We all had to start from somewhere, and various Black Panthers members were originally gang members in California. But these gang members weren’t fighting each other. Instead they were fighting against Spook Hunters, a group of young racists who later went on to join the KKK and LAPD.
Black gangs didn’t exist in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas in the 1940s. Young white men started gangs, which they called “Spook Hunters,” attempting to keep Black people away from white neighborhoods. These gangs posed a threat to us, so we formed together to fight back.
By no coincidence, the Ku Klux Klan emerged in LA in the 1940s as well, and white gangs were supported by LAPD. Decades later, national and local police agencies even adopted the strategies of the white gangs. However, our people used gangs for good, and eventually we eliminated gangs like the Spook Hunters, flooding the LA area with our powerful resistance.
Our gang unity shows that when we combine our power, we can accomplish many things. But the fight against white gangs isn’t over, as they’ve only evolved into other types of organizations.
Gangs carry a negative connotation today, but ours were rooted in resistance and pro-Blackness. Whether it’s through a gang or not, let’s continue to form alliances to strengthen our community, while also controlling our own narratives about violence, resistance, and Black unity.