Gang culture wins on the day

Twenty-five years ago when I created the Crips youth gang with Raymond Lee Washington in South Central Los Angeles, I never imagined Crips membership would one day spread throughout California, would spread to much of the rest of the nation and to cities in South Africa, where Crips copycat gangs have formed. I also didn't expect the Crips to end up ruining the lives of so many young people, especially young black men who have hurt other young black men.

Raymond was murdered in 1979. But if he were here, I believe he would be as troubled as I am by the Crips legacy.

So today I apologize to you all -- the children of America and South Africa -- who just cope every day with dangerous street gangs. I no longer participate in the so-called gangster lifestyle, and I deeply regret that I ever did.

As a contribution to the struggle to end child-on-child brutality and black-on-black brutality, I have written the Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence children's book series. My goal is to reach as many young minds as possible to warn you about the perils of a gang lifestyle.

I am no longer "dys-educated" (disease educated). I am no longer part of the problem. Thanks to the Almighty, I am no longer sleepwalking through life.

I pray that one day my apology will be accepted. I also pray that your suffering, caused by gang violence, will soon come to an end as more gang members wake up and stop hurting themselves and others.

I vow to spend the rest of my life working toward solutions.

Amani (Peace),

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Surviving Crips
April 13, 1997

Yesterday Tookie Williams was murdered by a gang, a state sanctioned gang that operates policies of vengence and violence.

Tookie Williams had 5 nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions since being imprisioned. He was not a innocent man, yet he is most probably innocent of the crimes he was convicted and now murdered for.

They call it a medical procedure, I call it an act cold blooded and cowardly murder. In this case we know who the guilty are, without a shadow of doubt.

I live in a city where some consider themselves to be Bloods and Crips, so far has the legacy of the gangland culture that Tookie helped start spread. Here like LA the underlying factor is one of race and poverty.

People don't start nor join gangs when there are better and easier lifestyle choices available. There are lessions to be learnt, and the continuation of violence is not one of them.

The following words from someone who themselves fell victim to a violent and untimely death still give cause to hope for a better world, one where vengence and subsequently violence is redundant

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isnt hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say Im a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one

John Lennon