In February, Chelsea police appeared on the scene at a house on Shawmut Avenue and started breaking up a fight between two X-Men, who along with other members of the gang were partying there. As the cops took the two away, the other X-Men started chanting their Niggers with an Attitude (NWA)-Public Enemy-inspired refrain: "Fight the power. Fuck the police." Cans, bottles, and trash came crashing down on the cruiser from a third-floor porch. Three cop-car tires were slashed. Then a member of the X-Men let fly five to seven blasts from a shotgun. The police officers ducked and called for major back-up. One of the men arrested: the courtroom witness and Egleston Square arrestee.
In March 19-year-old Victor Roman, the father of a two-month-old daughter, became the city's 36th murder victim. Two months before, he had pre-empted the plans of some young punks to mug an elderly woman. One of the youths, a 14-year-old, vowed revenge. Roman was walking on Washington Street when he was jumped and stabbed to death by a group of youths. The 14-year-old was charged with the murder. Roman was a comic-book freak who envisioned himself a heroic Spiderman. Although other X-Men have denounced the killing, and attended a remembrance rally for him, some street sources say the 14-year-old was a wanna-be who wanted to hang with the uncanny X-Men.
See no evil
While Boston's top cops continue their deliberate deception (pushing such statements as that of Boston Police Superintendent Joseph Saia, who said last month of the latest gang crackdown: "I'd say we're making significant progress; we're making a difference out in the street"), youth workers and street cops say Boston's power posses continue to spin wildly out of control, cruising closer every day toward an LA-style structure. Today's gangs, they say, have more manpower, more mobility, and are more mayhem-minded, especially when it comes to the police, than their predecessors. And it is the take-no-shit X-Men, they say, who best embody the Hub's new gang gestalt.
"In a nutshell," says one veteran street worker, "the impact of what's happening is affecting a hell of a lot more people in a hell of a lot more directions than those clowns in power will ever admit."
"Things are out of control," says one cop. "Totally out of control. . . . It's like Saigon out here, and everybody [police brass] is looking at it like it's Dorothy's Kansas."
The official Boston-police line leaves the impression that Boston's gang problem is being perpetrated by some 450 bad-ass black boys. In fact, the Hub's gang line-up is a lot larger. Professionals who work with kids, cops on the beat, and teens themselves maintain there are as many as 4000 to 6000 Hub kids involved in gangs, ranging from hardcore hoods to up-and-coming wanna-bes. The lowest street estimate is 800. (The cops' own internal gang list seems to contradict the department's public pronouncements; in March it contained the names of 830 members, an unknown number of whom are in jail.)
And their ranks are dramatically diverse. In addition to black gangs, there are Latino gangs, white gangs, black-and-white-and-brown gangs, and girl gangs.