In the past week I've noticed two different gang-related graffiti markings on the bus. This is the first time I've seen such a thing...well, since junior high on the school bus.
Alex, Georges, Kyle, Jon, Ian and others used to live at 524 Benjamin, on the corner of Benjamin & Bemis. In Alex's later days at the house and after, the residents were known as the 524 Boys. Alex once told me he was mugged around there, so it's not really a surprise that there's a gang in the area called the "Bemis Boys". What's scarier, is their involvement in the recent violence we've seen.
In 8th grade I learned about gangs from my friend Jeremy Sobota. He said he had friends in gangs, but he wasn't in one. My high school, Kenowa Hills, is in the country/suburbs, so peoples' gang involvement seemed ridiculous. It was around the end of junior high when a lot of kids began to claim affiliation to gangs- specifically "Gangster Disciples". Their GD symbols were everywhere (school buses, and now that I think about it a kid throwing the hand signals at one "Den Chief" conference I went to for Boy Scouts)- just suburban kids wishing they could be in gangs. Their symbols always confused me. Quite often I'd see a pitch fork with a Star of David at the bottom and a crown on the top and the numbers "174" (1=best, 7=G, 4=D) nearby.
Researching it, I found that the six points of the Star of David "symbolize Life, Loyalty, Love, Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding".
I really was afraid of gangs in junior high. There were a couple bullies who always got into trouble and threatened people. It's funny, since they weren't as mean in high school. I think people just didn't care. Once, after I heard a kid brought brass knuckles to school, I started walking home instead of riding the bus (technically, it's unrelated, but I'll conflate stories here) and would get home after my younger brother, which made my parents angry. They ended up calling the Principal and I shared my fears and she told me the kid accidentally left a hunting knife in his coat after a trip and I shouldn't worry. I think seeing movies like "Gangster's Paradise" and "187" just got me worried. I'd hate to get paranoid again.