Crackdown

After years of neglect, a Maryvale neighborhood and the Phoenix police evict the West Side City Crips

Another young resident, who did not want his name used because he fears retaliation by the police, says it's just a lot duller than it used to be.

"I'm not going to lie to you, I've been in trouble before," he concedes. "And they're always looking at me funny now, like they're trying to get something on me when I haven't done anything."

But all three say that--"for the kids," especially--life is better now.
"The kids can play now," Portee says, hoisting a toddler into her arms. "I like that."

The prosecutions of people arrested in the Woodmar raid are ongoing. Some members of West Side City are still at large; the police believe they've left the state.

As for David Roland, he learned to hate jail quickly.
"I don't like doing time," he says vehemently. "I like being free. That was a hard three months. Pink drawers, pink socks, nasty food, nasty jail, no women."

He had no problems with other gangs while inside. "West Side is deep in jail," he says. Conflicts are more about race than gang colors. "In jail, you got to be with your race. Blacks click up, whites click up, Mexicans click up. It's just the way it is."

Jail turned Roland around, he says. He has a 1-year-old daughter, Tatianna, to provide for, and he can't do that behind bars. He pleaded to a lesser charge of possession, and since it was his first offense, the judge gave him probation and time served. He swears he wants to stay out of the life. He's trying to find a trade, he says. He thinks he'd be good at construction or carpentry.

"I never want to go back," he says. "There ain't no future there."
He adds that his homies' love for him seemed to evaporate at the jailhouse door. "Seems all cool and fun, but when you go to jail, they don't come to visit you," he says. "Only my family came and visited me."

But Roland isn't out of the gang completely--because you cannot amputate those connections easily.

"It's for life. You can leave away from it, but it never leaves you. You leave the neighborhood, but the neighborhood never leaves you," he says.

Scott Masino still patrols off-duty at Woodmar, recently with Tad Bowers, David Mendoza and another cop from the gang unit, Donny Corey.

Masino is more like an armed dorm counselor than a cop on this night: First, he and the other officers stop a kid who appeared to hide something in a carport. They detain a carload of trespassers who are drinking beer. None of them speaks English, so Mendoza is stuck doing double duty, translating.

"I don't think you even speak Spanish, Dave," Masino says after a while. "I think you just nod and then you make it up."

Then, on the other side of the complex, Masino has to chew out two teenage girls who are playing on a neighbor's roof. After that, he gets lip from a group of teens out after curfew.

Masino sighs heavily and runs his hands over his face. He's "about ready to pull his hair out tonight," he says as he walks back to the police office.

Then he grins. "Not that I'm complaining," he says. "I'd much rather deal with this than what used to go on here. If this is as bad as it gets, that's fine by me."

Contact Chris Farnsworth at 602-229-8430 or online at cfarnsworth@newtimes.com

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