A social media threat has put the Los Angeles gang landscape on blast as news agencies around the world report on the catchy, terrifying slogan percolating on Twitter and Instagram: #100Days100Nights. It may sound more like a movie title than a reality on the street, but a spate of shootings in South LA since the emergence of the slogan—which refers to alleged plans by rival gangs to see who can rack up 100 kills first—has residents on edge, to say the least.
The Daily Beast reported earlier this week that the twisted murder challenge is essentially a retaliatory war for vengeance after the murder of 27-year-old Kenneth Peevy—known as "KP"—on Friday, July 17. That killing followed a film of a fight KP was involved in being posted on his Instagram page. Another local former gangbanger, Del Dog—a Main Street Mafia OG who had become an anti-gang advocate—was killed on July 8.
But conversations with locals, gang experts, and law enforcement suggest that, so far at least, the social media threat is just that—a mostly internet-based phenomenon, albeit one that is having some ripple effects on the street.
"Social media takes a big toll on the community when everybody is seeing it and everybody is paying attention to it," Reynaldo Reaser, executive director of Reclaiming America's Communities through Empowerment (RACE), a South LA–based gang intervention organization, tells VICE. "Law enforcement is paying attention to it to where they have a level of concern for violence in the area, so they put out a tactical alert on this."
Rightly so. But is the online game actually resulting in an increased body count? The LA Times reports that a series of shootings in South LA left one dead and 12 wounded this past weekend, but also that the bloodshed was largely confined to the city's most traditionally dangerous neighborhoods and did not represent a departure from the normal amount of gang violence.
"To be honest, I haven't seen a lot of violence in the community lately," Freeway Rick Ross, the former drug trafficker and south LA native, tells VICE. "I'm hoping that it doesn't pick up. I've heard about some people getting killed... Del Dog, who is a person that I know very well from childhood... I don't know if they figured out who actually killed him, but there was a lot of speculation behind that, (to see if) that would cause an all-out war between rival gangs."
The feud represents tribalism at its most macabre—pitting a Crips crew, the Rollin 100s—against the 52 (or 5-Deuce) Hoover Gangster Crips. Unless you're involved in the gang culture and live in South LA, it can be difficult to understand the ever-shifting and swirling alliances that change under the slightest provocation, but the Rollin 100s are a conglomerate of Crip street gangs based north of Century Boulevard in South LA. The 5-Deuce Hoover Gangster Crips are a set from the prominent Hoover gang that has historically been major on the west side of South LA. Finally, the Main Street Mafia Crips are said to be based on the Eastside of South LA.
"Most of all the violence is happening north of Imperial," Reynaldo tells VICE. "Several different other neighborhoods have been going at it for over 30 years of war, and just this summer, one individual got killed on 109th and that sparked a retaliation for that death. And during that time, somebody in a tweet or Instagram put a map of the neighborhood where it was located and put Rollin 100s and then somebody used that same map and put a title on top of it that said, 100 Days, 100 Nights of Killing. Did that neighborhood sanction that? No, they didn't. I'm one of the gang interventionists in that area, and no one sanctioned that."
The Los Angeles Police Department shares Reynaldo's assessment that this is likely the work of a few mischief-makers rather than a true gang war.
"We don't have any credible information that these threats are viable except through social media," Officer Liliana Preciado from the LAPD media relations office tells VICE. "Although in South LA there have been several killings, we have no evidence they are related." Still, the sheer magnitude and visibility of the threat has it on everyone's radar.
"It's the 21st century, and this is what it has come to," Kev Mac, an LA native and founder of Allhood magazine—which profiles gangs from the city—tells VICE. "Social media makes it simple for someone insecure about his or her reputation to put a ten on it."
Speaking as a former convict, it's well established that you don't put a crime out there if you're actually going to do it. Why would you put a rival on notice? Old school gangbangers don't report or blast out their crimes. But advertising on Twitter and Instagram is all the rage now, with this generation detailing all their fights for their friends to see, brandishing guns and doing drugs or counting money. It's a voyeuristic world where you're nobody until you have you clips on social media validating your street cred.
"Kids, when they don't get attention, they lash out, and hopefully that's what it is right now," Freeway Rick Ross tells VICE. "Kids lashing out, and hopefully some of our politicians will step up to the plate, some of our celebrities will step up to the plate and see that our kids are desperately needing it and crying out. I do the best I can, but there's other people who have much more influence than I do and I am hoping that we can all come together. I asked the rap community a couple of months ago if we could all come together and try to heal the wounds from our community."
In essence, that's what this is all about—a wounded community. At the heart of this is the poverty and degradation and lack of opportunities that the people of South LA have to deal with on a daily basis. "The black families are hurting in South Los Angeles right now," Kev Mac says.
Other locals genuinely fear the social media campaign is already playing out in the worst way.
"I when I first heard about this 100 days 100 bodies going on in LA, I became sick to my stomach," Clifford "Spud" Johnson, author of Gangsta Twist 3 and a former Blood member, tells VICE. "I mean, come on black men! To hear that innocent people have become targets in that madness makes it even worse. I know the beef with the neighborhood Crips and the Hoovers is serious, but that's just insane! By being a Damu [member of the Bloods] for a real long time, I understand the mindset of the beef in them LA streets, but with time comes wisdom. Especially after doing fed[eral prison] time, my eyes [have] opened to how useless we were to not only ourselves, but to our families and communities."
But Ross is out in the streets everyday, and insists most locals aren't acting on the hashtag, even if it's a source of concern.
"I'm hoping...that it's just some media hype," Ross says. "Because we have enough street violence going on in LA everyday, just the normal everyday street violence. There's enough to shock people already. To have an all-out war—we already have a few wars going on in the streets—but to have one as well organized and targeted as they are saying... would really be dangerous."
While Street Bible Don Diva has weighed in on the matter, calling the #100Days100Nights posts a credible threat—by citing Facebook posts from the community as evidence—law enforcement is publicly downplaying it. As the LA Times reports, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck waved off the idea that social media was driving a surge in gang violence on Wednesday. "Certainly this is a story as old as gang activity in Los Angeles, and had nothing to do with Facebook," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, gang intervention specialists have been hard at work in LA over the last week trying to build trust that will lead to a fresh truce. Reynaldo has been right in the thick of it, and even lives just south of Imperial, where the violence has been more tangible.
"To find out if the threat has any credibility to it, gang interventionists have to go out into the area and find out was that a real threat to the public," Reynaldo explains, adding that he's "come to find out that wasn't a real threat to the public. No gang in this area actually put that out as a threat to the community to harm anybody."
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