Gangs of St. Paul

In the capital city, a generation of younger, harder, more randomly violent gangsters wage war on themselves

Just a few minutes later, another 911 call came in, this time reporting a shooting just a few blocks from the high school. By the time the fracas subsided, 17-year-old Carlos Rogers had been shot and 21-year-old Kevin Anthony had been cut with a bottle.

When officers reviewed videotape from the school's security cameras, it immediately became clear that the fight was gang-related. Outside the school's gymnasium, young men can be seen throwing up gang signs, while witnesses reported hearing people yell out "East Side" and "LTG" to indicate their gang allegiances. Investigators eventually concluded that the fight primarily involved members of the Lowertown Gangsters and the East Side Boys. The former had shown up on enemy turf looking for trouble. "The LTGs were all gang members," says investigator Kennedy. "They were up there with a cause. They went up there knowing that the East Side Boys were going to be up there."

While the Lowertown Gangsters were well known to the cops from years of mischief, the East Side Boys were relatively unfamiliar. But in the months following the melee, the police would become well acquainted with the outfit. "An event like that spurred violence for the next nine, ten months," says Tim Flynn, of St. Paul's gang unit. "We had these pockets of four, five, six, ten kids driving around shooting at each other."

In February, gang investigators executed nine search warrants related to the Johnson fight and shooting. "Members of the Lowertown Gangsters have become some of the most violent gang members within the City of St. Paul," one warrant states. "LTGs have had an ongoing battle with the Selby Siders. These incidents have included shootings at Wendy's, in downtown St. Paul, the Taste of Minnesota, White Castle, and the homicide of Jennadya Davis. LTGs will attack gang members entering into their territory." (Davis was shot in March 2005 at a home in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.)

The scuffle at Johnson High presaged a year of violent confrontations between predominantly black gangs in St. Paul. On April 26, just two days after being released from prison on a robbery conviction, 21-year-old Deon Duffy was killed in a drive-by shooting near Central High School. A reputed Selby Sider gang member, Duffy was gunned down while riding in a van in the middle of the afternoon. Although police strongly believe the shooting was gang-related, the specific dispute that touched it off was over a pair of vehicle rims. Nobody has been arrested for the murder.

On July 14 at approximately 1:45 a.m., 24-year-old Julian Roland was shot and killed during a dispute inside Diva's Overtime Lounge on Rice Street. "During this incident witnesses, as well as Julian's family, stated that he was shot by a rival gang member whom he had been feuding with for the past several months," reads a search warrant executed in the wake of the shooting. Roland was a reputed Gangster Disciple and Lowertown Gangster. Shortly after his murder, according to the same search warrant, friends and family members of Roland showed up at the Rondo Days festival wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "Let the body count begin."

Maurise Lovell Anderson, a 26-year-old Brooklyn Park resident, faces second-degree murder charges stemming from the shooting. Subsequent investigation has brought into question whether the shooting was explicitly over a gang dispute, but Kennedy argues that it was a factor. "He was murdered and he was a gang member," she notes, "and his murder precipitated more violence because of his gang affiliation."

In many of these shootings, officers believe that they know who pulled the trigger, but are waiting on DNA evidence to bolster their case. A backlog at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's lab means that it can take upward of nine months to obtain test results on a handgun. Sgt. Pyka says that they've arrested one suspect in connection to three different shootings, but have had to release him pending DNA results. "He thinks he's coated in Teflon," Pyka notes. "You arrest me three times for three different shootings and nothing happens."

In May, while executing a search warrant on the city's East Side, St. Paul police officers noticed a young man filming their activities. The cops confiscated the camera and discovered a profane, often incoherent insider account of St. Paul's gang landscape.

The videotape opens with a young black man, sporting a headband pulled down over his ears, freestyle rapping. "I hear you talking loud about shit," he spits, face bobbing in time. "You ain't shit, nigger/I still got your clip/I got your gun, nigger/I'm gonna make you numb." The boastful narrative continues for several minutes, featuring seemingly every possible combination of the words "bitch," "ass," "shit," and, most frequently, "nigger."

The profane rapper is a professed member of the 5th and Minnesota boys, named after a popular bus stop—and therefore drug corridor—in downtown St. Paul. He is apparently feuding with a member of the Get Money Boys over a handgun. "What the fuck is GMB?" he queries derisively at one point in his monologue. "Get money bitches."

Later in the videotape, the rapper's antagonist, who goes by the moniker Mo Man, gets to have his say on camera. "What the fuck you talking about, nigger?" Mo Man asks. "I ain't never once said I was part of 5th and Minnesota. Shit nigger, 'cause I rise with GMB. I'm gonna die with GMB."

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