A life history of a former boston gang leader risk factor analysis (public)Document Transcript
A LIFE HISTORY OF A FORMER BOSTON GANG LEADER: RISK FACTOR ANALYSIS
Howard Martin Sorett
Senior Research Work
Presented to the
To Fulfill the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
December 13, 2012
In order to protect the personal privacy of the subject, I have provided fictitious names for both
the subject and his gang.
In the year 2010 in Boston there were 159 shooting victims less than 25 years of age.
Increasing numbers of these homicides are gang-related. The highest rate of Boston victims with
non-fatal gunshot and stabbing injuries is in the 15-19 age range. The range of those most
affected by youth violence is age 12-24. Eighty-one percent of these incidents occur in the
predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Dorchester,
Roxbury, and Mattapan1.
My interest in the subject of gang violence dates back to the 1980’s in Boston’s inner city,
where I worked for a community-based non-profit organization as a street worker. This
experience with high-risk African American and Latino teenage males revealed a pattern of
trauma: physical abuse by family members, the torment of witnessing other forms of domestic
violence, threats to life out on the street, and abandonment by parents. If we were able to win
their confidence, the teenagers expressed to us their shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and
anger. If we were able to develop a relationship and get them to talk further, they made
progress. They could move on with a bit more peace. But we were not successful very often.
This project applies stigma and shame theory to the life history of a former Boston gang
leader. It translates my concern about gang violence into the following question: given that social
conditions in Boston contribute to the stigmatization of its African American and Latino youth
population, what is the primary risk factor that drives a small percentage2 of young African
American and Latino men in Boston’s most violent neighborhoods to engage in gang violence?
I would first like to acknowledge my wife and treasure, Mabel Sorett, for her continued love,
support, and encouragement, which fostered my desire to return to Middlebury and complete my
undergraduate degree requirements. Acknowledgements are also extended to my son Professor
Josef Sorett, whose devotion to scholarship inspired me. I greatly appreciate Rev. Dr. Ray
Hammond and Rev. Jeffrey Brown, whose commitment to urban youth, resulted in the creation of
The Boston TenPoint Coalition. They generously gave their time to interview with me and pointed
me toward exceptional resources. I thank Rev. Bob Gray of Bethel AME Church Boston for his
guidance; Sam Kim, Director of the Youth Violence Systems Project for providing an exciting
systems perspective on this ongoing tragedy. I would also like to acknowledge Rev. Eustace
Payne, Executive Director and Founder of the Massachusetts Community Outreach Initiative, for his
work over the last two decades guiding men through the process of re-entry into society from
My gratitude is also extended to those at Middlebury College who helped make this project a
reality: Dr. Ellen Oxfeld, who qualified me to be accepted for reinstatement; Associate Dean
Karen Guttentag who approved my reinstated status; and to my faculty adviser Dr. David Stoll,
who provided me with exceptional guidance and resources.
Finally, I would like to recognize two men: Rev. Joseph N’Kunta, who worked tirelessly for
years in the streets of Boston, impacting the lives of countless high-risk youth. He himself lost two
of his own children to gang violence; and Hakim Reynolds, who daily demonstrates the power of
one humble man’s faith to move the mountains in his life and the lives of others.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 7
Meeting a “Banger” in Church .................................................................................................................... 7
Definition of a Gang and Risk Factor ........................................................................................................ 7
Theoretical Framework ................................................................................................................................. 8
Hypothesis: The Primary Personal Risk Factor: Stigma to Shame to Rage ....................................... 10
Research Methodology ............................................................................................................................... 11
CHAPTER 2: Hakim Reynolds Life History Summary ....................................................................... 12
CHAPTER 3: The Stone Cold Gang and Boston Gang Violence (1986-1992) ............................ 14
CHAPTER 4: Social Conditions for Gang Violence ............................................................................ 22
The Psychological Impact of Urban Decay and Segregated Housing .............................................. 22
Family Decline and Fatherlessness............................................................................................................ 23
Poverty and Unemployment ...................................................................................................................... 24
Mass Media’s Role in the Promotion of the Culture of “Bling” and Aggression ............................... 25
Education, Segregation, and Marginalization ....................................................................................... 25
The Code of the Street and Peer Influence ............................................................................................ 27
CHAPTER 5: Hakim Reynolds’s Early Childhood .............................................................................. 30
Family Life and Dysfunction ....................................................................................................................... 30
Acceptance found in the Streets ............................................................................................................... 32
The Hustle Gets More Serious ................................................................................................................... 34
CHAPTER 6: The Neighborhood Group Becomes a Gang ............................................................... 35
The Group ..................................................................................................................................................... 35
A Conflict Changes the Social Order ....................................................................................................... 36
CHAPTER 7: Life in the Gang .................................................................................................................. 38
A Death and a Pact .................................................................................................................................... 38
Shame, Respect, and Retaliation, the Decision to Use Guns ................................................................ 38
Trauma and the Code of the Street ......................................................................................................... 41
The Business of Hustling Crack ................................................................................................................... 41
From Solidarity to Enforcement through Fear ........................................................................................ 43
The Gang and its Business Grow .............................................................................................................. 44
Material Benefits to a Dead End .............................................................................................................. 45
CHAPTER 8: Gang Life Goes Bad........................................................................................................... 48
Locked up, shot, and locked up................................................................................................................. 48
Grandmother Provides Advice .................................................................................................................. 49
CHAPTER 9: Hakim Decides to Go Another Way............................................................................... 50
Hakim’s Christian Conversion Experience ................................................................................................ 50
Hakim Leaves the Gang ............................................................................................................................. 51
God’s Posse, Brotherhood and Respect ................................................................................................... 54
A New Perspective: Walking On Water ................................................................................................ 55
Future Focused, Not Past Possessed ......................................................................................................... 57
A Life with Vision and Purpose.................................................................................................................. 59
CHAPTER 10: Faith-Based Strategies in Boston ................................................................................. 61
Boston TenPoint Coalition ........................................................................................................................... 61
Youth Violence Systems Project of the Emmanuel Gospel Center (EGC) .......................................... 64
Massachusetts Community Outreach Initiative ........................................................................................ 65
CHAPTER 11: Summary of Findings and Conclusion ....................................................................... 66
Summary of Findings ..................................................................................................................................66
Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................................... 70
ENDNOTES ................................................................................................................................................... 72
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESEARCH .............................................................................................................. 77
TABLE OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1: Youth Homicide in Boston, 1976-2006 ................................................................................. 16
Figure 1: Boston Gang Areas ...................................................................................................................... 17
Figure 2: Boston Gang Conflict Network ................................................................................................... 18
Figure 3: Boston Gang Alliance Network .................................................................................................. 19
Figure 7: Boston Gang Area “Hot Spots” .................................................................................................. 20
Figure 8: The Stone Cold Gang Turf (Grove Hall Neighbor Boundaries) .......................................... 21
Figure 9: “A White student attacking a Black man with the American flag”...................................... 26
Figure 10: The “Slippery Slope Path” ........................................................................................................ 29
Table 1: Living arrangements for Grove Hall children under 18 years old, who live in households,
compared to the same demographic of children who live throughout the entire
United States .................................................................................................................................................. 23
Table 2: Living Arrangements for Non-Institutionalized, Non-Householder Children
Under Age 18 Living with at Least one Parent, 2000.............................................................................23
CHAPTER 1: Introduction
Meeting a Banger in Church
In January 2012 I attended a men’s meeting sponsored by a church. The focus of the
ministry3 is the promotion of the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of men by providing
a Christian-based community and safe haven for those in crisis and transition. Each meeting
functions as an opportunity for men to share with other men challenging issues in their lives and to
receive prayer and feedback. One night multiple participants complained at length about various
conditions in their lives that they considered unfair. After a pause, an African American stood up,
introduced himself, and with an authoritative tone asked:
“Why are you guys complaining like you are victims? The Bible says that you’re the head and
not the tail….above and not beneath. Stop complaining and playing victim. Jesus died so that
we’d have control over ourselves and how we deal with the issues in our lives.”
Then he sat down, followed by an extended silence. I was impressed and approached a
friend who had come to the meeting with him. He replied, “Sure, that’s Hakim, a big-time
banger...used to lead Stone Cold. “Banger” is a euphemistic expression for a gang member. I
knew that my friend, a former street worker, was referring to Boston’s Stone Cold Gang.
Impressed with Hakim’s apparent transformation, I wanted to learn more. Hakim and I hit it off
immediately. Over the next year we became friends. When I asked him to share his life history
for this project, he agreed to do so.
Definitions of a “Gang” and “Risk Factor”
For the purposes of this study, I utilize criteria established by the US Office of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to define “Gangs” as follows:
The group has three or more members, generally aged 12–24.
Members share an identity, typically linked to a name, and often other symbols.
Members view themselves as a gang, and they are recognized by others as a gang.
The group has some permanence and a degree of organization.
The group is involved in an elevated level of criminal activity.4
The OJJDP defines risk factor as a “condition in the individual or environment that can
predict an increased likelihood of developing a problem or a problem behavior, including joining
a gang. Risk factors function in a cumulative fashion—the larger the number of risk factors, the
greater the likelihood of a negative outcome, such as joining a gang.”5
During my experience as a street worker in inner city Boston in the 1980’s, a major issue
we encountered with high-risk African American and Latino teenage males was resistance to
sharing emotional trauma they experienced from violence or neglect. Their usual initial response
to our questions was avoidance or embarrassment. If we were able to win their confidence, they
invariably expressed shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and anger. Based upon this experience,
I am framing my research with concepts from the work of Erving Goffman and Robert Brenneman.
Goffman (1986) defines stigma as any discrediting or degrading attribute or label which
an individual perceives he has been given by broader society.6 In Goffman’s view, stigma occurs
as a discrepancy between ‘‘virtual social identity’’ (society’s characterization of a person) and
‘‘actual social identity’’ (attributes really possessed by a person) 7, creating a “spoiled identity”.
As a result, the individual believes that his stigma lessens his value in the eyes of others he
encounters in that society. Goffman theorizes that in the mind of the stigmatized individual, stigma
is imposed upon him by others through a variety of behaviors including blame, rejection, and
discrimination. These behaviors all marginalize the stigmatized individual. Goffman introduces the
term “shame”8 to define the emotion a stigmatized individual feels when he consciously or
unconsciously accepts the degrading labels imposed upon him. Many young African American and
Latino teenage males with whom we worked in the 1980’s expressed varying degrees of shame,
brought on by their exposure to trauma from family dysfunction, abandonment by their parent(s),
and/or victimization by violence. Some were able to verbally express the shame and talk about
it. Most were not.
In his study Homies & Hermanos, God and Gangs in Central America, Robert Brenneman
uses Goffman’s discussion of stigmatization and shame, as well as the sociology of emotions, to
frame his interviews with former Central American youth gang members. He concludes that it is the
stigmatization experienced by most of these young men, particularly in their early childhood, that
produces humiliation, hopelessness, extreme personal shame and rage. This is why, according to
Brenneman, they utilize violence and other high-risk behaviors as a recourse in order to disguise
their shame and obsessively seek to establish respect.9
Thomas Scheff’s “spiral of shame” theory illustrates how these corrosive emotions originate.
A young child abused by an adult has minimal recourse to confront the abuser in order to resolve
their damaged emotions. The child may even be too young to consciously understand and
articulate a verbal response to the cruelty.10 As an adolescent grows up in a dangerous
neighborhood, he is afraid to express his fears because they will be interpreted by others as a
sign of weakness. As the shame remains unresolved, the drive for its opposite – respect - is
The family-like quality of the gang provides the adolescent with acceptance and
protection. Brenneman monitors members who leave the gang to join local evangelical Protestant
churches. Brenneman compares what the Homie culture of the gang and the Hermano culture of
the churches each have to offer and asks: how could such different institutions both be attractive to
troubled youth? Brenneman reports that the local Evangelical Protestant Church of Central
America offers a gang member an opportunity to resolve intense personal shame through the
Christian conversion experience11. This transformative experience allows a gang member to
express intense feelings of remorse, guilt, fear, or rejection and rebuild their social identity within
an affirming environment with structure and strict morally-based boundaries for behavior.
Brenneman concludes that the local inner city evangelical church is uniquely positioned to utilize its
moral authority to impact gang violence. Brenneman cautions that the solutions Central American
or North American urban churches offer to reduce gang violence must reach beyond therapeutic
processes or rituals that address an individual’s unresolved personal shame. He believes that those
institutions must also address the social conditions that facilitate stigma, shame, and violence. He
labels these “pre-disposing factors”12. He concludes that in order for faith-based institutions to
effectively reduce gang violence, they must intervene strategically in the lives of community youth
outside the four walls of the church and be aggressive advocates for socially-just agendas.
Hypothesis: The Primary Personal Risk Factor: Stigma to Shame to Rage
Boston’s environment presents the following social conditions for gang violence: the
psychological impact of urban decay and segregated housing, family decline and fatherlessness,
poverty and unemployment, commercial mass media’s role in the marketing of the culture of Bling
and aggression, educational practices that marginalize, and the inner city Code of the Street and
peer influence. These conditions shape the worldview of African American and Latino inner city
community culture and its youth. They stigmatize inner city residents to feel shame by blocking
their path to fulfill values prized by the larger society.
Given that social conditions in Boston contribute to the stigmatization of its African American
and Latino youth population, I pose the question: what is the primary risk factor that drives a small
percentage of young African American and Latino men in Boston’s most violent neighborhoods to
engage in gang violence?
My hypothesis is that the primary driver for an individual to engage in high-risk gang
violence is emotional: repressed or unresolved personal shame. This shame originates in one’s
perception of being stigmatized or degraded through violence, abuse, or abandonment. The
inability of the individual to express or resolve the shame then leads to his frustration, anger, and
a desire gain respect in order to mask the shame.
I will apply my hypothesis to the life history of former Boston gang leader Hakim
Reynolds. I will supplement that analysis with statistical data, with expert opinions provided by
authorities in the field of gang violence, and research from sociology of emotions. This study
begins with a summary of the life history. Both qualitative and quantitative data are included that
illustrate the Stone Cold Gang’s role in Boston gang violence during the period of his leadership. I
will follow with data regarding the Boston neighborhood in which Hakim “came-of-age” and
where most of his gang’s activity took place. I will then discuss the existing social conditions that
stigmatize and facilitate gang violence in the neighborhood. Stages of Hakim’s life will then be
presented chronologically. I will analyze risk factors in Hakim’s early childhood prior to the
formation of the gang; the transition of his neighbor-based group of friends into a gang; life in
the gang; the downward turn of Hakim’s life; and the frustration that led him to an important
decision. I will follow with analysis of that milestone: Hakim’s Christian conversion experience and
the transformation of his life. I will then explore the opinion of gang violence experts. I will
complete this study with a summary of findings, a summary of gang expert opinion, my
conclusions, and interests for future research.
CHAPTER 2: Hakim Reynolds Life History Summary
From 1982 to 1992, Hakim Reynolds was the co-founder and leader of one of Boston’s
largest and most violent gangs. The Stone Cold Gang started as a neighborhood group but
evolved into one of Boston’s first gangs to sell crack cocaine and use guns.
Hakim begins with memories of his father and mother fighting and the police coming to
their home to physically remove his father. This event is his only memory of his father. Hakim’s
mother runs the streets and sells drugs for a living. Both Hakim and his younger brother are
shuttled back and forth between their mother’s home and the home of her parents. Both of
Hakim’s maternal grandparents are church-going folks.
At age nine, Hakim and his brother are abruptly abandoned by their mother and
permanently left with her parents. Even today, he vividly remembers the trauma. Life with his
grandparents is quite different from life with his mother, filled with rules, curfews, as well as
feelings of isolation and not being accepted. Frequent beatings by his grandfather for not
following family house rules are a way of life.
Mimicking his mother’s occupation and lifestyle of running the streets, Hakim finds
acceptance with his friends. Selling marijuana for fun and to attract girls is much easier than
conforming to the discipline required for thriving in his grandparents’ home or in school. In the
streets, he finds affirmation, as opposed to the rejection from his grandparents and abandonment
by his mother.
When Hakim’s mother becomes addicted to the drugs she sells, and is no longer able to
support him financially, then his drug dealing becomes more serious; he has to find a way to buy
the fashionable clothes and sneakers he is accustomed to wearing and that provide him with
respect. Acceptance is his status goal with no thought to family or even living to midlife. The
charisma, physical strength, and logistical expertise that comes from being a second-generation
drug dealer, gives Hakim leadership qualities that attract followers. Success follows with more city
blocks, customers, and money. His dream is to enjoy being a single guy, with no commitments,
selling drugs, and having three or four blocks for drug sales.
His group has been a collection of ten or eleven year olds who had come together to hang
out as friends, have fun, chase girls, and share their suffering. They have, at this point, become
one of inner city Boston’s largest organizations for street sales of crack cocaine. That success
brings costs that produce violence, shock, and sorrow: battles with rival gangs; being robbed by
armed “stick-up men”; and the introduction of guns for protection, deaths, and imprisonment. Strict
survival rules for Stone Cold Gang members have to be created. The days of kids’ stuff are over.
After being stabbed, shot, and imprisoned numerous times within a few years, Hakim
begins to question what is causing his troubles. Encouraged by his church-going grandmother, he
begins an experience that he describes as talking to God and blaming God for bringing all this
trouble into his life. Hakim’s Christian conversion experience follows several years of increasing
hardship. Following his conversion Hakim is invited to attend a faith-based Christian ministry
dedicated to assisting individuals with a gang background to transition to a moral lifestyle based
on Christian faith and to receive love and acceptance. With his Christian faith as his foundation,
former gang leader Hakim Reynolds has lived a fruitful, peaceful, and crime-free life for over
CHAPTER 3: The Stone Cold Gang and Boston Gang Violence (1986-1992)
Grove Hall was and continues to be the epicenter for gang violence in Boston’s inner city.
If there's a Ground Zero of youth violence in Boston, it's Grove Hall, where the spine of Blue
Hill Avenue connects streets best known as gang names during the crack epidemic of the late
1980s: Fayston, Brunswick, Creston, Magnolia, Stone Cold, and especially Intervale.13
- Michael Blanding
Harvard University sociologist Christopher Winship, citing statistics (Figure 1.1) provided by
the Boston Police Department, observes that the dramatic increase in Boston’s drug activity in the
late 1980’s is caused by the introduction of crack cocaine.
Sales of this drug brought increased gang violence as gangs fought to control their turf and
revenue opportunities. The number of homicides in Boston rose from a previously stable level of
approximately 80 to 100 per year to152 in 1990. This increase is almost entirely due to
increased youth violence, with the number of homicides involving individuals under twenty-four
going from approximately 30 per year in the mid 1980's to 72 in 1990. The increase is also
almost entirely due to gun-related homicides.”14
In 1995 a partnership was formed between researchers from Harvard’s Kennedy School
of Government, Boston Police Department’s Youth Violence Strike Force, probation officers, and
gang mediation street workers. This collaboration uses both qualitative and quantitative methods
to estimate the number and size of the city's gangs; map their turf, conflicts and alliances; and
classify the previous five years of youth victimization events according to their location on the
gang maps.15 The working definition of a gang is “reduced to self-identified group of kids who
act corporately (at least sometimes) and violently (at least sometimes)." An incident is categorized
as “gang-related”16 if it results from gang behavior such as drug dealing, protection of turf, war
with a rival gang, or an internal fight within a gang.17
The mandate of the collaboration is to identify if gangs had a major impact on Boston’s
youth homicide rate.18 They review an annualized list (1990-1994) of 155 incidents which
involved gun or knife homicide victims age 21 years old or less.19 It concludes with certainty that
58% (90) of the 155 homicides reviewed are gang-related, and that a significant number of
cases designated as having a perpetrator or victim with an “unknown” gang affiliation are likely
to be gang-related.20 The same process is used to map-out gang areas (Figure1)21, gang conflicts
(Figure 2)22 and gang alliances (Figure 3).23 The analysis shows that “the Magnolia, Academy,
Orchard Park, and Stone Cold gangs were at the center of most of the gang-related violence”
and labels them “the most significant and troublesome”.24 Significantly, the total area the gangs
occupied (1.7 square miles) represented 3.6% of Boston’s 47.7 square miles, and only 8.1% of
the Boston neighborhoods that contain them.25 The work includes transposition of the Boston Police
Department 1994 quantitative data for both the “locations of high numbers of gun assaults” and
“shots fired reports” upon the qualitative data for “gang turf” in order to generate a map of
Boston Gang “Hot Spots” (Figure 7).26
This data confirms that for a period in Boston’s history, Hakim Reynolds led one of Boston’s
largest, violent, and powerful gangs, the Stone Cold Gang. I verified the authenticity of Hakim
Reynolds’s identity and leadership role within the Stone Cold Gang through my personal contact
with him and with professionals within the field.
Figure 1.1: Youth Homicide in Boston, 1976-2006
Figure 1: a qualitative assessment of gang “turf.
Figure 2: a qualitative assessment of the Stone Cold gang violent competition with other gangs for “turf”
Figure 3: a qualitative assessment of the scope of the Stone Cold gang’s influence with
other gangs. These alliances were created to enhance crack cocaine distribution.
Figure 7: a quantitative assessment that identifies the Stone Cold gang turf to be a Hot Spot.
Figure 8: The Stone Cold Gang Turf (Grove Hall Neighborhood Boundaries)
“The center of the Grove Hall area is commonly understood to be the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue
with Washington Street and Warren Street. For the purposes of this study, we will define the Grove
Hall neighborhood to include the area of the five U.S. Census tracts that surround that central
crossroads. These five census tracts are 820, 821, 901, 902, and 903. The overall boundaries follow
Seaver Street from Blue Hill Avenue to Blue Hill Avenue and then follow Blue Hill Avenue to Townsend
Street. The boundary follows Townsend Street and Quincy Street across Warren Street and Blue Hill
Avenue to Columbia Road. It then follows the railroad tracks down to Harvard Street, following that
street until it turns right on Glenway Street for several blocks. It then goes along Bradshaw Street until
turning up McLellan Street. The boundary follows McLellan Street to Blue Hill Avenue and then to the
intersection with Seaver Street again.”27
According to Census2000, “Approximately 99 percent of the population in Grove Hall is non-white
(73 percent black or African American, 20 percent Hispanic or Latino, 1 percent white, 2 percent
some other race, and 4 percent two or more races). The youth population has similar demographics to
the overall population (70 percent black or African American, 24 percent Hispanic or Latino, less than
one percent white and six percent two or more races or some other race).”28
CHAPTER 4: Social Conditions for Gang Violence
By definition, of course, we believe the person with the stigma is not quite human. On this
assumption, we exercise varieties of discrimination, through which we effectively, if often
unthinkingly, reduce his life chances. We construct a stigma-theory, an ideology to explain his
inferiority and account for the danger he represents, sometimes rationalizing an animosity
based on other differences, such as those of social class.29 – Erving Goffman
Goffman is describing what he observes as society’s attitudes towards those individuals
and/or people groups it denigrates. From stigmatization come ideologies that create stereotyping
of entire groups of people and the limiting of their opportunities in life. The genesis of racism
would be a prime example of this process.
The Psychological Impact of Urban Decay and Segregated Housing
Grove Hall was once the home of New England’s largest upper class Jewish community.
Migration of the Jewish population to Boston’s suburbs began slowly in the 1930’s and increased
dramatically in the 1950’s, facilitated by “real-estate agents encouraging panic selling and
blockbusting, discriminatory lending and insurance practices, increased crime and arson, and
racial change in adjacent areas.”30
By 1967 virtually the entire population of Grove Hall was African American. “Blacks and
other urban residents for many years faced discriminatory policies of the FHA and financial
institutions which “redlined” some urban areas and refused to give mortgage and home
improvement loans”.31 In 1987, according to a City of Boston report, “in the general area
between Warren Street and Blue Hill Avenue, there were 360 empty lots and 117 vacant
buildings (nine percent)”.32 Grove Hall had declined into an urban wasteland. The impact on its
residents was hopelessness, violent crime, drugs, and the disintegration of families. Housing
discrimination throughout Boston and its immediate suburbs greatly limited Grove Hall families’
choices to where they could escape. This was the Grove Hall which introduced Hakim Reynolds to
gang activity. Today Grove Hall remains a segregated and economically-challenged community.
Family Decline and Fatherlessness
I reviewed the US Census 2000 Summary data to compare the following living
arrangements for Grove Hall children under 18 years old who live in households. I compared that
data to the same demographic of children who live throughout the entire United States:
Living arrangements for Grove Hall children under 18 years old, who live in households, compared
to the same demographic of children who live throughout entire United States
Living with Other
The data shows a 60% higher proportion of Grove Hall children who live with adults other
than at least one of their parents compared to US Children.33 I explored the same US Census
2000 data to identify the percentage of children living with at least one parent.
Living Arrangements for Non-Institutionalized, Non-Householder Children Under Age 18 Living with at
Least one Parent, 2000
Total Living with
at least one
The data shows a disproportionately lower percentage of Grove Hall children who live in
two-parent families compared to the US and a disproportionately higher percentage of Grove
Hall children who live with single moms, compared to US children.34
Research in criminology suggests a correlation between this family configuration and
decreased parental supervision and control; increased risk factors for the children involved; and
the possibility of eventual violent sociopathic behavior.35 36 “In the absence of father figures or
respected older men”, fatherless youth form groups that could be characterized as “tribes without
Opinion is universal regarding the destructive impact that the crack cocaine epidemic of
1980-1990’s had upon Boston inner city families.
Poverty and Unemployment
Gang member Sharodney Finch is quoted as saying that he applied or a job last summer at
Fenway Park but was turned down. “You try to do the right thing, find a job trying to earn
money, and you can’t. You got a block right here; you know what I’m saying? 38 – Michael
Blanding, “Growing Up in Gangland”
According to the US Census 2000, “Poverty rates in Grove Hall are higher than they are
in the City of Boston overall, in the state, and in the nation. In Grove Hall, 29 percent of
individuals live below the poverty level compared to 20 percent in the city overall, nine percent in
the state, and 12 percent in the nation. Additionally, a higher percentage of young people are
living below the poverty level than in the general population. While 29 percent of the population
in Grove Hall lives below the poverty level, 37 percent of youth under the age of 18 live below
poverty level.”39 40 In each of the Grove Hall census tracts, there is a higher percentage of
households receiving public assistance than in the city overall, in the state and in the nation.
Mass Media’s Role in the Promotion of the Culture of “Bling” and Aggression
Through technology, mass media serves as a tool for corporate advertisers to market
normative values. The messages reach inner city youth through the internet, music, television, and
print ads. They tell inner city youth what they need to do and acquire in order to achieve success
and respect. Hip hop and rap music send messages that glorify conspicuous consumption,
immediate gratification, misogyny, and violence. The messages can be blunt, graphic, and widely
popular like the one Rap artist “50 cent” delivered in 2003: "…I put a hole in a n---- for f---ing
with me / Better watch how you talk, when you talk about me / 'cause I'll come and take your life
away…” – from the rap, Many Men (Wish Death) (from his Get Rich or Die Tryin’ album).
Education, Segregation, and Marginalization
The Boston Public School System has until recently served as an active agent in the
marginalization of children of color. On June 21, 1974, in the Federal District Court of
Massachusetts, Judge W. Arthur Garrity ruled that the Boston Public School System had
maintained a segregated school system, and ordered that the practice be eliminated. The case
was Tallulah Morgan vs. James Hennigan, and was unprecedented in its scope. The decision was
met with immediate violent resistance in some sections of the city, and a call for a two-week
boycott of schools by an anti-desegregation organization named ROAR (Restore Our Alienated
Rights). Violence took the form of destruction of public school property, a blockade of buses
transporting African American children into traditionally all-white schools, and even the public
attack of African-American residents of Boston near Boston City Hall Plaza (Figure 9). The union
of the Boston Police asserted at that time that it was not obligated to obey orders to make
A White student attacks an African American man with the American flag. The picture was
taken by Stanley Forman at an anti-busing rally held at Boston's City Hall Plaza on April 5,
1976 (Figure 9)
Various court actions along with continued migration of white families from Boston; private
school alternatives; and segregated neighborhood housing patterns contributed to a racially
segregated Boston school system41. By March 2010, the Boston Public School System was 87%
minority and 76% low income.42
Massachusetts’ “Zero Tolerance” approach to school discipline also contributes to the
marginalization of African American and Latino young males. The approach “adopts mandatory
or predetermined punishments for certain behaviors without considering the specific context and
circumstances”. It is based on a social control philosophy derived from pressure “to maintain safe
schools, reduce risk, and preserve learning”. In practice, school administrators and teachers too
often make disciplinary decisions that apply the maximum penalty without discretion or
examination of context, circumstance, or therapeutic intervention.43
The majority of suspensions occur within the inner city school systems of Boston, Lawrence,
Lowell, and Springfield with the majority of student offenders being African American and Latino
males.44 The “Zero Tolerance” use of suspension and expulsion for students who do not pose a
threat to school safety contributes to the disconnection of Boston children of color from one of their
primary social institutions, their school. This policy results in the significantly increased chances of
suspended students following a path to crime and prison. A child who has been suspended is three
times more likely to drop out than a student who has never been suspended.45 Dropping out of
school triples the likelihood of future imprisonment.46
The Code of the Street and Peer Influence
Elijah Anderson provides another precondition for gang violence which he presents in his
analysis of the Code of the Street47, a set of informal rules within inner cities that govern
interpersonal public behavior including violence. The rules prescribe both a proper conduct and
response if an individual senses that he has been challenged. The code condones the use of
violence to resolve perceived conflict or threats. Anderson points out that at the heart of the code
is the issue of respect loosely defined as being treated right or granted the deference one
deserves. In street culture, respect is viewed as hard-won but easily lost and must be
constantly guarded. In those circumstances such people become extremely sensitive to advances
and slights which could well indicate signals or red flags of imminent physical confrontation.
Anderson describes an inner city community divided into two types of families: the “decent
families” and the “street families”. Decent parents tend to: accept mainstream values; attempt to
teach them to their children; have an almost obsessive concern about trouble of any kind; and
remind their children to be wary of people and situations that might lead to it.
Street parents believe in the code of the street and tend to raise their children using the
code as a norm. Anderson explains that these parents can be violently aggressive with children,
yelling at and striking them for the least little infraction of the rules set down. Street children learn
that to solve any kind of interpersonal problem one must quickly resort to hitting or other violent
When decent and street kids intermingle socially, the children face the option to choose
either orientation. Anderson points out that the kind of home from which a youth comes
influences but does not determine the way he or she will ultimately react under pressure.
Anderson determines that when a young adult ventures into the street, he must adopt the
code as protection to prevent others from "messing with" him. In these circumstances it is easy for
people to mistakenly think that they are being confronted by others even when this is not the case.
Depending on the demands of a situation, many people operate back and forth between decent
and street behavior. Although the code of the street has been established and is enforced mainly
by the street-oriented, on the street the distinction between street and decent is often irrelevant,
particularly among youth from each who socialize together.
Anderson’s conclusions are validated by the research of Boston’s Youth Violence Systems
Project (YVSP). The YVSP conclusions are based on qualitative data gathered from interviews with
active Boston gang members and community hotspot residents as well as quantitative youth
violence data. The YVSP process assigns metrics to various aspects of the cultural environment
Anderson describes in the Code of the Street and charts an individual’s path to gang membership
from “uninvolved” to “gang leader/shooter”.
The YVSP “establishes that any youth who lives within a Boston hot spot can progress down
the slippery slope path48 (Figure 10) of socialization to gang member violence. In the absence of
intervention, each step increases exposure to high-risk interactions and engagement in violent
activity: living in the community hot spot but not involved in a gang; association as friends with
gang members; being “on the edge”; once in the gang, the member progresses to rookie, nonshooter, and shooter/leader status. “
Figure 10: The “Slippery Slope Path”
CHAPTER 5: Hakim Reynolds’s Early Childhood
Family Life and Dysfunction
In the “upside down” early childhood of Hakim Reynolds, chaos is the normative
expectation. His mother is a career criminal, a drug dealer. He has only one memory of his father:
R: Well, my father wasn’t around. My mother was around, but my grandfather and
grandmother raised me…from about nine on. My mother was into the streets and my
grandmother and grandfather were into the church…. The only time I can remember as far as
back that young I can remember before that was me, my mother, my father living…there was
a pink house and the police had come to take my father out of the house because my mother
and father was fighting. That is the only memory I have of living with both parents. And then
my memory blanks out and I remember my mother taking me to my grandfather’s house and
saying, “You take him, you take him, you take him.” I’m holding onto a banister and saying,
“Ma, I don’t wanna go, I don’t wanna go with them, I want to stay with you.” And then, at that
point it starts with my grandfather.
These traumatic events from Hakim’s childhood confirm his stigmatization from
abandonment by his mother. His memory block could indicate a repression of the shame that he
felt.58 Hakim’s mother “runs the streets” and earns her living by selling drugs. Since most street
drug sales take place at night, it is reasonable to assume that Hakim and his little brother are
frequently left alone at home at night without the presence of consistent adult supervision.
Witnessing violent family fights is an early part of Hakim’s childhood. His only memory of his
father is following a fight between parents when the police remove the father from their home.
The father’s removal from the home indicates a high probability of domestic violence. His father
never returns. The discrediting effects of abandonment and rejection by both of his parents are
burned into Hakim’s mind very early in his childhood, along with the attitudes and techniques for
criminal behavior (Differential Association Theory, Edwin Sutherland, 193949). Thus Hakim
acquires the stigma and shame that Brenneman cites as common to gang members.50
He is handed over to his grandparents to be raised. This setting is a source additional
trauma for him. The norms that Hakim’s grandparents set for him in his new home are vastly
different from his previous experience with his mother. His grandparents provide a two-parent
family and are “church-goers”. Hakim is nine years old and is accustomed to coming and going as
he pleased. His grandparents have rules for when he is expected to be home. Hakim finds it a
challenge to abide by their rules. His difficulty with the new normative expectations has
repercussions that contribute to further humiliation and stigmatization.
R: I never felt like I was a part of that family although my little brother was there. Because it
was me and my little brother that my mother gave to them and they showed me love, but I just
didn’t feel like I was a part of them…. But I never felt accepted fully by my grandfather. It
was very much discipline. He…he beat me. He beat me enough. We had our time…I felt
any chance he had to beat me, he would. I think it was simple issues that could have been
talked out, as far as me coming in the house late, me messing with girls, um, things of that
As a result of his unwillingness or inability to conform to the strict new boundaries, he is
regularly beaten by his grandfather. Hakim begins, as Goffman describes, to “alienate himself
from the community which upholds the norm” 51 - his new family.
R: They were church going folks but I think they were olden time church going folks because as
I look back, I don’t, I don’t see…, I’ve always…, it was, it was always seven people in the
house because they had kids and I always felt lonely. I always felt separated from them.
Coping with the traumatic rejection and abandonment by his mother and perceiving brutal
rejection from his grandfather, Hakim finds acceptance among his friends. He can be himself.
Feeling marginalized, as a gesture to conform and make peace with his grandparents, Hakim
attends church with them. His church attendance provides Hakim with more latitude from his
grandparents. They allow him more freedom to roam on the streets with his friends and the
frequency of beatings is reduced. Hakim here demonstrates early in life the negotiating skills
necessary to navigate within a new environment. Hakim’s skill provides for his basic needs. As he
grows older, he uses it to expand his gang’s drug business. Goffman labels this behavior
“passing” - a form of impression management of social identity by a stigmatized individual.52
Acceptance Found in the Streets
In the following portion of his interview, Hakim dwells frequently on the primary need that
his street friends meet: acceptance. Goffman calls this need “the central feature of the stigmatized
individual’s situation in life.”53 Goffman continues that the need to be accepted is so powerful
among stigmatized individuals, that they find themselves bonding to form groups, as did Hakim
and his friends. “Finally, within the city, there are full-fledged residential communities, ethnic,
racial, or religious, with a high concentration of tribally stigmatized persons“.54
R: ...I never felt accepted at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s obviously, but when I’m on
the street, I felt accepted because me and four hundred other brothers probably shared the
same fault, about not feeling accepted for what ever reasons they had on their mind, whether
their father left or whether their mother left or whether they were mistreated. When we all
got together we felt accepted. They understood. Jojo understood me. Stanley understood me.
Willy James understood me. You know what I mean. So I could talk to them and I could be me
because I know they loved me for me as opposed to being at my grandmother’s and my
grandfather’s house and I had to be like they wanted me to be and I didn’t know how to do
that, so I was a weirdo in the eyes of people and the reason why was because I was not
acting like I want to act. I’m acting the way you expect me to act so when I got out in the
streets I could be me and people would accept it.
R: We would come over to each other’s houses and talk. We would sit in the hallway, all of
us, there would be five of us growing up together and we would literally talk and the things
we’d say in the hallway never left the hallway. Things like “My mother did this.”, “I saw my
father doing this.” “My mother, my father did this last night.” It caused an intimacy because
we said secrets, secrets what bring you close because now that person knows you. This person
knows you, that person knows you.
Hakim states here the belief that the love his grandparents offer is conditional, based on
his behaving a certain way that is foreign to him. He believes that the deck is stacked against him
and he is being set up to fail. Failure means getting a beating for non-compliance with his
The group of friends which Hakim describes are what Erving Goffman defines as “an
aggregate formed by the individual’s fellow sufferers...the one to which he naturally
belongs...with the same deprivations and the same stigma.”55 Hakim is not considered a weirdo by
his nine to ten year old peers in the street. His friends on the street are like family; hence he labels
them “brothers”. They appreciate and respect one another. They are kids who grew up together
as neighbors, and have known each other all their lives. They share solidarity similar to the
Brenneman gang members.56 Hakim states that up until he turned thirteen, he and his group talked
with each other about the stigmatizing issues in their personal lives that cause shame: rejection,
abandonment, and abuse. Their low self-esteem, as Goffman postulates, comes from the
internalizing the degrading attribute and making it part of their social identity.57
At age twelve, his familiarity with the street and the logistics of selling marijuana brings
him increased respect with his male friends and girls. Hakim’s selling of marijuana to win the girls’
respect is an example of behavior that Goffman termed “hostile bravado.”58 Hakim creates a
new “normal” identity for himself in this role and becomes a role model for his friends. Brenneman
refers to such a preoccupation with winning respect as an “attempt to bypass’ or mask shame.”59
R: Well I think it started around ten or eleven, twelve. I started hustling when I was twelve.
Me and a friend of mine started selling little bags of weed. My grandfather never knew it.
He knew something was going on. He just didn’t know what. And I was trying to transform, in
the form of girls because at one point it was just fun, not for the money... more so, that’s what I
The social capital that Hakim has with his friends in Grove Hall and the affirmation it brings,
draws his attention away from school. School is Hakim’s “playground”. Elementary and middle
school is his place to socialize, not learn.
R: My grades were horrible. I think more so because of my attention span and my attention
was into the streets now. That’s probably one of the most powerful influences... Yeah, my mind
wasn’t in it because my mind was in the streets and the attention I am getting in the streets...
Yeah, I’d go to class, but I just would be in class. I wasn’t a trouble maker or not listening
because I felt like I don’t have to. Because now, I have a battle in my head. I had an option to
be in the streets or in school. No one loves discipline. Everybody loves attention. In the streets
you don’t have to have discipline and it gives you attention.
H: What did you do when you were at school?
R: Basically messing with girls and loving the attention that everyone else was giving.
Hakim’s group is not yet defined as a gang. Brenneman comments, “to young boys
experiencing chronic shame, the opportunity to be part of a group that inspired awe and
‘respect’...must seem like a dream come true.”60
The Hustle Gets More Serious
At age thirteen, Hakim begins to face more serious challenges when his mother begins to
use the drugs she is selling and becomes an addict. Prior to her addiction she has been able to
afford to buy him the trendy clothes and sneakers that bring status and respect. Once she
becomes an addict, Hakim’s mother uses that money to feed her habit.
R: Thirteen then come along fourteen or fifteen and I was selling it more because my mother
had started using drugs and my mother was the one that was initially supporting me and my
brother to wear the gears, the clothes, the name brand sneakers that we had. So when she
started using drugs, that went down because my grandmother and grandfather couldn’t see
themselves spending seventy, eighty dollars on a pair of sneakers like my mother would.
The economic need resulting from his mother’s addiction causes Hakim to begin transitioning the
neighborhood group he is leading. The focus turns from fun, friendship, and small-time drug
dealing to win the respect of girls to the more business-like purpose of making a profit in order to
continue to buy the things that bring respect - expensive clothes and sneakers.
CHAPTER 6: The Neighborhood Group Becomes a Gang
R: That was just friends chilling in different communities. We would go from Stone Cold to
Blue Hill to see girls and Blue Hill dudes and Stone Cold dudes would go to Mission Hill to see
girls and dudes from Mission Hill, we’d all get together and just walk to J.P. to see Paris, then
we’d all say, “Let’s walk downtown. In the process we’d be picking up people and everybody
was friends. The whole Dorchester/Roxbury was friends. No street gangs, no colors, nothing.
It was all the Group.
R: Before gangs started there was no gang. It was called the Group and, the Group, all we
did was run around and snatch hats. And we would sell weed to buy Kangol hats and leather
bombers. Now how gangs initially started was there’s Stone Cold, there’s Blue Hill, there’s
Intervale, there’s St. Joseph’s Academies, Castlegate, Bromley-Heath. All of us were together.
All of us was completely together, even Bromley-Heath. The people who are killing now. We
were together. There’s a power in that, but I’ll explain that later, but we were all together.
Any gang you can imagine. There were only two separations in Boston and that was the
Corbett Street gang and the Group. The Group was the whole Roxbury and Corbett Street
was the whole Mattapan....the original beef? Stone Cold and Corbett Street started a fight
over a girl named Tracy.
In 1983 Hakim is thirteen years old and the social bonds of friendship transcend
neighborhood boundaries for the African American and Latino youth of Boston’s inner city. There
are few gangs at this time. The kids from the Stone Cold area have large extended families
within the various neighborhoods and they serve as the basis for the bonding and friendship. At
this point the solidarity of the group comes primarily from socializing with girls and winning their
respect by wearing expensive clothes.
This group of African American and Latino kids from various Boston inner city
neighborhoods is collectively named the Group. They number between 400-500 kids with Hakim
as co-leader. The group’s preoccupation is stealing hats off of people’s heads for fun (‘hostile
bravado”) and selling marijuana in order to buy the clothes.
The group’s members are sexually active. Brenneman asserts that sex provides young
males a symbolic association with power and manhood”.61 They fight over girls constantly. The
fighting leads to escalated violence, the destruction of friendships, and the formation of the social
unit called a “gang”. A fight over a girl precipitates violence between two neighborhood
members of Hakim’s Group and a group of kids from the Corbett Street Mattapan neighborhood.
A Conflict Changes the Social Order
H: What defined you as a group?
R: The fact that we stuck together.
H: What prevented that group from breaking up?
R: Before, we were all together. Now what had happened was it used to be an initial rule
that if two people had a fight, we just let them fight, and then after that we would have what
you called the circle. It was called the circle and what would happen was that all of us would
hold hands in a circle and the two people who had to fight, stand in a circle and fight. Now
you got to understand we got a group of little kids together. There’s always emotional hidden
agendas cause not everyone can be a man and say, “I lost a fight.” Well, one day, a guy
named (I’ll use street names) Joe Rob (from Stone Cold) went up to the Blue Hill neighborhood
to meet with Jackie and they got into it over a girl. Because Joe Rob couldn’t fight Jackie
himself, him and another guy jumped on Jackie. Then one of Jackie’s friends jumped in, a
stabbing broke out. That’s when Joe Rob ran to Stone Cold. Jackie winds up dead. They (Blue
Hill neighborhood) come down with a bunch of guys and they couldn’t bring it together (make
peace) which caused an immediate separation of “whose side are you on?” so that separated
the Stone Cold and Blue Hill. So now you have Blue Hill and Stone Cold and Corbett (gangs).
H: What would make them fight?
R: They would fight over girls. The majority of all the gangs that initially separated was over
The circle Hakim describes is a Group ritual that serves as a one-on-one way to resolve
conflict and maintain solidarity without weapons. The circle is a symbolic boundary to reinforce
that disputes are to be resolved internally within the Group.
A change comes when a Group member fears losing a fight to another member. His
concern is that he will be shamed and lose respect. He recruits help. His action is a violation of
established neighborhood norms for the circle and results in expansion of the fight to involve
Group members from the Blue Hill and Stone Cold neighborhoods.
Someone is killed. The result is the formation of two separate groups called gangs: Blue
Hill and Stone Cold. Hakim’s group will henceforth have two identities: a personal identity within
the neighborhood as a group of friends (“the Group”); and a combat-focused inner city social
identity as the “Stone Cold Gang”. This renaming process is a form of what Goffman defines as
cognitive recognition: “the placing of an individual, whether as having a particular social identity
or a particular personal identity.”62
CHAPTER 7: Life in the Gang
A Death and a Pact
The group of neighborhood kids from Grove Hall is now the Stone Cold Gang. The gang
enters an environment that exposes its members to money, power, and increased risk. They begin
doing business with older, larger, more sophisticated, and more ruthless gangs from New York
R: Then me and Bobby had a friend named Nick and Nick got shot in the head and killed
when we were sixteen by a guy from New York over a girl named Serena. So at this point
when that happened, it shook us because now it really got serious because now we had
money coming in and we just lost one of our friends. So I remember the day when we was
sitting in the hallway crying and Bobby stood up and said, “From now on, if you’re not from
our block, you can’t hang down here.” If you’re not from Boston, if you’re not from this block,
you can’t be around us. We’re only gonna stay together and that caused us to come
together. So we didn’t allow people because of Nick dying affected us so much that we kind
of pulled close to the ones that were close to us. So if you was in Stone Cold, you stayed with
Stone Cold and we have core.
R: We loved the people that we loved so even though we had ran with Blue Hill and Mission
Hill and them, there was still an initial group that grew up together. You hear what I’m
saying? We grew up together so we kept them close and we made the vow that nobody
would ever come around our way and mess with nobody on our block and that’s when we
made the rule that if one fight, we all fight. It was the day after Nick got killed, we sat down
and made that vow that if one of you all fight, all of us would fight. No one stands around
and watches, no more circle. There’s no more circles with other gangs, none of that. If one
person fights, everybody fights...
Shame, Respect, and Retaliation, the Decision to Use Guns
H: When do weapons get involved?
R: Weapons got involved when Nick got killed. We also knew that other people had guns so
we had to get our hands on something, but not only that, when crack got involved and money
came along, the attention came along. Yes, the attention came along because now we have
crack heads bringing jewelry and clothes and money is piling up. I’m talking about like about
a thousand dollars a day. And then it started getting to two thousand dollars a day. And
then it started getting like to three thousand dollars a day. So now the money is coming in
and the Stick up Kids wanted to come in. So what we did was we got guns to protect
ourselves and we told, at this point now it’s time to organize. You can’t come down here. Me
and Bobby are in control of this drug stuff. If anybody come down, you all continue to get
money and come get us. So now we got people on the street following us because we’re
getting money. Now we are the group that nobody understands…
H: Were some people more comfortable around weapons, using the weapons than others?
R: I think everybody was comfortable with using weapons. I don’t think it was so much that
they really knew how to use or..., but everyone was comfortable with it, because of the hurt
that we suffered. Now you got to understand we were kids and we loved playing with each
other. If you’re drawn from one crowd because you’re not accepted and you find a crowd
that you are accepted to and one of the people in the crowd that did accept you and you
accepted them, and you develop this odd type of love and closeness and comfort. Guys, that
sends a shock to your heart that I don’t think anybody could explain. So when Nick died and
he was one of the most peacefulest ones that you could probably ever pull over and say,
“Nick, this is the problem…” When he died at a young age... and he accepted us.
R: So when Nick died, it sent a shock and he died in front of us. We saw it. We actually
saw our friend…actually there wasn’t even more than two shots. He jumped out the cab; he
grabbed Nick by the front of the head, put the gun to the back of the head. He shot him. His
gun broke and he jumped back in the cab and left. And he was from New York. And we
were all standing around cause we never experienced nothing like that before. He was an
older guy from New York and we never experienced that and when that happened, that
changed everybody’s life and then four days later, Nick died. And you had a bunch of
crying brothers and Bobby was probably one of the strongest minded people I ever met and
he was closest to me; me and him grew up together, he was closest to me and he stood up in
the hallway and said, “From now on, nobody’s coming around us. Nobody’s ever going to
make this happen to us again.” It was a pain that we never felt and experienced. Like no
one ever told us that somebody was going to die. You know, that wasn’t in the scripts cuz we
were going to play forever. We were going to snatch hats, go downtown, mess with girls, go
to everybody’s houses, and sell a little bit of drugs. It was only a little bit then. Ten and
twenty dollars was a lot for us. Coz all we needed to do was go to the corner mall, hang on
the corner mall with ten or twenty dollars we could buy a Wendy’s….
Hakim describes his gang’s response to the murder of a beloved gang member/friend.
Hakim’s gang members collectively feel violated, stigmatized and shamed for allowing the loss to
happen. The gang commits to a pact to overcome their shame by transforming their collective
emotional energy into a behavior that will restore gang solidarity and respect. The gang decides
to scale down membership to only those they know from the Stone Cold neighborhood; to end the
circle ritual; to collectively defend each individual member; and to use guns. These dynamics fit
what Brenneman labels as a successful interaction ritual: “bodily co-presence, high barriers to
outsiders, mutual focus of attention, and a shared mood.”63 They commit to make violence part of
the gang’s normal behavior in order to regain respect. Brenneman observes that a gang member
sees his participation in defensive gang violence as an act of masculine sacrifice on behalf of the
gang.64 In the act of violence, gang members deepen their shared identity as family and prove
their worth and belonging individually. The gang’s decision facilitates a code of the street
perspective that anticipates violence. This process of expectation is what Brenneman refers to as
an interaction ritual chain.65
Brenneman references Thomas Scheff’s work to clarify this “Shame-Rage” cycle of gang
violence66. Scheff bases much of his theory on Charles Horton Cooley’s (Human Nature and the
Social Order (1902) observation that “the self is a product of social interaction in which the
individual judges himself in the ‘looking glass’ of others’ assessments of him’’. When that
individual’s self perception is a degrading one, Goffman would term that a “stigma” and it is that
“stigma”, when internalized, that produces the emotion that Scheff calls “shame”.
Scheff postulates that personal shame from stigma can be repressed or bypassed due to
multiple causes: the traumatization of the individual suffering with the shame; intimidation from a
severe power disadvantage; or male pride. The consequence is an emotional tension within the
person. It is that tension that produces violent behavior. Scheff terms the origin of this violent
behavior “pathological shame.” Prison psychiatrist James Gilligan concludes that “people resort to
violence when they feel that the only way they can wipe out shame is by shaming those who they
feel shamed them”67. Professor Andrew Papchristos comments:
Gang members do not kill because they are poor, black, or young or live in a socially
disadvantaged neighborhood. They kill because they live in a structured set of social relations
in which violence works its way through a series of connected individuals. The gang qua group
carries with it a set of extra-individual adversaries and allies that shape individual choices of
action, including the selection of murder victims. As corporate actions between groups, gang
murders do not end with the death of the victim but persist in the organizational memory of
the gang, which is governed by norms of retaliation and violent mechanisms of social control. 8
Gang murder occurs through an epidemic-like process of social contagion as competing
groups jockey for positions of dominance, and aggregate patterns of murder arise as these
individual disputes create a network of group relations that shape future patterns of conflict,
collective action, and murder.68
Trauma and the Code of the Street
John A. Rich and Courtney Gray provide further perspective into the response of Hakim’s
gang members to their friend’s murder:
We interviewed young Black male victims to understand their experience of violence.
Qualitative analysis of their narratives revealed how their struggle to reestablish safety
shaped their response to injury. Aspects of the “code of the street” (including the need for
respect) and lack of faith in the police combined with traumatic stress and substance use to
accentuate their sense of vulnerability. Victims then reacted to protect themselves in ways that
could increase their risk of reinjury. Their shared understanding of the code of the street and
the basic need for physical and psychological safety drives their actions after violent injuries.
The meaning of disrespect was a prominent theme in the narratives of our participants, closely
paired with its perceived consequence of “being a sucker.” These individuals hold the strong
perception that if they fail to retaliate against their assailant, they will be at greater risk for
Rich and Gray believe that concern for disrespect (stigma) is a critical environmental
driver for reoccurring violence. It creates the pressure that compels many a young man to
retaliate. Retaliation functions to shield him from physical danger by showing others (masking) that
he is not weak and does not tolerate being victimized. Retaliation may also be an attempt to
recover damaged self-esteem (shame) and a wounded sense of masculinity.
The Business of Hustling Crack
The Stone Cold Gang and Hakim are approached by a sophisticated criminal organization
from New York City, seeking expansion of its crack cocaine market. Hakim Reynolds finds the
business attractive. It offers his gang autonomy; crack cocaine is as easy to handle discreetly as
the marijuana they sell; and it generates far better profits – a gateway to get rich and more
The goal of getting rich becomes a powerful allure from the shame and trauma of their
past lives and from the responsibility for creating neighborhoods filled with crack addicts.
R: When crack came in, what had happened was that now we go from selling weed to selling
this little bitty vial that could potentially make us rich. Cause now remember we was the
snotty-nosed little kids that ran around in gangs snatching hats and selling a little bit of weed
so now when crack came in, it got serious because now you have these fifteen brothers down
here on Stone Cold selling crack.
R: There was this guy. He’s dead now. His name was Bernard, from a New York gang and
Stone Cold was a hot commodity and he came down and he talked to me and me and Bobby
talked with him. “I want to show you all something.” Bernard came to me and introduced ten
dollars, but because everybody on Stone Cold was more so looking up to me… because I was
probably one of the rowdiest next to Bobby. I was probably one of the most rowdiest,
toughest ones out there and the oldest at that point. At the time, crack first came out there was
some crack in vials for like forty dollars, then twenty dollars. He showed us what ten dollar
crack was and he told us how much money we could make. And we told him, “You can’t come
down here. But we’ll bring whatever… It was like a consignment thing. He had carloads so
he could give us a thousand jumps so we would bring him back $700…
Hakim and his gang became dedicated to the distribution of the vastly more lucrative crack.
R: At this point you got to watch it closely because at this point crack came in, ten dollar
crack; everyone needed ten dollar jumps. I started selling ten dollar crack, but then
everybody from all around started coming to us. He had a carload so he could give us a
thousand jumps and at ten dollars a pop. The people we had, people lined up. Literally
lined up. Now come along with that is, people taking stuff from us, us losing stuff. We said,
“We gotta get a gun.” Went to Bernard. “Bernard, get me guns…” At first he sends his guy
down here. Another guy named Prince. No one knew his real name. He died too. Anybody
would mess with us. Prince would get him. All we had to do was call Bernard cuz he didn’t
want to give us guns and one of the things he said is that when you introduce guns, you can’t
get money because guns brings on violence....Somebody shoot off a gun, the police come…So
Prince was there to handle anything, but then Prince had left and went back to New York and
he left a gun, so now we had Bobby stand out there with the gun. I’d stand out there and
watch the money, and other brothers were selling…
R: Yeah. Somebody would come up and act like they wanted to get rowdy. Bobby would
show them the gun, put ‘em back in place. Cuz like a gun was like unheard of down there like,
“They got weapons!” So when we saw the power of guns, we knew we needed more guns.
So when we saw the power and respect that we was getting with the more guns, other people
were wanting to be with us…
H: Outside the neighborhood…
R: Outside the neighborhood… Now we got to sit down and talk because we already made
this pact that nobody else could come, but we needed the help so we would go to certain
people that we knew that was closer to us and we would bring them in. Now we’ve
established a gang, Stone Cold. We’ve established the finances, and we established
money…so the drugs was bringing in the money. We had the guns. Death was still unheard
of to us. (except for Nick)…
From Solidarity to Enforcement through Fear
Because of the distribution demands for crack and the associated commitments to their
supplier, Hakim and the gang make a decision to revise the pact they made following Nick’s
murder. They allow others they trust who live outside Stone Cold to sell crack for them. These
business relationships account for the creation of gang alliances shown in Figure 3. Trust and
honesty in these relationships is somewhat tenuous and often violated. The response is a violent
punishment administered to the violator to enforce respect. Witnesses are always present to
spread fear as a tool to establish solidarity/conformity around the gang’s established norms.
Hakim insists on the importance of having witnesses present, so that they could be the ones to
share with others what they saw. The violator being punished is not expected to do so because he
would bring stigmatization and shame upon himself.
H: Was there any internal enforcement needed within the gang as you spread out further?
Originally you had guys that you knew you grew up with. When you started increasing the
distribution, you were dealing with people that you didn’t necessarily grow up with. How did
you deal with issues like embezzlement?
R: There was consequences to be had and it had witnesses because at this point now we
learned the concept of control. If people see somebody suffer consequences for something
wrong they did, they don’t want it. They did it. So if the consequences were greater than the
risk, we’re not going to take the chance. So what we would have to do it with fear, but it had
to be real fear. Now we start learning different things. We start learning you have to do
what you say. And you have to learn that you just can’t say anything. Because if you say
anything, and you don’t do it, people less respect you. So now we start learning that. We
had to maintain control of ourselves for people to respect us. So if I went into another
neighborhood and somebody called me out by name and something didn’t happen to him, the
next person felt like they could do it too. So the simple things would bring consequences,
really simple. Because, the respect had to be enormous. Because people now we’re learning
people at this time and respect had to be enormous. There had to be control. You have to, if
you want to control something, they have to fear you. It’s better to be feared than it is to be
loved. You have to control them, you have to control how you are. You have to let them know
that you’re not playing. You’re only out for one thing and you’re not playing. You can
protect them if they’re on your good side or you can crush them if they’re on your bad side.
So that had to be known and the way we went about doing it was that we had another guy.
We had another guy so if somebody tried to do something within, we would wait until we was
out and then we would get him. And everyone would see them get gotten. Them Stone Cold
guys did such and such…
R: So now we’re getting money and there’s different people we brought in so say for
instance we brought “Tom” and he tried to play his little game of maneuvering and getting his
own money. O.k., “Tom’s” doing this. That’s why the money’s coming up short. Then we go,
“Y’all got to get “Tom”.” And you got to make known that he was doing this.
R: So after they call him out, “Yo, what’s up, you’ve been doing this, you’ve been doing that.”
“Naw, naw”. “Yes, you have. Cause there’s the proof and now we have to handle him. So
now one of the people watching wouldn’t do it. And for two, the people watching will go
back and tell people what happened. So now our unity and our diversity bought us closer.
We were all different. We accepted each other for being different, but we understood and
we showed each other how we loved you. Now this made us strong. We had money, we had
guns, we had the name, we had the power, we were Stone Cold. Stone Cold expanded. Big
blocks… Everything in that area was all ours. So anywhere around there you’ve seen
different members from Stone Cold getting money.
The Gang and Its Business Grow
H: It was the largest gang in Boston…
R: And it was the strongest… so now from that we grew a reputation. Now we’re not the
only kids who needed something and we’re not the only kids that wasn’t understood. I’d go
down and meet people and somebody would come and say “I need to get some money.”
And I would say to them, “You can’t come on my block, but if you get a block, I’d get you
something so you can get money.” So that’s how we would infiltrate that. I’d go to Bobby
and say “Dude, there’s some …. I couldn’t be seen going to another block because respect is
both ways. Because they wouldn’t come after me because of R: the strength that I carried
and the people I had behind me, but they would politely say, “if you don’t want us on your
block, why are you coming on ours?” But then I would say, “Well, yours ain’t really getting no
money, why don’t you let me help y’all get money? And then I’ll pull out and you give me my
share.” So now it was coming to a point of negotiation.
Hakim’s success running Stone Cold’s drug business wins him respect with other gangs.
Hakim leverages his knowledge of how to build a neighborhood crack operation to circumvent
neighborhood gang turf conflict. He creates alliances with other gangs by teaching them how to
build a successful drug business, while sharing the profits. The alternative is violent conflict.
Hakim’s strategy keeps peace and maintains an uninterrupted revenue flow.
R: We had everything and they were imitating what we had; they were just making noise so
now what I would do was to take the teachings that Bernard taught me and I’d take it to
Cunningham Street and I’d say, “First of all you got to get rid of the guns. Second of all, you
got to get rid of the drunk people around here busting bottles and making noise, whatever
causes the community to call the police, you got to get rid of them. Third of all, you got to be
discrete, be nice to the people, play with the kids, don’t let them see y’all selling drugs.”
Those were the Golden Rules. Couldn’t hang around busting bottles cause back then that was
a big thing. You couldn’t make noise to scare the community because if they got scared,
they’d call for protection and you had to be polite to the kids because if they couldn’t send
their kids out there to play, then you ruined their neighborhood.
Levitt and Venkatesh draw a conclusion that provides insight into the wisdom of Hakim’s
“Gang wars are costly, both in terms of lost lives and lost profits. Almost all of the deaths of
drug sellers are concentrated in war periods. Moreover, the violence keeps customers away.
This negative shock to demand is associated with a fall of 20–30 percent in both the price
and quantity of drugs sold during fighting, and the drug operation becomes far less
R: So now y’all have to work this out and we would flood, we would flood them. I’d pump
your block up and I would design a way to do it is I would make the crack ten dollars, but a
little bigger. You designed the crack so that … say, a crack was that big and it was for ten
dollars. I would come in …I would come in and my crack would be THAT big … so I’d come
down there and I’d set them up and they would sell out because they were so big that people
would keep coming back and they keep coming back so once the block was making a certain
amount of money, Bobby would say, “Break ‘em down a little bit.”, but they’d still be coming
because they’re so addicted to the drug and that block’s getting money. Now after I did
these two blocks and I’m making five thousand and four thousand on this block, I says “You
know what? I’m going to go to Codman Square.”
Material Benefits to a Dead End
H: What’s the return per person in the gang?
R: I think at one point it was bringing … so I made a thousand dollars a day. Different
dudes on the block would make like three hundred dollars a day...at that point we was kids.
It was all about eating out, it was being exploited by our parents, we were exploited by
girls, shopping, going to Atlantic City, eating a hundred dollar meals every night, (laughing),
and don’t forget, back then it was cabs. And also you got to remember a lot of times, the
police pulled us over and took thirty five hundred from us and just didn’t report us. So now
you have the police taking money from you. You had your parents taking money from you;
you’re spending a hundred dollars on Atlantic Fish and Legal’s, so your money is coming in
quick and gone! Jewelry, cars, have fun…You know what I mean? And then if you get locked
up for drugs, that’s a five thousand dollar bail.
With the successful of the crack business come expenses. In addition to the expensive cars
and meals, the police need to be paid-off and parents and girl friends of the gang members
pressure them for money. Unprotected sex brings the additional financial burden of children and
a series of challenges similar to those discussed in the Brenneman study.71
H: Did you think of things like wife, family, what things were going to be like when you were
thirty years old?
H: You didn’t think that far…
R: I didn’t think I was going to live to the middle of my life.
H: Really? What did you think was going to happen?
R: Probably get shot and killed… the things that happened to everybody else. I mean, all
my life I was brought up, everyone was getting shot and killed. That was the rules of the
game. I accepted that. You either were going to get shot and killed in this game or you
going to go to jail. And it played itself out in front of me since I as twelve on so I couldn’t see
myself living past that. I didn’t even grasp the concept of working or having a wife. I didn’t
even grasp the concept of family because I didn’t have the family setting. My home was
dysfunctional so it’s hard to have an image of something in front of you if you didn’t see it.
The closest thing I seen was “The Cosbys” which was on TV. So I didn’t have that thought in my
head that one day I am going to have a wife and some kids and a nice house and they’re
gonna to be running around and I was to be going to work. I had in my head the biggest
drug dealer with the most gold chains on, looking the coolest; being a single guy, selling
drugs, having three or four blocks. There’s no future. There’s no future outlook in that life. The
mindset of a young hustler, there’s no future… it’s so crazy, but the mind shuts off right there.
I thought I controlled nature and if the police came, I could just walk away cause I didn’t have
nothing, but money on me.
H: Did you use the drugs?
R: No, no. I was never into using drugs. I just never had the knack for it. I think to be
completely honest with you, I got so much attention and so much affection from girls that that
was my high. I didn’t need a drug because honestly I had a beautiful childhood as far as evil
ways. I was what I called a despotic monarch. If I wanted something done, it would get
done, and we would just go on with life.
H: So you didn’t think of terms of the development of the organization, a house in Randolph
being a “legitimate” criminal so to speak with a “legitimate” cover. Something like that never
crossed your mind.
R: No, whatever happened took place and you dealt with it right there...immediate. At some
point I said “You know, I’m gonna start making different blocks.” Because I’m getting so much
money on this block, I’m gonna go down and meet these people and get money on this block.
So it was all about me getting money and I could be on the fourth block, but still have the
same mindset that I had five years ago on that one block.
Hakim articulates the only vision that he was raised to see by his mother: a criminal life,
focused on the importance of the moment. Everything in life has to be immediate. When
individuals internalize their stigma, they voluntarily choose to agree with the perceived social
identity (Goffman) through the emotion of shame. Hakim professes his adoption of this stigma and
its shame: a vision of a brief life lived within the confines of a closed, marginalized community. His
dreams consist of a life as a gang member “having four blocks”, with no family, no concept of a
future, and no end other than violent death or incarceration.
CHAPTER 8: Gang Life Goes Bad
Locked up, shot, and locked up
The Stone Cold Gang’s success in selling crack brings respect as well as an increase in
negative attention from rival gangs and law enforcement. From age seventeen through twentytwo, fifty percent or more of Hakim Reynolds’s life is spent in hospitals recovering from wounds or
in prison. As the gang’s leader, he isn’t making money away from the business. Hakim begins to
have misgivings about gang life as the number of gang-related deaths rise; his periods of
confinement become more frequent; and the police continue to arrest more gang members. The
ex-gang members in Central America that Brenneman interviewed express a variety of reasons
for wanting to leave the gang72 – desire to start a family, disillusionment with the cruelty of gang
life, and fear of death. [After the interview, Hakim related that he fathered children during his
life in the gang and that this responsibility added to his frustration.]
H: So what was the process of like getting dissatisfied with it … what happened?
R: I think after we got so big and word got around, the police started coming and they
started taking money and I think …a lot of people started dying. It started getting serious,
more money involved, more people dying, and now the crime rate is going up. I was like 17
and then I got shot. I got shot and this was when the heat really started …
H: Over what?
R: I got shot because I had a little cousin. He was down with Blue Hill. And Academy was
going up to beat him up. I was going up to stop them, to tell them, “No, don’t beat him up.
Y’know. That’s my family.” They’d listen to me if I said that because we were in control and
on my way up, Intervale was coming down so I mixed in with them, asked them what
happened. They told us what happened and standing there telling us what happened and
now I’m hurting God, they hurt my cousin so I’m like, “Aw man, aw man, I tried to tell y’all
that’s my family”, so then right as I’m talking, it’s a brick building, was standing by the brick
building and somebody pulled around on a scooter and started shooting into the crowd with a
45, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There’s a line of brick buildings in this alley way so
they got about thirty people pinned up against the wall and he’s just shooting in the crowd,
boom, boom, boom, boom. I’m on a bike, I turned around, and I tried to ride off, I got hit in
the back, but I got hit in the back when I turned down the alley. So then I got rushed to the
hospital; I got to wear a colostomy bag. I woke up, my little cousin was over me crying, my
little cousin cause he had heard that I came up to stop ‘em. The guy that was shooting didn’t
know I was in that crowd, so now it’s on. (Laughs) It just got serious.
Grandmother Provides Advice
Hakim breaks his own rule, gets caught with a gun, and gets arrested and locked
up. Hakim’s grandmother offers him on several occasions her own cost-benefit analysis: if Hakim
will promise to trust God with his life, choose to leave the criminal gang life behind, depart from
the gang, and commit to live out a “godly” life based on Christian principles like reading the
Bible, attending church, and praying, then God will stop putting Hakim in prison. Hakim has
occasionally weighed those cost-benefit options and gives lip service to choosing the “godly” life.
But each time he is freed from jail, he breaks his promise, and returns to the gang.
R: So I got caught with the gun, but I was in jail and my grandmother had came up to the jail
cell and she said what are you going to do? I said I don’t want to go to jail. I was sixteen. I
don’t want to go to jail. She said, “Well make God a promise that you’ll stop doing what
you’re doing.” I was in the holding cell and they had let her come back there and she said
“Make God a promise. And if you make God a promise, you got to stick to it.” She never
told me the consequences that if I didn’t stick to it, what would happen. She came in and said
“Make God a promise and He’ll get you out.” All I wanted to do was to get out. I kneeled
down on my knees and I said, “God, if you get me out, I’ll give my life to you.”...Sixteen....I
got out that day. They let me go. Now they caught me with the gun. They let me go on
personal recognizance as a juvenile.
H: And did you keep your promise?
R: Nope. I went right back to doing what I was doing. So every six months I’d be out, stay
out for a month and get locked up for six more months.
R: Anything, weapons, drugs, assault and battery. I could get out and say, I’m not doing
anything and they’d lock me up for robbing somebody halfway cross town that I’d never even
CHAPTER 9: Hakim Decides to Go Another Way
Hakim is faced with the threat of a sixty year jail sentence.
Hakim’s Christian Conversion Experience
R: From age seventeen to twenty-two. I never have a full year out. So now this is starting to
wear on me because I don’t understand why I keep getting locked up. I say to my
grandmother, “Why do I keep going to jail?” She says a few words about it, but she is
always on point. She says, “Until you keep your promise with God, He’s going to keep puttin’
you in and out of jail. And one time He’s going to put your back up against the wall where
you keep your promise or you don’t get out.” And she says that and the Feds come to lock me
up. The Feds look at me and tell me that we got AK47 and we got some drugs and you can
either cop out the 40 years or you can let us sentence you to 60 years.
R: I sit inside that jail for a week pondering on this, trying to figure out a way out until one
night I stand up. I have a Spanish guy in the jail cell with me. He is asleep. I get out of my
bed and I look up in the mirror and I say “God, all my life you’ve been sending me to jail. If
this is what you want from me.” This is in my ignorance. And I am really mad at God. I am
really sincere. I say, “If this is really how you want me to live, then I’m going to live this way. I
said, “If you want me to live in jail, I’m willing to live in jail. I’ll live in jail for you.” I’m mad. I
don’t know what made me say if you’re gonna make me go to jail. At one point the church
used to say. The church had a lot of input, they used to say to me, “Maybe God wants you to
do prison ministry.” So I’m getting locked up! Geez…I really want to do ministry now!
(Laughs) So I say in the mirror, I look in the mirror and I say, “God, if this is what you want me
to do, now I believe in it. If you want me to do prison ministry, then that’s just what I’m gonna
do. If you want me to stay in jail, that’s just what I’m going to do ‘cause You’ve been locking
me up all my life” and I looked in the mirror and I say, “What do I gotta do to stop going
through this?” At that very instant I feel a very big strobe light, I didn’t see it, but I feel it. It
goes through my head to my heart and at that second every void that I ever had is filled.
And I feel the best I ever felt and the softest, sweetest voice came to me, saying, “Give God
what He wants.” The picture in my heart, not in my head, is me holding a little, gentle baby
and going, “Awwww.” That’s how I feel. I feel like I have a baby in my hands and the baby
is telling me to give God what He wants.
Hakim decides to trust God with his life and to leave the gang.
R: The next week I go home. I say, “God, if you let me out, I’ll give my life to you. I know that
I know what you want. The next two or three days I went to court. They tell me that the Feds
can’t use the State’s evidence so they have to get their own evidence. So they let me out on
what you call Federal probation. I have to get three …, five applications a week and I have
to come down to federal probation to see a probation officer three times a week, but I
haven’t even been sentenced yet so I’m saying in my head that I can stick to that term.
The event Hakim relates is what Goffman describes as a life event, in which the
stigmatized individual singles out and retrospectively elaborates an experience which serves for
him to account for his coming to the beliefs and practices that he now has. 73
Brenneman references Goffman’s “bridge-burning event”74 to identify a similar milestone
experienced by Central American gang members - a transformative Christian conversion
experience. The source of this event for Brenneman’s youth is an emotional “crisis” that gets their
attention. Brenneman concludes that although some level of cost-benefit analysis occurs when gang
members who exit a gang choose the pathway of evangelical conversion, more frequently
converted ex-gang members describe the process as one that involves key moments of intense
Hakim’s federal prison experience is a bridge-burning event because, with his back
against the wall, he steps out of the role of a manipulative hustler and pledges to God his
unconditional trust. The transformative event for Hakim mirrors the Christian conversion experience
of Brenneman’s gang members75: God forgives Hakim for all his past criminal behavior; removes
his lifelong mental and emotional burdens of stigmatization and personal shame; and shows him
acceptance, love, and approval – affirmation missing his entire life.
Hakim Leaves the Gang
Hakim begins his new life, working on his relationship with God.
R: I was happy because I knew that God had spoke to me and everything was changing so
when I came home. I went to the house where I held all my drugs and I called all the dudes
from my crew and I said, “Listen, I’m getting out the gang.” And it was like, “are you for
real?” I said, “Yeah. I heard God’s voice.” I started giving away guns, drugs, bullet proof
vests, bullets… I had so much stuff. I was just giving it away. “Take it, take it.” Calling
people over, “Take this, take that.” “Take it, take it, take it.” My last gun I gave away. God
said, “You never pick that up again”, and I never bothered to. I gave my last drugs away.
And He said, “You never sell that again.” You’ll never go broke. I walked away, started to
go to church. I started to go to Bible class in the morning. I went to my grandmother’s house
and I said, “I got to get up in the morning, I got to get a job.” My grandmother put me in this
little room in the back. She gave me a little room in the back and I gave everything away. I
didn’t have no money. I didn’t have nowhere to stay cause the police had just run in the house.
So I did it. I went to church in the morning at 12 Noon. I went to church at 7 o’clock at night. ,
I went to church in Grove Hall. Bethlehem Healing Temple. My friends and my enemies saw
me going to church. It’s amazing; it’s amazing, makes me want to cry…(Hakim is visibly
shaken, as he speaks).
H: Did you talk to any of your enemies?
R: The way I talked to them was I said to God, “God, you don’t want me to pick up a gun. I
changed. They didn’t change.” Now I’m on Abraham’s status, I’m talking to God. “I got real
enemies out here and I can’t fall down on my knees and pray in front of them enemies.” And
that was one of my concerns and He said, “You never pick up a gun and I’ll protect you.” I was
driving down the street in my girlfriend’s car, my kid’s mother’s car and I had just got shot
about probably three weeks ago, four weeks ago in the leg. And the guys who shot me, I was
looking for ‘em. I actually beat one of them with a crutch after I got out of the hospital so I
was looking for all the guys. So, red light...I pulled up at a red light, stuck in traffic. There’s
another lane of traffic and then there’s bushes and trees. When I pulled up, I seen a car next
to me, music playing, that’s what caught my attention. But when I looked over, there were four
people in the car and the car was rocking. Everybody was ducking. So I rolled the window
down and I heard a plea, “please, please Hakim, please, please…” and I didn’t have a gun.
H: And they didn’t have a gun …
R: They didn’t have a gun, but they were stuck! And I looked over and when I saw who it
was, I heard say, “Please, man... Come on, please don’t kill us, man!” I put the car in park, put
the window down, stuck my hand out the window and said, “check my hand, man… All four of
them reached over and, “Come on, man! Come on…!” I shook their hands and said, “Y’all, I
won’t bother y’all no more. I don’t want y’all to bother me. I don’t. Nothing. I said, “It’s done,
I forgive y’all. I’m turning over a new leaf. I told ‘em just like that. After I said that, they
stopped and it was like “Are you for real?” I was like, “Yo, bro. Never again. It was like
y’all be cool”…and I drove off. I looked back and the car was still sitting there. (Laughs…)
...But that’s not it. That went around to another gang, and so now look, the rumors are going
around that Hakim is making peace with his enemies and going to church, which, to them, is
evidence of a changed man.
R: So now I leave and I’m driving and there’s this one dude. Oh, I had a real… oh, I had
been chasing him around and he tried to get into a car, I stabbed the tires, I ran out of bullets.
I mean, I tried to do him serious harm and he was trying to get me. This one dude, BIG dude. I
pull over, I get out and I’m walking into the store to get me a pair of soft walking shoes to
wear to church and I hear this big ruckus before I go in the door. Then I see a head stick out
and he was like saying, “Yo, Hakim! Hakim!” It was the leader of a gang who shot me, their
leader. He was hiding behind clothes because there was only one way out of the store and I
was coming in. You can imagine me coming through the door of a neighborhood that only
heard about me. And he was scared! I never seen the look of fear on nobody’s face like I
seen on his. And I said just like this, “Hey, come on out.” Just like that. I said, “Come on out,
man.” He was like saying, “Yo, man…” I said, “Come on out. Look, I ain’t got no weapons,
brother.” I shook his hand just like this and said his name. He shook my hand and stepped
back. “No, come here. I’m for real. You ain’t got a beef with me, man and I got no beef with
you no more. You could see him sigh with relief. What he had been thinking was that I was
goin’ to still hurt him, cause sometimes, when gangs in Roxbury had beefs, sometimes a
‘banger would go about his business and there would be a guy behind him, and the guy
behind him would have a gun on him. So what the ‘banger would sometimes do when face-toface is say, “Alright, we’re cool! See you later.” And he’d walk away and the guy behind him
would shoot and the people around would say, “Well, it wasn’t him cause he told him they
were cool and so some other guy come up and shot him. So the gang member was clear of
conviction. So that’s what he thought was happen’n, when I told him peace. And he was still
scared. I don’t know if I mentioned God to him, but I didn’t have to. The rumor in the street
was so powerful that Hakim Reynolds is going to church now. I used to walk to church. People
would see me with slacks on, and my shirt tucked in, legit and they would even tell me, “You
even look different.” So now this whole rumor of me going to church has shaken Roxbury,
cause we were so powerful. Even in the church people would come into church to see if I was
really in church. They would come just to see if I was really in church. Because now this “God
thing” is now really getting close to home and they seen me tear Boston up. They read the
fourteen newspaper clippings; they’ve seen me on the news. They’d seen all of this stuff. They
seen me in school; they seen me control the streets first hand. Now first hand they see me in
church and they’re like. I used to look back and see people sitting in the back watchin’ me
cause I go to church.
Hakim Reynolds’s abrupt exit from the Stone Cold Gang and entrance into his new moral
career76 is a bold choice because he lacks the protection that the local evangelical church in
Brenneman’s study provides for their newly converted ex-gang members.77
Hakim speaks of no initial Christian support, encouragement, or guidance other than his
grandmother. Trusting God for safety, he no longer internalizes the Code of the Streets. Hakim
leaves the gang, gives its members all his money and gang-related paraphernalia, and puts his
life at-risk by making peace unarmed face-to-face with his enemies.
Unlike the gang members in the Brenneman study, who were obliged to remain in the gang
until their deaths by the “Morgue Rule,”78 there is no mention by Hakim in the interview of his gang
having such a pact. Hakim’s leadership brought the gang money and respect in the streets. His
gang’s memory of this provides him with grace. Hakim’s clear separation from the gang, making
peace with his enemies, faithful church attendance, and his new way of dress and physical
appearance – all closely monitored by both friends and foes, serve to prove the authenticity of
his conversion and enable him to dodge the morgue rule. These last aspects of Hakim’s exit are
similar to the exit strategies, Brenneman reports that the Central American gangs gave as a way
out for those desiring to leave La Vida Loca. To faithfully live a godly sanctified holy life is
considered by gangs to be a legitimate way to exit the gang. The gang will not consider an ex-
gang member a threat if he remains a faithful churchgoer and follows the church’s precepts of
strict moral boundaries.79 80
God’s Posse, Brotherhood and Respect
It has become the stuff of legend, this tale, along with all the others about bullets turned and
guns jammed and knives bent. They are the war stories of a different kind of youth gang, a
gang that believes faith in God is more powerful than any weapon, more potent than the
purest narcotic. It’s called God's Posse. Its roughly 25 core members, many of whom once
ranked among Boston's most dangerous gangsters, with rap sheets longer than their alibis,
make a mockery of the stereotype profile of young urban black men. For many of them the
group is as close to a stable family as they have ever really had "We don't come with a big
old Bible. We don't come wearing clerical collars. We don't say if you're not down with us, we
won't talk to you. We just say there is another way”, says Richard Williamson, co-founder of
the posse.81 -- Sally Jacobs, Running with God’s Posse
R: But the church folks won’t talk to me’ cause I didn’t know church talk, and they’re afraid if
they talked to me, I’d go off and all Stone Cold would be down there. It was a lonely life.
H: “Where did God’s Posse come in?”
R: They connected with this guy named Sam who grew up in the streets with me and he went to
church, but he went to jail for 5 years and got out and was into church so then they told him,
“Tell Hakim to come over so when I walked in the house, it was filled up with people. It was
filled up with brothers from the streets. I walked in and everybody was like, “Yo, what’s up
You don’t know me, man, but I grew up… and there’s introductions and I was feeling like,
“Wow!” and these is brothers that dealt with Christ and I didn’t know nothin’ about other
people in church. I thought my church was the only church that did this. I was so in my world
that I didn’t know there other brothers that went to church. My age, living the life that I lived
and telling me, “Oh, I used to read about you.” “I heard about you.” “I never met you…”.
“Glad you could ..One dude was like, “You messed me up before.” I was like, “What!?” I
didn’t realize how evil I was. I mean, people was telling me, “Yo, you did this…”. “Oh, I’m
sorry! I didn’t realize until I went into this room, right? So listen to this, Rich walked up to me
and started crying. He started crying, boohooing, and he hugged me. So I was like, “What’s
wrong? What’s up?” Everybody sitting back and he’s showing this piece of paper. He still
has the paper. He said, “Look at this paper.” It was a piece of paper ripped out, funny rip,
and it had my name on it written in pen. And the paper had smudges on it. It was like one of
the most amazing things in the world. He said, “I wrote this paper down in ’89. I was praying
for you all through college. I was praying for you and he was crying and he was saying,
“Here’s the paper…” And it had my name in it and another dude’s name and he said, “That’s
the other dude right there.” The paper had like oil on it and it was flat, real flat, and he said,
“Every single time I prayed, I prayed for you.” And now God has brought you to the House.
Hakim is describing a form of identity management which Erving Goffman labels,
“voluntarily disclosing himself” and transforming his situation from that of an individual with
information to manage, to that of an individual with uneasy situations to manage, from that of a
discreditable person to that of a discredited one.82 From the older established church members’
perspective, Hakim has a personal identity as a fellow church attendee, the grandson of their
peers. Hakim’s social identity, developed from being a former gang leader, causes fear. Hakim’s
lack of church lingo also is a barrier to his acceptance.
Hakim turns to God’s Posse at the invitation of a friend. It is a local Christian ministry that
intervenes in the lives of Boston gang members, providing love, acceptance, and counsel.
A New Perspective: Walking On Water
H: So you met Richard…somebody pulled your coat to go to God’s Posse. It was located on
R: On Catawba Street, Roxbury, and when I walked through the door, they were all in there.
H: Now you saw people like you.
R: I saw people like me and it gave me so much strength because I lived a lonely life…
H: So it was community in a way, family…
R: Um-hm. You know the first thing that came to my head. Even today, Stone Cold showed
me love that I have never experienced other than that night. The only love that topped Stone
Cold was the night God spoke to me, my introduction to Christ. He showed me a love of
acceptance; every void that I had was filled. When I met God’s Posse, I felt that love again.
Not the love of God, but the love of Stone Cold. The love, the connection, the closeness, you
know what I mean? I felt the love like …
R: Yeah, but the love of God was an introduction of being in love. Like when He spoke to me,
I could look at this coffee mug and say, “Man, this is a beautiful blue. This is a pretty red.
And this is the whitest cup I’ve ever seen, but without the love of God, that’s just a coffee cup.
It changed my perspective. It changed everything about me. It’s almost like I can walk down
a rainy street and say, by the time I get to the end of the street, it’s gonna be some sun or I
can say it’s raining because there’s water on the flowers. I’m not looking at the fact that I’m
getting soaked and drenched and wet. I’m saying these flowers are going to be nice and
blooming when the sun comes out after the rain, so my perspective has been changed as
opposed to “I need an umbrella, I’m getting all soaking wet!” There’s no more of that!
R: It was an experience that made me say, I mean it was a strong thing to stand on. In other
words, I’m going to get out of this boat and I’m going to walk on this water. And I don’t know
what’s out there, but whatever is calling me is stronger than what’s holding me. So I got to go.
I gave everything that I was used to away. I started at 12 and went all the way up to twenty
something. I was completely comfortable in the drug life. I knew how to take pain. I knew
how to give pain. I knew how to control without touching. I knew how to move mountains with
just speaking. I knew how to do anything you wanted done … I could cook up some coke up.
I could make a dollar into 2 dollars. I could do anything. I was completely comfortable on this
boat. If the wind blew to the right, I knew which way to lean. If it blew to the left, I knew
which way to lean. When I wasn’t getting money on the street, I knew what to do to make
money. When it wasn’t getting money and the police was out, I knew what to do to hold the
money still. I knew how to hide the guns; I knew how to separate the bullets. I knew how to
break down the gun; I knew how to clean it. Everything! Right? I was completely comfortable
with that life. Think about it, at 17, I controlled four blocks.…think about the skill that it took
me to go to another person’s neighborhood at 16. Listen, this is what we’re gonna do. I’m
going to help you and we’re going to work together and then I’m going to pull out. Like I
literally went to different blocks, seek them out, sat, watch, and introduce even though it was
R: Peter was completely comfortable with the boat. He was a professional fisherman. He
knew everything about the boat. “Oh, don’t worry, here comes the wind, let’s just move to the
left.” He knew everything about that boat…
H: Except when he had to get out of the boat …
R: Exactly. Now God told me to leave my comfort zone where I felt the love. Now I’m telling
you, you’re talking about fire in your bones. It didn’t describe it. God’s Posse spoke to the
core of what was in me and brought it out. God put something into a hundred little David’s
and said, “Eventually you’re going to fight Goliath and I want you all to take the sling shots
and not the armor. God’s Posse’s teaching spoke directly to that David, to prepare us for
something. Other churches spoke to something in me, but God’s Posse spoke to the core. Rich
taught that your strength is in your strategy, not in your victory and God is your strategy.
God’s Posse let us know that we are different and God has something tailor-made just for us.
And regardless to what people say, stand on what you know and we were taught to know.
Rich taught us to know that if we were in that fiery furnace and God didn’t deliver us. It didn’t
mean He couldn’t. So there is a God and we knew it and we couldn’t be committed to
deliverance. We had to be committed to God. Because if God didn’t come, we’d still love
Him. We’re here to serve Him, not for Him to serve us. You see what I’m saying. It’s the
confidence that it gives you because, a lot of people think that God is going to come for their
deliverance all the time. You kind of lean on that and you’re really not committed to God,
you’re committed to what He can do. But if God don’t come and I’m laying in my casket. I’m
smiling because they just gave me a promotion. So death is basically a promotion. You see
what I mean? That’s our strategy. So if we go through something and if it kills us. It’s nothing
wrong with dying. It’s what you die for and if you’re living for God and dying for God, then
you’re on the right track. An’ that God is not an animal you can sic on your situation. “God,
change this! I don’t like it!” No, some of the things are for you! Rich would say, “Then you
need to change.” Because that’s not going to change, then you need to change and learn
either to accept it. Bottom line is if a girl you walk in on is standing there naked, you don’t
need to turn around and run out, you can go in, get what you need, go out of that room and
keep on moving. That girl will just be standing there naked. You need to get to the point
where a compliment or a complaint doesn’t make it either way. And that’s how he
taught…telling you straight and he would not talk about… the things that church told you.
Hakim describes how the members of God’s Posse role modeled the love that God showed
to him. Hakim believes that the love that he feels from God has changed everything about him,
including his perspective on life. Now he sees beauty in things, instead of ugliness; hope in
situations, rather than despair. His extreme personal shame, which - by his own admission precipitated the violence, is resolved. Hakim decides to leave his comfort zone, and to trust God
and “walk on water” into new unchartered fulfilling territories.
Future Focused, Not Past Possessed
H: So how has life been since you “connected with God”?
R: It’s been hard because you gotta work; you have to do your part. It’s being responsible.
I’m always learning. I’m always learning even when I’m in the shower or I’m walking up the
stairs, I’m always learning. God is always speaking. I think it’s a peaceful journey because
for some strange reason I feel like I’ve cheated death and taken away its sting. Because now
if I face a problem, I know I’m going to overcome it regardless of which way I overcome. It’s
a matter of me hoping that you overcome. I know there’s a God. I mean I had open heart
surgery. I had a colostomy bag, operated on. I had four hundred stitches. I got hit in the
head with a gun. I have been stabbed four or five times. I’ve had trees fall on me. I had
things happen that God let me know, “I got you.” So my fear is not a regular fear and I don’t
even have a fear.
H: How has your past impacted on your ability to move forward in terms of friendships, love
relationships, family, employment?
R: My employment? Regarding me having a job, after I came to Christ, I went about six
months, workin’ two or three part time jobs to get by or be unemployed. I would lie at each
interview about having a diploma and no criminal record, get hired, and then, two weeks
later, when the record check come back, I be fired. Then my Pastor at Bethel Healing Temple
preached the message, “God can’t work with a lie”. The next day I had an interview about a
job with the state. That was the interview in which I told a lie – like I always done – that I had
graduated high school and that my record was clean. As I left the building after the interview,
I remembered that “God can’t work with a lie”. I knew that was from God, and I went back in
the buildin’, found the lady, told her I lied – that I didn’t have a high school diploma and had
a bad criminal record…and she replied that ‘cause I was so honest, that she was goin’ to give
me that job’. I’ve had that job since then...for 20 years. I’ve never had to worry about money.
I probably wasn’t rich, but I was rich in love ‘cause I always had good people who supported
me. I think now my perspective....it’d take us three days for me to explain my perspective on
H: God’s Posse helped you learn about God and His ways? And just in terms of a practical
view of how to approach the affairs of life....
R: And they did. You know what else? They did what other churches don’t do and they deal
with the emotional side of life. That’s where, as men we’re mostly affected. And the church
doesn’t deal with the emotional side of life. But the connection that we had with Rich and
Chris, dealt with the emotional side of life. You know what I mean? The streets abused the
emotional side, but they dealt with the emotional side. How can I say it? With Rich and Chris,
you could express the hurt, the pain, the disgust, and all the things you felt as a kid that you
carried through your childhood that formed you into the criminal that you was. You could
express that to them and still be a man. The church doesn’t express that. It doesn’t want to
hear that. The church wants to Jesus you to death.
H: When you were a gang member, what did you think regular society thought of you?
R: They didn’t. They didn’t care about me. They didn’t understand. They only cared about …
in my eyes, they only cared about what was convenient to them. But when my pain became
inconvenient for them, they didn’t care. I didn’t have any ability to express it because I wasn’t
verbally… I could do it physically.
R: Yeah. But I could do it physically. But nobody can read it. I could tear Boston up to show
you how hurt I was, and you wouldn’t read it as me being hurt. You would read it as me
being bad. That’s how men feel when their parents don’t accept them so they get together
and they find somebody that they can do it to. You know …? So let’s make them feel
outward the way we feel inward.
Hakim states emphatically that having faith in God requires that he take responsibility for
his thoughts and actions. Hakim acknowledges that he finds self-respect from God’s love and his
acceptance from God’s Posse. He makes clear his understanding that his criminal gang life was an
outward expression of an inward pain. He feels secure and protected as he walks out his new
direction in life. Hakim learns to apply the moral truths taught to the practical affairs of life. His
honesty about his past impresses a prospective employer and brings him a job that has become a
twenty year career. Christian values now have a stronger influence on him than his past criminal
behavior. God’s Posse mirrors Brenneman’s local evangelical church: it has a cell-type structure; it
provides constant affirmation and bonding; and its leaders provide life skills support to address
members’ basic needs.
God’s Posse provides Hakim with a continual transformative Christian conversion
experience with faith-based Christian interaction ritual chains (Brenneman) like collective prayer
and worship. Without shame, Hakim is able to move forward with a vision for his future beyond
what he previously thought possible.
Like the local evangelical churches of Brenneman’s study, God’s Posse teaches Hakim that:
he can be free to express the shameful hurt and disgust from his childhood and still be a man and
not lose respect; as well as, the importance of forgiving his enemies or abusers for his own peace
of mind and in order to be free from the past.
Hakim relates that God’s Posse taught him the value of living a humble Christian life and
to make a dependant relationship with God his top priority. Most important to Hakim is that he
knows that God loves him and “has his back.” Hakim said that God’s Posse was his first real
church. The God’s Posse ministry disbanded in 2000.
A Life with Vision and Purpose
R: After the Posse disbanded, it was disappointing, but I kept goin” to my grandparents’
church, Bethlehem Healing Temple. I fought through it, and got stronger spiritually ‘cause I
realized even more the personal discipline God wanted of me. I’m still in touch with members
of the Posse - we’re all still fully connected. Bethlehem Healing Temple’s teachin’ about Christ
was good – it taught me about Christ, but God’s Posse taught me about Christ’s human side,
Christ in me, which helps guide me in basically an evil world. Socially, Bethlehem Healing
Temple was an older crowd, and it was difficult for a person my age to be allowed to
contribute what I wanted to offer to the church. It was a good experience that lasted 18 or so
years, but 2 years ago it was time to leave and begin lookin’ for another church home.
As I told you earlier, I had my job for over twenty years. As far as family goes, I used to sell
drugs on the street with my ex-wife. We come up together. She grew up on the streets, too,
but didn’t have much crime…not nearly as much as me. When I got out of jail, we got
married. She was saved. I made a lot of mistakes. We both needed to grow up, and the
marriage ended ‘cause we were both not willin’ to change. Between runnin’ in the streets until
just after giving my life to Christ, I was free with myself as far as attention of women, and, as
a result, I got kids – all’em, I done my best to love and support and they love each othereven though they have different mothers. In fact, we get together as a group almost every
week for dinner. We have a good relationship with one another. It’s the mothers who have the
difficulty. Financially, I been able to help support them all by doing side jobs workin’ on
trees– that’s my job. I’m also right now studyin’ for my GED at RCC. I want to go to Bible
College and want to have a ministry- teach the word of God. I know that I always got to seek
God to help me identify the things in me that get in the way of my goal. I’m looking for a
good church home, and to help brothers in the street to get emotionally stable and spiritually
grounded. I’m not crazy to get money. As far as my material needs, I’ve always had the
relationship with God, in which He says, ‘If you handle my business, I’ll handle yours’. So I do
my best to put God’s business to the front.
CHAPTER 10: Faith-Based Strategies in Boston
As part of my research I applied Robert Brenneman’s conclusion regarding the potential
for the local evangelical church to have an impact on gang violence. I identified faith-based
organizations in Boston that have had success and interviewed their leadership. The leaders of
Boston’s African American Christian Faith-based organizations hold a status within Boston’s inner
city that parallels the influence held by the pastors of the local evangelical churches of Central
America studied by Brenneman. The Boston TenPoint Coalition, the Youth Violence Systems Project
(Emmanuel Gospel Center), and the Massachusetts Community Outreach Initiative (MCOI) are
examples of Christian organizations, founded and directed by church members, who are willing to
go beyond the “sanctity” of their church’s four walls to make a positive impact on their
communities. I was fortunate to have access to three experts in the field of gang violence: cofounders of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, Executive Director and Rev. Dr. Ray
Hammond, Chairman; and Rev. Eustace Payne, founder and Executive Director of MCOI, as well
as Sam Kim, the Director of Consulting and the Youth Violence Systems Project of Emmanuel
Boston TenPoint Coalition
Boston’s TenPoint Coalition is regarded as having model programs to reduce gang
violence. It is credited as the major source for the “Boston Miracle” during the 1990’s, during
which gang-related homicides ceased. The Coalition was formed in 1992 in response to a
dramatic increase in gang violence. The Coalition’s current Ten Point Plan to help
youth develop more positive and productive lifestyles is based on research that included
significant input from residents of the inner city neighborhoods. One primary goal of the plan is to
influence the inner city culture of violence with a “Season of Peace”. A few additional goals are:
To promote and campaign for a cultural shift to help reduce youth violence, both physically
and verbally within the Black community by initiating conversations, introspection and
reflection on the thoughts and actions that hold us back as a people; individually and
collectively; to develop, as churches, a curriculum regarding Black and Latino history with an
emphasis on the struggles of women of color to help young people understand that the God
of history has been and remains active in all our lives; and to acknowledge and respond to
the impact of trauma as a physical and emotional reality on the lives of our young people
and their families as a direct result of violence.83
In our conversation, Reverend Jeff Brown emphasizes that violence is a “cultural
phenomena” which requires an approach that must provide members of communities plagued by
gang violence with cultural alternatives including the presentation of positive ritualistic symbolic
events (Brenneman) using the media. The TenPoint Coalition’s “Season of Peace” is a successful
example of this strategy:
Season of Peace campaigns are designed to promote anti-violence. This project was launched
to send a consistent message of peace to youth who were involved in the violence. The
strategy involves creating a period of time during the year to declare a general ceasefire
throughout the city. In Boston, we run our Season of Peace campaigns between Thanksgiving
and New Years Day, and during the months of July and August of the calendar year. The
efforts of community members, churches, community organizations, police, probation,
transportation department, schools, and youth detention facilities helped decrease violence
across the city. The media campaign used symbols and slogans youth use in daily
conversations to communicate that violence is not the answer to deal with conflict. The second
part of the Season of Peace is the neighborhood walks component which galvanizes our
partners to walk through troubled areas of the city to engage youth and families.84
Rev. Brown shares that the “Season of Peace” was first initiated in Boston in on
Thanksgiving 2007 and extended through New Year’s Day during which there were no youth
killed, shot, or stabbed. Observance continues annually. Rev. Brown reiterates his belief that the
culture of violence impacts severely on inner city youth through peer influence. He indicates that
the culture of violence (Anderson) is fed by various elements of “popular culture like the internet,
television, music, and advertising.” “The “Season of Peace” is an attempt to build a “ritual
interaction chain” (Collins 2004) designed to promote positive values and associated behaviors.
Rev. Brown confirms that the “desire for respect” (Brenneman) is a primary influence for
gang violence. His conclusion is based upon his twenty years of ministry to the most violent gang
members, the shooters. Rev. Brown states that the focus of his ministry on the street has been the
shooters because “it’s the shooters who have the most respect from members of a gang. So since I
want to influence the gang, I focus on the shooter, who has the most respect.” He mentions that
invariably the physical stature of the shooters contradicts the stereotype of a “hulking thug”. Most
of the time the shooter has the opposite stature: “nerdy, short and skinny.... someone who could
not command respect on the street without a gun.”
Rev. Brown provides suggestions for church-based member participation to combat gang
violence: community prayer walks through gang turf and prayer ministries at memorials in the
community for deceased gang members. He emphasizes that either of these two suggestions are
viable opportunities for connection with a young person in a gang because “gang members are
very sensitive to life-and-death issues, and their own mortality” (Brenneman). Rev. Brown also
expresses a hope that church culture would change to provide an environment in which a gang
member, who chose to attend a church, would find acceptance and not judgment (Brenneman).
At our meeting Rev. Hammond shares his belief that the primary risk factors for gang
violence are: alternative to family (solidarity), security and safety (Brenneman), financial, trauma
from exposure to violence, emotional illness (pathological shame), and “pre-existing family gang
He relates that fundamental to the TenPoint’s success, are its collaborations with other
youth service organizations including law enforcement, probation, mental health providers, and
school personnel. He mentions the TenPoint success with two school interventions: 1) Operation
Homefront – an intervention partnership with school personnel, clergy, and law enforcement
personnel, who as a team visit the home of a student who has been identified as high-risk to
discuss the situation with a parent; and 2) presentations the Coalition staff provide to middle
Rev. Hammond echoes the theme of gangs as “tribes without elders” by stating that he felt
that inner city teenagers are growing up with no sense of history from which they could calculate
their futures. Rev. Hammond feels that it is important for church communities to be like family to
former-gang members - to be a community of helpers, mentors, and teachers within the context of
The Boston TenPoint Coalition continues to provide direct intervention services for those
youth who remain gang-involved including crisis intervention, gang mediation, support for ganginvolved or affiliated girls, and in-and-out jail reentry support for men post-incarceration. Through
Rev. Brown’s leadership of the RECAP (Rebuilding Every City Around Peace) initiative, the
Coalition has impacted federal policy within the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Youth Violence Systems Project of the Emmanuel Gospel Center (EGC)
When we met, Sam Kim briefed me regarding the Project’s unique systems approach using
the website as a tool:
The Youth Violence Systems Project (YVSP) has identified what we consider to be the eight
most influential components in the system of youth violence. These are: gang activity, culture of
violence, personal predisposition, community context, social institutions, public institutions,
family and peer influence, and individual and collective trauma. Although these may seem to
be obvious components, to date no one has looked at how these are connected in a non-linear
fashion. YVSP is looking at the measurable connections between these different components.85
This project presents a unique multi-disciplinary approach as well as a significant sample
of data gathered from a broad spectrum of the communities characterized by frequent gang
violence including non-gang members, friends of gang members, and current gang members. The
“slippery slope path” to violence within a gang, cited earlier in this study, is a concept created
from this research. The “slippery slope path” to gang violence is meant to be understood as a
dynamic process with steps along the way in which interventions can take place: for example,
Operation Homefront within the school system and with family.
Massachusetts Community Outreach Initiative
Based on recidivism rates Robert Brenneman refers to prisons as “graduate schools for
crime.”86 Rev. Eustace Payne founded the Massachusetts Community Outreach Initiative (MCOI)
which is a faith-based interdenominational non-profit organization in order intervene in this
process and to prepare men and women as they transition from Massachusetts correctional
institutions into the community. Rev. Payne shared with me that MCOI enhances its clients’ rates of
success by providing them with a positive spiritual support system, utilizing religious institutions,
such as churches and community agency resources for re-entry support. Rev. Payne shared that
MCOI assists individuals to discover what they believe are their God-given talents and gifts in
order to fulfill what each person believes is their God-given purpose in life. The organization’s
goals are to transform the hearts and minds of inmates so that they become a voice of power and
position within their families, community, and churches.
CHAPTER 11: Summary of Findings and Conclusion
Summary of Findings
Hakim Reynolds was born into a drug-dealing criminal household. Early life is filled with
trauma, stigma, and shame. The discrediting effects of family violence, abandonment, and
rejection by both of his parents are burned into Hakim’s mind very early in his childhood, along
with the values, attitudes, and techniques to achieve success and respect through crime. His mother
abandons him to his grandparents to be raised. They are committed Christians. This setting
provides additional trauma for him. Hakim finds it a challenge to abide by his grandparents rules.
His difficulty with the new normative expectations contributes to his further stigmatization and
shame. He is regularly beaten by his grandfather. Hakim begins, as Goffman describes, to
“alienate himself from the community which upholds the norm”- his new family. With his friends on
the street, he finds acceptance. In order to leverage greater leniency to be with his friends, Hakim
agrees with his grandparents to attend their church regularly. Goffman terms this “passing” (for
normal) behavior, a form of impression management of his social identity.
Hakim confirms that his street friends meet his primary need for acceptance, what
Goffman calls the central feature of the stigmatized individual’s situation: bonding to form groups,
as did Hakim and his friends. Hakim’s friends are what Erving Goffman defines as an aggregate
formed by the individual’s fellow sufferers...the one to which he naturally belongs, with the same
deprivations and the same stigma. Like family to him, he labels them “brothers”. They share
appreciation and respect. They share solidarity similar to Brenneman’s gang members.
Until he turns thirteen, Hakim and his group share with each other the personal in their lives
that cause stigma and shame: rejection, abandonment, and abuse. As they grow older, their
search for respect overrides their desire to process shame.
Hakim’s low self-esteem exhibited in poor academic achievement and limited life goals
confirms Goffman’s postulate, that shame generates from the individual internalizing the
degrading attribute and making it part of his social identity
Hakim’s knowledge of the street and drug sales brings him a greater respect among his
friends. His drug income enables him to buy trendy clothes and to win respect with girls. Hakim’s
preoccupation with gaining the respect of the girls validates what Brenneman terms as an attempt
to bypass or mask shame of a dysfunctional life.
The economic need created by his mother’s drug addiction causes Hakim to change the
group’s focus to making a profit in order to pay for the things that bring respect - expensive
clothes and sneakers.
Hakim’s group, the Group, has 400-500 members from various neighborhoods. The
members are friendly and peacefully socialize between neighborhoods. They are sexually active
and sex, as Brenneman notes, is a powerful cover for the shame in a teenager’s life. Most of their
fights are over girls. The circle ritual is a Group way to resolve conflict one-on-one without
weapons and maintain solidarity. The circle is a symbolic boundary to reinforce that disputes are
to be resolved internally within each neighborhood group.
A Group member fears the loss of a fight to another member. His concern is that he will be
shamed and lose respect. He recruits help. His action is a violation of established neighborhood
norms for the circle and results in expansion of the fight to involve a large number of individuals in
Someone is killed. The result is the formation of two separate gangs: Blue Hill and Stone
Cold. Hakim’s group would henceforth have two identities: a personal identity within the
neighborhood as a group of friends (“the Group”); and a combat-focused inner city social identity
as the “Stone Cold Gang”. This renaming process is a form of what Goffman defines as cognitive
recognition: “the placing of an individual, whether as having a particular social identity or a
particular personal identity”.
When a beloved gang member is murdered, the Hakim’s gang members collectively feel
violated, stigmatized and shame from the loss. The gang commits to a pact to overcome their
shame by transforming their collective emotional energy into a behavior that will restore gang
solidarity and respect. They decide to restrict membership to only those they know from the Stone
Cold neighborhood; to end the circle ritual; to collectively defend each member as a group; and
to use guns. These dynamics fit what Brenneman labels as a successful interaction ritual: bodily copresence, high barriers to outsiders, mutual focus of attention, and a shared mood. Brenneman
observes that a gang member sees his participation in defensive gang violence as an act of
masculine sacrifice on behalf of the gang. In the act of violence, gang members deepen their
shared identity as family and prove their worth and belonging individually. The Shame-Rage
theory of Thomas Scheff, James Gilligan, Rich and Gray, and Elijah Anderson support my analysis
of this aspect of Hakim’s life.
Hakim and the gang, motivated by the potential of making a lot of money and
gaining respect, decide to sell crack. With no vision for his future other than death or jail, the goal
of gaining respect through the lucrative crack business effectively masks the shame from their own
From age seventeen to twenty-two Hakim endures the constant hardship of hospitalizations
from wounds and jail. Scrutiny from the Boston Police has intensified. He begins to have the same
misgivings about gang life as the gang members in Brenneman’s study. In response to his
grandmother’s promptings, Hakim entertains the notion of abruptly changing his life, becoming a
Christian, and leaving the gang. He fails to follow through.
Imprisoned and faced with a 40-60 year federal prison sentence, Hakim experiences what
Goffman calls “a turning point” in his life termed a life event. He is again encouraged by his
grandmother to keep his promise, dedicate his life to God, and leave gang life. Without anyone
else to trust, Hakim makes the decision to unconditionally trust God with his life. Brenneman would
term Hakim’s Christian conversion as a “bridge burning event”, similar to that experienced by the
Central American gang members.
Hakim is subsequently freed from jail on a technicality, keeps his promise and leaves the
gang. He gives all his money and gang paraphernalia to his gang and begins his new moral
career (Goffman) by attending his grandparents’ church. He demonstrates the authenticity of his
Christian lifestyle with his church attendance and a neater personal appearance. Unarmed he
forgives his enemies face-to-face and declares to them that his life changed. His decisions save
Hakim from the morgue rule (Brenneman). Hakim manages his identity by “voluntarily disclosing
himself” (Goffman), and transforming his situation from that of an individual with information to
manage, to that of an individual with uneasy situations to manage; from that of a discreditable
person to that of a discredited one.
Hakim’s church provides almost no social life for him. His personal identity (Goffman) is
known through identification as a grandson to church elders; his social identity, as a former gang
member, brings fear. A friend introduces him to God’s Posse. God’s Posse is a local Christian
evangelical ministry that intervenes in the lives of Boston gang members. God’s Posse mirrors
Brenneman’s Central American local evangelical church: it has a cell-type structure; it encourages
social bonding; and its leaders provide life skills support to address members’ basic needs. It
provides Hakim with love, acceptance, and practical counsel to support his new Christian lifestyle.
Participation in God’s Posse provides Hakim with a sustained transformative Christian conversion
experience with faith-based Christian interaction ritual chains (Brenneman) including collective
prayer and worship.
For the first time in his life unbound from shame, Hakim is able to move forward with a
vision for his future beyond what he previously thought possible. Hakim learns to apply the moral
truths taught to the practical affairs of life. His honesty about his past impresses a prospective
employer and brings him a job that has become a twenty year career. Hakim finds the
acceptance and solidarity in God’s Posse that he sought with his gang affiliation. Like the local
evangelical churches of Brenneman’s study, God’s Posse teaches Hakim to feel free to express the
shameful hurt and disgust from his childhood and assures him that he will still keep his manhood
and not lose respect; as well as the importance of forgiving his enemies or abusers for his own
peace of mind and to be free from the past.
Hakim Reynolds’s life history consistently validates the theories of Erving Goffman and
Robert Brenneman with regards to: the conditions that facilitate his stigmatization; how Hakim
internalizes this stigma into the emotion shame; how when he represses or covers his shame with
the quest for respect, it becomes pathological and produces his history of gang violence. Hakim
Reynolds’s renewed life also validates Brenneman’s conclusions regarding the transformative value
that the Christian conversion experience provides to reconcile personal shame.
It is this researcher’s conclusion that repressed shame, imposed by violence, abuse, or
neglect, is the primary personal risk factor that drives a relatively small percentage of Boston’s
inner city African American and Latino young men to join violent gangs and to progress into roles
as violent impact players. Other factors that enhance that pathological path are the code of the
street/desire for respect, the culture of violence, trauma, poverty, and pre-existing family gang
In the future I would like to pursue study of the following subjects:
Results from further application of the Youth Violence Systems Project computer model.
Hakim Reynolds’s Christian ministry to gang members.
Acceptance of former gang members into the Christian church community.
Lives of children of gang members.
Results of school-based interventions for high-risk students.
The relationship of shame to the drive for respect among inner city African American and
The urban African-American Evangelical Church role in building self-esteem in AfricanAmerican males
City of Boston National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Youth Violence Prevention and
Reduction Comprehensive City Plan (2011, April):6-7
David M. Kennedy, Anthony A. Braga, and Anne M. Piehl, The (Un)known Universe: Mapping
Gang and Gang Violence, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard University (2004):234
My Father’s House Ministry Mission Statement, March 2010
“Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs”, Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December
“What are risk factors?” OJJDP Strategic Planning Tool
http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/SPT/FAQ) Howell, J. C., Preventing and Reducing Juvenile
Delinquency: A Comprehensive Framework (2009, 2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
[Howell, J. C., and Egley, A., Jr. (2005). “Moving Risk Factors into Developmental Theories of
Gang Membership.” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 3(4):334–354.]
Goffman, Stigma, Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Touchstone ed. (New
York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1973):1-4
op. cit. 2
op. cit. 7
Brenneman, Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America, (New York, NY
op. cit. 88-89
op. cit. 175-183
op. cit. 74
Michael Blanding, Growing Up in Gangland, Boston Magazine, January 2004:1
Winship, End of a Miracle? Crime, Faith, and Partnership in Boston in the 1990’s,
Harvard University, (March 2002):2 [Statistics provided by the Boston Police Department]
op. cit. 229
op. cit. 231-232
op. cit. 231
op. cit. 230
op. cit. 230-231
op. cit. 232
op. cit. 235
op. cit. 237
op. cit. 238
op. cit. 240
op. cit. 240
op. cit. 240
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document/Boundaries, Sec1:14, Youth Violence Systems
Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document/Boundaries, Sec1:15, Youth Violence Systems
Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [Census 2000 Summary File 1
(SF 1) 100-Percent Data. PCT12. SEX BY AGE  - Universe: Total population].
op. cit. 5
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document/History, Sec1:5-7, [Hillel Levine and Lawrence
Harmon, The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions, 34-42, pb.
edition (New York: The Free Press, 1993)]
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document/History, Sec1:9, [Hillel Levine and Lawrence
Harmon, The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions, 50, pb.
edition (New York: The Free Press, 1993)]
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document /History, Sec1:11, The Youth Violence Systems
Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [The Boston Plan:
Revitalization of a Distressed Area: Blue Hill Avenue (Boston: City of Boston, 1987), I-9]
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document /Family Structure, Sec1:19, The Youth Violence
Systems Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [Data Set: Census
2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data. P28. RELATIONSHIP BY HOUSEHOLD TYPE FOR
THE POPULATION UNDER 18 YEARS  - Universe: Population under 18 years. Chart does not
include children living in group quarters or children who were spouses or householders].
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document /Family Structure, Sec1:20, The Youth Violence
Systems Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [Data Set: Census
2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data. P28. RELATIONSHIP BY HOUSEHOLD TYPE FOR
THE POPULATION UNDER 18 YEARS  - Universe: Population under 18 years. Chart does not
include children living in group quarters or children who were spouses or householders.]
Demuth and Susan L. Brown, “Family Structure, Family Processes, and Adolescent
Delinquency: The Significance of Parental Absence versus Parental Gender,” Journal of Research
in Crime and Delinquency 41, No. 1 (February 2004):58-81
Apel and Catherine Kaukinen, “On the Relationship between Family Structure and
Antisocial Behavior: Parental Cohabitation and Blended Households,” Criminology 46, No. 1
Represent a Significant Alternative Social System”, Youth Violence Systems Project,
Special Edition Review (2010):48, The Youth Violence Systems Project, Applied Evaluation
Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, www.gettingtotheroots.org
op. cit. 7
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document /Economics and Income, Sec1:21, The Youth
Violence Systems Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [Census
2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data. P87. POVERTY STATUS IN 1999 BY AGE  Universe: Population for whom poverty status is determined]
Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document /Economics and Income, Sec1:22, The Youth
Violence Systems Project (2010), Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center [Census
2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data; P64. PUBLIC ASSISTANCE INCOME IN 1999 FOR
HOUSEHOLDS  - Universe: Households]
Boston Public Schools Desegregation-era Records Collection, 1952-2004; bulk: 1975-2000
McArdle, Theresa Osypuk, and Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Prospects For Equity in Boston
Public Schools’ School Assignment Plans,1, The Diversitydata.org Issue Brief, September 2010
Vorse Wilka, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Analyzing Zero Tolerance School
Discipline Policies and Identifying Strategic Opportunities for Intervention, Part One, Harvard
University Kennedy School, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston (September 2011):2-3
Vorse Wilka, op. cit. 3
Vorse Wilka, op. cit. 3
Vorse Wilka, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Analyzing Zero Tolerance School
Discipline Policies and Identifying Strategic Opportunities for Intervention, Part One, Harvard
University Kennedy School Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston (September 2011):2-3
[Goertz, Pollack, & Rock (1996), Who drops out of high school and why?: Finds from a national
study, Teachers College Record, 87, 357-73]
Anderson, The Code of the Streets, The Atlantic Magazine (May 1994)
YVSP Model Overview” Youth Violence Systems Project, Special Edition Review, The Youth
Violence Systems Project, Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, (2010):13-14,
J. Scheff, “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System”, The American
Sociological Review, Vol.53, No. 3 (June 1988):401 [Lewis, Helen, Shame, Guilt and Neurosis]
op. cit. 86-88
op. cit. 5
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op. cit. 23
op. cit. 112-113,145
op. cit. 90
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op. cit.:88[Thomas Scheff, 1991, Microsociology: Discourse, Emotion, and Social
Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press]
Gilligan MD, “Shame, Guilt, and Violence”, Social Research, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter 2003)
Papachristos, “Murder by Structure: Dominance Relations and the Social Structure of
Gang Homicide”, American Journal of Sociology (July 2009):75-76
A. Rich MPH and Courtney Gray BS, “Pathways to Recurrent Trauma Among Young Black
Men: Traumatic Stress, Substance Abuse, and the ‘Code of the Street’”, American Journal of Public
Health (May 2005):1-8
D. Levitt and Sudhir A.Venkatesh, “An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang’s
Finances”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics (August 2000):758
op. cit. 100
op. cit. 122-132
op. cit. 38-39
op cit. 179
op. cit. 175-187
op. cit. 32-39
op. cit. 168-171
op. cit. 136
op. cit. 139-143
op cit. 156
Jacobs, Running with God’s Posse, Boston Globe, June 27, 1996
op. cit. 100
Boston TenPoint Coalition Website, www.bostontenppoint.org
Boston TenPoint Coalition Website, www.bostontenppoint.org
Violence Systems Project website, www.gettingtotheroots.org
op. cit. 9
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF RESEARCH
Anderson, Elijah, The Code of the Streets, The Atlantic Magazine (May 1994)
Apel, Robert and Kaukinen, Catherine “On the Relationship between Family Structure and
Antisocial Behavior: Parental Cohabitation and Blended Households,” Criminology 46, No.1
Blanding, Michael Growing Up in Gangland, Boston Magazine, January 2004
The Boston Public Schools Desegregation-era Records Collection, 1952-2004; bulk: 1975-200047
Comments that I heard directly from numerous African-American parents during the time that I
served as an elected representative on the Citywide Parent Advisory Committee (CPAC) created
by the court to monitor desegregation of the BPS.
Braga, Anthony A, Hureau, David, and Winship, Christopher Losing Faith? Police, Black Churches,
and the resurgence of Youth Violence in Boston, Harvard University Kennedy School Rappaport
Institute for Greater Boston (2008)
Brenneman, Robert Homies and Hermanos: God and Gangs in Central America, (New York, NY
Bridgewater, Khary, Peterson, Steve, McDevitt, Hemenway, Dave, Bass, Jeffrey, Bothwell, Paul,
and Everdell, Ros, “A Community-Based Systems Learning Approach to Understanding Youth
Violence in Boston” (2011)
Church Ministry Mission Statement, March 2010
City of Boston National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, Youth Violence Prevention and
Reduction Comprehensive City Plan (2011, April)
Demuth, Stephen and Brown, Susan L., “Family Structure, Family Processes, and Adolescent
Delinquency: The Significance of Parental Absence versus Parental Gender,” Journal of Research
in Crime and Delinquency 41, No. 1 (February 2004)
Foster, Pacey C., HIP-HOP IN THE HUB: HOW BOSTON RAP REMAINED UNDERGROUND
The story of Boston’s hip-hop community from 1979-2000, VERSION 2.0 University of
Massachusetts Boston (May 5, 2011)
“Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs”, Juvenile Justice Bulletin (Dec. 2010)
”Gangs Represent a Significant Alternative Social System”, Youth Violence Systems Project,
Special Edition Review (2010):48, The Youth Violence Systems Project, Applied Evaluation
Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, www.gettingtotheroots.org
Gilligan MD, James, “Shame, Guilt, and Violence”, Social Research, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter 2003)
Goffman, Erving Stigma, Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Touchstone ed. (New
York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1973)
Grove Hall Neighborhood Briefing Document/ The Youth Violence Systems Project (2010), Applied
Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, Boston, MA
Harmon, Lawrence, Crack Cocaine Left Scars On Boston, Boston Globe, April 17, 2011
Jacobs, Sally Running with God’s Posse, Boston Globe, (June 27, 1996)
Kennedy, David M., Braga, Anthony A., and Piehl, Anne M. The (Un)known Universe: Mapping
Gang and Gang Violence, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, John F. Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard University (2004)
Levitt, Steven D. and Venkatesh, Sudhir A., “An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang’s
Finances”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics (August 2000)
Media and Violence, Facts and Figures,, The Youth Violence Systems Project (2010), Applied
Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, www.gettingtotheroots.org [Anderson, Craig A.,
Leonard Berkowitz, Edward Donnerstein, L. Rowell Huesmann, James D. Johnson, Daniel Linz, Neil
M. Malamuth, and Ellen Wartella. “The Influence of Media Violence on Youth.” Psychological
Science in the Public Interest. 4.3 (2003)]
McArdle, Nancy, Osypuk, Theresa, and Acevedo-Garcia, Dolores, Prospects For Equity in Boston
Public Schools’ School Assignment Plans,1, The Diversitydata.org Issue Brief, September 2010
Papachristos, Andrew “Murder by Structure: Dominance Relations and the Social Structure of
Gang Homicide”, American Journal of Sociology (July 2009)
Rich MPH, John and Gray BS, Courtney, “Pathways to Recurrent Trauma Among Young Black Men:
Traumatic Stress, Substance Abuse, and the ‘Code of the Street’”, American Journal of Public
Health (May 2005)
Scheff,. Thomas J. “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System”, The American
Sociological Review, Vol.53, No. 3 (June 1988):401 [Lewis, Helen, Shame, Guilt and Neurosis]
“What are risk factors?”, OJJDP Strategic Planning Tool
http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/SPT/FAQ), Howell, J. C., Preventing and Reducing Juvenile
Delinquency: A Comprehensive Framework Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2009, 2nd ed.)
Wilka, Jennifer Vorse, Dismantling the Cradle to Prison Pipeline: Analyzing Zero Tolerance School
Discipline Policies and Identifying Strategic Opportunities for Intervention, Part One, Harvard
University Kennedy School, Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston (September 2011)
Winship, Christopher, End of a Miracle? Crime, Faith, and Partnership in Boston in the 1990’s
Harvard University (March 2002)
The YVSP Model Overview” Youth Violence Systems Project, Special Edition Review, The Youth
Violence Systems Project, Applied Evaluation Systems, Emmanuel Gospel Center, (2010