And Now A View From the “Crew”

Yesterday we heard a perspective from law enforcement. So, much like the opposing political party gets some air time after the state of the union, today we will hear from a self proclaimed member of a “crew”. Now, I’ve been called every name in the book, and I have very thin skin so I cry a lot, wait I’m getting off track. Point is I certainly don’t want to be accused of not giving all sides a platform. So a big thanks to my neighbor for pointing out this “rant” from Craig’s List in DC. Now, it is from Craig’s List so I obviously can’t vouch for the author but the original post is here. Without further ado:

“I know who I am. You…not really knowing it…hit it right on the nail!
I am a thug. NO!….I do not rob people or steal from anyone. I work a 60 hour week every single day but Sunday…..but I am a thug!
I carry two guns…..yes, I’m a pistol packing black man whose family can walk their neighborhoods without worrying about being attacked, assaulted, harassed, intimidated or molested…..mainly because I’m a KNOWN THUG.
Everyone knows me in 17 of the criminal neighborhoods in metro DC and PG. They know me as well as my 38 friends….or crew as you might want to call it. My grandmother can walk to the store if she wants and not one hoodlum, crackhead or street urchent(did I spell that right)will accost her….they call her by her name….Hi Mrs.So and So! My sisters and cousins can go to any club in the area and not be molested…because everyone knows who her peeps well as members of my crew…their families are safe as well.
None of my female relatives or acquaintances have to worry about abusive boyfriends or husbands and even the most drunkiest dude who disrespects them at a event, club or venue…..just the mention of a name….either mine or a crew member(sic)will make his ass sober up…stutter and apologize profusely!
If by chance and I do mean…by chance….a family member of close friend is killed…..we don’t need the police, the courts, the fancy lawyers or a technical aquital….we will settle our “own justice” and it works!

Let’s say this ‘hypothetical situation’: Two men are found shot to death in seperate locations. the police don’t put two and two together, but when they do they ALWAYS assume it’s a drug deal gone bad (smile).
When in fact… is ‘retribution’ for a street robbery that occurred 6 weeks earlier…a robbery that involved one of our close friends or family members. She’ll never ever have to worry about them coming back to hurt her again or worry about them threatening her or worry about them period.
See problem solved…..not your form of justice….but then again….as you already have stated….I’m thug cultured.”

I just wonder how he rationalizes innocent civilians getting shot in the crossfire of rival crews? And don’t “known thugs” eventually got shot themselves anyway, when someone tries to knock off the big man to show how tough they are?

24 Comment

  • I think the underlying issue in the philosophy of this thug and people like him is that of living in a truly small world. All that really matters stretches from a four block radius to maybe a cluster of neighborhoods.

    There is no aspect of worldliness. There is nothing higher on his social totem pole than to be a big shot crime. boss

    There are so few examples of men who make it to retirement age living the criminal life, but that doesn’t matter to them. There is so much jail and killing that short term is all that matters.

    How do you change that?

  • I’m experiencing some kind of cognitive dissonance between a “thug cultured” man posting a rant on Craigslist. Seems like shenanigans to me.

  • yeah, this sounds like the issue we had earlier in shaw this year where someone was trying to impersonate an older black woman on dcist and some other blogs.

  • Pretty high level vocabulary for someone who can’t spell “urchin” (but who can spell and use correctly “accost,” “hypothetically,” and “retribution.”) I’m not saying that this fake thug isn’t posting some real thoughts of someone out there…but he’s wrong If having a big enough crew around you was enough to protect you, then why would we have any crime problem at all? Everyone would just gang up with their thug protectors (I’d like to be in oden’s gang) and the police could go home.

  • That’s the first admitted gang member I know of that works a 60 hour week. Impressive, he’s got time to gang bang AND bring home the bacon.

  • Ah, justice. Such a illusive concept.

    I don’t know, the rant sounds pretty legit to me. Everyone IS on the interweb these days.

    I was on jury duty earlier this year and we convicted someone who similarly had no need for police, “fancy” lawyers and/or the justice system. All he needed was a gun and presto– the guy who stole some money from his mom was dead, and his problem was solved. And it probably served him well for several years- I’m sure no one messed with him or his family after that. That was about 10 years ago, and finally, someone snitched on him to reduce some drug charges. He was brought to trial, and was convicted this year. It was a really horribly situation all around. I don’t think any of us on the jury felt particularly good walking away from that experience. Having had no prior experience or education in the legal system, I suddenly had a hint of why some people are compelled to work in that field. That being said- I don’t think I could do it.

  • And how is this a different attitude than the Jewish gang members that rulled the Lower East Side in the 1940s and 1950s? Or Chinese gangs in Chinatown in SF in the 1960s and 1970s. Or the Mafia in the any major city in the U.S.? Or for that matter the political boss systems? Or for that matter samurais in pre-20th century Japan? I don’t necessarily think its right, but I don’t think it’s wrong either. It’s vigilante justice to be sure — but we praise that in movies and fiction all the time. And have seen it at every point in World history. Suddenly because its an African American man it’s not okay? Or have we just become so coddled by the police state that we think people shouldn’t or don’t often take justice into their own hands?

  • TheNeighbor

    Nobody said that the Jewish gang members that rulled the Lower East Side, the Chinese gangs in Chinatown , the Mafia in the any major city in the U.S or samurais in Japan were okay.

    “Suddenly because its an African American man it’s not okay?”

    There is no suddenly about it. It wasn’t okay then, it still isn’t okay.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Um, it was never ok. You think it was considered ok in the past just because there have been some movies that have glorified this behavior. Really? The Godfather denotes legitimacy?

  • It does not really matter whether the post is authentic. But it is an interesting concept to examine. Self-identified thug is hard-working family-oriented man who only breaks the law to protect his loved ones and preserve the peace in his neighborhood. That, as a concept, is not especially troubling. You don’t mess with him and he won’t bother you. Fine. You can get along with him as a neighbor.
    The big problem is private citizens making and enforcing their own justice. Errors that are intolerable when committed by sanctioned law enforcement (such as harassing the innocent, punishment following mistaken identity, abuse of power, or bystanders becoming victims in a cross fire, as PoP pointed out) are even worse when they occur outside of a system that grants basic rights to citizens, provides recourse, and holds officials accountable for their actions.
    Someone might argue that thug justice has its own set of expectations that amounts to a system rights and responsibilities, but I would question how the thug system is specifically designed to protect the powerless. From here, it looks like the rule is have a crew of violent young men on your side, or expect to become a victim. Without her boys, grandma is fair game. Is that not how it works?
    Beyond that is the question of moral standing. Improvising justice and delivering capital punishment on a whim is, fundamentally, the way of the lynch mob.

  • Authentic or not, the post raises interesting philosophical issues to think about. If you ascribe to the political theory of classical liberal democracy, then you believe that government is a social contract that citizens enter into with each other in order to save themselves from the state of nature, in which the strong rule the weak, might makes right, and life is, as Paine aptly put it “nasty, brutish, and short.” One could argue that criminals of this sort have rejected the social contract (or perhaps they feel the social contract has rejected them), so they revert back to a state of nature, where they must create their own justice based on their own ability to dominate others. The question to ask ourselves is, why do people like this feel that the social contract (i.e., government and the rule of law) has failed them? Are they right in feeling this way? And what can we as a society do to bring them back into the contract? Just food for thought. I don’t claim to know the answer to these questions.

  • Pretty selfishly do they think that their code of vigilantism doesn’t affect kids or others who happen to be standing on the street and get shot. I suppose they are just casualties of their petty, immature “war” they have going on.

  • Christina: The Grant Circle Mad Demon Pop’N’Lockers is co-ed. All you have to do is find an unfortunate Sherman Circler and convince her that she’s autumn color when she’s actually a spring and you’re in… but remember, GCMDPnL is 4LIFE!

    Inaudible: The difference is this is 2007 not 1923, presumably we’ve learned something. Criminals count on us to see it their way. I’m only “protecting” the community, never mind the people that get hurt or killed, they all deserve it. Like I said last week, it’s an American tradition to love the guy that gets one over, the lovable gangster. But that’s a FANTASY. The reality is these “businessmen” aren’t in it for anyone but themselves. There isn’t anything that puffs-up that out-sized American id more than the selfishness of such acts. Selling drugs, women, or stolen goods for a buck. Controlling weak-willed and soft-headed boys and “protecting” the neighborhood for fee — be that fee actual dollars from the hands of scared store owners or the “fee” extracted as silence, or worse, misguided acceptance. These guys care about “code” and “protecting” each other and their block about as much as a wolf cares about the sheep he stalks.

    For the record I think this message sounds contrived. If he is in a crew then he is just another punk on the corner waiting to get pinched so he can flip on his beloved homies. Look how he runs his mouth like a needy child seeking attention! A second-rate detective could turn him out in the interview room in less time than it takes to change the oil in my car.

  • Funny thing about the “thug justice” – a lot of us have tried to look beyond simple Police law enforcement to address crime, but Thug Justice basically couldn’t give a @#%^ about the kid who stole from their friend. If anything, their solution and that of the most conservative, primitive racist is the same – kill the bastard!

    P.S. The questions about the social contract are spot on. Those are the real questions at the bottom of everything. How has the social contract failed and what can be done to revive it. Btw, it was Hobbes who said the nature state of man’s lives outside the social contract are “nasty, brutish, and short”.

  • You’re right. It was Hobbes. My mistake.

  • Well, this is and is not related, so I will be brief. I got into a conversation with a young man wearing a “Stop Snitching” shirt. I wanted to know what he was thinking, how he
    arrived at this ideological conclusion, etc. He told me that we ( the populus) shouldnt give criminals over to the law, etc…
    This is when I turned into my Mother ( rest in peace). Stuff like “all the struggles black people have had in this country, and you support letting thugs go?”
    came tumbling from my mouth. Words like “genocide”….
    He didn’t quite know what to say to me.. Like I was “the brother from another planet.”
    Maybe I am-where this “thug life” stuff is concerned.

  • How did the “social contract” fail Jeff Skilling? Whatever social breakdown exists in DC, or existed in the lower east side of Manhattan in 1915, or existed at Wharton Business School when Skilling took his MBA, it’s all just a useful excuse for someone doing just exactly what they want to do. The idea that someone running a drug game in NW DC is doing so because he feels the need to fill a neighborhood protection vacuum, or act as a corner King Solomon is hogwash. It’s about him making $$$, all the rest is PR BS to keep soldiers, lambs, and nosey neighbors in tow.

    I think some of you have ascribed greater motivations to his behavior than even he states — read his post again. Notice that he talks about protecting his own peeps, not a word about your dumb ass or the neighborhood. Nope, it’s all about the respect he gets, and the “justice” he delivers to those who take from him. This is interesting to me as I think this leap is made because a lot of us want to believe in the lovable rogue that lives outside the law and does the “right thing”. The notion of the benevolent criminal “godfather” is a fictional creation. This isn’t a local public safety brigade we are talking about, this is a money-making enterprise, and do you think for one second that the focus is anything other than those dollars these fellas make? Don’t be naive.

    The only thing that someone like this looks out for is himself and his. He uses all his tools to cultivate this, including his charisma. Why should he use a gun to steal from you if he can use a smile and a lie? It’s easier. It works. “He’s looking out for the corner”, “they have a ‘code'”, “he gets things done.” All BS.

    And let’s be real about who supports the economy and environment that makes the “hoodlum, crackhead or street urchent”‘ he talks about even possible.


    Maybe the local crew didn’t create the underlying problems of poverty, racism, and hopelessness — but they play their part in perpetuating those problems through crime. Without those busy-bee crackheads pulling copper pipe out of abandoned row houses, or knocking you on your head while you walk down the street, to pay for a quick blast there’d be no dollars for two guns, there’d be no 60 hour week darkening the alleyway behind elderly people’s homes, there’d be no F’ING need for our helpful, neighborhood crew.

  • Real thugs dont have computers. Real thugs dont advertise what they do on the internet. Its just someone trying to pretend like they are hard.

  • Oden, some of just wonder how it is that someone comes to think of things differently than we do. Speaking for myself, that has nothing to do with romanticizing the criminal or excusing the crime.
    I do not think that active criminals and their customers are the only ones who subscribe to the “stop snitching/don’t trust police/I didn’t see nothin’/no justice in America” mindset. Where do you think that comes from? Ignorance or experience?
    As for the Jeffrey Skillings and Ken Lays of the world, crime is crime (they were real thugs with real computers). They decided to cheat when their greed outran their ability. But with them as well, I wonder what stories they told themselves to justify their crimes.

  • “Maybe the local crew didn’t create the underlying problems of poverty, racism, and hopelessness — but they play their part in perpetuating those problems through crime. Without those busy-bee crackheads pulling copper pipe out of abandoned row houses, or knocking you on your head while you walk down the street, to pay for a quick blast there’d be no dollars for two guns, there’d be no 60 hour week darkening the alleyway behind elderly people’s homes, there’d be no F’ING need for our helpful, neighborhood crew.”


  • Dangerous precident. So he carries a gun with the notion that if anybody “wrongs his peeps” he will shoot them. A person carrying a gun will eventually find ANY reason to shoot it because he/she will want to (A) feel and see what the gun can do and (B) feel some validation for the “hard thug” persona that he/she is projecting to the public. It may not be the same but as a young boy, going out hunting, you can bet your ass I wanted to shoot my gun at something and was letdown if I hadn’t.

  • jasong:

    I don’t disagree at all that there have been plenty of reasons to dislike and distrust police and (wrongly) think that “stop snitchin'” makes a bit of difference to them. But it is self-defeating; does MPD really care if your dumb ass wants to live next to a criminal?

    “Stop snitchin'” started as a reaction to the fact that nearly every punk that gets pinched runs his mouth, but you aren’t going to get any argument from me that it’s the regular folk who have really run with idea here in DC. After all, it’s regular folk that tend to have strength of conviction, not weak criminals who start crying like babies as soon as they are under the light. The happy side-effect of this for the corner boys is that they get straight dummies on the block to help out without having to lift a finger or make a threat. It’s a win-win for them.

    However, I think you need to re-read the “thug’s” post. I think you’ve assigned motivations to this fella that he didn’t express. Motivations that clearly show you to be sympathetic to the idea (if not the reality) that he’s keeping “peace in his neighborhood,” as you put it. There’s nothing in his rant to suggest he has any goal beyond protecting his own rep. As I said, I think a lot of us are pre-disposed to believe these sort of protector/anti-hero myths. I understand you’re saying it doesn’t effect your beliefs, but I think that when you ascribe very subtle heroic traits to this guy that were completely absent in his original post.

    Also, I don’t think it’s takes much “wonderin'” to understand what motivates a self-centered little child that takes from others and avoids responsibility. We all know such people and (maybe sometimes) have such thoughts ourselves. It’s a sad fact that some people take advantage of others, rob, cheat, and lie because it’s easiest to get what they want. The corner isn’t on Mars.

    Whether Skilling believes his stories or not may be an interesting psychological exercise but is rather unimportant compared to recognizing that the rest of us *shouldn’t* be listening to these stories ourselves. BS like “protecting the neighborhood” and “dealing street justice” are just cover art. The crews could give a crap about the neighborhood they pollute with drugs and violence.

    There is no trick in understanding their motivation$.

  • Thanks, oden. I assume that people who are involved in odious acts need to convince themselves that their action is right or necessary and that must they tell themselves some kind of story that excuses and justifies the act. This is mainly about convincing themselves, but they probably tell other people the same story. Why not, if they believe it. I assume it is necessary for them to maintain these stories in order to continue committing crimes.
    However, wondering what story a criminal tells himself does not mean I am prepared or inclined to believe his story, much less credit him with heroic traits. I do not think he is making anyone safer by shooting at his enemies. Not his neighborhood, not his family, not himself. I wonder how it makes sense to him, but I am not saying that anyone should agree with his reasoning or his conclusions. I think it is helpful to understand how the people who share your environment think, especially those who think differently and are violent.

  • as an aside, I know that some guys who travel in these gangs use computers. I’ve heard guys on Columbia road talking about getting clothes on the internet and the way they talked was hilarious, but definitely real- they were tough guys and their mothers were showing them how to use the computer. I can totally see how anyone’s mother would be teaching them computer skills.

    For instance, the people on this website are 100% real:

    I talked to people who know people and they said the site is 100% legit. Just because someone’s parole officer got them an office job doesn’t mean they aren’t hard.

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