"How come when the violence goes down, it's because of the police, and when it goes up, it's us?—Salahadeen Betts, gang member, New York City
Though never officially acknowledged, over 25,000 young people have died in America's gang wars since 1980. In cities across America, members of the Crips, Bloods, Mara Salvatrucha, 18th Street, Latin Kings, Blackstone Rangers, and Gangster Disciples are like traumatized war veterans with no way home. Drawn from ten years as an activist and public official working to understand and prevent gang violence in Los Angeles, Street Wars is Tom Hayden's searing indictment of the neo-conservative politics of law and order that dominates current policy and suffocates inner city youth.
Weaving together cutting analysis with numerous first-hand stories from gang leaders, Hayden shows how the prison-industrial complex reinforces gang identity through humiliation and punishment, and reveals how globalization has created a force of unemployable men and women around the world who are defined as incorrigible, outside law and community. The final chapters advocate an internal peace process to address the devastation of America's urban youth.