Chinatown Gangs: Extortion, Enterprise, and Ethnicity (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
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In Chinatown Gangs, Ko-lin Chin penetrates a closed society and presents a rare portrait of the underworld of New York City's Chinatown. Based on first-hand accounts from gang members, gang victims, community leaders, and law enforcement authorities, this pioneering study reveals the pervasiveness, the muscle, the longevity, and the institutionalization of Chinatown gangs. Chin reveals the fear gangs instill in the Chinese community. At the same time, he shows how the economic viability of the community is sapped, and how gangs encourage lawlessness, making a mockery of law enforcement agencies.
Ko-lin Chin makes clear that gang crime is inexorably linked to Chinatown's political economy and social history. He shows how gangs are formed to become "equalizers" within a social environment where individual and group conflicts, whether social, political, or economic, are unlikely to be solved in American courts. Moreover, Chin argues that Chinatown's informal economy provides yet another opportunity for street gangs to become "providers" or "protectors" of illegal services. These gangs, therefore, are the pathological manifestation of a closed community, one whose problems are not easily seen--and less easily understood--by outsiders.
Chin's concrete data on gang characteristics, activities, methods of operation and violence make him uniquely qualified to propose ways to restrain gang violence, and Chinatown Gangs closes with his specific policy suggestions. It is the definitive study of gangs in an American Chinatown.
their intensity, complexity, and prominence. Functional Relationships between Youth Gangs and Adult Crime Groups Gangs have been active in the Chinese community for almost three decades, and there is no evidence to indicate that they are likely to disappear in the foreseeable future. The isolation of the Chinese community, the inability of American law enforcement authorities to penetrate the Chinese criminal underworld, and the reluctance of Chinese victims to come forward for help all
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in the Chinese community occur. Law enforcement agencies tend to assume that Chinese business owners are frequently subjected to extortion by gang members; however, few incidents of extortion are reported to the police in Manhattan's Chinatown each year. For example, between September 1989 and August 1990, the Fifth Police Precinct that covers the core areas of Manhattan's Chinatown, received only 17 complaints of gang extortion. Table 3.3 shows that the incidence of completed victimization
table 7.2). Sixty eight percent of the respondents indicated that most members of their gang were involved in extortion, and 62 percent believed that most members of their gang were providing protection to illegal gambling establishments. Thus, fighting appears to be the most prevalent activity among Chinese gangs, surpassing extortion and guarding gambling establishments, the two activities suspected by law enforcement authorities of being the main activities of Chinese gangs (U.S. Senate,
together.... It's not going to come together at the top. (personal interview) In contrast to federal agencies, state and local law enforcement offices do not focus on the connection between Chinese street gangs and narcotics (personal interview). Instead, they concentrate on local criminal activities that fall within their areas of jurisdiction and responsibility. As a result, there are problems of cooperation among different levels of law enforcement. Closer, more intensive working liaisons