The escalation was apparent during the two infamous shootouts on Blue Hill Avenue a few months back. In the first one, a cop tried to intervene in a beef. "Okay guys, break it up." One kid looked at the cop like, "Screw you," pulled out his gun, and started firing at the other kid anyway. A few weeks later at the same locale, a cop tried to bust up a firefight between two guys from Franklin Hill and Franklin Field. "Stop, freeze!" the cop said to one of the boys being chased. The kid turned around and started shooting at the cop.
One police source says about four cop cruisers have been sniped at in the past three months. "Every gang wants to be the first to smoke a cop, it's the biggest rep in the world in terms of just plain ruthlessness," says the cop. "I feel the chances of violent actions against a police officer are more possible than they have ever been in this city in terms of gangs."
Damn straight, says one gun-toting gang member. With the cops coming down harder on the posses, hardcore kids with nothing to lose are caring less about who winds up in front of their guns. Like when that kid fired at the cop on Blue Hill, this gangsters says. "People just gonna go out like troopers, you known, and take a cop's life right there."
The escalation is in part motivated by the Boston posses' growing political consciousness, as typified by the X-Men. The gangs are getting revved up by constitutional-rights victories like the stop-and-search case and the radical rap of groups like NWA and Public Enemy. "They're a reflection of society," says one Boston cop. "The '90s deal is: no jobs, racism, discrimination. . . . These kids see no outlet. And unfortunately, we as police represent the government, we represent the power structure. We're the ones who are out here locking these kids up for what they see as a viable living. 'Why you gonna fuck with me for selling jums, making a thousand, when you ain't fucking with the guy down in Florida who's bringing in the payload?' "
So the X-Men are down on their block, one of them yelling: "Fuck the government. Fuck the government." Three of them walk into a restaurant with a white guy, and the waitress immediate asks the white guy: "You paying?" They catch the racist drift. And they know they don't want some job that pays chump change. "That $3.75 ain't working, you know," says Cee, one of the X-Men. "Out there you can make like $300, $400 a day, $500 at least."
A member of the X-Men represents the total package of '90s Boston gangs. A man-child in an unpromised land. Sometimes it almost seems like the X-Men could go the other way. They've helped organize and participate in a major Egleston Square cleanup; they say they won't sell crack because it's too nasty; and they're turning into the police a gun they took off a guy who tried to stick up an elderly woman in their neighborhood. But the next minute they're talking about offing those same pigs, backed by the man and firepower of their crime conglomerate.