One city â€“â€“ in the heart of what is supposed to be the California dream with the Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame â€“â€“ is engulfed in the largest civil war in the history of America: the war between the Crips and the Bloods.
What started out as the black youth finding a community among the racism that permeated the 1950s has turned into a blood bath, with more than 15,000 deaths accumulated between the two gangs in southern Los Angeles.
The Association for Student Activity Programming, in conjunction with United Men of Color and Diversity and Social Justice Programs, showed the documentary â€œCrips and Bloods: Made in America,â€ which portrayed both the history of and devastation the rivalry has caused.
The film was shown on Monday night in the Lory Student Center Theatre to approximately 75 students and community members.
The filmâ€™s creator interviewed members of both gangs, all of whom shared the same sentiments despite the deep-running rivalry that divides them. Neither gang wishes to continue the feud but rather have been forced into it through the generations.
â€œItâ€™s no way of life, and thatâ€™s period,â€ said one gang member in the film.
So what started the enmity that has plagued the streets of Los Angeles for more than five decades?
Raymond Washington, founder of the Crips, started the gang after many troubling deaths and incarcerations of prominent black figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Seale, founder of the black-power organization the Black Panthers.
The gang hoped to bring about change in the city and to fight the injustice it felt the police directed toward blacks. What it got instead was the formation of a rival gang, intended to challenge the Cripsâ€™ power: the Bloods.
The feud between the gangs was originally fought with fists and rocks â€“â€“ whatever the members could get their hands on. Now it has turned into a deadly battle of guns and drive-by shootings.
â€œThe guns came when the crack came,â€ said Bruce Smith, president of the Black Cultural Center. â€œThey brought guns so they could protect their money. As the stakes got higher, the guns got bigger.â€
While the violence continues to this day, former gang members and other L.A. community members are starting programs to give resources to the black youth in hopes of stopping future generations from joining the battle.
â€œWe wouldnâ€™t choose the gang life if we had resources and other options,â€ said a member of the Bloods in the film.
Staff writer Jordyn Dahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._