Putting the Crips & Bloods to Shame!
In his Bad video (1987) Michael Joseph Jackson featured rival street gangs. And having lived in Los Angeles, he was quite familiar with the Crips and Bloods–two rival African American gangs. Even in his Black Or White video (1991) he spoke of a “turf war on a global scale.” But he never went into detail as to the differences and similarities between rival European “gangs”–the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland–and rival African American gangs–the Crips and Bloods. Note these quotes from one college textbook.
“Cycle of Violence”: “By the end of the 1960s, the Catholic minority was under increasing pressure and assault from Protestant gangs. Catholic enclaves had to be protected from Protestant gangs who were burning, shooting, and bombing Catholic housing districts.” “The endless cycle of violence–tit-for-tat killings and bombing–that has typified Northern Ireland life for more than a quarter of century, can be laid squarely at the doorsteps of both Protestant and Catholic paramilitaries.”
Civil Rights Marches: “In October 1968, the newly formed Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association organized a march in Londonberry to show its strength and its frustration at the discrimination by the Protestant majority. The Catholic minority in the North, probably in copycat fashion of the civil rights marches in the United States led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., started marching for better access to jobs, housing and a fairer share of the economy.”
“Rioting broke out in the summer of 1969, and the British government sent troops in to restore order. … In the thirty-plus years of ‘The Troubles,’ more than 3,000 people on both sides for the religious divide have been killed.” Now, this figure can be misleading. When compared to the population of the United States, the resulting death toll would exceed 600,000. That rivals the number of Americans killed in the Civil War!
The Reverend: The Reverend Ian Paisley–to some–is the rough equivalent of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. “Ian Paisley has been the charismatic face of [one faction’s] reaction to [the other’s].” The book goes on to say, “As the vocal and popular face of the … movement, he was often sentenced for unlawful assembly as he conducted marches and protests around the province.”
Police Brutality: “The first Catholic to die in the ‘Troubles’ was a teenager who was struck on the head by a member of the [local police] during street demonstrations and violence on July 14, 1968. Religion and discrimination have been the battleground, stemming from centuries of social injustice.”
Different Sets of the Same Gang: In Northern Ireland, who would the different equivalent “Crip” factions be? The Red Hand Commandos, The Ulster Freedom Fighters, The Ulster Volunteer Force, and The Ulster Defense Association. What about the “Blood” factions? The Irish Republican Army, The Irish National Liberation Army, The Irish Peoples Liberation Organization, Cumann na mBan (the women’s wing of the IRA), and Saor Eire (Free Ireland).
Are criminal activities in the ghetto in the mix? “In those early days, there was a real struggle for supremacy in the housing districts [or projects] and ghettos of West Belfast. The feuding was partly ideological and partly material in that they were fighting for control of the criminal rackets in Belfast and Londonberry.”
Violence at Funerals: In the movie Colors (1988) one gang was attacked by another while attending the funeral of one of their “homies.” Has that happened with White gangs? “At the funeral of the three dead [gang members] at Milltown Cemetery, with the world’s press watching, a man approached the gathering from the road and began to hurl grenades at the assembled [rival gang members].” The result? “Mayhem.”
Community Policing: “The challenge for the police service in the North was how it could be accountable to the community it serves.”
Commission Reports: “In 1998, the British government appointed the former Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, to head the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland. The Commission’s report made 175 recommendations for change. When the recommendations were presented, the [community group] was adamant that the only way forward for the Peace Accord was a full implementation of all the recommendations.”
We’re not that different after all. As MJ put it, it doesn’t matter if you’re Black or White. So don’t live your life being a color. Peace and blessings to all–including my brothers on both sides in Northern Ireland and Los Angeles. Amen.