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Street Wars: Gangs and the Future of Violence


The renowned activist's impassioned look at gangs and youth violence in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

A gripping and honest account of the culture of gangs, Street Wars is essential reading for anyone concerned about cities, violence, and the future of urban youth. Though never officially acknowledged, over 25,000 young people have died in America's gang wars since 1980. In cities across America, members of the Crips, Bloods, Mara ...
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The renowned activist's impassioned look at gangs and youth violence in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

A gripping and honest account of the culture of gangs, Street Wars is essential reading for anyone concerned about cities, violence, and the future of urban youth. Though never officially acknowledged, over 25,000 young people have died in America's gang wars since 1980. In cities across America, members of the Crips, Bloods, Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street, Latin Kings, Blackstone Rangers, and Gangster Disciples are like traumatized war veterans with no way home. Drawn from ten years spent as an activist and public official working to understand and prevent gang violence in Los Angeles, Street Wars is Tom Hayden's searing indictment of the neo-conservative politics of law and order that dominate current policy and suffocate inner-city youth.

Weaving together cutting analysis and numerous firsthand stories from gang leaders, Hayden shows how the prison industrial complex reinforces gang identity through humiliation and punishment, and reveals how globalization has created a force of unemployable men and women around the world who are defined as incorrigible, outside law and community. The final chapters advocate an internal peace process based on ideas of the New Deal to address the devastation of America's urban youth.
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Editorial Reviews

Leslie Kaufman
Hayden can be adept at directing our compassion. He is able to make a hero of sorts out of a dark character like Michael Herrara, a drug addict who risked returning to prison on a parole violation in order to head off a war brewing between gangs in Culver City and Santa Monica.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A California state senator and the founder of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), Hayden (Reunion) infuses this text with the idealism and passion for social justice for which he is well known. His central point is familiar: gang violence in areas like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago stems from the appalling social and economic conditions of inner-city life. But his exploration of the gang phenomenon's sociology is somewhat less tired: Hayden shows gang members, or homies, banding together to find connection, understanding and respect that is denied to them through pathways and social codes controlled by the more affluent. He includes vivid and involved anecdotes of the kind of gangland peacemaking attempts that he believes can, in addition to economic and social reform, save lives. He attacks the "tough on crime" mentality that, he charges, has resulted in decades of police brutality to homies and demonized them as urban terrorists. Hayden rambles on, but his arguments about the failures of the war on drugs and of the incarceration of young males to solve the endemic problems of poverty and alienation are compelling. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The growth of street gangs has reached near-epidemic proportions, and theories attempting to explain this growth are often contradictory and inconclusive. Hayden, a former California state senator and lifelong human rights activist, believes that the United States spends too much money attempting to negotiate peace across the globe while ignoring gang warfare domestically. Hayden argues that since the 1970s, U.S. policy has changed its focus from a "war on poverty" to a "be tough on crime" mentality, resulting in a dramatic increase in gang membership and the total numbers of gangsters in prison. His analysis, which stems primarily from his experiences and connections in the political world, provides valuable insights on policy and legislation affecting gang members. Hayden promotes utilizing inner-city peacemakers to negotiate peace treaties among warring gangs, thereby "show[ing] us that alternatives to this deadly cycle are possible." Recommended as an excellent addition to all academic libraries and criminal justice collections. Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565848764
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/19/2004
  • Pages: 430
  • Sales rank: 1,008,505
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 1.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Hayden has been a human rights activist and community organizer since the 1960s. A California state senator for eighteen years, he is also the author of Irish on the Inside, The Zapatista Reader, and Rebel.
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Table of Contents

Foreword : Adelante
1 These dead don't count 1
2 Roses in concrete 18
3 The peace process 37
4 The 1998 Santa Monica - Culver City gang truce 61
5 The demonization crusade 86
6 Hidden histories 153
7 Fruits of war : homies unidos and the globalization of gangs 199
8 Restoring community action 257
9 Education, politics, and the future 310
Afterword : looking for miracles 347
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    The best book ever written on why gangs exist!

    I was skeptical before reading this amazing book that collects many different writings and perspectives on why men are violent and why gangs came to be and continue to thrive. From ex-gang members themselves, find out how and why gangs formed and how society creates the atmosphere that perpetuates them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Liberal Socialiam 101.

    I will give Hayden this he has heart but he has no understanding and his anti -establishment, hippe, 60's rebel notions are tired and he has no understanding. Gangs are my generations problems, Gen X and Y and Hayden and his old Hippie buddies think they have all the answers? They don't have a clue, but because they want to rule with Socialism, which these democrates are, they throw out these ignorant lines and studies from sociologists. My generations head stones litter the grave yards of Amercias graveyards, what does Hayden know about that? We have lost friend after friend to the system what does Hayden know about that? Ten kids die a day by gunfire alone not to mention other weapons, what does Hayden know about that? Hell, at least he raises the issue but if he thinks he understands or has any answers he has deceived himself. This book reads like just a bunch of other academic studies from the 'experts.'

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