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UK gangs thrive in August riots -Daily Record | Morris County NJ | AP Wire

August 14, 2011

Aug 14, 1:56 PM EDT

AP ENTERPRISE: UK gangs thrive in August riots

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK

Associated Press

AP Photo/David Jones

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — The Burger Bar Boys. The Cash or Slash Money Crew. The Bang Bang Gang. These names sound straight out of a dime-store novel, but they’re real-life Birmingham gangs – some of the underground armies that spearheaded England’s worst riots in a generation.

As Britain comes to grips with the causes of the past week’s descent into anarchy, Prime Minister David Cameron has identified the growth of gangs as a key factor and is recruiting high-profile American anti-gang experts to help bring them to heel.

While senior British police officers openly resent that move, analysts of gang culture say it seems logical to seek American assistance, because today’s British gangs consciously ape American gang ambitions and style, from the bling to the lingo.

They talk in a street patois shaped by U.S. rap lyrics, use noms de guerre lifted straight from American gangster films and crime dramas, and choose such icons as Don Corleone, Al Pacino’s Scarface or Baltimore ganglord Stringer Bell of “The Wire” TV series as their avatars on social-networking sites.

“These teenage gangsters are creating their own criminal worlds, and in their minds it’s very much an Americanized world. When they talk about the police, it’s `the Feds,’ or `The 5-0,’ as in Hawaii 5-0,” said Carl Fellstrom, an expert on England’s gangs and author of a recent book on the topic, “Hoods.”

British law enforcement authorities admit that, until only a few years ago, they sought to minimize the scale and violent potential of their homegrown gangs. They promoted their preferred label of “delinquent youth groups” and billed full-blooded street gangs as an American phenomenon.

In the wake of the August riots – when gangs used text-messaging to deploy break-in artists to breach steel-shuttered shops – politicians now use the “G” word pointedly.

“Territorial, hierarchical and incredibly violent, the gangs are mostly composed of young boys, mainly from dysfunctional homes,” Cameron told the House of Commons in an emergency debate on the riots. “They earn money through crime, particularly drugs, and are bound together by an imposed loyalty to an authoritarian gang leader. They have blighted life on their estates, with gang-on-gang murders and unprovoked attacks on police.”

via Daily Record | Morris County NJ | AP Wire.

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