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Saturday, 23 October 2010

East End murder gangs and Italian Republics

The two young gang members shot yesterday in East London, one fatally, are just two more casualties of the gang culture in London and even now will be remembered on 'Facebook' by fellow gun-toting gang members as 'soljers' whilst their single mothers (and I'll bet you a fiver they are) go on the TV news to declare them quiet, gentle kids who wanted to be landscape architects. 

The truly excellent London Street Gangs website maps with considerable accuracy gang territories, and describes gang histories, alliances and enemies; of the E13 gangs it says:
Stratford gang members have historically been concentrated mainly around Maryland (home of current gang Maryland Bloods) and around Stratford town centre. Stratford and Plaistow cliques have been allies for a number of years and often come together in conflicts against rivals from Hackney. One of the most infamous members is Carl Dobson, aka Crazy Titch, who headed music crew “Boys in da Hood”. He was given a 30-year jail term following the murder of Piff City member Richard Holmes in 2005 on the Chingford Hall estate. There has been an alliance between Stratford Mandem and Plaistow Mandem for some time now although gang names and cliques were less common until the mid to late 2000s. The main Stratford bactches currently are located around Broadway (including Focus) and Redbrick with the Plaistow batches located mainly around the Chadd Green estate (Portway). Other estates south of Stratford centre have their own batches of Stratford Mandem. Independent cliques linked to the Stratford & Plaistow Boys as allies are Thatched House Thugs. Whilst the older generation once had an alliance with Leytonstone, the current generation are in conflict with Leytonstone's Cathall and Acacia Block gangs and the current Maryland generation are no longer aligned to Stratford. 
The murder site, below, is surrounded by gang territories centred around Council estates. 

You know, in these descriptions I can't help but be reminded of Sismondi's 'History of the Italian Republics', that wonderful chronicle of shifting alliances, small battles and the strategies for power of very, very small statelets, some no more than an area of a mediaeval city with a couple of fortified towers. Nor are the manners of the Italian petty nobles much different from those of the East London murder gangs;
All that Gian Maria Visconti preserved of sovereign power was an unbounded indulgence in every vice. His libertinism would hardly have been remarked; he was chiefly signalized by the frightful pleasure which he sought in the practice of cruelty. He was passionately devoted to the chase; but such sports soon failed to quench his thirst for cruelty. The tortures inflicted on mute animals, not finding expression by speech, did not come up to his ferocious ideas of enjoyment He therefore resolved to substitute men for brute animals; and caused all the criminals condemned by the tribunals to be given up to him as objects of this inhuman sport He had his hounds fed with human flesh, in order to render them more ferocious in tearing the victims; and, when ordinary convicts were scarce, he denounced to the tribunals even the crimes in which he had participated, to obtain the condemnation of his accomplices: after which he delivered them to his huntsman, Squarcia Giramo, charged with providing for the ducal chase. He was at last, on the 16th of May, 1412, assassinated by some Milanese nobles.
The idea that the rivalries of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines resemble those of the Bloods and the Crips (yes, these are two of the major London gang factions these days) is not a new one, of course. But its setting in London rather than in New York is novel. Time for Andrew Lloyd-Webber, perhaps? 


Pithy Observer said...

East Side Story?

Demetrius said...

Sir John Hawkwood did very nicely out of it all as did, I suspect, a few other Brit' mercenaries. Later on Shakespeare had an interesting riff on it all. Macmillan's ballet version "Romeo and Juliet" at Covent Garden does some great fight scenes. Makes the new East Enders look like pussycats.