Gang violence is defined by the United States Department of Justice as "any hostile physical interaction between (or among) two (or more) gangs,". The violence frequently takes the form of elaborate dance routines choreographed and excuted with painstaking accuracy and precision. Such encounters take place, usually, because of competition for territory, longstanding feuds, or simple boredom.
History of Gang Violence
The first recorded instance of gang violence occurred in 1961, between the Jets, a Polish-American street gang of New York City, and the Sharks, a Latino-American gang from the same region. The conflict arose, apparently, from the Sharks being mercilessly teased for their inability to pronounce their own name, though one wonders why they did not just simply call themselves los Tiburnós.
Some time in the summer of 1957 any hope of diplomatic resolution between the two fell apart. Tensions snapped and out of an hour filled with blood, screams, chaînés and battement glissés gang violence was born.
This new level of brutality quickly caught the attention of the mainstream media; soon gang violence spread like wildfire. Feuds appeared across the country like pimples on a pubescent Macaulay Culkin: the Farmers fought the Cowmen; the Pekes battled the Pollicles, who to this day are proud and impeccable, passionate foes; and the Socratics fought the Sophists.
This is not to say, however, that gang violence began in 1961. Rather, simply it was the first time it had ever been so well directed and widely covered in the press. There had been poor quality episodes of gang violence such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, however the musical arrangements and choreography of these events, and the magnitude to which they sucked, divided them from the common understanding of the word. Such episodes are commonly identified as "mob violence" instead. Similarly, the range wars of the 1800s are listed as a feud.
Anatomy of a Gang Fight
There are four recognized stages of a gang fight, in each stage tension and violent tendencies increase on both sides until they erupt, these stages are often categorized by actions of the gangs.
Gang fights frequently start over minor disputes such as who owns what territory, or by impolite comments frequently involving a rival gang member's mother. In sociomelodic terminology the stage of a gang fight encompassing these remarks and the first few minutes of verbal exchange afterward is called the incitement.
The incitment is rapidly followed by the escalation. In this stage the movements of the two opposing gangs begin to include well known dance maneuvers. These maneuvers, however, are basic and not particularly harmful to others. It is not uncommon for a period of escalation to last several hours and only feature a few infrequent chassés and pliés. There is no imminent danger of bloodshed and intervening police officers or other law enforcement officials may still stop the fight without significant difficulty.