Pen Pals - Gang Bangin' Behind the Fence

By Bert Burykill

Once upon a time, I was a mega-privileged white guy from suburban Connecticut, so I’m not really supposed to be into the whole NY jail gang scene. But I got pounded in the pooper by some Upstate New York judge and DA with a stinky three to nine years for my low-level high-jinks. I don’t even understand how I’ve become a New York resident—all I know is I hate this state and the time they gave me. I’m not really into bragging, but because of my incarceration, I now have a generous knowledge of the gang world, especially its existence behind the fence. Now I can share that with people, and that makes me special.

Actually, I don’t know shit… No real gangsters would ever tell me anything. There’s a lot of secrecy involved with what they do, but I’m still an observant cracker who gets along with almost everyone. I don’t wanna offend gang members when I explain that I feel most people get involved with gangs ‘cause they wanna feel like they’re part of something. Chances are they don’t come from a house with support, and they need to feel family love. I’m not goin’ to go look up some stats by some knuckle-dicked sociologist that says 75 percent of gang members come from single-parent households. You do that if you give a fuck or you believe the stats. It seems common sense to me, and I never seriously got approached to join any gang ‘cause I am clearly my own man (and not from a hood known for gangs). I never asked anyone for anything or hung with crowds, I had my own money, and I minded my own business. I’m not a very social being and most of the dudes in gangs were around their homeys 24-7 tellin’ tall tales and doing whatever.

When I got jumped by an undercover douchebag cop in ’04, the first thing he threatened me with was, “who you gonna hang out with in prison… the tough white guy crowd?” I didn’t know what the shit he was talking about, and I still only have a vague idea of what that is now, even after six years of hangin’ with so-called tough white guys. There is no Aryan gang in New York. I’ve heard guys say that they’re AB (Aryan Brotherhood), or Hell's Angels, or Outlaws, or Nazis, but it’s really obsolete.

However, I was friends with many gang members, but we never really discussed that part of their lives. I’m almost just as clueless about them as the average person out in the street. You probably learn more watching Lockup on MSNBC. I’ve never seen anything close to the wild shit that goes on in Cali jails. Things aren’t as segregated in NY. I’ve known white guys who were Blood and Latin King. I just hung with a couple Puerto Ricans who were Outlaw and Latin King and had swastika tattoos.

I could easily be out in the yard, and wander into a circle of Bloods or Latin Kings if I knew one of them even a little and start a conversation or ask a question like “who got green?” There’d be nothing weird about that at all. Race relations are relatively copasetic in NY. I don’t know whether to believe that humans around here are more advanced or if all that shit portrayed on the tube is exaggerated lies. NYC is the center of everything in New York state, and maybe her integrated nature is portrayed most poignantly in the prisons.

The main two gangs are Bloods and Latin Kings. There is a lot of infighting between Bloods, but very little beef between Bloods and Kings. I remember some in 2007 and 2008, but then I heard that they were actually allies. There are not many Crips Upstate, at least at the spots that housed me. From what I hear they are everywhere on Rikers, but disappear when they go up top. They are outnumbered so they either go underground or switch affiliation. Lots of inmates clown on gang members for this reason. Seems like the majority of gang members are younger kids just tryin’ to fit in, or maybe they can’t stand on their own two, so they fall into what seems easiest and join the flock. Plus, lots of them think it’s cool to be in a gang. In the Bloods, older guys become a “big homey” and they either revel in their leadership position or they basically commit friendly extortion of the younger, weaker dudes. I’ve seen them clean lockers out under a friendly guise.

I was lucky to be at jails that were never too violent. The Bloods are the main gang known for violence, but truthfully, they fuck up their own a lot. Lots of dummies come upstate and claim some set or tribe or whatever, and then it's not validated and they get their asses beat. I’ve seen gang members take a beating for fuckin’ up money through drugs or gambling. I always thought if you’re in a gang you wouldn’t get cut if you fucked up the money but I seen dudes get cut ‘cause they don’t repay a debt. Gangs bring a lot of the drugs into prison, and there is a shitdick-ass-cumload of money to be made. Five dollars of weed goes for $50 and the mark-up is similar with all other drugs. Gangs also seem to share the ghetto chicks who visit and smuggle the drugs.

Gangs in jail love to talk about their weapons. Some scary shits are these ceramic scalpels that don’t go off in the metal detectors. These go for a couple hundred in jail, but usually a certain gang tries to hold on to a stash of them. Electrical tape is hard to smuggle out of the vocational classrooms, but it is often done for the purpose of wrapping the blades up and stuffin’ ‘em in the buttpocket. Even masking tape or some other anus-friendly material works. A dude will get a ton of respect if he comes upstate with one of these bangers. Supposedly, they are a lot more prevalent on the Island.

There is a lot more to write on this subject and I’m currently interviewing some friends. In the meantime, here are some cool links with a lot of interesting info.

@BuryKill

Previously - Thinking  Stinks

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