Eleven hundred years ago, rival Viking factions hailed their own violence and called each other wimps with spoken-word threats often ad-libbed by court poets called skalds. Before that, Greek epics did much the same: You Trojan nancyboys, we’ll kill you. History repeats itself. Today gangs make videos waging urban mini-genocides. Generally, Norteños are Hispanics born on this side of the border; Sureños (whom Norteños call “scraps” or “scrapas“) are immigrants. In a typical YouTube video, posted July 6 and titled “East Oakland Varrio 38th Norte” (varrio is barrio, misspelled), a red-masked teen raises a gun on an Oakland street as a voice raps: “Us Norteños gotta put in work, kill a fuckin’ scrap and put his ass in the dirt … rippin’ tissue, we’ll leave your body twitchin’ … we’re scrap killers all day every day.” Comic relief is a highway-like sign reading CAUTION! NORTEñOS HOOD, with a prone Sureño-blue stick figure bleeding from the head as a Norteño-red foot and bat-wielding arms beat and kick it.
In another, red-bandannaed rapper Loco C declares: “I’m an East Bay hitter … a known scrap-killer.” In another, red-clad Union Cityite Big Ru warns over the sound of gunfire: “That’s the sound of sweet revenge. … Catch a scrap … there they go.” The video titled “Fuck Scraps” shows real footage of a gunfire-blasted head (the attached corpse wears blue) as a voice raps, “I watch you die, then I smile.” Gay male porn flashes past with blue bandannas and Sureño tattoos drawn on the figures. In another video, also titled “Fuck Scraps,” the refrain “Bang, bang, I shot you down” peppers a rap that calls Sureños “high-powered fags suckin’ dick all day.” (Psst! Hombres! Ixnay on the omophobiahay!) In the video titled “Fuck Suwer Ratas,” voices chant, “I can kill a scrap if you want me to. … The process of elimination was built by my frustration at the scrapa invasion.” (Ixnay on the enophobiaxay!) This one shows pictures of Sureños, captioned “100% Faggs.”
It’s another new genre, part theater and part arsenal. A gold-toothed boy in a Berkeley park fans hundred-dollar bills in the video posted on July 5 titled “Norte XIV” (fourteen signifies “Norteño” because N comes fourteenth in the alphabet) and subtitled “Berkeley Norteños we fuck bitchs and get money.” Raising his red shirt to display a life-size pistol tattooed on his flank, exactly where a real tucked-into-the-waistband gun would rest, he grins: “I pop a nigga.”
Among other antigang measures, Proposition 6 — aka the Safe Neighborhoods Act — on the November ballot imposes a ten-year penalty increase on gang members who commit violent felonies and prohibits illegal immigrants arrested for gang crimes from being released on bail.
All Murders Were Created Equal
Coverage of UC Berkeley senior Chris Wootton’s May 3 murder “enraged” rhetoric major Sara Rosell, whose blog ColorConscious.blogspot.com deemed the coverage “White Privilege At Its Finest” because it outmeasured the September 2007 murder of Cal senior Rod Rodriguez, who was shot in Sacramento after allegedly being mistaken for a gang member. Wootton, Rosell writes, “was killed in a Saturday night drunken brawl, whereas Rod … was heavily involved in the Berkeley community, advancing racial justice through volunteer work.”
Emeryville PD reports that when a man drove to the Woodfin Hotel’s parking lot recently “to make a purchase in response to a Craigslist ad,” the Hispanic putative seller “entered the victim’s vehicle, pulled a gun, and forced the victim to follow” another car to another location, where — before fleeing in that other car, a green Pontiac — he stole $2,580 and a Panerai watch. These Swiss beauties sell for upward of $6,000.
The real-estate crash is very, very good to thieves. This warning on a Montclair neighborhood-watch forum describes a burglary — the fifth in a series — following an open house in a staged home, i.e., a home in which nice furniture has been used to dress up the place. “In this case the house was recently put on the market and had been very elegantly staged, and apparently furniture valued at least $50,000 was stolen. A white van may have been used.”
Tip-Jar Tears, Take 2
Cafe Gratitude’s employees have one less thing to be grateful for, after a thirtysomething African-American man in a yellow-and-orange striped shirt snatched the raw-food restaurant’s tip jar containing about $300 on July 11, according to the Berkeley police log.
Better Yet, He Played a Cop
Guess who was someone’s mom’s favorite actor? According to an El Cerrito police bulletin, the “22-year-old male resident of Richmond” arrested for possession of a controlled substance on June 23 is named Alpacino Lavelle McDaniels.
So That’s Why People Live in Piedmont
Between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 5, Piedmont police records show reports of a house being egged, a loud leaf-blower, a blocked driveway, two off-leash dogs, a car parked too long, “a suspicious person carrying a plastic bag,” a dead rat, and a dead cat. That’s it. Within those same hours in Oakland, police records show five shootings, an assault with a deadly weapon, three armed robberies, a strong-arm robbery, an assault with a deadly weapon, and an unexplained death. That’s it.