Destiny's Children: A Legacy of War and Gangs

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Edgar’s story, part 2

Youngsters deported from LA or sent back by their families discover that they must survive for a time in a country where they have no relatives, a country they hardly know. Since his brother Jose’s murder in LA, Edgar has found solace and friendship living at this gang crash pad. “Little Crazy” has become Edgar’s girlfriend and “Cashy” is one of his best friends.

This corner is territory of the “Crazy Big Gangstas,” a subgroup or clique of the Mara Salvatrucha gang of Los Angeles. Most of the fifteen and sixteen year old “gangstas” in this enclave have never lived in Los Angeles.

Edgar (Shy Boy) will soon turn nineteen. He is the oldest member of the group and the only one who has lived in the US. Although he may not be the leader, it is clear that his opinions are respected.

There has been an argument among the gang members. A homeboy made a pass at another gang member’s wife. The leaders of the Crazy Big Gangsta clique decide to hold a meeting to resolve the dispute. The judgement is called “giving court.” Punishment takes place during the gang meeting.

“If she’d been a woman from another neighborhood and not a homeboy’s wife, maybe we’d laugh about it over a few beers,” Edgar says. “It’s not right, but that’s street justice LA style and that’s how we do it here too.”

When the punishment is over the gang members hug. The punished youth puts a rag in his mouth to soak up the blood. Both throw the gang sign of loyalty.