Video: East L.A. Gang Members Give Candid Interviews In Rediscovered '70s Documentary
An old 1970s educational video has resurfaced featuring East L.A. gang members giving candid interviews about their lives.
"You know, some people tell you that the barrio's a bad place to live…" the first video begins.
There are two video segments from Street Gangs: Challenge for Law Enforcement available online. They're part of a 1970s documentary from Charles Cahill and Associates, and they've been resurrected in YouTube form by user Guildford Ghost, who bought the film off eBay on 16mm and then covered it to a DVD, Dangerous Minds reports.
Street Gangs is one of many videos Cahill and Associates made in the '50s through the '70s, though most of them are of the cautionary tales variety: wear your seatbelt, don't drink and drive, take care of your automobiles! This video is geared towards law enforcement, and how they might deal with aggressive gangs in their communities.
The documentary talks to several community and gang members. They candidly describe the problems with violence and their fallen friends, but also about how the gangs are meant to protect neighborhoods from dangerous outsiders. They reveal that women are usually the ones packing because police officers rarely check 'girls,' and talk about how gangs specifically recruit young members.
At one point, a woman who says she always hides her contraband in her boots or bra tells a violent story.
We was at a party off of Western and this guy—it was a Crip party—so this guy came in…so what we did, the Crips fought him so I jumped and I stabbed him. I don't know how many times I stabbed him.
Another man describes the gang he's in as "virtually all his family." Some gang members answer 'no comment' when asked if they've ever had to kill anyone.
The second half of the video reminds police of things they can do to keep the gangs "in check" by understanding how they operate. They advise removing the most hardcore of offenders to disrupt gang hierarchy and to learn what gang graffiti, tattoos and hand signals means. And check those ladies for guns, officers! Of course, we know that some clever tactics are not the answer to solving gang violence, so in present day, it sounds odd how hopeful the video's narrator seems after revealing a handful of suggestions. He concludes: "Though the gangs themselves may endure, the prospect now exists that through effective law enforcement, the chain of violence may at last be broken. And our cities may once again be rendered safe for all our citizens."
Comments on Youtube indicate there may have been more to this film at one point, but only these two short segments were on the 16mm film that was acquired.