In the United States, a war has raged on for four decades, claiming over 15,000 lives. Why has law enforcement and the government allowed it to continue?
The Crips, with 30,000 to 35,000 members, and the Bloods, with 20,000 to 30,000 members may be the most notorious gangs in the U.S. Besides murder and robbery, both gangs are involved in the drug trade, particularly with crack cocaine.
Screenwriter and director Stacy Peralta created the documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America about the gang war in South Central Los Angeles. The documentary details the history, interviews former gang members and activists and discusses what can be done about the problem.
To his dismay, Peralta had a difficult time finding a studio to produce the film. Even after basketball star Baron Davis of the L.A. Clippers, who experienced the violence firsthand while growing up in South Los Angeles, agreed to finance 50 percent of the film, studio executives still passed on the documentary.
Finally Peralta posed the question to studios:
“If affluent white teenagers in Beverly Hills were forming neighborhood gangs, arming themselves with automatic assault rifles and killing other affluent white teenagers who were also living in upscale neighborhoods and were also arming themselves with AK 47s and shooting to kill, what would the response of our society be?”
This caught the attention of businessman Steven Luzco, prompting him to become co-producer.
Will the documentary get people, particularly law enforcement or government officials, to pay attention and take action? Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely. The documentary was screened in numerous film festivals including Sundance, the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Torino Film Festival, but while the DVD is available for purchase, it has only been shown in special screenings.
Fortunately a number of grassroots organizations are feverishly tackling the problem. Unity One and C.H.A.N.G.E. provide education and job training so as to empower individuals; Project Cry No More provides a support group for loved ones of victims of gang violence; and the I-Can Youth Foundation provides mentors and education and sports programs for youth.
Watch clips and find out ways you can help by visiting the documentary’s website.