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Open Access Publications from the University of California

San Francisco Gangs

  • Author(s): Lopez Raygoza, Octavio;
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

San Francisco’s Mission District is a place where urban violence goes along with cupcake stores and high-end restaurants. The Mission District consists of a new wave of businesses and culture, and a large Hispanic community that is threatened by gentrification.  A few Hispanic youth view gang life as a romantic idea to escape from a reality of poverty and what they perceived as disrespect.

The current wave of violence is nothing new. The neighborhood has seen Norteños and Sureños rage in what seems a pointless war for decades- a war for respect, culture and against a society many will never attempt to join. But the Mission gangs have changed. Today most gang members are youth that has been left behind in a demographic shift. Escaping this world is hard because gangs would have to leave what they come to see as their family. In the meantime the violence continues between two groups who have forgotten why they fight. They are fueled by a history of violence and the belief that, “If you fear me, you’ll respect me.”


The Norteños (who identified themselves with the color red) and theSureños, (who go by the color blue) continue to wage a war that has killed hundreds in drive by shooting, stabbing and beatings. Many others end up wounded or jailed. Bur recently gentrification brought a decline of gang culture. Homicides and violent crimes decreased. It was forgotten that behind the boutiques and high end a restaurants there is world of gangs who kill and die for the colors red and blue. The community fights for the soul of these men and woman while at the same time it fights to remove them from society. This project is a small glimpse to the complex world of San Francisco’s gangs.

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