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  • Government Name: Quaheem Edwards
  • Register Number: 10800-084
  • Age:28
  • Time Served:6 + yrs.
  • Home Town:Paterson, NJ
  • Sentence:20 yrs
  • Current Charge:Conspiracy to Distribute, Weapons, Witness Intimidation
  • Alias:Ox-Splish
  • Release Date:2024
  • Prison Affiliation:Blood
  • Circle of Influence:Charles Taylor Jr., David Drone, Joshua Carrell, Tewhan Butler
  • Institution:USP Tucson
  • I now know what I want out of life for myself, my family and my community. I am strictly about rebuilding and change. On paper, I will always be affiliated. I took an oath! But I BANG for a real cause now, or a few causes: CHANGE, UPLIFTMENT and PROSPERITY. RAISE UP!

BANG: Breeding A New Generation

“The Real Will Always Stand Out, and the Truth Can Never Be Fabricated”

Born and raised in Paterson, a small town in northern New Jersey, I remember when gang-banging was foreign to us East Coast city kids. Whenever the term was mentioned, the first places that came to mind were Chicago and California. But when I was growing up or “just stepping off the porch,” our way of banging was mostly territorial–blocks and neighborhoods–an individual’s choice of color meant nothing.

I hadn’t viewed the film Colors until I was already waist deep in the gang-banging lifestyle. The film that inspired my decision to take the next big stop was South Central. Still tucking toy guns in my waistline, I felt like the character O.G. Bobby Johnson but admiring his son J-Rock just seemed to be more realistic. The movie South Central affected my attitude towards rivals across town. I was Hoover Deuce in my own mind.

While just about all of my friends were raised by their mothers, aunts, or grandmothers, I was fortunate to have both parents around. I did not learn to appreciate this until it was too late.

My father was well known and respected throughout the city from his days of running the streets. He and my mother both did everything in their power to keep from slipping. I remember days when I’d be outside playing with my friends and he would come through and make me walk with him. I would pout. But it was my father’s warnings that forced satisfying looks on my face. He would simply say, “you can come with me, or take yo ass in the house!” And this would soon become a regular thing.

Back then, I failed to realize that my father’s determination to keep me away from my friends every chance he got was nothing less than an indirect warning that my circle of influences were trouble. And until this day I curse myself for not seeing the bigger picture. Out of my group of friends, maybe two went finished school and remained on a straight path. The others are dead or either locked away in someone’s prison.

Although my parents did their part, I was still curious. I wanted to know what was so special about the streets that they did not want me out there.

After a few run-ins with the law and the on going beefs with the guys from across town, then came my first real experience of the gang life. I would become one of the original members of the “White Flags”.

The White Flags gang was founded sometime around the end of 2000 in the once quiet housing complex of Brook Sloate Terrace . The White Flags gang was originally called “darkside.” At the time, I was sixteen years old and still living with my parents on the opposite side of town. I was introduced to the area through my father. His nephew, my cousin, lived in Brook Sloate. I began going to stay weekends with my relatives. Soon, I was taking the forty-five minute hike to hangout on school nights. I was accepted in the neighborhood by my relative and his friends with open arms. What stood out to me was the camaraderie and how everyone got along, from the younger generation of boys and girls to the adults. Everyone was like one big family.

Before forming the White Flags gang, there was a point when most of the guys in Brook Sloate were either rappers or athletes. And out of the long list of talent there were two guys who succeeded and went pro. Marcell Shipp and Gerald Hayes who currently plays form the Arizona Cardinals.

Once the White Flags invaded the quiet neighborhood, everything changed. The banging on the walls began as we stamped our territory, and we could be spotted by our attire blocks away. Everyone sported white t-shirts and white bandanas. There was now beat down initiations or doing something wild for stripes. There were no rules or shot callers and although we greeted one another with a long handshake no one dare admitted that we were a gang. We came together as a group. We had one objective and that was to protect our neighborhood.

After earning the respect of other areas throughout Paterson, White Flags would eventually expand and branch out into other neighborhoods. The first block to join was Union Ave, just a few blocks away from Brook Sloate. Then the germ reached Belmont Ave and the Towers. As a group, we ate, smoked, drank, and partied together.

Truthfully, I don’t think any of us were actually aware of what we were doing. But reality would soon set in once we were approached by a group of Bloods. We were all familiar with all of the members. Before clinging to any gang or set, we all grew up together. One spoke of how they admired what we were doing. Instead of pitching the idea of becoming allies, the member asked for us to crossover and trade in our white bandanas for the color burgundy. To me it was a passive way of saying, “get down or lay down.” In so many words, the Bloods were telling us that there was no room in the small town for two gangs. To make a long story short, we declined any involvement and the subject was never mentioned again.

Sometime during October of 2000, I was sent away to the New Jersey State Training School for Boys (Jamesburg) for a one year sentence on an assault. During my entire bid, I repped white flags by letting it be known every chance I got. By this time Bloods and Crips were scattered throughout the tri-state area. Actually, the Bloods first arrived in 1993 and the gang not only out numbered inmates in the prison system but also the guards. I witnessed first hand what gang-banging was about.

While doing my time, I witnessed guys getting jumped, stabbed and even knocked over the head with mop sticks. My first run in with the Bloods came when one of their members were moved into my cell.

Immediately, he noticed my tagging on the walls and when he inquired about White Flags, I didn’t hesitate to breakdown our short history. He then responded by repping his set, but he still seemed surprised by my bluntness. I would later learn that my roommate “rocked me to sleep,” meaning that he pretended everything was cool between us. He began to send word to other Bloods who were also on the tier and when I asked him about it, he assured me that he was only informing his homies what I was repping, but I was definitely paranoid.

The next morning, while my roommate and I were being escorted to recreation, my suspicion was confirmed as he and four of his homies jumped me. In result, I was shipped to the other side of the prison.

But, this would not slowdown or stop me from repping. In fact, my run in with the Bloods boosted my confidence. The day I was released, I realized that I was the only one left making senseless noise. With the check that I received from the juvenile system, which paid inmates $1.00 per day, I purchased a brand new outfit and about four fresh white bandanas. I tied one around my head, two covered both wrist and the forth hung out of one of my back pockets. (Don’t recall which pocket because left or right meant nothing to our group).

I strolled to Brook Sloate with the same pride that I left with, if not more. I couldn’t wait to see my “family.” I wanted them to see that I was still repping. But once I entered the complex and received greetings from my brothers, I noticed that no one greeted me with the “five minute” handshake. Even when I made attempts, I was stopped in mid air only to receive a simple firm handshake. It reminded me of the day I graduated from the eighth grade and I shook hands with the school principal. To make matters worse, I was the only one sporting white flags. What caught my eye was for the first time I noticed quite a few members with red bandanas dangling from their pockets. I was handed drinks like everything was cool, but no one was able to hold eye contact. There was music blaring from a small Panasonic radio. The nonchalant attitudes I received from my brothers was eating away at me. I could not help but break the awkward silence.

I asked, “Yo, where y’all flag at”?

A few cut their eyes at me, ducking behind one another. This had been the question everyone was avoiding.

Finally, a long time friend by the name of Ant-Live spoke up and he didn’t cut any corners,

“Don’t nobody rep dat shit around here no more,” Ant-Live said, looking me over as if I was the enemy.

“It’s Blood Gang now,” to add to his bold statement, he began twisting up his fingers, making signs I did not understand. The others followed with signs of their own, while moving their feet to the music. I later learned this to be B-hopping or B-walking.

The scene made me sick to my stomach, and I felt embarrassed. I wasted no time walking away and they all laughed as I headed straight home. I would lock myself in the attic of my parent’s apartment with my mind going in every direction. I felt betrayed. Most of all, I felt like an inmate stepping back into society after a long bid.

I was lost!

The next day, I would visit other areas in Paterson, where White Flags once crowded the corners. It was obvious that everyone had either turned Blood or gave up gang-banging altogether. My thoughts were drawn back to the earlier meeting we had with the Bloods. It did not take long for them to get everyone to convert.

Over the next few months, I continued to hang in Brook Sloate, leaving my white bandana behind. I felt it was either White Flags or nothing!

Not only had the Bloods taken over the streets of Paterson, but they were accompanied by another gang called Young Gangstas or YGs for short. They were considered to be little brothers of the Bloods in Paterson.

As time went by, there was not a day that went by that I wasn’t asked to join the Bloods organization, but I would always decline. What I did notice was that same love and unity among the Bloods I noticed when I first came to Brook Sloate, at least from the outside looking in. The Bloods and YGs were well respected everywhere and my interest continued to grow.

On March 29, 2001, I was officially a YG. We would put in work for the Bloods, terrorizing the city streets. People feared going to the stores alone because the Bloods and the YGs crowded every other street corner. It seemed everyone were in fear for their lives.

Months later, I was a full-fledged Blood and had joined the Nine Trey Gangstas. I remember coming home late one night with my face swollen and lips puffy and my father inquiring about my injuries. I refused to tell him anything until he became angry. I then lied, making up some story about two guys attempting to rob me with a fake gun. I went on to explain how I realized that the weapon was not real and I took a swing at my assailants, which led to my battered face. My father bought the story, at least I believed he did and it was never mentioned again.

That was then.

Twelve years later, I write from a high security federal penitentiary in Arizona, where I am an in-active Blood member. I am approaching a decade in the system on a twenty-two year sentence for conspiracy, possession of a firearm, and using physical force to intimidate a federal witness. The federal system has showed me a lot. But most importantly it has shown me enough to step down.

Fortunately, I was blessed to never have been the victim of any shootings or stabbings. But during my journey in gang-banging, I have lost many close friends inside and outside of these prison walls. I am fortunate to have been awakened by my experiences. Some good, but most of them bad.

Stay tuned for more to come.

  

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