The gangs phenomenon now is increasing in Europe. Even though they differ from one another, their aim is basically the same. They all have strong themes in common: resentment and loyalty to the group where they belong.
The territory, the urban territory is also becoming more and more a significant identity element.
However, there is a new twist: the branding. Younger generations brand themselves and their gangs with the number of the relevant urban area (e.g. “Z8” stands for ZONE 8).
Why don’t gangs register their brand and logo and make a legal business out of it for their own benefit?
BABY GANGS IN MILAN
They express their feelings through tattoos and graffiti as signs of belonging.
In the neighborhood of San Siro we can find one of the most famous gangs: "Seven Zoo" (it stems from ZONE 7).
They openly make music videos using aggressive lyrics which reflect their resentment, injustice and struggle of belonging to a society that, they say, has always rejected them. Their videos are characterized by a very good quality and their members have even been interviewed by the Milanese press:
Other well-known gangs are the Zona 6, Barrio 18, Latin Kings and the Mara Salvatrucha. The last ones are from Latin American countries, especially El Salvador.
What they want is to feel that they belong to a group. They dress like American rappers and deal daily with extortion and drugs.
BABY GANGS IN EL SALVADOR
Here is where the Mara Salvatrucha´s gang was born. They also dress in baggy clothes, wear lots of gold, chains, big rings, drive expensive cars and like to show off all the money they have because luxury is part of their lives.
Originally, people joined the gang because of their poverty. However, if they want to become a member of the group, they must prove they can commit a crime, and this usually happens at a very early age such as during adolescence.
BABY GANGS IN LONDON
The London gangs are the opposite of the Salvadoran gangs, but they don't have that typical narco-style mentality of showing off their possessions. Their clothes, on the contrary, are dark, without jewellery or flashy accessories and they usually cover their faces.
People choose to join in because there is a big social class battle going on in England, where especially the second generation of immigrants feel marginalised.
Some of the most feared gangs are NPK, ACG and Mali Boys. In fact, last year the ACG had a worldwide high-profile altercation case. Four of its members were put behind bars after they kidnapped and tortured a 14-year-old boy who belonged to an enemy gang.
BABY GANGS IN PAPUA (NEW GUINEA)
In these gangs, most of their members are no older than 14 years old. Some are even children, but that does not make them any less dangerous.
They are very poor and join the gangs out of desperation and hunger. Like the clothes they wear, they use old weapons too.
Raskol and Port Moresby are the best known in this country.
In all cases, beyond ruthless violence, there is “loyalty” to the community and sense of belonging. What if we would manage to take the good vibe and throw away the rest…
How could this be done?
Ph: Stephen Dupont