Nov. 22, 2010

"My Shout Out to Squishles"; Posts #8-12

From Reform with Palms Up by Michael Johnson



Dear Squishles,

Thank you for your interest and comments about my first post concerning gang reforms within the vice lords. I'm happy to know that you found the post fascinating and that you want to know more about the reforms I have in mind. This is an issue that I'm very passionate about but I do understand and recognise that there isn't any magic bullet to this problem. Moreover, I have to always keep in mind that I'm attacking my former friends' legacy, culture and traditions, so I must walk a fine line and not push too fast and hard, because people tend to shut down and become defensive when they believe they their way of life is being attacked! However, this has to be done and just to answer your inquiry about the reforms I'm proposing, please allow me to provide you with a few brief examples.

Higher education has to be a mandatory option for any member of this organization. Vice lord members will most likely engage in drug dealing for some higher up and will make that person tens of thousands of dollars every day, so I'm proposing that a "higher education fun" should be created that makes certain that any shorty out there "representing" have the available option to utilize this fund to put themselves through college for at least the first four years. Another reform deals with medical and health benefits. Again, if they are out there "representing" their block, 'hood, nation or whatever it is most probable that they will be either shot, beaten, stabbed or possibly killed and I only think that it is fair that their families are not left with the medical bills. If you love and respect these young men and women like you claim, then prove it by taking care of them when they are in need of serious assistance! Reforms of this nature will eventually force the leaders to stop the criminality because it will cost too much to sustain such a way of life or it will stop young men and women from becoming affiliated. Who wants to be a part of something that doesn't value them. Experience has showed me that every gang member wants to be valued! Look, I'd love to further discuss some of my ideas for reform, hear what you have to say about them but most importantly I'd also like to know who is Squishles, are you affiliated with any gang, street organization, clique, etc etc? You may have something valuable to add, so if you are comfortable with having a steady exchange of dialogue, please feel free to hit me up at my personal email address at and I'm also on Facebook. I hope to hear from you soon. Stay safe, stay you but true!

* *


Amazingly, I have recently become the subject of a "witch hunt" by the prison's gang investigator. Fortunately, it has absolutely nothing to do with my blogging and let me knock on wood for that. My understanding is that this investigation stems from another prison and some other inmates who happen to have my name in their mouths during a conversation that I wasn't even privy to! Dig that? After removing me from my cell and confiscating all my personal letters, articles, legal work and address book I was informed by this captain that he is looking for gang literature and as expected he found not one piece of gang literature in my cell and that is because I actually didn't have any. You would think that prison officials will accept by now that after repeated public and private denunciations of my past affiliation they would finally understand that I'm not active in vice lords any longer. On the contrary, prison officials are convinced that I'm operating underground and they continue to harass me, family members and friends. Their witch hunts get more personal every year and prison officials will stop at nothing to make my stay miserable. I have lost a very special woman due to their constant harassment, intimidation and scrutiny. Again, Vickie, I'm sorry that you had to go through that and I hope you're happy. In any event, I feel that this particular captain is more upset about the fact that I have truly walked away from a life of criminality and these Salem-like witch hunts are there attempt at burning me at the stake. Being a student of history I'm well aware of the fact that even the innocent must be "burned alive" to demonstrate to the masses how far an oppressor is willing to go to maintain the status quo! I get the scary feeling that this will be one of those Salem witch trials when the innocent accusers say "well they looked like witches" when it becomes increasingly clear that the person is just as normal as they are. The fact that I look like a gang member or used to be a gang member doesn't justify the constant harassment and I fear if this captain isn't reigned in soon, all he will have to say for his unjust actions is that he looked like a gang member! This is after he has destroyed my chances of finally being parolled from prison. I have the blessing of hindsight in my favor, so I will not be allowing for muyself to be burned at the stake without utilizing every option available to stop the good town folk of Boscobel from using me as an example to scare other "witches" who may be living amongst them. This gang investigation is a farce and ridiculous. How can I be part of gang activity in a prison that I have never stepped foot in? Surely, I will truly have to be a real life witch or magician to pull something like that off!!!

* * *


Many members of the almighty Vice Lords nation can count on being maimed, shot, paralyzed or killed in the "line of duty". So, I don't think that anyone part of that organization can reasonably argue that being a Vice Lord isn't a high risk lifestyle and the likelihood of serious injury cannot be overstated. The fact that majority of the injuries suffered are directly attributable to their affiliation with that organization/gang. I think a nation is judged by how it treats it's wounded soldiers and the "nation" I once represented shoudl be ashamed of itself because for far too long our "soldiers" have been neglected and abandoned! The family of one of your members should not be expected to pay ANY of the health care cost incurred for the services rendered by their sons and daughters. This also includes funeral expenses, in fact, especially funeral expenses!!! Dropping by for a hospital or home visit is touching and all good but that doesn't stop the bills from piling up. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on "grillz" for your teeth, flippin' paint jobs for your five "whips" expensive clothes and strippers. How about demonstrating true brotherhood, love, unity and respect by using that money to make sure that your brother or sister have a speedy and stress free recovery. What happens if the injury or injuries are for life and daily use of a prescription medication is required? You have a duty to make sure those families can afford the medication needed. It's just that simple. The health care reforms implemented within this country ignited a firestorm and was cause for much debating. Some of the debates were productive, but many were saturated with racist undertones and scare tactics. However, everyone seemed to agree that America's health care system is broken and needs serious repair but what do you say to a nation that doesn't even have a health care system to break or repair? The Vice Lords are not only an organization but you also consider yourself a nation, so why haven't you (leaders of this nation) provided your citizens/members with health care benefits? If you truly desire respect from this society that we live in you must raise above the era of greed and exploitation and truly carry yourselves as a legitimate organization and everyone knows that legitimate organizations provide its members with health care benefits for the work they do on their behalf. And organization that provides health care benefits to it's members can never legitimately or reasonably be looked upon as a mere street gang! Until you reform yourselves and rise above a gang mentality you are not an organization or a nation but you are a street gang that happen to be somewhat structured. Nothing more, nothing less!

* * *

Blog Post #10

I'm sure many of you have heard countless political pundits debate or speak about America's exceptionalism and whatever side you may fall on with this debate, I think we can all agree that America is unique in many regards. However, the citizens that I believe truly make up America's uniqueness are not the ones usually mentioned but I'm talking about the citizens who are never given credit in this age old debate. I'm talking about the imprisoned sketch, animation and impressionist artists, the musicians who never got a chance to play an instrument, or the ball players who never finished school, the great authors, debaters, historians, lawyers, journalists, etc, etc. These men and women are the disenfranchised and forgotten who were able to achieve exceptional things without being afforded the opportunities to do so. Whatever their reasons may be for being incarcerated I know many are affiliated with some street gang and should be recognized for their value and self-worth. They have more to offer that drug sales, shootings, beatings and filling of prison bed space. The leaders of their gangs/organizations should help cultivate such talent instead of ignoring and discouraging it. You have the hearts and minds of these young men and women and instead of putting weapons of death in their hands, you should be putting instruments for success and prosperity. Through the years I have had the opportunity to read many pieces of gang literature and the majority of the gangs' literature were community created, teach the importance of education, family and honorable conduct, especially those out of the midwest, yet our communities are the unsafest, filthiest and have the most respicable conditions. This is the same if you are living in Chicago, Baltimore, L.A., New York, Louisiana or Iowa. There isn't any place on this planet that the gangs don't live in sqaulor. Without a doubt the government bear some responsibility for this problem but that doesn't excuse the facts on the ground. Billions go through the hands of gangs every year and the leaders of these gangs are failing to invest in the talent they have within their ranks. That is unacceptable and foolish. No one will be so quick to call for the destruction of a particular group when one of it's members just successfully performed open heart surgery at John Hopkins, delivered a baby at St. Mary's Hospital, won an NBA title, performed at Carnegie Hall, or discovered a new undersea species, etc, etc. The fact that the leaders of Vice Lord are delegating positions of authority only to men who can bring in the most ill-gotten gains is very troubling and makes me wonder what is the point? Be mindful that a shift has definitely taken place and the loyalty and fear leaders of this organization once enjoyed is no longer present. Your killers are now killing you and coveting your number one spot. For years you have thrived off the exploitation of these talented young men and women but the chickens have come home to roost. Either you teach them to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, CEOs, athletes or deal with them being cutthroats, immoral, treacherous and undisciplined. Put tools of success in their hands or wake up one morning with stark terror because lil' homie has caught you slipping and now you are staring down the large barrel of a handgun that you actually put in his hand. I implore you, brothers, to speak to their strengths and not their weaknesses and you do this by celebrating and cultivating their greatness and not the drug trade profit margin! I remember being told by a well known leader of the Vice Lords that we want leaders and not idiots. I know this man was being honest with me because under his wings that is exactly what I became. A leader, and not just one of Vice Lords' but one of community, family, friends, faith and of myself. So, I ask the Vice Lord leadership of today, do you want leaders or idiots?
Reform with palms up!


I'm assuming that a lot of you brothers out there don't know who the great French painter Henri Gaume is, and although America is beefing with the French I still love French fries, French kissing and Henri Gaume's paintings. I hope this admission doesn't result in me being deported, stripped of citizenship and renditioned to Egypt for "enhanced interrogation". I believe the Faire le Menage painting is relevant to the topic at hand because it shows a house maid doing housework and a clean house is exactly what Vice Lord needs and has needed for the last thirty years. Within the urban communities there is an old saying about never letting cockroaches into your home because no matter what you do you'll never be able to get them out. Vice Lord has let the roaches in and now they refuse to leave their home. In fact, many of these roaches are leaders within the house and are of the filthiest stock. It isn't easy for many people to look inside their own houses and address the flaws within and many of my old school affiliates are guilty of this blindness. They wish to parade around like the Vice Lord nation isn't as corrupt as the other street organizations. Truthfully, they have abandoned the ways of their elders and look no more silly than former president Saddam Hussein when he was pulled out that rabbit hole with his hair all wild and disheveled claiming he is the president of Iraq!

It was once said that all politics are local and yes, that includes the politics of street life. A Vice Lord living in Wisconsin doesn't have the same problems as a Vice Lord from Chicago or Mississippi and therefore one broom fits all approach can't be used when trying to clean up each different state. For example, Wisconsin has always been a free market type of place for gang members what ever money you accumulate in Wisconsin you can keep for yourself. However, that isn't the case for those living in Chicago. Most of the proceeds go to the leaders of what ever branch of Vice Lords you are a part of. Again, Wisconsin has a problem with legitimate leadership because a lot of impostors hide and set up shop in this state but Chicago's problem is too many legitimate leaders and not enough space to set up shop in. So, the cleaning of house can't be the same in every place and other states must stop looking to Chicago for the answer to their state's problems. Clean up your own shit and just because one branch of the nation is engaging in criminality that doesn't mean every branch has to. In the business world hostile takeovers of parent companies are sometimes necessary when the parent company has become too big of a liability. This is the case with the Chicago hierarchy. Vice Lords in other states can not continue to allow sentimental attachments to the founders and heirs of this organization stop them from cleaning this house of criminality and self-destruction. They are standing in the way of progress and respectability. In my amateur opinion Henri Gaume's Faire le Menage is one of his best pieces and I say this because the importance of a good housemaid is so poignant for me at this time in my life. It will take the unknown housemaid to clean up a house that is unquestionably in shambles! Reform with palms up.


For the last thirty years or so law enforcement officials with the help of the media have been in engaging in what I like to call "gang eugenics". Now I know that many anti-gang proponents are going to burn me at the stake about my theory called gang eugenics and that is all good but not one of them will be able to dispute the facts. Many of us know that eugenics is generally defined as "the science of improving the population by controlled breeding for desirable inherited characteristics". However, my theory is defined as the science of amalgamating gangs as one entity by controlled media misinformation to achieve the desirable result of fear, consternation and hatred by the population. Since eugenics deals with breeding I think that is equally applies to the "breeding of ideas, fears, and belief systems". The media has allied itself with law enforcement to scare the masses into believing that one street gang is no different from the other, despite tons of evidence from leading gang experts that suggest otherwise. For example, it is a well known fact that "gangs" that originated in Chicago and the midwest usually have a chain of command and structure to floow for its members but on the west coast that isn't normally the case. Moreover, gangs out of the midwest have their beginning in positivity and legality, such as the civil rights movements of the 60s. There is irrefutable evidence available that civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X use to network with some of Chicago's most notorious street gangs on food drives, sit ins, security details and voter registration drives. I think the historical differences shouldn't be overlooked or minimized because a gang that has its beginnings in positivity and lawful activity can transition back to that level of productivity just as easily as it moved away from it. I'm not making the argument that some gang members and their leaders will cease to be involved in criminal activity, believe me I'm not that naive but I do believe that with the right plan and a little assistance those who wish to stay ignorant and criminal will eventually have to find a home some place else. It will be no different from some congressional member who is taking bribes while in office. The entire congress will not suffer for a few members' actions and for the sake and posterity of their party decisions will made to expel the guilty congressman or woman. Wouldn't that approach be better than painting or smearing an entire movement as criminals when so many of them are not criminals?

No reasonable person can claim that every gang member is involved in criminality, lust like you can't say an entire race of people are ignorant, worthless or trouble. The fearmongering by law enforcement and with the help of media sensationalism gangs have become one big entity that is hell bent on raping, murdering and pillaging what ever community they reside in and many of the gangs are responsible for fostering this inaccurate depiction of themselves. This depiction has caused many normal thinking people to sanction or look the other way when it comes to gang members or those who look like gang members. It truly puts things into perspective for me when I read about the immigrants who came to America at the turn of the century and the Mexican immigrants of today. The conservative news stations are already depicting all illegal immigrants as drug dealers and vicious cartel members. Please allow me to share some quotes with you from proponents of eugenics. Margaret Sanger was quoted as saying: "fostering the good for nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty... There is no greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing population of imbeciles." She also spoke of the burden of caring for "this dead weight of human waste." H.G. Wells spoke out against "Ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens." President Theodore Roosevelt said that "Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind." If you think that your views concerning gang members are not that extreme then please explain to me the mass incarceration of men of color? Locking a juvenile away for the rest of his life because he exercised poor judgment from a brain that isn't fully developed but since he was part of a gang, then it's okay? That is population control and stopping young virile men from ever having the chance to reform themselves or breed. I think it was Luther Burbank who said "Stop permitting criminals and weakling to reproduce" and not to be outdone, George Bernard Shaw went so far as to declare that "only eugenics can save mankind!" Does America believe that gang eugenics will save America and stop its crime problem? America is the leading nation when it comes to imprisoning its own and we all know what race makes up the majority of America's prison system. Billions and billions of dollars blown on ineffective campaigns against gangs, yet they still thrive and survive. Maybe it's time to start focusing on changing the hearts and minds of these young gangsters, unless the plan from the beginning was to never stop gang activity because after all, fear is big business and so is prisons! Reform with palms up.

I'm interested in dialoguing. You can contact me at or Facebook.


Replies (2) Replies feed

squishles Posted 13 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 13 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Dear Michael,

Thanks for your Shout Out! I only saw it today, and it quite surprised me. It's very interesting to hear more about your ideas for reform.

Have you shared these ideas with other people? It'd be great to know what you thought the chances of these reforms are. I've no idea, for example, whether having some health care is something gangs already do some of the time, or never.

You ask my own opinion - I guess I'd say that reform doesn't come all at once but rather in gradual changes.

I'm afraid I don't have so much to add myself -- I'm just a student at college!



LisaHeard Posted 11 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 11 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I worked on the transcription for your post.

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Michael Johnson: RSS email me
Comments on “"My Shout Out to Squishles"; Posts #8-12”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS