The Gang War Intensifies
The diary of a street gang member who wants to get out of the game: This is the story of Général, a Blood (Rouge) who changed his life. Reflet de Société recounts what life is like in a gang through the story of Général.
Général made his entry into the gang world by wanting to defend his clan. At the beginning of high school, his involvement with the Rouges (Bloods) translated into violent fights against his family’s enemies, the Bleus (Crips). As he got older, his war took on a new face, thanks to the money to be made from crime.
Motivated by hate, Général jumped head first into violence. With his Montreal North friends, he waged war on the Bleus of Saint-Michel. His thoughts were directed towards his enemies, who he loved to hate. A born leader, he had many followers. His friends respected him and sought his company. His rivals feared him and wanted him out of the way. He had the reputation of being tough, of being a chief. He wasn’t afraid of anyone. He had no limits.
Général was a loaded weapon. His elder brother’s wars became his own. But his elders didn’t just fight. Strong in numbers and with no respect towards society, they’d also developed a lucrative business that had in turn become a way of life.
They stole, committed fraud, sold drugs and weapons, and even carried out assassinations. For money, they were ready to fight ferociously to keep their slice of the pie. And they had an army at their disposal. Young men and boys loyal to the cause, to the family, ready to give their all.
Général was a part of a group of around 40 youths. “We had a godfather. Our direct veteran, from the first generation. He gave the orders. We followed him. If he had to get rid of some stolen stock, we would sell it for him. If there were problems with the Mafia, we’d burn down Italian bars for him. We’d beat people up for him. He wasn’t a nice guy!”
Général speaks of his crime boss, Teken, with admiration. The elder man made an impression. “He was our idol. And he always took care of the dirty jobs.” A chief that was an example to his young charges, he’d push back the limits of violence.
“Once, he was in his jeep, while we were looking on, smoking joints. He stopped the jeep and left the car. We saw him take out his revolver and shoot someone in a car. I was 16! My first live shots! I was excited and nervous. We were proud to be there that day. We bragged about it to those who weren’t there!”
A chief that takes things in hand, who acts without fear, made the Général’s friends even more eager to win his respect. “We wanted to show him that we had balls. So when he asked us to do something, we didn’t hesitate. We did it!”
Général let the war with the Bleus fall to the wayside for a time. He started dealing pot in school and downtown. He developed a network with a few friends. “We had no accounts to settle with the older members. But we got our drugs from them.”
Teken was his supplier. Teken sold him drugs, and he’d sell them in turn. He did the same thing with stolen merchandise.
Between this small-time dealing and fencing of goods, Général used violence to help Teken in his business. And he continued his war with the Bleus. “I saw some things. That was my everyday life. I didn’t ski! At my friends’ places, we’d see the elders get armed to do a dirty job. I loved that! Each week there was a story. Someone was beaten up, someone else was shot at…”
Général found this whole world exciting. Street gangs were becoming more and more serious. Violence increased, both between the gangs and as a result of crime.
Declaration of War
Between 2000 and 2005 the war reached its height. Police invoked a curfew in Montreal North and Saint-Michel.
“We weren’t allowed to walk down the street in threes, otherwise we’d be considered a gang. The police could search us without giving a reason. But as for us, when the war was at its worst, we couldn’t be alone. I lost 4 close friends. Friends who regularly came over to my place,” says Général, his fist on his heart.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Général was very active, though he doesn’t like to talk about it. He committed acts he regrets to this day. He lost friends, and he understands that it was the same for the other side.
When war is declared there are no rules. “Every week there was a death,” he recalls, getting emotional as he recounts some of the conflict’s turning points. “Our veteran was killed. I was smoking a joint with some friends in Henri-Bourassa park. We walked over to join our elders. There was a group of 20, including women. They were partying in the street. From afar I saw a parked car start to roll. I saw everything like it was in slow motion. Teken came out of the crowd. They put a dozen bullets in his body. Then they took off at high speed. Everyone headed for our chief. He was my idol. And I saw him draw his last breath. They’d come right for us, right in front of us. And they killed one of our bosses. Everyone respected him. He used to say that Montréal North, that’s our home, it’s chez nous. He didn’t want to hear of the bikers and the Italians.”
The Conflict Worsens
Général’s eyes are moist. He talks with a sensitivity that doesn’t jibe well with the image of a heartless tough guy: “The day he died, we had a dozen cars drive in the Bleus’ neighborhoods. After that, there were a lot of dead on both sides.” The conflict escalated. The ties between the generations grew tighter. They fought together.
“As we grew up, we developed friendships with our elders,” Général recalls. “We were no longer little brothers. We were part of the same clan.”
Général was no longer a rookie. He’d gained experience and was ready to take over from his mentor. “At the beginning I was getting my drugs from the hands of the godfather. But quickly, my youths were getting their drugs from me. Quickly I formed my own gang, with my kids, from the same neighborhood. What I’d done for Tekel, my kids would do for me.”
The wheel had turned. Général became the Teken of a new generation. The role model.