tv The Stream Al Jazeera October 3, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EDT
♪ hi, i'm lisa fletcher, and you are in the -- "the stream." how is social media contributing to chicago's gun violence? ♪ the numbers are staggering, gunfire results in chicago about every five hours. this year alone more than 330 people have been killed by gun violence. >> you pull up on to any corner, and it -- it's almost like
you're in a different country. it's almost like a third world. >> police say about 80% of the bloodshed can be traced back to gangs. membership in the city's 850 gang factions estimated at more than 100,000. like most in their generation these young men have grown up using social media. the fbi reports that gangs nationwide use sites like facebook and twitter to mark their turf, intimidate rivals and recruit new members. but the so-called net banging can have deadly consequences with many online disputes turning into actual shootouts on the streets. the police monitor social media in the hopes of getting ahead of the bloodshed. our digital producer is here
looking out for all of your live feedback. and waj, social media has created this virtual turf war. >> yeah, and most of our community says social media, even hip hop and wrap culture arescape goats for deeper problems. loyal streamers as you know you are the third host of the show. as always your online contributions drive this discussion. so throughout tonight's show engage us by using the twitter hashtag ajm"stream." >> we're joined by a man who
spent a good bit of time investigating chicago's gun culture. in our google-plus hang out is an assistant professor at the university of michigan where he researches social media and gangs. and lance williams specializes in mass media influence on -- adolescent behavior. you describe internet banging. describe what that is and if there is a connection between the rise of violence in chicago. >> sure, internet banging is a play on words. we noticed there is a new trend where individuals who were using
social media to incite social violence, or brag about events that they heard about it. in terms of it actually contributing to acts of violence, from a research perspective, the data is very preliminary. we don't know yet. however, if you think of violence has a disease, one of the mechanisms by which it can occur can be through social media. >> you spent a good bit of time getting to know some of these young gang bangers. let's look at are quick clip. >> 16th street. constant wars going on. down here wars. so we're in the middle of a battlefield right now. >> hey [ inaudible ]. >> they are throwing up their gang sign. they are young and trying to
earn a spot in this negative world. >> the guy describing what is going on there is a former gang member, and he touched on something when he said these kids are trying to earn a spot. what is your theory on how social media contributes to the rise in gangs. >> well, it is happening all over the country, and you have kids that are trying to prove themselves. that's what they have been doing. they have been on the streets doing it for decades, but now they are doing it online. so you have guys that might be bragging about brandishing a gun. they now have a whole other outlet to talk smack to each other. and now they are doing it online as opposed to just on the street. >> lisa our community has a lot of suggestions of why people
join gangs. lance i want to brink you into the conversation, talk about the need for preserving and defending manhood as a form of respect how is that leading people towards gang activity. >> i think that is a very good question, and really at the core of the problem we have in places like chicago. i subscribe to the -- the idea that we -- we really don't have a problem with gangs in chicago. we have a problem with young people who have a very distorted sense of what manhood is, and so i think what happens in the use of social media it -- it generally creates a virtual way to express this distorted sense of manhood, and i think in a
virtual world a lot of young people believe that they have some type of security in this, and so it keeps them away from, you know, the koreaalty of what happens on the streets, but essentially it is a distorted sense of manhood. >> and so many of these young men they see gang banging and selling drugs as really the only option they have. take a listen. >> survival of the fitness out here, you know what i'm talking about? >> it's the only option. it wasn't ever a, b, or c. it was always just, a. this right here. >> kobe you were at one time just like these young guys, and for an outsider it's really easy to look at them and say they are making a bad choice, but then when you watch works from guys like krzysztof, you start to see this could be the only option. talk about how kids get to that
place? >> me myself i grew up in a situation where my mother was selling drugs. she wasn't there. my father went to prison, and when he got out he got killed. so a lot of times these young people just come from broken homes and they don't got no mother or father in their life so they turn to the streets. but people just point the finger. gangs in chicago ain't like they used to be. it's more like clicks in these communities. you see something that you think is gang related, and a lot of times it's a personal thing that takes place. a lot of these young people are feeling like everybody is pointing the finger at them to without helping them get to the next level. a lot of times they don't get an
opportunity because so many people look down on them. krzysztof i'm going to you, social media as a disrupting force when it comes to news and -- [ technical difficulties ] -- causing some of this violence. >> look there's -- gangs as was said by one of the previous guests. gangs look a lot different than they used to. the police have locked up a lot of the senior members of the gangs, so you have got kids running around without the same kind of leadership that they had before. the structure is not really in place. so you have got guys going online and talking smack to each other, bragging about what they are doing, and that is stuff that probably wouldn't have
occurred years ago even if the social media had been there, because it wouldn't have been allowed. back in the day even if you wanted to kill somebody you needed to get an order to do that, or have that be approved, and nowadays it's a lot more like these kids running around without any kind of structure. >> did you get the sense that this puffed up personality online translates into real violence on the street? >> the data isn't totally there yet, but i certainly saw these kids talking smack online and then going out and doing gang banging. there is one in our piece where they actually recreated the shooting they did in a music video, and, you know, trying to -- you know, further escalate things just a little bit more, and it did. it certainly got a reaction, and that's what is different. instead of just talking smack on the street, now you have an
entire huge audience and not just doing it in front of your friends or a couple of people, you are doing it in front of everybody. so people are feeling they have to defending themselves. >> lance you want to jump in here? >> sure. i think those comments are right on point. most of what i have seen as it relates to this indication of gang banging online, a lot of it coming from law enforcement, as matter of fact the chicago crime commission has a report out where they begin to identify some -- some common expressions online in social media that they associate with gang banging. you know, i have been around a long time, working with young people affiliated with different organizations, and a lot of what i'm seeing online is not the common ex-presentation of gang bangers. these are wanna be kids that are
attempting to mimic things they see on music videos or what they think happen on the street, company in reality hard core gang bangers are not expressing what they do on social media. >> that's an important incite. a little later in the show, i want to talk to you about whether you have been any collaboration with chicago police, because that sounds like information that they would want to be aware of. a gang affiliated rapper was gunned down outside of a recording studio. and he is one of many young rappers who have been killed. can it be tied back to the music? or do the lyrics reflect the violence that is playing out on the streets. tweet us your thoughts, and we'll share them on the other side of the break. how can you fully understand the impact unless you've heard angles you hadn't considered?
>>that video shot by chicago rapper, known as lil' joe-joe. he posted it on youtube just hours before being gunned down outside of his home. he unwittingly chronicled the events before his death. waj we asked our commune to weigh on whether rap plays a role in chicago violence. >> now you grammy award winning hip hop artist common is from
chicago. and he said, quote . . . so desmond, to me it feels like a mixed message. right? rap songs don't determine a person's actions, yet they are powerful enough to be taken the wrong way in acts of violence. >> sure. i think these young rappers are speaking their existence, and they are relatable to a host of young men who see them as mentors, see them as people to admire, and so we cannot attribute this to -- to hip hop music. i think it speaks more to their every day experiences. >> our community has chimed in.
and we have a video comment from brandon. >> a better question might be how the violence and this poverty shapes rap music. dre''s the chronic was released eight months after the l.a. riots in 1992. hip hop music or music in general has always been a platform for underrepresented groups to express themselves. so obviously other people in these situations are going to grasp on to it. >> all right. lance, i'm assuming you have a response to that. >> yeah, i think the real issue is that the music of the community contributes to the culture and the climate of the
community. so i think really what happens is because this music gets really controlled by forces outside of the community, most of the rap music that is produced by, you know, the larger music companies like interscope really produce music, particularly rap music for middle class suburban white youth who are intrigued with inner city black life. the problem is their spin on what is happening in the hood so to speak kind of contributes to this climate of gangsterrism, you know, gang banging, you know, the kind of mentality that is exacerbated with poverty and lack of opportunities and hopelessness. so i think the real big issue is that we should be concerned about the culture and climate that the music creates and the spirit of that music within the community. >> krzysztof when you were
there, did you get the sense that these narratives just sort of reinforce the climate? reinforce the behavior. almost normalize it? because you hear it in the music and talking about it. >> they are seeing it and living it every single day, regardless of the music. i think that's the reality. it's there every day. i have talked to these kids who saw people getting shot when they were -- you know, 12 years old, 4 years old, so they -- they have grown up with this. the kids actually living there, there is nothing on social media or in this rap music that they haven't seen or heard or been living for a while. so if it immediates each other, sure there is a little bit of that peacocking that goes on, but honestly i just think it has been going on for a long time. >> kobe when you were in a gang were your friends inspired or
empowered by the rap muse snik >> as a young person we used to listen to a lot of the rap, but we weren't inspired where we had to go out and hurt somebody. so we listened it to, but it wasn't inspiring like that. but the biggest thing is when people from these communities with different blocks and clicks in these neighborhoods, people just get attached to what they click with, and who they are around every day, so if they are rapping about this, and they just dislike them just because anyway. so it is more centered around their sets and their clicks who they are around every day. >> our community says . . .
so desmond respond to that. talk to us about this mind set, and really, are we expecting too much of asking them to produce music which is hopeful, when we're living in a society with poverty, violence, bad housing and so forth? >> sure. i mean, what i -- what i believe is that -- first of all, it is really important to humanize these individuals and to think very critically about how to intervene through the use of social media and hip hop, sure what we have is a representation of experiences, but can we use that, flip it on its head, and then create better informed interventions and prevention modules that can tap into this very essence. >> we had d from run dmc and he
agreed 100% with you. we're going to talk about other things that are impacting these kids and what works when we are talking about gang violence and turning it around. and what else really matters when we're talking about getting to the heart of this issue with gangs. kobe i want you to think about that. and we're going to hear your thoughts after the break. ♪ >> hi [ inaudible ] i'm in the "stream"! status quo with unexpected opinions and a fresh outlook. including yours. >> what do you think? >> consider this. unconventional wisdom.
♪ >> uh-huh. >> was he killed? >> yeah. >> doing this? >> you grow up with both parents? >> no. >> who did you grow up with? >> my mom. >> just your mom? >> yeah. >> what happened to your dad? >> he got killed too. >> he was killed? >> yeah. >> welcome back. we're talking about gangs using social media. and kobe we just heard a few chicago gang members describe their family structure or their
lack of it. how important is that as a factor in this conversation. >> it's super important. like i said my father went to prison when i was three years old, but my father was my role model, and he was selling drugs and being in a gang, and he is who i looked up to. he went to prison and then he got out, he got killed, so i turned more to the streets, and all of my friends their father was either dead or in jail also. these kids need that type of father figure, a man in their life, and that's really what helped me turn my life around trying to be there for my son. >> kobe, our community has chimed in, here is charles . . .
lance i want to go to you, oftentimes we have mentioned there is no empathizing or humanizing. how important is it to have these positive role models that don't exist, especially fathers? >> i think it's critically important. and i agree with kobe in his assessment. i think that the fathers give young men a sense of order in many cases. they give them a sense of limits, and in many cases, some of these young men are experiencing a lack of guidance and direction from a male figure, and i think it causes problems in their growth and development. >> you know, krzysztof when you were in chicago you met a former gang member. talk about what he is doing to try to stem the gang violence. >> shotgun was a former enforcement for the vice
lords -- >> that was a big -- >> vice lords was one of the largest gangs in chicago. and he -- and he did a lot of their dirty work for them for many years, and then decided to turn his life around. and he works for the group called ceasefire which unfortunately -- >> are we seeing derrick shotgun brown there? >> yeah. and he literally goes on to the streets, and talks to kids, and tries to get them down a different path. he runs a boxing program. feels they need a positive male role model in their life, because like we have been talking about, many of them don't. >> did you get the sense he was gaining traction? >> absolutely. it was really amazing to see him sit down with some of these kids and actually have them wanting to listen. a lot of these kids want a way
out, they just have never been presented that opportunity. many of them don't know there is another option, but when they hear that, they'll take that in a heart beat. so it's unfortunate that they just lost their funding. >> yeah. >> kobe, i see you are nodding your head there, what is your response to that. >> no, i mean -- like you say a lot of these kids be looking for ways out. they want to do different things, a lot of times they just don't have an opportunity. i think a lot of these kids -- i tyke them to the united center and take them out to meet joakim noah. and they are definitely looking for ways to do different things, but they just don't get the opportunity. >> so krzysztof, you going back to chicago on month, i think, right? >> yeah. >> what are you going to be
working on? >> we're going to see what happened to people like shotgun and some of those other workers who were doing this important work on the city, but now they have lost the funding from the city, and so now that they don't have the resources, we're going to see what they are doing to get by. everyone that works in ceasefire used to be gangs. now that that is not there, there is a lot of temptation. >> all right. that's all the time we have. thanks to all of our guests for your participation tonight. for the rest of you, we'll see you online. ♪
good evening, everyone, welcome to al jazeera america. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. disturbing pictures from the heart of the nation's capitol, another security scare in d.c., ends in gunfire. >> we have no information that this is related to terrorism or anything other than an isolated incident. >> for the police. [ applause ] >> the one thing congress could agree on was the security provided by law enforcement. the lockdown is over, but the shutdown is not. >> you don't negotiate by putting a gun to the other person's head. >> the president's refusal to work in a