Back to the Blogs

An ongoing series of informational entries that affect your community. 

Females in Gangs: Services Needed In Los Angeles

April 2018 by Kelli Dillon

      It is estimated that there are over 100,000 gang members, however, about 40% of gangs allow for female membership, and only 1 out of 10 members are female.  Although, the activities of the females usually play more of a domestic and sexual role in these gangs, the majority of these young women are involved and become incarcerated for drug use and sells, larceny, robberies, and status offenses. 

     Once incarcerated, about 70% report being victims of domestic and sexual abuse, as children, and domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault by their partners and fellow male members, as adults. Also, to even join a gang, a female member is given the choice to either be jumped in (fight any number of members) or be sexed in (sexual activity with multiple male members).

     Although, a female may join a gang to escape abuse at home, she finds herself running to the same mistreatment she was trying to get away from or secure protection against. Most females who entered into the gang looking for acceptance, respect, and equality find themselves being used as dispensable drug “mules” and

exploited through prostitution. And no matter how much she may glorify her role, most females are often reported as depressed, suicidal, low-self image and esteem, and afraid. Because, the female is seen as volunteering to be subjected to this lifestyle and risk, there seems to be a lack of empathy or concern to provide her with intervention and services to address this, unknowingly to her, abuse and victimization.

Watts Riot: 52 Years Later with Donna Graham, Watts Community Interventionist

August 16, 2017 by Kelli Dillon

      The Watts Riots or Watts Rebellion was an event that happened in the summer of 1965. The Riots stemmed from an incident on August 11, 1965, 21-year-old Marquette Frye, an African American man was driving his mother's 1955 Buick, was pulled over on 116th and Avalon by a white California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Lee Minikus on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Frye’s mother was notified of what was happening by his brother, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the traffic stop. By the time his mother came and began to scold him for his carelessness, things begin to escalate between Frye, the police, and his mother. When a crowd (mostly African Americans) gathered, they observed this as another police abuse or brutality incident, they responded to the situation and became involved.

         With police back up responding, a full fight and riot started and spread throughout Watts and South Central Los Angeles. People began looting stores, torching buildings, and beating whites as snipers fired at police and firefighters who tried to respond and calm the people and situation. Finally, with the assistance of thousands of National Guardsmen, order was restored.

Donna grew up in Southeast Los Angeles, in a community associated with the Watts area. After the 1965 Watts riots, the sub-city had expanded it’s boundaries to local communities and included areas with heavy involvement and participation of community uprising. At the time, most people saw this uprising as nothing more than rebellion. But, for the community members it was their way of organizing and fighting back against a law enforcement agency that had terrorized them for decades. Donna says, “Although most of the community was at a low poverty level, we didn’t see it that way, because most of our families went to work everyday. But still there were no jobs, zero tolerance in the housing projects... people scared of the police," she says.

         Donna was 12 years old when the Watts Riots took place. She admits to participating in this historical event. She did not see her participation as an act of defiance, but of empowerment. She recalls, “Participation was necessary. We were angry, we were tired of being treated any kind of way, we weren’t just stealing and breaking stuff. We were fighting for our rights.” Many have asked the question over the years, ‘If the blacks were angry at the whites or others that had mistreated them, abused them, and discriminated against them, then why didn’t they go to the neighborhoods of those people and destroy their community?’ I asked Donna the same question. What sense did it make to tear up your own neighborhood, instead of the ones who was inflicting all this abuse on you? Donna shook her head and hunched her shoulders and responded, “I don’t know why we did that, because, it wasn’t til after it was all over and the smoke clear that we realize we only hurt our community more.”