"Rowdy Gang" Member's Arrest Shows How Ramel Gittens's Memorial Lives On
On August 3, a 10-year-old girl named Briana Palmer took a bullet in the hip while walking her dog at the Dix McBride Apartments. Four days later, Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown announced in a press release that his office had charged a suspect: "21-year-old Far Rockaway resident Lenard Crudup, who is reputed to be a member of the so-called Rowdy Gang."
"Rowdy," of course, was the nickname of Ramel Gittens, a Far Rockaway 19-year-old who was murdered in 2011.
Last week's feature story, which chronicled the year at the Redfern Houses following the murder, explained that Gittens was a popular kid. He was a star athlete and a magnetic personality. He was also affiliated with a set called the "Hassocc Boys," who lived in the front of the complex and beefed with groups from the back. The man arrested for the murder, Shawn Jones, affiliated with a set from the back.
More than 200 people packed the church for Gittens' funeral. He has two memorial Facebook pages, both of which have posts that include "#RowdyGang." Loved ones have left comments as recently as April. On Youtube, there is a rap song in his honor called "I'm Rowdy" and it was recorded by a group called "Rowdy Gang."
It's not uncommon for a guy's crew to name their clique in his honor. For instance, This American Life's February series on Chicago's Harper High School told the story of the "Terrance Green Crew," named after a fallen 16-year-old.
"Terrance Green has become one of the iconic figures in the neighborhood around Harper," Ira glass said.
There were more. As T.A.L. reporter Ben Calhoun noted:
There's Bird gang northwest of the school named after Martel Barrett, whose nickname was Bird. He was killed the same year as Terrance. There's Face World, named for a kid whose street name was Face. There's Frank World and Dome City.
It's young men honoring their friend in the best way they know how--by repping him the way you rep your city or your block or your sports team. Yet, as the Dix shooting shows, it also ties his name to the exact thing that ended his life in the first place.
According to police, Crudup fired several shots into the courtyard at the front of Dix at around 1 a.m. He faces multiple charges, including first-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon. It's unclear who or what Lenard Crudup was shooting at.
As we stated in the feature, there's almost no such thing as an isolated incident of gang-related violence. Gunplay tends to stem from something--a fight, a girl, a Facebook post, a stare, whatever.
Although the primary conflict at Redfern is usually between the front and the back, guys from Redfern also have sporadic conflicts with guys from the Dix apartments, the closest residential complex. Folks calls that private development "Pinkfern" because of its color. Some locals have observed that Pinkfern cats are sometimes known to associate with Redfern cats from the back.
Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.