Alex: To start with, tell us how it works here. The system and stuff: The organization and leaders…
Deng: Well there’s not really a leader. It’s just the older guys in charge. At the technical college they initiate you into the gang when you’re a first-year. It’s like, “OK, go get all the auto mechanics. Round ’em up, then drop them off in front of such-and-such school.” Then it’s like, “Go make some people bleed or don’t come back. There are five of you, so take five blades.”
*Alex: What are the blades like?*
Deng: You know… cleavers, blunt heads, daggers, box cutters, machetes, whatever. Short knives. We had a gun stash too.
Alex: What do guns cost?
Deng: Back then, around $200.
Ngam: But most of the time, we make them ourselves, because it’s a tech school. This guy in the metal shop does this, that guy does that—you make your own guns. Design them, make them.
Alex: So when did shit start to get real heavy for you, fight-wise?
Pravat: Well, there were these concerts. Like, each gang would roll 200 to 300 deep. My crew brought two buses.
Pravat: At the time, bus fare was five baht per head. So 200 seats, that’s already what, 1,000 baht? So we’d give them a couple hundred extra so they wouldn’t have to make any stops.
Alex: So it’s like a private bus. What sort of music did you play?
Pravat: There’s no stereo on these buses, so we’d usually sing.
Deng: Yeah, you sing the school song, and then there are dis songs for other schools. It’s like a football club. You cheer your team and trash the other team.
Alex: How do you know what school someone’s from?
Deng: Every tech school has different shirts. So you just ride around town and if you see someone you stop and—
Alex: —bust out the clubs!
Pravat: Actually, no one uses clubs anymore, just knives and guns. We make bombs too. They’re called ping-pong bombs and they’ve got glass in them. I know this one guy who got brain damage from making so many bombs.
Alex: From all the noise?
Pravat: Well, that and all the shrapnel he’s taken in the face and head.
John: Are the fights inevitable?
Pravat: Not really. It’s more like you’re out with your crew, and you end up looking to see if there’s any other crew as big as yours.
John: If you outnumber them, but they have guns, do you still go?
Pravat: Yeah. But if you get shot, you’re fucked. If somebody else gets shot, you have to avenge him.
Alex: You remember the guy’s face and then go back and get him?
Pravat: Not really. It’s more like that whole school shot your friend, so you have to take your revenge on the whole school. They become like a permanent enemy of your school, so whenever you see one of them, you have to try to kill him. It doesn’t have to be the guy who actually pulled the trigger.
John: What if you see someone from that school, but he’s a total bookworm wimp? Are there, like, noncombatant guys?
Pravat: Doesn’t matter.
John: What if it’s a girl?
Pravat: I don’t fuck with girls.
Deng: If she’s really annoying or fucked-up, I’ll spit in a girl’s face.
John: Are you allowed to fuck girls from someone else’s turf? Does that cause problems?
Ngam: Not as much as you’d think. It’s actually a status thing. Like if you live in Bang Bua and you get a girl from Bang Kapi, you get props. But you have to take her home afterward…
Pravat: It’s worth it. Cause if you get beat up, no big deal. And if you don’t, you get pussy and props. Like if you’re sitting around drinking with your crew and you have a girl from another district, you’re the man. Especially if she’s a high school girl. Then you get bonus points.
John: So the older gangsters are the ones who got you into banging. How do you give back to the community and teach the younger kids the tricks of the trade?
Pravat: The most important thing to instill in them is a sense of pride and respect. That’s what it’s all about. Initially, with young bloods, you kind of push them into shit. Everything we do is a sort of test to see how far you are willing to go for the crew. So the older guys send the younger guys to different schools to cause trouble. You have to push these kids into fights to see what they’re made of. Sometimes you do it yourself. It’s called jumping them in. You see how much they can take—how much blood they’re willing to spill.
Alex: Are there guys who’ve graduated but still hang around and bang with the younger guys?
Pravat: Of course. You don’t just leave it. Mostly because people won’t let you. When there’s a beef, you always get a phone call.
Deng: More than half of the gang population is older guys. Lots of them keep their school shirts even if they’ve been kicked out. And they’ll wear them because they want people to step to them. A lot of them don’t have jobs, so they’re bored.
Pravat: Tech is like a religion. It’s an establishment that you’ve got to respect. It’s something sacred. You feel it when you’re in.
Alex: What are some basic reasons to stomp a guy around here?
Pravat: I hate when a guy’s hair is too spiked up. I’ll fuck him up if I see that. Or stupid shoes. I hate that too. Annoying pants. I can’t stand any of that. It really bothers me in the worst way. It’s a bother to the soles of my feet, like I just can’t deal with it. Cross-eyed motherfuckers too. Hate them.
Alex: OK, let’s talk about the most recent incident, where you all stomped a guy to death. That’s why we’re here.
Deng: We were at this one spot that’s actually a real hot spot for tech-school students and gang violence. A lot of shit goes down there. It’s got a bunch of small beer spots and outdoor food spots, like beer-garden-style, all piled in next to each other on both sides of this one street. “Gang row,” it’s called. We were at the dingiest of all the spots. It’s the most fucked-up little rathole, but a popular spot nonetheless.
Pravat: The good thing is that it’s on our turf. Whenever there’s a big beef, like a real big beef, we usually gather up there first.
Alex: OK, but let’s get back to the stomping.
Pravat: There were some older guys at the noodle shop across the street. They were all drunk and one of them started talking trash to my friend who was getting an order of noodle soup. The old guy told our friend that he was too young to be out. He said, “You should go home and suck your momma’s titty.” So our friend came back across the street and told us.
Alex: So these guys were tech students too?
Pravat: No, they were adults. They weren’t even tech. They were old. And there were actually a ton of them. They were all wasted.
Alex: Were you scared?
Pravat: Not really. We just walked across the street. We didn’t have any weapons, but I found a pipe in the back of a truck. We walked right in, my friend pointed the guy out, and we started bashing him. We could tell he wasn’t scared. He fought back hard. Luckily, I hit his knee. That’s when he fell down. My friend took the pipe from my hand and bashed the side of his head in, right around his ear. There were about eight of us around him. That’s like the most you can get around a guy without overcrowding. The other guys wanted to get in on it, but there wasn’t enough room. Most of the other adults were shocked once he hit the ground and started bleeding. They realized what was happening, and they couldn’t do anything.
Alex: How long did you beat him for?
Pravat: It couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes. I told my friend to toss the pipe, and we just kept beating him. Stomping his face, his nuts, his legs. It was real bad.
Deng: Honestly, he only died cause he fought back hard. I don’t think we would have beaten him so badly if he hadn’t acted so hard.
Pravat: I got real lucky the day the cops nabbed everyone. These guys weren’t there. I was at that same place across the street. I happened to be in the bathroom. When I walked out, there were about 15 cops circling our table, arresting people. I slipped right passed them and walked out. My friend with the pipe got 20 years.
Alex: So how many of your crew got arrested that day?
Pravat: About 10 or 12. I think the people from the noodle shop fingered my crew. They’re all in prison now, with different sentences. Some got 10 years, some got 15. My friend with the pipe got the most. One guy actually got away somehow. I’m not sure how. He’s on the run and no one’s heard from him since.
At this point, the stompers adjourned to the snooker table.
COMPILED BY VICE STAFF