Patterico's Pontifications


It’s Not Where I’m From, It’s Where I’m Going

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 10:19 pm

Steve Lopez:

The Sunday evening gunshots of a week ago came unexpectedly, assaulting the block’s very spirit. . . . Flying out of his house, [Jamiel Shaw Sr.] saw his son, shot dead a few paces from home. Jamiel Shaw Jr., or Jazz, as he was known, was a 17-year-old football star at Los Angeles High School. Jazz was beginning to receive a stream of letters from colleges trying to recruit him, just as his father had said they would if Jazz stuck to Dad’s 18-year plan to steer clear of drugs and gangs and focus on a future.

. . . .

The preliminary report from police suggested a random gang hit on a kid who was clean, Latino suspects targeting a black kid, here on a block that had defied ignorance and hatred and knocked down the walls we build between ourselves.

. . . .

“There isn’t a rule book” on what to say if gang members confront you as they’re believed to have confronted Jazz, said [Jazz’s friend] Phillip. “I just say I don’t bang.”

Unfortunately, I see too many cases where people respond that way — and then get victimized. It’s not their fault. It’s just that when someone asks you where you’re from, there’s no right answer.

I invited a judge who grew up in Compton to speak to a class of fifth graders several years back about how to stay out of trouble. He said there’s only one good response when gang members ask you where you are from.

Turn and run. As fast as you can.

19 Responses to “It’s Not Where I’m From, It’s Where I’m Going”

  1. Running would be fine, but where would he have run to?
    Given the historic mis-trust of blacks of the LAPD,would this not be a never-ending conflict?

    Black flight form LA? To where?

    SteveofTheNorth (8447d8)

  2. I don’t mean running in the metaphorical sense. I mean running, like one foot in front of the other.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  3. why not pit the bangers against each other in cage fights or group encounters at the rose bowl? we can thin the turkey herd without any innocent people getting hurt, and maybe make some money putting it on pay-per-view. one crip, one blood, one survivor!

    assistant devil's advocate (10791e)

  4. This happened not two blocks from my old house. LA High is my alma mater.

    baldilocks (32768a)

  5. He said there’s only one good response when gang members ask you where you are from.

    Turn and run. As fast as you can.

    No. Draw your gun and kill them before they kill you. You don’t need the government’s permission to carry a gun to protect your life no matter what the government may say. And don’t be so foolish as to think that you’re living in the same America as the people who make the gun laws.

    I would definitely “jury nullify” if the father of this boy were to systematically hunt down and kill every gangbanger in his neighborhood until he ran out of ammunition.

    This is an occasion for dynamite and not water hoses.

    nk (5ce644)

  6. California’s legislature could solve the gang problem, today, with this law:

    “It shall be a defense to every offense under this Code that the victim was a member of a street gang.” Yes, it is outlawry. But aren’t they already outlaws?

    nk (5ce644)

  7. Street gangs are terrorists, just as if they were affiliated with AlQueda, and should be treated in the same manner as we treat AQ, and rabid dogs:
    Shoot on sight!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  8. Patterico:

    I’m certainly not going to allow Nk’s rather intemperate and frankly insane-sounding comment to be the only argument in favor of arming the rest of us. (My apologies, Nk; but your suggestion of armed insurrection is not going to gain us any support.)

    About forty states in this country have so-called mandatory CCW (carry concealed weapon) permit laws; mandatory means that the state is required to issue the permit unless the applicant has some disqualifying characteristic or history, such as being a convicted felon or a drug addict.

    California has only a discretionary CCW permit law: Various state, county, and city officials — police chiefs and county sheriffs, mostly — have authority to issue CCW permits if they choose to… but they don’t have to issue a particular permit, or indeed any permits at all. In Los Angeles, I don’t believe any CCW permits have been issued to anyone but a few cronies of the Chief of the LAPD in the last 25 years.

    I was one of several plaintiffs to a lawsuit against the city some years ago. We won in court, and the judge ordered the chief to issue us CCW permits. He simply ignored the order, and we never got them. We went back to court repeatedly; the judge kept reissuing the order, the chief kept ignoring it — and the judge refused to go any further and, e.g., cite the chief for contempt; he did grant our lawyer attorneys’ fees… but we had originally paid him up front, and we never got that money back from the city. Thus I paid for a fairly expensive monitary lesson in contemporary civics.

    (I now live in a different city, where they also do not issue such permits to anyone except pals of the pols.)

    First, we need a mandatory CCW permit law in California. But that would not stop much of gang violence, since such laws routinely apply only to legal adults; in particular, Jamiel Shaw Jr. was 17, and would not have been covered.

    Second, therefore, I believe the permit should be available to some minors… those who demonstrate (via some set of meaningful but achievable criteria) the responsibility and emotional maturity to carry a weapon. By all accounts, the life that Shaw led would have so qualified him.

    (I would hope that the life I led as a teen would not have qualified me: I never engaged in any significant wrongdoing, but neither did I ever do anything to demonstrate unusual maturity or responsibility; I was just a normal, self-centered teen. Now, had I been a longtime Boy Sprout, taken JROTC, taken extensive firearms training, worked with hospice patients, organized a Neighborhood Watch program, run for student government and participated in more extracurricular activities — positive ones — then that would be a different story!)

    Third, we need to bring back the necessary defense of “needed killing,” which could be invoked at trial against charges of murder and homicide, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, ADW, and similar charges: That the deceased or the assaulted person needed to be killed.

    This would go significantly beyond mere self-defense or immediate defense of others. I’m neither a lawyer nor a legislator, so I won’t try to craft the language; but the point would be to allow as a defense to killing or attempting to kill someone the argument that the person presented such a danger to the community or the defendant, even when not imminent, that killing him was a positive boon.

    Yes, the defense could be abused; let’s hope that juries will not let people off for racist, homophobic, or other vile reasons. But if juries are so disposed, they can already do so, even without the new defense, as numerous racist juries in the Jim Crow South proved. The “needed killing” defense doesn’t really give any greater power to those who support genocide.

    But as of right now, had Shaw drawn a gun on those bangers when they pulled up and asked where he was fromt; and had they drawn their own guns in response; and had he managed to outshoot them… it would likely be Shaw, not the known gansters, who went to prison — because witnesses would say that Shaw drew first. Even though anyone with a couple of neurons to rub together knows that (as you yourself agree, Patterico) “when someone asks you where you’re from, there’s no right answer,” I don’t think any judge would instruct a jury to acquit Shaw if they found that the thugs asked him where he was from.

    It would take an act of jury nullification to acquit him.

    So let’s take the onus off the jurors to take the law into their own hands, thereby violating their oaths; instead, let’s allowing ordinary people to take it into their own hands on the street, where the real situation is often a lot clearer than a skilled lawyer can make it sound four months later in the courtroom.


    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  9. Patterico:

    When I wrote,

    In Los Angeles, I don’t believe any CCW permits have been issued to anyone but a few cronies of the Chief of the LAPD in the last 25 years.

    …I of course meant other than those issued to police officers or other law-enforcement officials. CCW permits in the spirit of this conversation.


    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  10. Last paragraph, “allowing” should be “allow.” Yeesh, and this is after editing!


    Dafydd ab Hugh (db2ea4)

  11. No apologies, necessary, Dafydd. I was being deliberately over-provocative. I do it on occasion, taking advantage of Patterico’s tolerance.

    But there is precedent in the law of self-defense that, when it comes to a question of “who drew first”, the character and history of both the defendant and the victim as to peacefulness and law-abidedness are admissible and may be argued to the jury. And I don’t think that it would be jury nullification for a juror to give as much weight as he wanted to the evidence that the “victim” was a gang member and therefore the aggressor.

    nk (5ce644)

  12. In L.A., an awful lot of murders are of gangbangers — so nk’s little suggestion would mean that an awful lot of murderers wouldn’t go to jail. They’d be free to shoot again — maybe hitting and killing a little girl next time.

    But hey, nullify away. If a few people innocent die as a result, so what? Right?

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  13. A few years ago a book called “The Outlaw’s Guide to Etiquette” was published. Their suggestion on how to respond when asked, “Where are you from?” was to say, “I ain’t from nowhere.” That was supposed to be gang-speak for saying you are unaffiliated. Maybe it doesn’t work anymore. Maybe the double-negative in the sentence is confusing.

    JVW (1bb307)

  14. You misunderstood me, Patterico. I wouldn’t give much credence to the aggressor/defender defense when the defendant is a gang member. I would give credence to the guy who was not a gang member.

    nk (5ce644)

  15. Patterico @ 2

    Yes, but given what the social norms are, I am inclined that predator/prey event would occur.
    A very short term fix at best. I am willing to believe that the gang knows where he lived,
    sooner or later they would have caught him and had the same result.

    If Mao’s said that guerrillas are like fish in the sea (of people),how do you separate the fish from
    the sea, when a net (prison, viewed as a badge of honor to gang members) does not work?

    SteveofTheNorth (8447d8)

  16. It works to take them off the street.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  17. I’m with nk and Daffyd; If asked that question in those circumstances, it may just be time to draw the piece and sell your life dearly.

    Kali’s laws to the contrary notwithstanding.

    I’m Scots-Irish; we’d really rather die than put up with that stuff.

    Justthisguy (a20d9a)

  18. I agree that prision do get criminals off the street,but when someone steps in to take his place
    how does it help this kid from dying?

    I view this as an endless loop.Cops get on,another steps and the gang looks to fill the gap in warm
    bodies of their ranks.

    SteveofTheNorth (8447d8)

  19. What I have to “say” here on this subject may cause some consternation, so for that I apologize, but this mollycoddling of the gang culture has gone on too far.

    Gangs are criminal enterprises at their core, formed and maintained in furtherance of criminal (and terrorist) activity. Thus, anyone with any kind of gang affiliation – of ANY kind – should be treated as a criminal and a terrorist.

    Quite frankly, anyone who joins in a gang (no matter the age or gender or ethnic extraction) should be summarily shot or otherwise put out of society’s misery through the use of lifetime-without-parole jail sentences. There’s lots of room out in the desert, and the City of Los Angeles also owns a whole bunch of real estate in the Owens Valley which can be easily turned into variations of Sheriff Joe’s Tent City in Phoenix.

    And sure, some folks will bitch about LA creating a “Gitmo West” or some such, but BFD. If I truly had my way, then every gangbanger and associate and wannabe would be loaded onto a leaky container ship and sent on a one-way trip out into the Pacific.

    JD (35b222)

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