From 2-1 to Zero

They Made their kids paint over the graffiti and throw out the gang clothes, and they thought they'd seen thelast of the 2-1 Click. Then one of their sons turned up dead in a richfield parking lot.

"If you don't have your kid starting in sports at a very young age, then when they get to high school, if they want to play sports, unless they're a very gifted natural athlete they can just give it up," explains Brancheau. "They don't stand a chance. Not a chance." The parents of successful kids hold them up as stars. Worse, so do the parents of children who don't succeed. Raising athletes becomes a competitive sport in its own right. The kids are the trophies.

The grown-ups don't like to talk about it, but Southwest has its share of urban high-school problems. In a district poll conducted last year, 82 percent--nearly twice the district average--of the teachers at Southwest said students' use of drugs and alcohol is a problem. Just 4 percent of Southwest's students--less than half the district average--were suspended for threatening the safety of other kids. Yet a fifth of the students polled said they don't feel safe in school.

Others simply hate it. "Southwest is a bunch of egotistical kids running around thinking they're somebody," says Nate Moy, one of Moormann's friends who says he never belonged to 2-1. Soft-spoken Moy sports a goatee and wears his pants several sizes too large, hip-hop style--definitely not the craze at Southwest. "It's a big sports scene," he says. "It's a 90210 fashion-statement thing."

And the students who aren't accepted by the jocks or the brains form their own cliques. "It was Mexicans hang out with Mexicans, blacks hang out with blacks," says another friend of Moormann's, Brad Delude, who managed to graduate from Southwest last year despite having been thrown out for lousy attendance. "You had the sports players hanging out together, cheerleaders hanging out together. And then you could kind of say there was our group of teenagers hanging out."

Delude's group--and Henry Moormann's group--became known as the 2-1 Click. It began as protective coloration for the kids who didn't fit into Southwest's strata. "Basically if you're nothing," Moy says, "you're not a dork, you might get OK grades, you might not play a sport, you might not go to all the parties, you might smoke weed, then you're going to be looking for someone, somebody, some kind of group to give you security for who you are or who you think you are." The boys in the 2-1 Click found security in a kind of gangster chic, a uniform of rebellion consisting of baggy pants, matching baseball caps and jerseys, pidgin Ebonics, and an exaggerated swagger. "Nobody wanted to be preppy," Delude says, "but nobody wanted to be all-out ruthless and screw up in school totally."

At first the 2-1 crowd found some middle ground. They would hang out, play basketball, listen to rap, and talk trash. The name 2-1 Click, according to various accounts, came from one or another gangster movie, Colors or Blood In, Blood Out, or as Delude tells it, "Basically you could say we were acting like we were Mexicans, and we figured, 'Hey, that would make a good name.'"

Moy chalks up his friends' obsessions with "the gangbanger thing" to fashion. "You can look anywhere and find teenagers, white, black, Asian, Hispanic, whatever, trying to be a gangbanger. Basically I just break it down like it's the hip-hop era, that's what it is. It's a vibe feeling. It's like break-dancers a long time ago." No matter how privileged the average Southwest teenager, the white kids at the bottom of this heap of white kids take a measure of power and pride imitating the least powerful members of society. Look, ma, I'm black.

Henry Moormann's progress through Southwest as recorded in the high-school yearbook bears this out. Year after year, he appears in none of the pages and pages of pictures of athletes, nowhere in the Spirit Week photos, not even in the drama club. The class photo of the scrawny and bespectacled kid changes little over the years, until his senior year. "I wanna give shot-outs to the 2-1 klick and all the homies that rprsnt-stay up," reads the message under that picture. "Mad shot-outs to the Hip-Hop nation, all session soldiers, Pershing dwellers, hood-hustlers and Party-thrwers. Much love. I wanna acknowledge all the lovely females that surrounded me..." A camera flash glances off of a gold chain around his neck.

Another key ingredient as it turns out is marijuana. Delude says he's not a dope-smoker. Moy says he used to be but gave it up. Both of them agree that weed is an everyday teenage accessory, and not just for 2-1 kids. "It's really not hard to get. You could get it in five, 10 minutes," says Delude. Until January, Henry Moormann would have been a logical person to start with.

The 2-1 began as an offshoot of the party scene. "The 2-1 people in my age group," Delude says, "are just kids that are out having fun partying, not trying to rob people or hurt people or steal from people, just looking around to try to have fun. There are so many of us that we can't go to this person's house to hang out, and we can't go to this place to hang out." And so the hangout became Pershing Park, a Minneapolis park with hoops and a playground strategically located between Holiday and Southwest High.

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