There was a shooting last week in your home town, where I live today. Two rival groups of people gathered on opposite street corners, taunting and trash talking. Someone fired a gun. The police report that several more shots were fired from both crowds. No one was injured, although there were bullet holes in two buildings and an automobile.
The police reported that these ‘were not gangs.’ They were apparently just two groups of people shooting at each other. I am not sure what the proper designation is for this behavior. Perhaps the police are trying to be politically correct. Perhaps we should call this a simple feud, like the Hatfields and McCoys of years past. Maybe they were simple groups, or crowds, or gaggles, or herds, hanging out on street corners in lawful assembly. No racial designation was made in the news accounts, but the location is well known as a central place in the local ‘hood.’
The police were directly asked if this was gang related activity and they directly said, “No, this was not gang related.” So what do you call this? Just a bunch of good old boys. Out having a good time. Maybe too much to drink. You know, regular stuff like that. No big deal.
So when does a group or crowd, carrying guns and willing to use them, rise to the level of ‘gang?’ Or should I say stoop to the level of ‘gang?” What do these folks have to do to get the respect that being a gang awards? I guess there is a certain respect, an identity, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, that goes along with being a part of something – something so important as a neighborhood gang.
Maybe they were not all wearing the same colors, or their hats were on at different angles, maybe their pants were pulled up over their boxers – they did something wrong – they did not get to be called a gang. Maybe if they were better shots, maybe if they had actually hit someone with their errant gun fire? After all, wouldn’t you think that a good gang, shooting about fifty feet into another gang, would be able to hit at least one of their opponents?
In order to be a gang do they have to organize at least one successful crime? Jesse James and his thugs were honored with the designation of ‘gang.’ Was that because they successfully robbed a bank or a train? What was so special about them?
If these fellows are hoping to earn the designation of gang then they will probably have to go to ‘gang school’ down the road in the big city. Maybe the National Rifle Association could offer them shooting lessons. I’ll bet if they had automatic assault rifles they could have hit two cars and three buildings, and maybe even something they were shooting at.
It is sort of ironic that the Gunfight at the Messanie Street Coral occurred about eight blocks from where the coward Bob Ford assassinated the outlaw Jesse James.