Seattle "Gangs"

After the recent bout of “gang” related shootings in the Puget Sound area, it seems that more people are aware that Seattle actually has gangs, not just “gangs”. The difference? According to, a gang is a “group of criminals or hoodlums who band together for mutual protection and profit.” According to me, a “gang” is a “group of bored wannabe-gang members posturing and acting like big thugs who make really stupid decisions.” There is an apparent difference, a legitimacy that wasn’t there before. Well, I’ve done some looking around and have come to the conclusion that yes, Seattle really does have gangs, but not in to the extreme that say, Los Angeles has gangs. Or maybe that’s more my assumption yet again.

Gang Territories

Gang Territories

While browsing through Seattle 911 (Seattle PI, a great reference source), I found this map showing gang “territories” in the greater Seattle area. It shows more official gang activity than I had previously thought. I’d like to say that I’m not typically this oblivious to what is going on. I lived for a few years in the Rainier Beach area, hung out in West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and other neighborhoods of the city that show up on the map as neighborhoods where gangs like to congregate. I’ve seen plenty of kids that likely could have been or likely were in a gang. I knew kids who carried guns. I continued to dismiss all of it as “gang” and not gang activity. The greater the occurrence of incidents involving guns, violence, and deaths, the more likely it is that Seattle does have a legitimate gang problem.

5 Comments so far

  1. Zee Grega (zeegrega) on December 3rd, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

    Wait…are you saying that someone’s only a member of a gang if they shoot someone to death? A group of people hanging out together for the purposes of robbing stores, robbing people, selling drugs, vandalizing property, threatening, harassing, and intimidating people who are not members of their group and generally creating a bad atmosphere without actually shooting anyone to death are not a gang, but only a "gang"? Would a gang become only a "gang" if they, say, knifed someone to death or is killing someone in any other way than shooting them mean you’re not really in a gang?

    If somehow you’ve only ever seen gangster wannabes, then somehow you’ve only ever seen wannabes, but there are very real gangs in Seattle and they do represent a very real problem with or without guns.

  2. wesa on December 3rd, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

    No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m not sure where you thought I did. I’m just saying that I disregarded the reports that Seattle had real gangs until the evidence has finally changed my mind.

  3. matt0the0engineer on December 4th, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

    I wonder if LA gangsters make fun of our gangsters as mocha-sipping tree-hugging gangsters. I also wonder if Queen Anne is too yuppie for even our Seattle gangs.

    I have to admit that I get exactly what [wesa] is saying. There isn’t anywhere in Seattle I’d feel terribly unsafe walking at night, which isn’t true compared to many other cities. But maybe that’s just a false sense of security (or maybe our kind of gangsters hang out malls and restaurants).

  4. wesa on December 4th, 2008 @ 1:50 pm

    That’s the feeling I have. You stated it better than I could too. There are a few small areas that I won’t walk alone at night, but I think it’s a difference of gender and not because of gangs. Otherwise, I don’t live in fear of getting caught in the midst of a gang fight or what have you. I don’t worry about offending a gang member by wearing the wrong color on their street or whatever it is that gangs do. I’m now convinced though that we should take it a bit more seriously than before.

  5. John Eddy (jaydeflix) on December 8th, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

    The Hoovers?



    Do they get lots of ‘Hey, Hoovers, you SUCK!’ comments? Or maybe ‘Hey, Hoovers, naming yourselves after the president whose appointment of John J. Parker to the Supreme Court failed when he was opposed by labor groups due to a decision he had written regarding the United Mine Workers and yellow-dog contracts, and by the NAACP due to remarks he had made in 1920 about African-Americans while a candidate for Governor of North Carolina makes you look so non-erudite, you should be washing dishes for my mama.’ (Thanks wikipedia).

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