Why Teenagers Join a Gang

Studies show that children from single parent homes are more likely to join a gang. It has something to do with teenagers seeking to get the family support and protection that is all to lacking in the home. Teenagers are also thrill seekers hence, they are more susceptible to any group or activity that might offer excitement and or adrenalin related interaction.

When parents do not regularly monitor their children’s activities, which happens a lot within single-family homes, their children move toward impulsive behavior. When teens give into impulsive activities, the results are never good. Therefore, prevention is one of the better options.

How best to keep teens on tract is a dilemma for all parents, not just single parents. It is a more difficult task for single parents because they do not have the resources to help keep their teenagers on track. Single parents work two or three jobs just to pay rent and put food on the table subsequently there is no extra funds to sign their children up for activities that will keep them focused and out of trouble.

Parents should do everything possible and more to keep their children away from the gang environment. Once the gang recruits a member, the hold on that individual leads to a lifetime commitment, voluntarily or not. Being in a gang gives the individual street credit as well as protection from other unsavory criminals. As a member of a gang, the individual enjoys a much-needed safety within his community.

As a gang member, teenagers by minor association instill fear into their communities. They walk the streets engaging in illegal behavior with little or no consequences. They do not fear the cops because they believe themselves to be above the law; some members believe they are invincible.

It will be very difficult to deprogram teenagers once they join a gang so parents must do whatever it takes to keep their children within their protective fold. The first is supervision; teenage are not to be left to their own reconnaissance due to their adventurous nature. Next parents should work on keeping their children busy outside of school. Of course, there are many other avenues for parents to address to keep gangs away from their home. Parents, therefore should not rule out any option; parents then most realize what the best steps to take to keep their children safe and away from gangs.

American Mobster – Owney Maddon – Head of the Gophers Street Gang

Owney “The Killer” Madden was an anomaly in the world of New York City gangsters, mainly because he was not Italian, or even Jewish. Madden was British, the son of an relocated Irish dockworker; born and bred, and dedicated for life to his homeland — merry old England. In fact, even though Madden was an American criminal for six decades, he didn’t give up his English passport until 1950, after he was threatened with deportation.

Owen “Owney” Madden was born at 25 Somerset Street, in Leeds, England, on December 18, 1891. In need of work, his father moved the Madden family to Liverpool. In 1903, when young Madden was only 12, his father died and his mother re-located the family to America, settling on the west side of Manhattan, in a treacherous neighborhood called “Hells Kitchen.” Madden fell in with a rough-and-tumble gang known as the Gophers and he became proficient in the favored crimes of the era; robberies, muggings and labor racket beatings. Madden was adept at using a myriad of weapons, including a slingshot and brass knuckles, but his favorite weapon was a lead pipe wrapped in newspaper. His main source of income was the “insurance business,” where Madden sold “bomb insurance” to scores of local merchants, who were worried about having their businesses bombed, from none other than Madden himself. As a member of the Gophers, Madden was arrested forty-four times, but managed to stay out of prison every time.

When he was seventeen, Madden earned his nickname “The Killer,” because he shot to death an unarmed Italian in the street, for no reason, other than he could do it. After the killing, Madden stood over the dead body and announced to the assembled crowd, “I’m Owney Madden!” By the time he was twenty-three, Madden had at least five other murders to his credit.

One time, Madden’s braggadocio almost cost him his life. On November, 6, 1912, at the Arbor Dance Hall, which was in the heart of the territory controlled by the Gopher’s rivals – the Hudson Dusters, Madden strolled into the hall by himself during a dance given by the Dave Hyson Association. He was watching the proceedings from the balcony, when eleven Hudson Dusters surrounded him and filled his body with six pieces of lead. He was rushed to the hospital, where a detective asked Madden who shot him.

“Nothin’ doin,'” Madden said. “It’s no business but mine who put these slugs into me. My boys will get them.” By the time Madden was released from the hospital, six of his eleven assailants had already been shot dead.

While Madden was recuperating, one of his fellow Gophers, Little Patsy Doyle, thought he could use Madden’s weakened condition as a reason to take control of the gang. Yet the main cause of Doyle’s ire was that Madden had stolen Doyle’s girlfriend Freda Horner away from him. When word got back to Madden about Doyle’s intentions, he used Miss Horner to lure Doyle to a saloon on Eight Avenue and Forty-First Street, where Madden and two of his gunmen shot Doyle dead. Madden was arrested three days later, and at his trial, Miss Horner turned the tables and testified against Madden. He was sentenced to Sing Sing Prison for 10-20 years, but did only eight, being released in 1923.

When he hit the streets again, Madden found his Gophers gang had dissipated, so he threw himself head-first into the bootlegging business. There Madden moved up in class and was considered the equal of such mobsters as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, Louis Lepke, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Madden also dabbled in the night club business, opening the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem, which he bought from former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson.

His relationship with Johnson, segued Madden into the boxing business, where he nurtured the career of Italian carnival freak, the six-foot-six-inch, 285-pound, Primo Canera. Madden fed Canera so many stiffs and set-ups, the no-talent Canera was able to win the heavyweight championship of the world. He did so by landing an invisible punch against champion Jack Sharkey in the 6th round at the Madison Square Garden Bowl, in Long Island City. Sharkey obviously took a dive and was reportedly paid handsomely to do so. The first time Madden put Canera in tough, against Jewish heavyweight sensation Max Baer, he was knocked down ten times, before the referee mercifully stopped the fight in the 11th round. Of course, Madden made big money betting on Baer, who, because of Canera’s feared reputation, went into the fight as a slight underdog.

In 1932, Madden was arrested on a parole violation, and when he was released a few months later, he decided he had accumulated enough cash in a lifetime of crime to relocate to Hot Springs, Arkansas. There Madden opened several casino/hotels, which were used as hideouts for New York City mobsters on the lam, and he even married the Postmaster’s daughter. Madden was granted United States citizenship in 1943, and after being stricken with emphysema, Madden died in his bed in 1965, at the ripe old age of 74. He was said to have amassed a fortune of $3 million, but not surprisingly, none of that money was ever found after his death.

American Mobsters – The Hudson Dusters Street Gang

The Hudson Dusters were an unruly street gang that ruled the Greenwich Village area of New York City, starting in the late 1890’s. They were formed by the trio of Kid Yorke, Circular Jack and Goo Goo Knox, who was a former gang member of the Gophers, a group that ruled Hell’s Kitchen a few blocks to the north. Knox tried to take control of the Gophers, failed, then moved south to terrorize a different neighborhood, which was open to whichever gang could take command. The Dusters crushed local gangs like the Potashes and the Boodles, then took control of the Greenwich Village and the business of plundering the docks along the Hudson River, a few blocks to the west.

The crooked streets of Greenwich Village were perfect for getaways after the Dusters committed one of their varied crimes. Their most accomplished thief was Ding Dong, who would roam the streets with a dozen or so youths. He would direct them to jump on passing wagons and toss to him any valuables they could get their hands on. Before the police could respond, Ding Dong was long gone, having disappeared down the maze of streets that comprise the Village.

The Gophers became street legends, but they were not particularly known for their fighting prowess, as were other brutal New York City gangs. They hung out in the taverns and gin mills of the Village, mingling with the famous writers and artists of their time. The journalists also favored the Dusters, and they were portrayed in the newspapers as nothing more than a fun-loving bunch, who drank more than they fought. One of the Duster’s party pals was playwright Eugene O’Neil, who frequented the gang’s hangout – the Hell Hole, on Sixth Avenue and Fourth Street. It was there that O’Neil garnered most of his characters for his most famous play – The Iceman Cometh – the Iceman being Death.

At their inception, the Dusters moved their base of operations frequently, finally settling on a house on Hudson Street, just below Horatio, later the site of the Open Door Mission. More interested in partying than pillaging, the Dusters installed a piano and they danced the nights away, in a cocaine induced stupor, with the prostitutes who prowled the West Side piers a few short blocks away. This annoyed the neighboring homeowners and business owners to no end, but all were afraid to make a complaint to the police, because the Dusters had the reputation of seeking revenge in a hot moment on anyone who would rat. After a night of carousing, the Dusters were known to parade in the streets, boozed out and hopped-up on coke, looking to cause mayhem on anyone, or anything in their path.

One night, the Dusters asked a local saloon keeper to provide them with a few kegs of beer for a party, on the arm, of course, meaning they did not expect to actually pay the man money for his stock. The saloon keeper refused and the Dusters descended up his establishment, wrecking the joint and carrying away every ounce of booze on the premises. The saloon keeper ran to his friend Patrolman Dennis Sullivan. Patrolman Sullivan decided to declare war on the Dusters. He rounded up ten of them, including their leader Red Farrell, and arrested them for vagrancy.

The Dusters decided to retaliate, and with the blessing of a Greenwich Village politician, who used the Dusters for intimidation on Election Day, they ambushed Patrolmen Sullivan as he was about to arrest one of the Dusters on a robbery charge. They attacked him from behind and stole his jacket, gun and shield, while beating him with stones and blackjacks. As many as twenty Dusters took turns kicking and punching the distressed policeman after he was down. When Patrolman Sullivan was finally unconscious, four Dusters rolled him onto his back and ground their heels into his face, causing permanent scars. Patrolman Sullivan was finally taken to the hospital, where he stayed, recuperating for over a month.

The Gophers Street Gang congratulated the Dusters on their cop-beating accomplishment, and Gopher leader, “One Lung” Curran, felt moved enough to write a poem, praising their actions. The poem read:

Says Dinny “Here’s me only chance
To gain meself a name;
I’ll clean up the Hudson Dusters,
and reach the hall of fame.”
He lost his stick and cannon,
and his shield they took away.
It was then he remembered,
Every dog had his day.

The Dusters loved this poem so much, they printed up hundreds of copies and distributed them on the streets of Greenwich Village, even dropping one off at the Charles Street Station House, where Patrolman Sullivan was assigned.

By 1916, The Dusters had dissipated, as most of their gang members were either coke addicts, dead, or locked up in jail. Another Greenwich Village gang, the Marginals, led by Tanner Smith, took over the Duster’s rackets, and they controlled the Village until Tanner was killed by Chicky Lewis, inside the Marginal Club on Eighth Avenue, on July 29, 1919. For all practical purposes, that was the end of street gang presence on the Lower West Side.