Gangs in Russia , Italy and America


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Gangs in Russia , Italy and America

  1. 1. Gangs in Russia, Italy, and America By Liu Qian (2010300350012) Fang Fei() Xiang Shaofeng (2009300950069) 28-5-2012
  2. 2. Abstract:This paper shows the Russian, Italian, and American gang issue in the aspects of theorigin of the gangs including the cause of the early gangs and some information aboutthe first gangs, the development of the gangs consisting of the characteristics of thegangs, and last but not least, the different influence of the gangs in the three coutries.Respectively, the political and economical infulence in Russian, the cultural infulencein Italy, and three major gangs cities in America.Russian GangsIntroduction:Russian: Русская Мафия, Russian Mafia gangs are typically called "bratki", "bratva"meaning "brotherhood" in Russian. Russian criminals are internationally active in theillegal oil trade, human trafficking, drug trafficking, smuggling of weapons andnuclear material and money laundering.Official reports from Russia express that approximately 8,200 criminal organizationsexist in Russia with their members numbering some 32,000 people(1).Origin and Development:Organized crime has existed in Russia since the days of the Czars and ImperialRussia, taking on the form of banditry and thievery. However, the real breakthroughfor mordern criminal organizations began in 1988, when the Soviet Union legalisedprivate entrepreneurship but said nothing about regulations of market economy. Thus,crude markets started forming.The fall of Soviet Union helped the booming of Mafia. As the Soviet Union headedfor its collapse, so too did the economy. Desperate for money, many formergovernment workers turned to crime and the Russian Mafia became a naturalextension of this trend. Former KGB agents, sportsmen and veterans of the Afghanand First and Second Chechen Wars, joined the increasing crime wave(2). Widespreadcorruption, poverty and distrust of authorities only contributed to the rise of organizedcrime. Contract killings, bombings and kidnappings reached an all-time high withmany gangland murders taking place. The new criminal class of Russia took on amore Westernized and businesslike approach(3).The opening up to the world and the internationalization of its economy also gave theRussian mafia connections to other criminal organizations around the world. Russianorganized crime has spread to many other countries, including Israel, India, Hungary, 2
  3. 3. South Africa, Spain, Thailand (4)and the United Kingdom. For example, there is agang called Armenian Power, or AP-13, a California based street gang and crimesyndicate tied to Russian and Armenian organised crimePolitical and Economical Influence:Louise Shelley, the professor at Georges Masons University, the author of manybooks about the organized crime, had an interview about the political infulence ofRussian mafia. According to him, the popular idea that Russian mafia is patriotic andeven helps the state to struggle with enemies of people is right. Just like Japaneseyakudza cooperated with authority before the Second World war, the American mafiaduring the same the Second World helped authorities to provide trouble-free work ofocean ports, the Russian mafia also have close connections with the authorities. Dueto it the organized crime also survives, pleasing authorities - otherwise, authoritieswill try to get rid of it. And it’s probably a distinctive feature of Russia where peoplewith the criminal past easily become politicians. Leaders of criminal groupings aspireto authority because the law provides protection against the criminal liability with thatwho borrows the high-ranking posts(5).As for the economy respective, according to James Ruth , organized crime hasworked its way through openings provided by the transition economy to become asetback to the Russian society and economy(6). Its existence disables successfuleconomic reform by influencing important issues such as competition,entrepreneurship, capital flight, the shadow economy, and violence. Moreover, Russiahas beaten world records on consumption of drugs per capita, which will certainlybadly influence the health of the nation; trade in women deprives Russia of its futurefor the birth rate will likely to decrease, also promotes distribution of AIDS(7) . To allother, Russian mafia has huge negative influence on economy. It is estimated thatthere are some 50,000 companies in Russia that are controlled by organized crimegroups and that these groups control 40% of Russias gross national product in2005(8).Italian gangsIntroduction:Among all the gangs in the world, Italian mafia is the largest and the most notoriousone which has the most rigorous organization and the deepest influence.Origin and Developments: 3
  4. 4. The gang was first created in Sicily in feudal times to protect the estates of landlordswho were out of town. Over time, the organization gradually turned to sinistergangs(9).Despite its notorious reputation in reality, the term ‘Italian mafia’ gradually developedinto a dramatic as well as an attractive phenomenon in modern culture. As the desire,need, brutality, wisdom, and style of what we know as the ‘Italian mafia’ start toattract literary and normal audiences, the mafia members themselves start to changebecause of the society’s opinions about the ‘cultural mafia’. In a sense, the mafiaphenomenon in popular culture was formed by people and intended to serve as thepublic’s entertainment, in the meantime, people’s mixed views of the real mafia andthe imaginary version of them enable the mafia members to change.Popular culture on Italian gangs:Popular culture today can be divided into two main branches: literature and movies.Accordingly, the cultural mafia can be divided to its part in literature and its part inthe movies. But how was the cultural mafia created? Most literary works concerningmafia are based on real mafia members, quite a proportion of them are biographies ofthe lives of notable figures in the history of mafia.In a sense, the appearance of numerous books about mafia starts to reveal the realmafia to the audience, who, before this period had only been put in touch with thelives of mafia members through news reports from crime scenes or rumors spread bythe police which intend only on capturing the mafia members. And when people startto grow interests on mafia, the real and limited descriptions about them cannot satisfytheir curiosity, thus people begin to add on some features which they think wouldmake the mafia more charming and culturally commercial, in this way, the culturalmafia gradually evolved from mere literary figures to figures in the theatre. TheGodfather, for example, opens a door for more people to know the world of Italianmafia. The movie picked out some shining points of the godfather(wisdom, courage,calmness, honesty, love of the family, fond of honor, even the enchanting dressingstyle ) and applied artistic styles to magnify them, in the meantime tried to ignoreeven optimized his dark sides(brutality, contempt on the law and social rules),therefore successfully creating an popular image of mafia in its cultural sense.Now, since we already talked about how the cultural mafia is formed and how itsucceeded in attracting audiences, what about the audience’s or the popular beliefs ofmafia’s influence on real mafia? As the businesses of Italian mafia are still mainlyoperated underground, we cannot tell what change has taken place in the inside of itsorganization, but as the audience is more a fan of the elegancy, wisdom of Italianmafia, modern mafia members are gradually changing: the modern underworld crimeof today consists of business men and women with a strong knowledge of computers. 4
  5. 5. Old world ways such as killing, riots, and vendetta have been done away with(10).‘Mobsters’ at present are highly educated extortionists dressed in fine suites.However, no matter how attractive and innocent the Italian mafia seems in popularbelief today, their image of wisdom, elegancy and honor is only one part of them. Thedifference between literature and real life is the difference between people’simagination and the intricate reality. While admiring Al Pacino’s performance on thescreen, we still need to realize and accept every side of the Italian mafia: they are notcompletely monsters, but they are also not entirely innocent.American gangsIntroduction:ImmigrationThere have been a large number of immigrants in the United States knowns as"melting pot"(11). Among the immigrants, in order of priority, the Irish, Italian,African, Mexican, and Chinese have their own gangs in America, which have takenup a large proportion of all the gangs.ProblemsAfter many European migrated to the East coast of America for a better life, thesavings of them was quickly depleted and many were forced to take out loans withlocal merchants and colonization companies, who charged steep interest rates. Life forthe migrants was more difficult than they imagined. Many of them died due topoverty and disease. And there were also many who died orphaning their children. Itbecame a common problem in many cities that there is no money to send the childrenback to their homeland and not any relative to care for them in America.At the same time, some immigrants formed some certain kind of clubs as a means ofself-protection. Then lots of immigrants and the orphaned children got involved in theclubs. And the clubs began bigger and bigger.CharacteristicsOne of the earliest and most frequently definition of a gang is made by Thrasher(1927). Thrasher(12) defined a gang as a group that forms spontaneously and withoutany special attachment to existing parts of the society.Gangs tend to have many common characteristics. Residence is a commoncomponent. Most gangs will be formed in cities. Another common characteristic ingangs is the age of their members. Gangs are mostly comprised of teenagers or young 5
  6. 6. adults in their early twenties. Gender can be considered among the commoncharacteristics as well. Gangs tend to male dominated. Millens (1975) (13) nationalstudy found that over 90% of gang members were male. At last, gangs reflect theirethnic composition quite often. There are gangs that formed on the basis of theirethnicity such as the Latin Kings and the Chinese gangs.Three Major CitiesBrief ViewsGangs are usually found in large cities. They have been flourished as well as the largecities. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are most typical among the cities. Thenumber of gangs in the three cities has been always ranked on the top. For example, in1900s, there were approximately 2,000 gangs in the whole country while there wereabout 1,500 gangs in the three cities. That is to say, the number of gangs in the threecities took up about 75% of the country.New YorkAs the place of origin, New York has an important position in America gang history.Besides the Five Point Gang, there was another big gang at the same time. That is theForty Thieves Gang operated as professional murders, smugglers, burglars andpickpockets. In 1985, the Forty Thieves Gang(14) and many other youth gangs causedNew York City officials to announce their city had a gang problem.By the 1850s, gangs such as the Plug Uglies Gang(15), the Dead Rabbits and theChichesters Gng were formed which were established by the Irish and Italian. At thesame time, the gang problem was virtually described as an Irish and Italian problem.Then the gangs in New York spead and influenced other cities like Chicago.Since 1900s, because the Irish and Italian have not considered second-class citizensand the government has taken some strong actions, the gang problem in New Yorkseems less serious. But there are still some African, Chinese and Mexican gang crimesheard in New York.ChicagoChicago is referred to as the largest gang cities in America. Gangs have beenclassically viewes as a by-product of social disorganization, the weakness oftraditional institution, like the school, to replace the lost primary networks of thetraditional world.Race profoundly shaped the history and contours of Chicagos gangs. While otherethnic groups were on the ladder of assimilation, African American were crowed into 6
  7. 7. the south side "Black Belt"(16). As WWI brought an increasing number of AfricanAmerican into Chicago to find work, tensions rose. In 1919 a rare riot broke outspearheaded by Irish gangs. In the following years, African American would staysegregated, while European did not. Violence met attempts by Black families to moveout of apartheid conditions into White areas. Mexican immigrants also came at thistime.In the 1920s, Italian replaced the Irish on the top of the rackets. The Irish ran the legalpolitics and the Italians ran the illegal one. They worked together just fine. In 1950s,the spaces of the city began to be more sharply contested, as the number of AfricanAmerican had grown so large. At the same time, most White gangs faded away. And itcan be seen both an involvement of Black and Latin gangs in the backgroundeconomy nowadays.Chicago is a gang city. Form the European immigrant gangs to African and Mexicangangs, the Chicagos gangs have institutionalized.Los AngelesCompared with New York and Chicago, Los Angeles is a young gang city but it is thenew warm bed for gangs to grow. And it has become increasingly significant in thedevelopment of the American gangs. Its history of gangs began and Mexican streetgangs began to be formed and became major gangs in Los Angeles. Because therewere no Irish and Italian gangs influence in the new city, the city has come to becomethe base for Black and Mexican gangs.ConclusionThe origin of the gangs were colsely related to the political and economical events, sodid the developments of them. Certainly the gangs have negative influence on thepeople of the country, but that does not explain all of them. The influence of Italiangangs in the cultural respective shows a different role of the gangs. And how are thegangs in big cities? The description of the three major America gang cities potrays aclose picture of it. The complexity keeps us from make a prediction of the gangsthrough a 2000 words paper reserch, but for sure we will keep an eye on them throughwhat we have collected. 7
  8. 8. Reference:(1) BBC News - The Rise and rise of the Russian mafia(3) Vory v Zakone has hallowed place in Russian criminal lore.(4) Foreign Mafia in Thailand Thomas Schmid, Thailand Law Forum(5) ‘Italian Mafia’ in Reports & Essays: History - European History, 18, Jan, 2010 %5CItalian_Mafia-322057.htm [accessed 22, 05, 2012].(10) ‘Italian Mafia’ in Reports & Essays: History - European History, 18, Jan, 2010 %5CItalian_Mafia-322057.htm [accessed 22, 05, 2012].(11) 8