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Old 03-11-2010, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Bay Area/Rouge Valley/Portland/WA
3 posts, read 14,655 times
Reputation: 21
Default Active Street Gangs and Criminal Organizations In Oregon

There's been a lot of discussion as to which parts of Oregon are the "safest to live in." Truthfully, no area is ever entirely safe from any and all criminal activity. The difference between the types of crime that tend to be more prominent in each particular area is where one should be concerned. For example, in a place like Ashland, the most severe crime you're going to hear about on a fairly regular basis is the theft of property (ie a stereo lifted from a car or a bike snatched from a fence post). In Medford, however, these types of crimes are considered relatively low priority, and law enforcement instead focuses it's efforts on the manufacturing and trafficking of drugs, domestic violence, rape and murder. The latter mentioned problems are the ones to be most concerned with, as minor property theft is considered relatively inconsequential in most moderate to major sized cities. Murder and Sex Crimes are fairly mainstream, at least in terms of being recognized by the general public. For whatever reason, though, many in the mainstream still remain ignorant to the very real presence of street gangs. Gang life is a sub-culture that continues to grow in our local communities at an alarming rate, and turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn't exist will only exacerbate the problem. Hopefully the following will help to educate readers on the growing number of street gangs in the 33rd state.

Medford, Eugene, Salem, Klamath Falls, Woodburn and Portland all have a fairly notable gang culture. The Nortenos and Surenos, two of the most notorious hispanic street gangs in the country, call Medford, Eugene and Salem home. The Sur Side Locos, a sub-set within the Surenos, operate out of Medford. In Eugene, you have various Norteno "sets." The Nortenos tend to be less organized than the Surenos. Neat organization within a gang often signifies criminal enterprise, while loose organization is more likely to occur among youths who are unmotivated by financial gain and simply want to wreak havoc or get in to trouble. You find more youngsters running with the Nortenos than the Surenos, and many who claim the "Norteno" gang are in all actuality "perpetrators" (wannabes). There are also Surenos in Eugene, but Norteno sets are much larger in numbers. In Klamath Falls (as well as Medford), you have the Crips and the Bloods. I'm familiar with the Barnett Blood Gang in Medford, as well as the Central Point Crip Gang that operates in Northern Medford. In Klamath Falls, the gangs are less structured and often operate without a chain of command or a structured set. Woodburn has unstructured norteno gang members, as does Salem. The racial demographic in Salem has changed considerably within the last 15 years. A large number of Hispanic and Filipino residents have arrived in the area from down south in California. The Filipinos brought with them their own types of street gangs. One of the most notorious, the West Bay Pinay Boys, moved much of their operation from Daly City California to Southern Salem. Their rivals, DC Click, have yet to establish a known set in Oregon. Portland, the largest of all the cities, is perhaps the most enigmatic in it's gang culture. Instead of having actual gangs, much of the area engages in "Set Tripping." Set tripping, as it is most commonly defined, is when one group of individuals who've established themselves as a "clique" wage war on another, completely independent of any organized street gang. These cliques "claim" a certain territory and defend it just as an organized street gang would. They also, often, traffic drugs and commit crimes the way a street gang would as well. The problem with set tripping is that it's hard to identify. Gangs are more structured, they follow a certain chain of command and live by a code of conduct. Set tripping is almost a rebellion of sorts. It's often done in a way that's extremely unstructured with no code and little known identifiers (ie colors or uniforms). For example, let's say you're a crip or a blood or nothing at all and you "clique up" with crips from another gang, bloods or individuals who have no known affiliation; that would be set tripping. Set tripping is popular in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the structured, LA style street gangs were vastly rejected. It is most common in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, Richmond, Vallejo, Fairfield and East Palo Alto, just to name a few. It's worth noting that many of Portland's newer residents migrated up from the Bay Area and that could have a lot to do with the area's gang culture.

In addition to the street gangs, Oregon (mostly Southern Oregon) has at least five 1% motorcycle clubs (otherwise known as biker gangs). These clubs represent themselves with the 1% to signify their status as an outlaw organization. Among some of the 1% organizations represented in Oregon are the Outlaws and the Hell Angels. Both organizations have a bitter rivaly with one and other, which leaves the opportunity for violence in the southern part of the state wide open.

Of all of the "active" cities in Oregon, Law enforcement in Eugene is the most diligent when it comes to the local gangs. They'll often stop youngsters wearing baggy red or blue clothing (norteno and sureno colors) and search them on the spot. Gang outreach is a fairly high priority within the community, and many of the local jr and senior high schools host anti-drug and gang events. They also tend to ban the wearing of red and blue jerseys with the numbers 13 or 14 on them. This move is similiar to the one made by schools and authorities in Centralia, WA.

In stark contrast, Law Enforcement in Medford and Klamath Falls seem all but oblivious. You'll often see hispanic gang members congregating at the mall in North Medford on any given saturday. The Surenos in the area have a very distinct look. They wear baggy tan kahkis, oversized baseball jerseys or hoodies, and converse or adidas shoes with thick blue laces. The hair on their head is completely shaven and they often sport "locs", darkly colored sunglasses that hide the eyes. The bloods and crips in Medford tend to be non-hispanic and less uniform in their dress code. In fact, it's not out of the ordinary to spot a blood or a crip in standard urban wear like Roca, Fubu or Sean Jean, which can also be worn by non gang members. The same can be said for the crips and the tiny number of unorganized bloods in Klamath Falls.

Portland and Salem Law Enforcement is fairly typical of most major sized cities. They each have a gang task force that claims it does it's best to identify local sets and deal with them accordingly. While in Portland in 2005, I was two blocks away from where a local shooting took place outside a downtown area night club. The place was packed when a local set tripper, now incarcerated, opened fire on an adversary. This type of violence isn't as common in Portland as it is in, say, Oakland, but better identification and prevention methods on the part of local LE could help to curb some of the violence in the area. Gang activity in Salem tends to be more centered, less intense and easier to recognized than it is 40 miles north; although it is worth noting that as the area grows and plays host to more Bay Area transplants, the possibility of wide spread set tripping similar to the kind in Portland is very real.

As a former community organizer in the Southern and Central parts of Oregon, I'm no stranger to the Gang Culture here in the state. Hopefully the information above was informative enough to cover the broad range of questions previously asked within the forum.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Fresno, CA
314 posts, read 550,086 times
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I'm not in Oregon yet but hope to be within the next year or so. The information you provided was interesting.

Everywhere has troublemakers but the more of them that band together and generally the wider their affiliations/networks including prison alliances, the worse it gets. Some communities and their law enforcement really seem oblivious of or in denial about the insidious formation of gangs. I've often heard "they're just a bunch of wannabes". That seems all the more reason to get a jump on dealing with them rather than a reason not to. Wannabes show every inclination of moving toward becoming the real thing. They then become a magnet for more of the same kind from within and outside the area

In our moderately large size town over the last couple of decades the gang problem has mushroomed. Current law enforcement really seems to be making a substantial effort to deal with the gangs but I wonder how much more effective their approach might have been had it happened a few years earlier. Some of the gang activity here originated, I believe, with emigres from Los Angeles. For a good while gang members here lived in certain areas of town. Then as law enforcement cracked down on them, like a cancer some spread to other areas of town and to outlying rural communities.

Some of the approaches here have included a combined agencies task force, MAGEC (Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium). Also photographing suspected gang members and their tatoos. And sometimes legal injunctions denying gang members a right to congregate or associate with other known gang members. I think this one should be used alot more than it is. These are just the approaches I know of.

What kind of interventions would you suggest All Star Weekends or anyone else who has some knowledge in this area?

I think one of the best hopes would be to get to at risk kids (before they hit junior high age) with one on one programs like Big Brothers and to follow through with them until they're grown. Many of these kids come from troubled families and single parent families with no good, strong, positive adult role models to care about and be involved with them. They then drop out of school and are on their own. Even kids not inclined toward trouble initially are susceptible just for protection in gang infested neighborhoods. At risk kids need to have exposure to the better life opportunities that are possible and support and direction in how to achieve successes for themselves.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:18 PM
 
857 posts, read 645,226 times
Reputation: 186
Default Thanks For Your Post On Gangs!

Quote:
Originally Posted by xAll*Star*Weekendx View Post
There's been a lot of discussion as to which parts of Oregon are the "safest to live in." Truthfully, no area is ever entirely safe from any and all criminal activity. The difference between the types of crime that tend to be more prominent in each particular area is where one should be concerned. For example, in a place like Ashland, the most severe crime you're going to hear about on a fairly regular basis is the theft of property (ie a stereo lifted from a car or a bike snatched from a fence post). In Medford, however, these types of crimes are considered relatively low priority, and law enforcement instead focuses it's efforts on the manufacturing and trafficking of drugs, domestic violence, rape and murder.

As a former community organizer in the Southern and Central parts of Oregon, I'm no stranger to the Gang Culture here in the state. Hopefully the information above was informative enough to cover the broad range of questions previously asked within the forum.
Thanks, AllStarWeekendx, for taking the time to write this valuable info. It is clear that Eugene is definitely not a safe, secluded, small college town that many think it is, because of gangs, car thefts, assaults, meth labs, and other drugs. Even the most remote towns can have gangs (you mention Klamath Falls). I've seen evidence of gang activity in quaint towns on US-395 along the Eastern Sierra such as Bishop, at Lake Tahoe, and also along the SW California Coast in Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo.

How about Ashland, Corvallis, LaGrande, and Bend? To your knowledge, do they have any significant gang activity?

Again, thanks so much. Many of us are trying to escape big cities with millions of people, and certainly don't want to be greeted with any terrible surprises from gangs.
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Old 03-15-2010, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Oregon
1,224 posts, read 3,335,928 times
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Only read part of the OP - but the title reminded me that what comprises a gang may be a point of view thing.

Odds are that Oregon has had gangs or crime since the late 1700s, when ships landed on the west coast - prior to Lewis and Clark.

Back in the 1800s, some native Americans were probably viewed in the same light at gangs are today, in Oregon, or parts like northern California.

There was conflict, theft and killing by both "whites" and non-whites. Or conflict between the "law abiding" and those deemed to be the non-law abiding.

So its seems that violence and the perception of it ebbs and flows over time.

Even in Portland, gangs barely makes the news anymore. Gangs exist, but they are neither prominent nor "notable". They merely exist here and there in spots. Maybe the gangs should be more newsworthy, but are not reported on. There probably is much more going on than the news portrays.

Southern Oregon has a tad bit present, but in day to day living, it reminds me of hiking up Lower Table Rock where a few rattlesnakes are present, and they are best avoided, but don't stop the scenic hiking. Gang's don't have much control in Oregon cities, and don't "rule the roost" so to speak. They are rather subdued, still.

Back in the 80's, the Portand police used to ask the park employees to report grafitti so they could ID migration of gangs from California or other places. It seemed like it might be an interesting study in itself.

Sometimes when it looks like gangs have diminished, maybe they have just gone underground better. It seems pretty hard to get rid of them once they have become rooted in a city.

Last edited by mdvaden; 03-15-2010 at 11:14 AM..
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Greater PDX
1,018 posts, read 2,608,648 times
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My gang does most of its banging in Lake Oswego, Forest Grove, and Bethany when we are not just crusin tha aislez of Kitchen Kaboodle. West Side Crackaz 4 Life. They let me in because of my skillz with a bo staff.
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Old 03-16-2010, 02:23 AM
 
857 posts, read 645,226 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdvaden View Post
Back in the 1800s, some native Americans were probably viewed in the same light at gangs are today, in Oregon, or parts like northern California.
That's a horribly racist statement, and terribly inappropriate. Anyone reading this from out of state should NOT assume that Oregon is anti-Native American, because of this isolated post.
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:52 AM
 
172 posts, read 279,819 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CCCVDUR View Post
That's a horribly racist statement, and terribly inappropriate. Anyone reading this from out of state should NOT assume that Oregon is anti-Native American, because of this isolated post.
I do not believe it is a racist statement at all. I think his point is that to some degree the concept of "gangs" in society becomes intertwined with concepts of race relations, i.e. the white majority versus a non-white minority who feels they are being marginalized by the majority. Nowhere in his post was there a disparaging comment about native americans. Any student of history knows that white settlers in America in the 1800's and 1900's held racist and disparaging views of Native Americans due to the on-going conflict arising from the settlement of the West. That is historical fact. Ugly fact but fact nonetheless. His post did not indicate that people still feel that way today in Oregon and I think most readers will realize that.
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Old 03-16-2010, 06:01 PM
 
4,925 posts, read 6,081,268 times
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It may not be racist, but it sure isn't accurate.

I kind of think that the view of the Oregon pioneers toward the Indians of the day and vice-versa pretty well went beyond today's view of most gang-bangers--regardless of race.
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:25 PM
 
172 posts, read 279,819 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinem View Post
It may not be racist, but it sure isn't accurate.

I kind of think that the view of the Oregon pioneers toward the Indians of the day and vice-versa pretty well went beyond today's view of most gang-bangers--regardless of race.
I didn't say it was a GOOD analogy, only that it was a far cry from being racist and that I could kind of see what the poster was trying to say. There is is this rush to judgement that happens now by many, many people that if anyone says anything pertaining to race than it must be racist. It's ridiculous.
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:09 PM
 
72 posts, read 117,026 times
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It's simply a sort of petit-bourgeois expectation that anytime a regular grouping of a non-white (or non-rich) ethnic group not engaged in active assimilation (middle class deep-throating) gathers there must be trouble underfoot. Check out the tongs of the early twentieth century - they weren't all gang fronts, but often functioned as community and cultural centers. But guess which aspect passed into historical memory?

I have a brother back in eastern kentucky who in his younger, wilder days did some deals with what's referred to as the cornbread mafia. I have no idea about the extent or organization of this supposed crime syndicate, or whether its simply a self-applied label of pride. Then again, isn't that what being in a gang is all about?
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