In 1988, the movie "Colors" brought
to the screen, Hollywood’s depiction of the ravenous violence, that over the
previous decade, had overtaken LA streets due to the war between the Crips and
Even West Coast Hip-Hop music of the day from
Ice T’s "6 in the Morning, to NWA’s "Straight Out of Compton,"
glorified the dangerous LA lifestyle making ‘gang banging’ Hollywood.
Fast forward to 1992 and according to a yearly
report released by the LAPD, gang related violence had claimed approx 1,900
lives in that year alone. While a large faction of Los Angelinos took to the
streets rioting in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, Daude Sherrills, with
the help of other former gang members Tony Bogart and Dewayne Holmes took to
the projects marching for peace.
"In the early 80’s gang banging was a part of west coast culture,"
former Crip, Daude Sherrills told AllHipHop.com. "A lot of us young men
came up in this, banging was our way of life, this shit ain’t Hollywood, these
streets are real. Hollywood just capitalized on it."
Tired of the stereotypes perpetuated by the media,
and more importantly the senseless loss of lives, Sherrills realized that the
only people who can fix the problems between the Crips and the Bloods, are the
Crips and the Bloods.
Serving, at the time, as Chief of Staff for Amer-I-Can,
a self-esteem program for gang members created by NFL legend Jim Brown, Sherrill’s
played an integral role in initiating talks of a truce between the Crips and
Using the cease-fire agreement between Egypt
and Israel implemented in 1949 as a template, the former gang members, and chosen
representatives from each housing project, began to redraft the language of
the armistice to fit the terms of their own gang truce.
As a highly respected local figure and lifelong
resident of Watt’s Jordan Downs Housing Projects, the ‘banger" turned activist,
drafted a special section titled the "United Black Community Code"-a
list of do’s and don’ts for gang members with the stated purpose of "Taking
the necessary steps towards the renewal of peace in Watts and Los Angeles as
The article states, among other things, "
No conflict of the land, that is, drive by shootings and random slaying or any
community representative organizations shall commit any warlike or hostile act
against the other parties or against innocent civilians in the neighborhoods
under the influence of that community representative (gang)."
After two years of back and forth talks between
the representatives of the four projects (Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens, PJ’s
at Imperial Courts & Hacienda) the final agreement was drafted and signed
April 29, 1994.
After two years of an active truce, even former
Deputy Police Chief Ronald A. Frankie gave credit to the truce in a Los Angeles
Times interview saying, "There’s no question there has been a real decrease
in violence among black gangs."
As the 10-year anniversary of the truce signing
comes around, the 502 gang related deaths for 2003 are less than the number
of lives taken in the current crisis in Iraq to date.
Although progress has been made, there is still
a lot of work to do concedes the community leader. "When I was bangin,
people were dying strictly for colors," explains Sherrills, "Now any
conflict in the hood is usually due to a particular circumstance. You can wear
whatever you want now, things are totally different these days."
Watts will celebrate it’s first inner-city peace
awards to be held this summer.
With the help of community activists like Danny
Bakewell and Stevie Wonder on board to participate, the city is ready to glorify
their call for peace instead of celebrating violence.