Don't message the shooter

From Saturday's Globe and Mail
March 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST

In the late 1980s, I interviewed "Danny," a gang member convicted of first-degree murder. He told me that he and his accomplice had been trying to settle a dispute with a speed dealer in a small Ontario city. They had gone over to the dealer's home to sort things out, thinking that although the man was an unpredictable and dangerous person, they had a prior relationship with him and might be able to talk through the disagreement.

It didn't work out the way they had planned. The two of them had been drinking before they arrived and had also taken some PCP (not exactly the kind of preparation one would expect for diplomacy). And their host wasn't willing to debate at all. He pulled a gun the minute they walked in the door, and within a matter of seconds the speed dealer and his accomplice inside were dead, along with a woman in the home who was connected to the two all three shot or stabbed to death, left for police to find a remarkably bloody scene. Danny and the other gang member were arrested three years later, after information made its way to police from a frightened woman. They were convicted of first-degree murder.

What I recall most vividly from the prison interview is what the gang meant to Danny. He said he had found a kind of family with the gang; these were guys he was comfortable with, they were comfortable with him; they weren't phony, like the people he had to deal with in school or at work. For the first time in his life, there was a sense of belonging. I also recall his description of the aftermath of the crime. He and his partner cleaned themselves up, and smoked a few joints to try to calm down; they just couldn't get to sleep for months, he woke up with nightmares about the killings.

Gangs have been with us forever: alienated and disenfranchised young men finding a common bond in lawlessness, using crime as a lever for the creation of material wealth. Recall Daniel Day Lewis's character in Gangs of New York, a reasonably accurate depiction of gang violence in New York City in the 1860s and then fast-forward to the streets of Vancouver, where there has been almost a shooting a day for the past two weeks.
Exactly, and it's a reenactment of prohibition (1920s) and its attendant crime.

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