Hastings Journal of Crime and Punishment


Juan Flores


While growing scholarship has been crucial in understanding gang policing’s nature and impacts, there is currently limited research focusing on how policing relies upon fragmenting communities and perpetuating divisions within them. Gang policing claims to respond to conflict and rivalries between “gangs,” but how does this policing produce and perpetuate these community divisions? This paper seeks to understand how gang policing tactics perpetuate divisions and fragment communities while simultaneously producing criminality. This study used a qualitative approach, interviewing eight participants in Berkeley, San Diego, and Los Angeles who are perceived by law enforcement as “gang members” but who self-identify instead as Homies. Findings suggest that gang registration, civil gang injunctions, unofficial forms of harassment and intimidation, and other policing tactics cause Homies anxiety, paranoia, and other harmful mental health implications. Due to constant exposure to policing tactics, Homies’ interpersonal and community relationships are negatively affected. Participants in this study explained how they became distant and separated from family members, friends, and the community---creating feelings of alienation. The policing of “gang members” results in the policing of entire communities.