Miami Herald article on Haitian gangs includes insights from Damion Blake

An associate professor of political science, Blake has done extensive research on violence and organized crime.

A recent Miami Herald article looking at the use of music by a Haitian gang leader as a mode of indoctrination includes insights from Associate Professor of Political Science Damion Blake.

Damion Blake, associate professor in political science

The article explores the release of a rap song by gang leader “Izo 5 Segonn” that points the finger at public authorities as the cause of the conditions in the country that are impacting poor residents. The song also includes threats by the gang leader against police.

Blake has conducted extensive research into violence and organized crime, particularly in his home country of Jamaica, and told reporter Jacqueline Charles that there are similarities in the messages that Haitian and Jamaican gangs use to generate support among their country’s poor population.

“Those themes are quite consistent,” he said. “They see themselves as creatures of an environment which did not offer them a lot of opportunities to legitimately embed themselves within society, and so they have decided based on what has been put to them to take up a life of crime, but this life of crime has been beneficial to persons within their jurisdictions.”

Blake notes that gangs offer the argument that the government is failing its citizens, and then put themselves up as a solution.

“With Jamaican gangs they will say.. we help with providing services that the state has not provided, services like protection. People don’t trust the police and we resolve this,” Blake said. “This all leads to what I term ‘jungle justice.’ They become the judge, the jury and executioner. They will say, look at our communities, these are communities reeling from poverty, young men don’t have jobs. We provide them with jobs within our gangs.”

Read the entire article here.