Man (1999), Gee-Kev (2000), M-Dawg (2000), Big Bee-Rock (2000), Nipples (2001), Dre-Dawg (2001), Ant-Dawg (2001), Tiny Evil (2002), Roscoe (2003), Ise-Man (2003), Jay-Bee (2003), Kool Boy (2003), baby Tippy (2003), Evil (2003) Lil-Kay Kay (2004), Rick Dawg (2004), Jay-Dee (2004), Black (2006).
What sets are around your neighborhood?
My neighborhood borders with friends and foes. To the south of our neighborhood, we have our allies the Fruit Town Brim Bloods; and next to them, on our south-west border, we have our arch nemesis, the Harlem Crips. To our immediate west end, we have our allies the Black P. Stone Bloods (city stones) and to our northwest border, we have our enemies, the School Yard Crips. North of us, we have our rivals the Mid City Stoners-13, and the Playboys-13. But we have enough girth to feel comfortable inside our established borders. In fact, it is estimated that we have the biggest territory of any black gang inside L.A. We have five large clicks which make up our neighborhood, and we have a sixth click, that doesn’t get much air play. They are called the BZP (Belizean Posses). They’re small, but they’re ruthless. They hold their own, as the Neighborhood Bloods have been known to carry their weight inside the gang arena. Before I west side roll out, I would like to give a shout out to my homies the Homicide Neighborhoods Bloods in New York, the 8-Mile Neighborhoods Bloods in Detroit and Bakersfield Neighborhood Bloods in California. And an almighty Su—————————whoooop to all the Bloods across the country.
Besides being a Blood soldier and convict, Terrell C. Wright aka Loko is also an author. Check out his books, Home of the Body Bags and the upcoming To Live and Die in LA, which chronicle his journey as a Blood soldier from the streets to the penitentiary. For more info on his books visit www.senegalpress.com or streetgangs.com and to learn more about the brown on black violence in LA check out the In The Hat blog at www.inthehat/blogspot.com.