On Derrick Rose, Gang Signs, and Chicago

derrick-rose-gang-signs

Recently, this picture of Derrick Rose throwing up Gangster Disciples signs surfaced.  No one knows how old it is.  No one knows who he’s with, or why he’s throwing up signs.  However, this isn’t one of those Paul Pierce is-he-or-isn’t-he things, where we’re not sure if he’s throwing up signs.  He is.  And really, it’s not terribly surprising that something like this would happen.

It’s common knowledge that there’s a very big gang structure in Chicago, particularly on the South Side where Rose grew up.   In fact, checking back on an old Byron Crawford post, we find this:

Every single aritst, athelete and business that made it is sponsored by the gangs(mainly BD’s) and they all have to give a cut of their money. [sic]

That whole post is hearsay, obviously, but it’s certainly based in some truth.  Chicago and it’s surrounding areas are a hotbed of gang activity.  It’s a huge, huge city, so that sort of thing happens.  But it’s also a circumstance of his upbringing that Rose would be associated at all with this  sort of thing.  It’s scary and dangerous that Rose could at all be indebted to Chicago gangs, if it’s true.  But it’s also a fact of his life that he really didn’t have much choice.

Gang growth and police action pushed this stuff out to suburbs like Aurora, and even to my hometown of Plano, a place with a population of 5,000 that’s a little more than an hour south of Chicago.   My town was tiny and a week after graduation, several of the kids from my graduating class of 68 were arrested for running a gang affiliated drug ring.  If I had friends like that in a podunk town famous only for inventing the reaper, it’s not too hard to imagine that Rose’s friends could be associated with something similar but worse.

I find it hard to condemn Rose for being a 20-year old (or maybe younger) who throws up gang signs he was raised with.  We can’t know why it happened without being there.

(photo via DaBullz)

Seth Carstens