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CurbedWire: Are Gang Initiations An Urban Myth?

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Earlier this week, we posted a rumor going around Silver Lake: That some police members were guessing that gang initiations were behind the recent rash of Silver Lake/Echo Park attacks. While police continue to believe gangs are behind the attacks, Detective Rick Ortiz, who works in the LAPD's Gang Division, told us last night that so called "gang initiations" don't really exist. He said there are instances in which gang members, usually established gang members, will perform robberies or attacks to “improve their standing” among the gang. Among gang members, the term for such a move is called “making your bones,” according to Ortiz. "They'll do it because they want to look better in the eyes of their fellow gang members.”

Additionally, we asked Wes McBride, executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association and a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, about the theory of gang initiations. "I find that when people talk about gang initiations, they have no idea what they are talking about," he said. "Which isn’t to say sometimes they don’t do it. It doesn’t mean that gang members, when they attack, they don’t have a new kid with them." He also added this comment: "The thing about generalities and gangs is that there are none. You can never say a gang never does anything because they may turn around and do it." Additionally, we spoke with Sergio Diaz, Deputy Chief of the LAPD's Central Bureau, who said of gang initiations: "It's a flat out urban myth. Go look at Snopes." So that's the view, at least of the people we spoke with, of gang initiations in Los Angeles. Who knows the definitive answer? Not us. But since we posted earlier in the week about it, we felt compelled to follow up more specifically on that one rumor, particularly since there has been so much fear and misinformation flying around the neighborhood. [Curbed Staff]