‘NAPTOWN’ Gangs - Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: Features

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Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 5:39 pm, Wed Feb 2, 2011.

Part 1 of 2


Drug and property crimes related to the recession have taken center stage, and it seems less media coverage has been given to gang activity.

Just a decade ago many thought it was cool to be a gangster. The hardcore street thug was romanticized just as much as the American cowboy, athlete and Buffalo Soldier.

It was easy to find teens and young adults walking the streets of Indianapolis with red or blue handkerchiefs in their pockets, and baseball caps cocked to the left or right to signify their support for a gang.

“Now you don’t see all those folks standing on corners wearing gang colors and marking their territory with graffiti,” said Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams. “It’s just not as hip and prominent as it was back then.”

Even a majority of hip-hop songs are no longer glorifying the violent competition and thug lifestyle associated with gangs, and are instead promoting the millionaire “big baller, shot caller” lifestyle of mansions, fast cars and fast women.

Many observers believe “gangsta’ rap” lost popularity with the violent deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace in the 1990s.

Since then the primary focus of crime in Indianapolis has gradually shifted from concerns about people being hurt by gang rivalries, to anxiety over drug-related crimes, domestic violence and armed robberies.

“Our biggest obstacle is not just gangs, but criminal behavior,” added Williams. “Most of the violence we see in the city is not caused by gangs, but drug trafficking. Yes, some people selling drugs are involved with gangs, but not all of them. Most are operating as individuals instead of with a criminal organization.”

Both Williams and Minister Malachi Walker believe that a majority of local gangs are now composed of “wannabees,” or people who want to mimic the attitude of powerful gangsters, but are not active in serious crimes.

“They aren’t really part of a traditional gang, they’re just showing out,” said Walker, president of Young Men Inc., a youth development organization. “Many of the real gangsters that had violent street wars are gone. They are either locked up or dead. The new gang members are protecting themselves and each other, but are usually not looking for trouble because they don’t want to deal with the consequences of certain crimes.”

Still, Walker and Williams were quick to say that no one should be under the illusion that gangs are no longer a serious threat.

According to the Safe Streets Gang Task Force of Indianapolis, police identified at least 20 different local street gangs between 2003 and 2006. Approximately 3,000 individuals were estimated to be affiliated with those gangs, and police have arrested over 700 of them for various offenses.

The Safe Streets Gang Task Force is a joint initiative operated by both local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), the Marion County Sheriffs Department and the FBI.

The goal of the task force is to indentify trends that lead to the creation of gangs, and gather intelligence needed to disable a gang with the arrest of its members.

“Most arrests are for criminal activities such as robbery, burglary and battery ,” said Deputy Police Chief Roger Waggoner.

Task forces have also been set up in other municipalities throughout the state, especially those that have witnessed an increase in gang violence such as Evansville, Fort Wayne, Merrillville and Lafayette.

Organized crime and gangs are actually not new to Indianapolis. Their presence here dates back to the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, when associates of Al Capone and other Chicago mobsters smuggled bootleg liquor through the city.

Today, gangs can be involved with anything from stealing cars and selling stolen items, to illegal gambling operations and distributing drugs.

Nearly 20 years ago, prominent gangs were established such as the Ghetto Boys, Folk Nation, People Nation and New Breed. The city’s most horrific gangland shooting occurred in October 1993, when a 16-year-old-girl was killed and a seven-year-old boy was permanently injured after the Ghetto Boys sprayed machine gun fire into an apartment at the Blackburn Terrace complex where they expected to find a man who had stolen cocaine from them.

Several members of the gang were later arrested and charged with the crime.

In the same time frame, gang leaders set up chapters of Chicago-based outfits such as the Gangster Disciples and the Vice-Lords. Other thugs were inspired by gangs from Los Angeles like the Bloods and Crips.

Current alleged Indianapolis gangs include Code Rode, the Ridin’ Boys and the Wretched Boys. Police have also identified several groups in the city’s growing Latino community who were inspired by Latin gangs from the West Coast and Florida.

“There’s no doubt the gangs are still here,” said Minister Byron Alston, director of Save the Youth, an organization that reaches out to young people at risk for criminal activity. “They are ‘off the chain’ now. Go to the schools and ask the kids and you’ll find them.”

Williams agreed, saying gangs are definitely still in existence, but many of them are just conducting themselves in a quieter manner and are avoiding the bold displays of gang colors and elaborate handshakes that make them easy to recognize among police.

“They are a little smarter and slicker about how they get things done,” said Williams, who worked extensively with youth as director of Christamore House, a community service organization on the city’s Westside.

“They’re out there; all you have to do is check out the Internet, and you’ll see them communicating on MySpace and Facebook,” he continued. “All of us, including the police, the schools and the community really need to stay on top of that.”

Next week: The Recorder speaks to youth about gang activity and presents solutions.

Note: If you have witnessed or suspect any gang activity in your neighborhood call the Safe Streets Gang Task Force at (317) 327-6631.

© 2015 Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • iuliancezar posted at 9:37 am on Fri, Dec 12, 2014.

    iuliancezar Posts: 91

    There are many books, tv shows and documentaries about the gangs from the US. If you take a look at exploitation of the Vegas strippers and other similar low-key out of the law actions, you will see that inside this world there are many little worlds with their own set of rules. For some it is interesting but for some it is frightening.

  • iuliancezar posted at 5:54 am on Sun, Oct 19, 2014.

    iuliancezar Posts: 91

    Gangs aren't a thing that exist anymore. You can't find them that often in real life and they have become something that is believable only in movies or tv shows. People are far more peaceful these days, just look at those military retirement gifts.

  • skittlez posted at 3:01 pm on Tue, May 17, 2011.

    skittlez Posts: 1


    What i tink about naptown gang is good but also bad. the way it iz good is dat u r somewhat protected but the bad side iz that your puttin your life at risk for your gang leader and others of the gang so. i dnt think its bad cuz i ben in gang. and i dnt have a problen being in a gang either. cuz Im from 42nd Post so i really dnt care

  • anonymous posted at 9:16 am on Sun, Sep 26, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    just cause your hood or are from the hood dont make you a criminal you make your self a convict just keep it hood and grown man check the naptown music scene on deck www.myspace.com/liltommy317

  • anonymous posted at 10:44 am on Tue, Aug 17, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Money changes hands due to keeping 'the gangs' in the front of minds in Indy. Blacks and whites have vested interests in keeping this non-issue (comparatively) on the burners so that reporters can report and capitalism can flow. Indy's 'gang problem' is minor compared to the actual issues that confront us, 'gangs' just insures that Pasta Courvoisier keeps three-piece suits and hot tubs in this offices. Fear is a good one, so good that some people locally are hooked.

  • anonymous posted at 4:00 pm on Sat, Jul 31, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Kinwood,Graceland,Capital.. Vickie Liquor Store.Its like chicago over there.38Th Street , ...Illinois St. NaptownGDs VLs KG .

  • anonymous posted at 6:46 pm on Sat, Mar 6, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    I'm from da west and I'm 32yrs old comin up I seen all kind of gang stuff from post 2 haugville fromeast 2 west its been goin down in da nap

  • anonymous posted at 6:58 am on Fri, Feb 12, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    38th and Moller Road. GD was the set....and still is!!!

  • anonymous posted at 6:30 am on Fri, Jan 22, 2010.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    whatever happened to the HellRaisers & 2-1 gangs....you boys fall to the mexician boys....keep indy white!!

  • anonymous posted at 6:35 pm on Sat, Nov 21, 2009.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    I *USED* to live at 301 North avenue & i've always wonder if that was part of any gang territory

  • anonymous posted at 12:36 am on Sat, Oct 31, 2009.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Dave, you obviously didn't ever go thru the meadows when it was still there. The east side was, is, and will be the worst area of the nap.

  • anonymous posted at 8:00 pm on Sat, Sep 12, 2009.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    Haughville has been the most feared place for at least 25 years the cops don't care about nothing the "bloods" tag everything over there you call the gang unit and they say well theres nothing we can do we don't have the manpower. when I was a kid on Groff AVE. the ghetto boys, black gangster disciples, vice lords, g's, and many others ruled the projects. I am white I was targeted throughout my child hood from everyone black and white. The cops were called once when I was jumped on concord in the projects by the ghetto boys the man wanted to lock me up for suspicion of buying drugs. I was 15 years old trying to get home from michigan street thats it. I escaped that night with my life thats it. I now live in Illinois and my parents still live in Naptown needless to say I worry about them every second Thanks IPD the only thing they do is eat and beat thats all.

  • anonymous posted at 10:23 am on Thu, Aug 13, 2009.

    anonymous Posts: 0

    You guys really have no clue., start at e32nd and Emerson and head west on 32nd. Gang writing is displayed on the side of house and marked on the street pavement at several corners. some has washed away with new graffiti replacing old. The gasstation at 34th and emerson is a regular stomping ground...young thugs in red hat, trunks and red dickie shorts. the entire neighborhood is now undersiege and anyone out after dark best beware. the city has let us down and is completely clueless of the severity of the gang presence.