Reality: Family, Community, The Truce

This video presents a variety of interviews and musical performances on the subject of gangs and gang violence. The primary topic is the truce between Black and Latinx gangs in the Oakwood area of the neighborhood of Venice in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 1994. The people in the video include gang members, former gang members, and members of Los Angeles communities most affected by gangs. Speakers discuss the root causes of gangs, including disinvestment and lack of economic opportunity in Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Produced through the Imperial Courts Cap Video Workshop, 1994.

0:08Copy video clip URL Title Sequence, consisting of ‘INCREASE THE PEACE!!!’ slogan and production company.

0:21Copy video clip URL At Good Life Cafe in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, a male performer raps “about our past” of gang violence. He concludes “we’ve got a long way to go”.

1:39Copy video clip URL Xochimilco speaks outside, calling for a protest in the tradition the Civil Rights movement and other protests of the Sixties and Seventies.

2:08Copy video clip URL Interview with female subject inside a classroom, who observes a recent increase in community attention to gang violence. This attention spans generations. 

2:47Copy video clip URL At Good Life Cafe, new female speaker/performer raps about deaths due to gang violence. She calls the victims “innocent kids”. 

3:23Copy video clip URL Outside footage of a peace protest in Oakwood, California. Footage opens on placards reading “give peace a chance”. Chants of “We want peace” are repeated.  

3:43Copy video clip URL Interview with Juan Longino, outside. He calls for a widespread change in attitude with the potential to create a better future ‘for our young people to grow up in’. 

3:59Copy video clip URL Footage of men from several different Southern Californian gangs speaking to a larger crowd, emphasizing their collected unity “as black men”. They call for an end to criminal gang activity with the goal of decreased legal intervention in their community. 

5:07Copy video clip URL Footage of male subject, inside. In a series of ‘what if’s, he calls for collective unity among different gangs and ethnic groups against the “real enemy”.

5:22Copy video clip URL Interview with male subject, outside. He calls for inter-gang unity against the widespread violence that affects people of all intersecting communities. Identifies African American and Latinx communities as “the two major minorities in America”. 

5:48Copy video clip URL Outside performance by two men (one African American, one Latino) who rap in Spanish and English about the similarities between their communities, calling for unity in front of a large, mixed race crowd. 

7:47Copy video clip URL Interior footage of three school-age children including Cleophas Jackson in a classroom who discuss the growing non-white population in their communities. 

8:08Copy video clip URL Footage of a male speaker, outside. Cautions that the future is compromised “if we reduce this struggle to a struggle between black and brown”.

8:16Copy video clip URL Outdoor interview with Perry Crouch, Coordinator at Imperial Courts Public Housing.. He criticizes that society offers “nothing in return” for gang members who commit to reform. 

8:42Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun speaks to a crowd gathered outdoors. He calls for “jobs” to be made available to those who successfully turn from gang violence and criminal activity. 

8:57Copy video clip URL Interview with a male subject, outside. He considers the generational nature of gang activity, arguing that only offering reformed gang members jobs and family counselling will prevent the next generation from following in their original footsteps. Midway through his statement footage of a protest is played over the dialogue. 

9:13Copy video clip URL Interview with the female subject in a classroom continues. She observes that belonging is key to the successful reform and unity of gang violence. 

9:23Copy video clip URL A female performer at Good Life Cafe encourages the use of a “mind as a weapon” in a rap. 

9:46Copy video clip URL Interview with Perry Crouch continues. He cites the role of education in successful and lasting reform, referring to his own experiences in which a college education led to his permanent turn from violent crime and gang activity. 

10:39Copy video clip URL Female speaker, inside. She states in Spanish and English: “[y]ou don’t have to get there first, but you have to know how to get there”. She calls for an end to the inequality that has existed in America “since Columbus”.

11:15Copy video clip URL Pixelated footage of a male rapper, whose performance encourages that his community doesn’t give up in their struggle against inequality. 

11:21Copy video clip URL Interview with Perry Crouch continues. He suggests unity between different marginalized groups (Latinx, African American, Jewish) to push against the government and police, who are constantly “dictating to us”. 

11:50Copy video clip URL A chant repeats of “friends, friends, why can’t we be friends,” laid over black and white footage of the Black Panthers.

12:00Copy video clip URL Color footage of Cleophas and Carlotta Jackson in a classroom performing the chant. 

12:16Copy video clip URL Black and white footage of two women dancing with the chant playing in the background. 

12:18Copy video clip URL Cleophas Jackson breaks from the chant into a rap solo about “unity”. 

12:34Copy video clip URL Footage of Latino and African American performers from before, with the school-age students’ chanting overheard in the background. 

12:47Copy video clip URL School-age students from before continue chanting; the other child breaks from the chant for a rap solo about interracial unity. This is interspersed with footage of children. 

13:17Copy video clip URL Interview with a female subject, outside. She is asked how she feels about the current state of gang activity, and replies that she has seen a significant change. She adds, “I wish it could have happened before”. 

13:29Copy video clip URL Footage of a protest, which pans from placards reading “Support the Truce” to the protesters themselves, chanting, “We want peace”. 

13:40Copy video clip URL Interview with female subject in a classroom continues. She speaks about her daughter’s interaction with gang members, noting “[a] lot of them are gone now”. She reflects on the high level of youth mortality among gang members. 

14:32Copy video clip URL This interview fades and is overlayed over footage of the “Support the Truce” protest. 

14:43Copy video clip URL The protest is brought into full view and sound.

14:48Copy video clip URL Interview with female subject in a classroom continues. She cites one example of a seventeen year old boy who, after a childhood of criminal activity, was concerned for his future as he moved away from gang violence and gang activity. 

15:31Copy video clip URL Interview continues, against footage of young men socialising, smoking, and speaking to one another. The subject calls for a community counselling center to help ex-gang members adjust to life outside of criminal activity. 

15:59Copy video clip URL Footage of a woman rehearsing a joint spoken word and musical performance. The phrase ‘run, Freedom’ acts as a refrain. 

16:18Copy video clip URL Rehearsal continues against footage of cars on an open road in California. 

16:30Copy video clip URL The performer is back in view, and continues rehearsing. 

16:47Copy video clip URL Footage of a sunset over an urban space, with no sound. 

16:54Copy video clip URL Dimly lit interview with a male subject, who recalls 1973 as the “first time” different gangs attempted to unify.

17:02Copy video clip URL The interview continues, recalling that an undercover police force prevented any real change by instigating further violence. Footage of Bobby Lavender (photographs and video clips) overlays the sound. 

17:22Copy video clip URL Footage of Bobby Lavender and newspaper articles documenting this time continue, against the interview playing in the background. The subject states that the purpose of an interracial, inter-gang truce was to “stop black men from slaughtering and assassinating one another”, and that unity is the key to combating violence. 

17:49Copy video clip URL Footage of Theresa Allison with mixed race children in front of a large rally to support the truce. Allison is an organizer with Mothers ROC (Reclaiming Our Children), a group supporting incarcerated young people. She says that “love is unity” and that “peace takes a lot of devotion”. 

18:09Copy video clip URL Dimly lit interview with male subject continues. He calls for unity between ethnic groups, and outside of “the system” to support and enact change. 

18:19Copy video clip URL Shots of protest footage with the black panther symbol overlaid. In the background, a male speaker rallies for peace to an audible crowd. 

18:24Copy video clip URL Footage of a male performer at Good Life Cafe. He claims “we [African Americans] are the victims of genocide”, and transitions from speaking to rapping. His performance notes that there is no historical precedent for unity. 

22:00Copy video clip URL Footage of a group performance (male and female) at Good Life Cafe. As they perform, the camera pans over their mixed race, multi-generational audience. Their performance is heard in the background as clips of all previous performers are shown. 

22:50Copy video clip URL Footage of a male speaker at Good Life Cafe calling for peace. 

22:55Copy video clip URL Intertitle reading “INCREASE THE PEACE”.

22:58Copy video clip URL Intertitle reading “In memory of Bobby Lavender.”

22:42Copy video clip URL Credits.

23:55Copy video clip URL Intertitle reading “INCREASE THE PEACE.”



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