Source: The Toronto Star (Canada)
Pubdate: 20 Nov 1998
Contact:  Page B1
Author: Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star Education Reporter


U.S. influence creeping in as groups start to choose sides

Toronto will have a massive crime problem in the next few years if the
growing violence and organization by youth gangs go on much longer, police

``If something isn't done and youths carry along the same lines they will
become involved in larger gangs, more powerful gangs . . . and it will be a
massive problem,'' said Staff Sergeant Chuck Perry yesterday in a
presentation to the Toronto Police Services Board.

Jane Finch Killers could have up to 100 members

Reacting to recent school attacks and the media attention surrounding youth
gangs, Perry described to board members Toronto's 19 most dangerous gangs
and where they've marked their territory.

The gangs include the New Born Crips in North York, with 70 known members
who are heavily armed and involved in drug crimes and street robberies.

Perry said the gang identified as the Jane Finch Killers could have as many
as 100 members, while the Gilder Boys in Scarborough have at least 30
members, prefer machetes as their weapons and are involved in extortions,
car thefts and assaults.

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They recruit and gather at schools. Police say 80 gangs are operating in
Toronto with 2,000 youths involved at various levels.

Perry did not include the Tuxedo Boys in his most-dangerous list, although
street crime detectives believe they are responsible for two vicious
machete attacks on students this year.

Perry also didn't mention the Silver Boys, whose members went through the
courts charged with machete attacks on two teenagers last year.

Toronto has always had youth gangs, but Perry said this year teenagers have
begun aligning themselves with the Bloods and the Crips - ruthless rival
American gangs.

``Kids here have imitated what's happening (in the U.S.) where they see the
information, they see what's happening on TV, they see the movies,'' Perry

Information from Toronto police intelligence obtained by The Star lists
which gangs are on the Blood or Crip side.

Police sources said the trend of choosing sides began eight months ago -
starting in northwest Toronto and moving toward Scarborough.

The Bloods and Crips originally began in the late 1960s. A group of black
Americans in southeast Los Angeles started to gain a reputation for
brutality for terrorizing neighbourhoods. They called themselves the Crips.

Farther west, in Compton, Calif., others began to retaliate, and called
themselves the Bloods.

By the late 1980s these gangs - identified by blue bandanas or clothing for
Crips and red for Bloods - were responsible for drive-by shootings and
vicious gang wars.

``A lot of this was a social problem that has now become a police
problem,'' Perry said about Toronto's rising youth violence.

He said Toronto's gang problems aren't yet at American levels, ``but it can
be frightening.''

Police identify gangs as either ``scavenger,'' ``territorial'' or
``organized,'' with organized gangs as the most dangerous.

Most gangs here are still at the scavenger stage, Perry said. That involves
fluid memberships, frequent leader changes and spontaneous criminal acts.

Last month, The Star ran a three-part series on gangs that focused mainly
on students and their perceptions of violence. In a survey of 1,019
students, only 10 per cent said they would report violence to school

The majority of teenagers interviewed said school officials and police
weren't aware of most of the gang violence, since gang victims are too
scared to tell for fear of retribution.

Hundreds of E-mails and phone calls poured into The Star following the
series, most of them describing unreported incidents of school or gang

Asked yesterday by a member of the police board about The Star series,
Perry replied: ``It's poor journalism, poor methodology, it's fake, it's

Asked later what he found fake or wrong about the series, he said he
objected to publishing results from student surveys from 29 schools across
Greater Toronto. He said most students would not tell the truth.

``You were asking kids in that survey questions that were so open-ended. If
you ask a kid if they know a gang member, of course they're going to say

More than half of students who responded to the survey said gangs were
present in their schools.

No new police strategies were announced yesterday to combat gang violence.
But Perry said police are monitoring gang activity and trying to strengthen
police-school liaisons. 
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Checked-by: Mike Gogulski