I Want to Belong – Improve Confidence by Being Part of the Gang

Being part of a crowd or group can give us a sense of belonging, a feeling of identity. It can reinforce our sense of who we are. People often gain confidence from being part of a gang, it can provide reassurance that our beliefs and values, even ourselves are acceptable.

As a young person being in a gang is a way of defining their identity. Young children often enjoy becoming a member of a Brownies, Cubs or Scout pack. There is a shared bond and an automatic sense of friendship and belonging. It teaches about becoming friends and the shared responsibility, respect and loyalty that we have towards each other in these groups.

As they start to grow up, many young people feel unsure of themselves. They lack confidence in their opinions and tastes and becoming part of a gang provides a safe way to express those views. Young people often lack the life experience and maturity to have tried out their attitudes and opinions in the wider world. There is almost too much to know, too much to have an informed opinion about. And so a gang can become a safe extension of the family in which to experience aspects of life in an intensive but protected way.

For young people, problems can arise if the gang becomes all consuming. Some young people adopt every aspect of the gang mentality without having the sophistication to be able to identity which parts suit them and which do not. That can be disconcerting for family and other people they come into contact with, but for a time it is often part of stretching their personality and intellectual muscles as they begin to grow up.

Some gangs are almost sect like in their approach and can require adherence to a strict code of beliefs and behaviour. Often gang members will dress in similar clothes, have their hair styled the same way, share tastes in music and socialising. Interesting, when they have often been so desperate to get out of one uniform, only to put on another. This is often when being part of a gang can appear to be rebellious or shocking. Dress, tattoos, music, body piercings, bad language, maybe drug use, can all be a part of the gang identity and bring an excitement at appearing rather dangerous.

Security can be another factor of belonging to a gang. There is a shared camaraderie that protects and supports each other. It can provide almost a substitute family environment, as often a young person may feel misunderstood or unappreciated in their own home. The gang can take over and provide the nurturing and security needed for a time.

Often parents and family are horrified at the way the gang looks. They may seem odd, unorthodox, menacing, but that is often the attraction to a young person. It is part of flexing their muscles, prior to branching out on their own as an independent young adult. Often the young people who behave in this way are intelligent, questioning and highly motivated and turn into bright successful young adults.

Older people tend to call their gangs groups or clubs. These are often rather more formal in their set up and are often selective in their admittance policy. Members will share the same interests or outlook and gain comfort from that shared bond. A group will reflect their values and provide a sense of security and acceptance. It reinforces their sense of who they are and their place in society.

Groups for older people often bring together people who have a common need or interest. They provide an outlet based on sport, a desire to do business together, marital status or personal development requirements and the benefits that come from belonging. These groups may have a membership requirement and a code of behaviour attached so that members can feel comfortable about the standards of behaviour expected from each other. That reassurance of respectability is an important factor in many cases.

Biker Business….

With motorcycle gang violence again under scrutiny, it’s worth remembering an ominous warning about a biker blueprint for consolidating and carving up territory amongst the strongest clubs to maximise illicit incomes.

The warning was contained in a confidential assessment prepared in New Zealand on the activities of the Bandidos and the Highway 61 club and an agreement between Australian motorcycle gangs.

Bandidos chapter president Rodney Monk was gunned down outside an East Sydney restaurant on Thursday night in what appears to have been an internal club dispute. Police are hunting former Banidos sergeant-at-arms Russell Oldham in connection with the killing. Monk has since been named as a cocaine “broker” with links to an organised drug syndicate.

And on Saturday three members of the Highway 61 gang were arrested in Adelaide over the blackmail and bashing of a local man who owed money for drugs. The men were arrested at Adelaide airport after flying in from Sydney, allegedly to further threaten the victim. Two of the bikies were travelling under false identities.

Acting Detective Superintendent Graham Goodwin said after the arrests that such violence was become more common amongst bikie gangs.

“We are becoming increasingly aware that members of motorcycle gangs and their associates are threatening and extorting members of the community to obtain money and other assets,” he said.

In the document called “A Preliminary Report on the Bandidos Motor Cycle Club Merging with the New Zealand Highway 61 Motor Cycle Club” prepared by New Zealand police in 1996, details were given of plans by international biker gangs to drastically reduce the number of outlaw motor clubs proliferating world-wide.

“This [move] began in America where most motor cycle initiatives appear to begin, and through the reaches of the empire of the strong gangs, such as the Hell’s Angels and Outlaws, spread to Europe through their associated chapters and affiliated groups, and then to other countries of the world,” the report said.

“The reasoning behind the activity was to limit and control the amount of competition for the shrinking dollar in the illicit trading arena such as the drugs market, and to strengthen the financial position of the major corporation players.

“…where minor gang entities exist, they were either to be chartered (taken over) or absorbed by takeover, or eliminated completely, often through extreme violence, [including] homicide through shootings and bombings.

“In early 1994, following the world trend, there was a meeting in Sydney, Australia, between the major gangs where it was decided informally that the gangs in that country would adopt a similar stance to that already being set up by the rest of the [multinational] gang business world-wide.

“There would be a maximum of six gangs controlling Australia by the year 2000.”

Under what was dubbed the “Australia 2000 Pact” the six gangs that would dominate were the Hell’s Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos, Rebels, Black Uhlans and Nomads.

The contents of the confidential report were revealed to the SA parliament on July 2, 1996 amid growing fears in that state of motorcycle gang violence.

The SA parliament was told that the confidential report detailed how New Zealand bikies had links to Australian gangs involved in trading and selling illegal weapons.

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Mobsters, Gangs – The Midnight Terrors

There’s an old boxing joke where a guy says, “Hey, you wouldn’t believe it, but I went to a boxing match last night and a hockey game broke out.” Well, imagine a New York City street gang that formed a baseball team so that they could expand their criminal empire. In the Gay Nineties in New York City, this actually happened, and the street gang was called The Midnight Terrors.

The Midnight Terrors were a group of young teenage boys, who terrorized the streets of the First Ward in the 1890’s. The First Ward was located on the southern-most tip of Manhattan. It ran eastbound on Liberty Street from the North River (now called the Hudson River), then continued on Maiden Lane, south to the Battery and all the way east to the East River. Governors, Bedloes, and Ellis Island were also part of the First Ward.

The Midnight Terrors were first called “The Dalton Gang,” after its leader, 14-year old “Chief” Dan Dalton, who commanded his gang from their headquarters on Broad Street. Other gang members included 14-year-old Bob Trail, 14- year-old Joe Hammill, 17-year-old Jim Styles, 19-year-old Al Morrett, 14-year-old Pete Oliver, and the baby of the bunch: 11-year-old Pat Kane.

Because he was so tiny, Kane’s specialty was to spread grease all over his body, then slither down the skylight of the business the gang was robbing. Once inside, Kane unlocked the front lock and let the rest of the gang in. The gang also specialized in the late-night muggings of any poor sap, dumb enough to walk the streets of the First Ward after dark. Each gang member carried a pistol and a straight razor, which they weren’t hesitant to use. The gang’s name was changed from “The Dalton Gang” to “The Midnight Terrors,” because the gang did all it’s business late at night, while the rest of the city was sleeping.

The biggest problem for the Midnight Terrors was boredom, especially during the day. One sunny afternoon, Dalton and a few of his gang members attended a local semi-pro baseball game. Dalton was quite impressed by the speed and ferocity of the event.

Dalton turned to a gang member next to him and said, “Hey dis game’s a pip! We ought to learn ‘ow to play.”

And that they did, but not very well.

Not that it made any difference. Dalton and his gang has other ideas in mind.

The Midnight Terrors tried to join a local baseball league, but were told they could not play in the league unless they wore proper uniforms, which cost a considerable amount of cash, to dress an entire team.

So a fast crime spree was required to raise the money to buy the uniforms.

In short order, The Midnight Terrors robbed Fredrick England’s Barber Shop at 4 Coenties Slip, Stephen Pyle’s Restaurant at 19 Coenties Slip, Charles Steckler’s Restaurant at 74 Pearl Street, and Meyer’s Saloon at 89 Broad Street. In addition, numerous individuals were robbed in the streets, sometimes even during the daylight hours. All the cash derived from these escapades were put directly into “The Midnight Terror Uniform Fund.”

Now resplendent in their sharp new uniforms, The Midnight Terrors were admitted into a baseball league, which played throughout the borough of Manhattan, and even into nearby Brooklyn. To make up for their lack of baseball ability, The Midnight Terror’s baseball team played a brand of baseball that could rightfully be called criminal. All the team’s member sharpened their spikes, and they did not slide directly into a base, but rather, right into the legs and chest of the opponent who was covering the base. As a result, countless fights broke out during games between The Midnight Terrors and their opponents, some of which became quite bloody. During these battles, baseball bats were used for other tasks besides just hitting the baseball.

To make sure they got the upper hand in these on-the-field-fights, The Midnight Terrors placed dozens of their non-baseball-playing gang members in the stands. As soon as an on-field commotion occurred, their cohorts would run onto the field, wielding bats, pipes, bricks, brass knuckles, and anything else they could get their hands on. The police were called in many times to break up these fights, but no arrests were ever made. The general feeling among the fuzz was that “boys will be boys,” and as long as no one was dead, or crippled, – no harm, no foul.

Fighting on the field was one thing. And as long as The Midnight Terrors concentrated their robberies and muggings in the First Ward, the First Ward police, most of whom were on the Midnight Terrors’ payroll anyway, looked the other way. However, “Chief” Dan Dalton’s plan all along was to expand his operations, by having his non-baseball-playing gang members rob the people sitting in the stands, while the game was going on. Since these games took place in several neighborhoods other than the First Ward, the police in other parts of the city would have none of The Midnight Terrors’ shenanigans. Besides, they had their own street gangs to deal with.

Spurred on by the police captains in other precincts, the First Ward cops rounded up as many of The Midnight Terrors that they could find, including “Chief” Dan Dalton. When The Midnight Terrors were arrested, the police found dozens of knives and guns in their possession. Dalton, sure he would be back on the streets in no time, told the police captain in charge of their arrests, “Say jes keep an eye on doze guns and keys for us, Cap, will yer. ‘Cause we’ll soon be back.”

However, the roof fell in on The Midnight Terrors, when the prosecuting attorney asked for, and received from the judge, a $500 bail amount for each member of the gang, which was a kingly sum in the Gay Nineties. It was also an impossible amount of money for any of the gang members to raise, since their had spent all their ill-gotten gains on their spiffy new baseball uniforms.

Since they could not hit the streets and attempt to jump bail, Dalton and all his top gang members had no choice but to go to trail. When Dalton took the witness stand, he was asked by Judge Voorhis what he had done with all the money he and his gang had stolen. Dalton replied, “We eat almost everythin’ and wot we culdn’t eat we sold. Dat’s the way we wuz to get de uniforms fer de ball club.”

The trial of The Midnight Terrors was a slam-dunk for the prosecution. Dalton and his gang were convicted of numerous crimes, and sent to the slammer for long periods of time. This effectively ended the reign of the Midnight Terrors in Lower Manhattan.

And the game of baseball, as we presently know it, was saved.