COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A former gang leader in Columbus spoke candidly about his involvement with gangs during the 1990s, which is a stark comparison to how gangs function
The unidentified 'Original Gangster' of the Gangster Disciples said the Crips, Bloods and Disciples have been around for decades in urban and small communities.
Now he's seeing a new generation of gang members evolve in Columbus.
"Back then they had like gang movies like "Colors" and all that and now it's the music and videos encouraging them. They want to be young thuggers and most of the rappers are claiming gang affiliations," he explained.
When it comes to recent violence in the Fountain City, he believes gangs in the traditional sense of the word are behind the shootings, robberies and killings but it is the result of individuals doing their own thing.
"You got all these unorganized guys out here watching movies, watching TV and they think that's how gangs go and all gangs don't have to be negative because if that's the case, you've got mason gangs, motorcycle gangs and Muslims," he recalled.
He also recalled when he was involved in a gang back in the 90s, the mission was more about brotherhood. The Columbus Gang Task Force, a group of officers dedicated to fighting gang related crimes, helped to bring about peace.
"These guys that was probably the hardest police force in Columbus that Georgia had on the streets at that time and they would come and get to know these leaders," he said.
He agrees with Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's position that gangs have changed the way in which they operate. Instead of being committed to one group, they often change associations, sometimes, based on relationships.
"What we have, I think there are some pros and cons for law enforcement to the types of gangs we tend to have in Columbus," said Tomlinson. "They have evolved from the original notion in the 80s and 90s. They are not as structured so they don't have generals and lieutenants. They don't necessarily have credos and rules, territories, colors or markings. Some do, some have tattoos, some don't. Some are what we call street gangs and that's affiliation with people and they decide to give themselves a name. And that might change when they get arrested for their crime."
It's a trend the Columbus Police Department is tracking on social media as many take to Facebook to brag on what they've done, according to Tomlinson.