Room CG76, College Building, Middlesex University London, The Burroughs, London, NW4 4BT
Youthful street gangs and the occasionally deadly trade in illegal drugs in which they are involved have generated much media, political and academic debate in recent years in London and the UK.
For this seminar, the Department of Criminology and Sociology have invited two speakers with a unique take on these issues to offer their perspective.
This seminar will be introduced by the Dean of the School of Law, Professor Joshua Castellino, the author of several books about minority rights and self-determination.
In the mid-1990s, Antonio Fernandez, formerly known as King Tone, became the Inca or Supreme Crown of the New York chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, a notorious street gang. Under his leadership, the group transformed itself into a community movement. Its members held monthly meetings in churches and engaged in political activities linked to the wider Latino community and beyond.
Violence and crime were formally renounced and the importance of education and collective empowerment emphasised. The membership of the organisation grew to several thousand people. Law enforcement and prosecutors, led by New York’s infamous Mayor Giuliani, remained focused on the gang’s criminal history and in January 1999, King Tone pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, an offence alleged to have occurred in the summer of 1996. He was sentenced to thirteen years imprisonment.
Since his release from prison, Antonio has worked with gang and street organisation members in Washington, D. C., Newark, New York City, Spain, and Ecuador to redirect their energies toward community building and social transformation. He uses his own life story as both a cautionary tale and a message about self-transformation.
In a recent extraordinary development, he was invited by the New York Police Department to talk to new recruits about the lives of young people growing up in the ‘barrios’ of New York City.
Professor David Brotherton is a sociologist, ethnographer and writer based at the City University New York. He has studied and worked with Antonio and others since the 1990s and has written extensively about urban sub-cultures, street politics, transgression, deportation and resistance.
A Spanish translation of his account of the transformation of the ALKQN, co-written with Luis Barrios and first published in 2004, came out in 2016, reflecting both the enduring significance of that story and the fact that it has inspired political movements amongst marginalised and dispossessed communities in several different countries as well as provided the groundwork for new, humanistic policies of social control.