Tookie Williams and the Gotti Brothers

Tookie Williams Execution

Stanley “Tookie” Williams is the founder of the Crips street gang that along with the LA based Bloods gang have controlled the streets of black Southern California for decades and after 1988, when the movie Colors came out, spread all across the nation and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people (mostly young black men) in cities such as Houston, New Orleans, St. Louis, Cleveland and Atlanta.

There is no doubt that what Tookie Williams started has been catastrophic to black people and the poor. What started as a local menace became a national menace after Colors; remember crack had just hit the streets a year or two prior and AIDS was spreading and the Bloods and Crips became the Wal-Mart of crack in the American streets (outside of the Northeast). Let us not also forget that Williams was convicted of four murders connected to robberies and we should not forget those victims but there is something bigger to this than Tookie.

In the 1990’s, with journalist Barbara Becnel, Tookie Williams began writing a series of award-winning children’s books and set up an internet-based Street Peace Project and formulated the Tookie Protocol for Peace program that is a framework for gang-treaties and has worked successfully in cities such as Newark, NJ.

In other countries and conflicts it is common for the government to intervene and offer clemency to those involved in conflicts if they agree to cease hostilities and work towards a peaceful solution. In recent years this has been done in Palestine and Ireland. In the US, it seems that the government doest have the vision of the British and Israeli governments and does not see the big picture (or has malice) and instead of bringing an end to street wars would like to see them continue so that another generation can die off and/ or rot behind bars.

In recent days celebrities such as Jamie Foxx, who starred in Redemption a film based on the life of Tookie Williams, and Snoop Dogg have publicly protested against the upcoming December execution of Williams. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to meet with all interested parties this week in consideration of a clemency.

Read this piece by Phil Gasper for more insight.

The Gotti Brothers

For those of you unfamiliar with the saga of Irv and Chris Gotti and “Supreme” it goes like this; Supreme was a major-player in the dope-game in Queens in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He got locked-up and he was looking for a way to invest his money and two young hip-hop entrepreneurs, the Gotti brothers (no relation to John they are African-American and Filipino), supposedly received money from him to start the Murder, Inc. record label which went on to have major success with artists such as Ja-Rule and Ashanti and was perhaps best known to some for its feud with 50 Cent.

If the allegations brought by the feds are true or not I do not know (and really don’t care to be honest) that the Gotti brothers laundered money for Supreme; what we do know is that there has always been a connection to hip-hop and the streets. Today we see the glorification of bling-bling and all of the trappings of conspicuous consumption by hip-hoppers (that white kids eat up) with no appreciation of the roots of this mentality. Back in the day, in the early days of hip-hop and in more general the streets, you sported a gold chain, new sneakers and fresh clothes and maybe even a nice car as an acknowledgment that you were a hustler. It spoke to the fact that you made something out of nothing and you didn’t need rich parents or a degree to come-up. You could not sport these things if your parents bought them for you, if you acquired them by working a “square job”, etc. That mentality was transferred to hip-hop and now you have people who have never hustled a day in their lives, and don’t have any hustle in them, dressing like they are thugs and hustlers when in reality they are just spoiled kids with no maturity and no class (even Lil Bow Wow can act tough now).

The Gotti brothers were different than the pop-gangstas you see today; these are real cats from Queens who came up the old-fashioned way and they may pay for it with lengthy prison-sentences. If they are guilty, what does it say? All it says to me is that people with no access to banks or corporate America found another way to get paid. It’s that simple.

I met Chris Gotti, who also works in boxing, at several boxing events in New York, and was exited after talking to him about the new and refreshing ideas he was looking to bring to the fight game. Along with Fat Joe, Damon Dash, James Prince and Jay-Z he is a part of a growing number of hip-hoppers who are getting involved in the sport of boxing. The long-term prospects for some of his fighters looks good, but just having his prize prospect Jaidon Codrington knocked out in eighteen seconds on Showtime gave Chris another headache I am sure in addition to the big one he already has from the feds.


4 thoughts on “Tookie Williams and the Gotti Brothers

  1. I used to counsel drug addicts in a program for parolees in the East Village and I can tell you that by the time these people went to prison, they had no “bling” left. Everything and anything valuable they had owned they had sold for drugs. It’s hard for most people to sustain a major heroin or crack habit just from selling drugs. And since a lot of people get into selling drugs because they are already using, or start using drugs because they are selling, this is the way most of them end up. Of course this was 10 years ago…Anyway, when the parolees in the program acquired jewelry it was a sign of recovery, not hustling–they wore a gold chain to show everyone that they weren’t still spending every last cent on crack or heroin.

  2. I dunno if you’ve ever been to Southern Cali, Umar, so you may already know this, but there’s a lot of brothers over there who are ex-crips. I mean, a LOT. There’s a Latino brother here in Tucson who used to bang with the Bloods, but I’ve never met the guy, and Tucson’s a mainly immigrant/resident Muslim community with a few cracker reverts around :-)

    I’m kind of a head but I’ve never sported gold chains a day in my life. Excepting a couple drug burns and a little occasional shoplifting I pulled when I was younger, I’ve always made my money through “square” jobs. And anyway, the same time I discovered Hip Hop I was also discovering Lao Tzu (pbuh) who did not seem big on ostentatious displays. When I see middle class white kids aping the most hideous parody styles of black culture they got from TV, it hurts my eyes.

  3. Yea I agree with what you said DA and I don’t wear anything either and never have. These kids seek to follow the worst aspects of hip-hop and then ignore the revolutionary aspects of hip-hop

  4. An intersection of culture:

    I came from a middle class family who wanted me to dress in Polos and Ralph Lauren and would be proud as punch if I was driving a fancy car, rockin’ ice, etc. as long as I had a decent demeanor. They wouldn’t want me to get it from slinging rock, but they wouldn’t care if I got it hawking M-16s and Black Hawks to repressive 3rd World governments (where they make the fresh gear and mine the ice).

    But, mash’allah, they introduced me to Jesus (as), too. Their version was more a “fit in with middle class American values” type, but I was listening during the sermon!

    I developed a disdain for crass materialism and a desire for justice and morality. DA, I also discovered Lao Tzu, but also Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Black Elk, etc. (as) and recently the Prophet Muhammad (saws)

    I am still middle income, but I do what I can in my family context to limit consumption.

    When I saw “Beat Street,” I became attracted to hip-hop. I used to port my cardboard and boombox around my all-White town to break dance to Herbie Hancock’s “Rock It” and Africa Bambatta. (My favorite period was when everyone was wearing African medallions. My favorite of all time is KRS-One and my current favs are Mos Def, Talib Qweli and Brother Ali). It wasn’t until college that I got to study African and African-American history, Malcolm X, MLK, the Black Panthers, etc. After my degrees, I knew I couldn’t move back to my all-White town.

    As far as drugs go, I’ve not been immune to them. I’ve used and sold, but never too heavily. I think thuggish attitudes and lifestyles are not only a threat to others but also self-destructive. But as they say, “There but for the Grace of God go I…”

    Finally, on Tookie Williams: I am not absolutely against the death penalty in every case, but I am against it in most cases. The only thing I can say in this case is if Schwarzenegger can’t see redemption and deserving clemency in this case, when would he?

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