It was 1996. The sun was shining and I had just punched some white kid in the face. I picked up his glasses and threw them down the street as he begged me to stop. I let him get on his bike and said, “You tell your brother to never talk s*** again. Get the f*** outa here.” The kid was innocent. It was his older brother that we had problems with.
The poor kid rode by as we were in an important meeting with another gang. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I looked at my Asian gang friends and the two black O.G.’s who stood in approval. They gave me a cigarette. I loved the feeling of Newport Menthol’s filling up my lungs. Today was an important day for us Southeast Asian gang-bangers. We were getting recruited and indoctrinated into the Gangster Disciples – a very large and mostly black gang operating in much of the Mid-West and East-Coast. Southeast Asians have always been minorities, especially on the streets. We were always outnumbered and overwhelmed by our rivals – another large black gang sporting the color red. We already had our own Asian gang but it made sense to put in some work for the GD’s and have their support.
We moved our initiation indoors. My friend Vee had a house down the street. It was our spot – our haven during the day while Vee’s dad was at work. As you enter the living room you’re greeted with clouds of smoke from cigs and weed. Porn is playing on the T.V. with more tapes staked on the old-school V.C.R. A couple we hardly know is getting it on in Vee’s upstairs bedroom. Another friend is getting his chest tattooed on the kitchen table. The black O.G.’s put the house in order and we all gathered around the table. They began the initiation…or more like indoctrination.
The O.G.’s brought out newspaper clippings and started explaining the history of the Gangster Disciples. They referred to the founders as Kings, showed us pictures and cast vision for rising up against our oppressors. Each person wrote down the holy creed on a piece of paper and was told to burn it after memorizing it. They did an elaborate hand shake with every person and announced that we were now soldiers. They wanted us to put in work by slanging small bags of crack and expanding their marijuana distribution. We agreed to talk about it and they left.
It was just a typical day. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Some of us headed down into the basement to do some target practice. We had one .22 pistol and one .22 long-rifle. While we were taking potshots into bags of dry cement someone ran downstairs and yelled, “The one-time’s outside! They’re rolling deep. We gotta hide!” Everyone scrambled to find a hiding spot. All the good ones were taken and I ended up just squatting in a dark corner.
We could hear the police upstairs. “We’re just looking for anyone under 18. It’s a school day and we know there are people here who are underage.” The police had nothing on us. They were not going to find anything illegal except underage kids who should be in school. The basement lights came on and officers came down the stairs. A few of us stood up.
“How old are you?” they asked me.
“Fifteen.” I lied. I was thirteen.
We were placed in the back of several police cars and they drove us to our schools. They parked at the front entrance and escorted us into the building in front of wide-eyed Jr. Highers. I felt both shame and pride at once. I felt ashamed for getting caught like a rat trapped in a hole but also felt pride for being forced to school by the police – that was totally badass in my book.
That morning I had beaten up an innocent kid, got indoctrinated into a gang army, shot guns in a basement and arrived to school in a police car. Now I was sitting in a classroom listening to an old guy with tight jeans (who knew it would come in style?) talk about algebra. Immediately after school I went back to Vee’s house. This was the path that I was on and there was no deterring me from it. It was going to lead me to one place, destruction, but I didn’t think about that. I took it a day at a time. Like I said, this was just a typical day.