PICS: Gangs embrace social media with often deadly results

Chicago – Lamanta Reese lived much of his gang life in virtual reality, posting videos on YouTube of him and others taunting rivals.

In the real world age 19, bleeding from his head onto a porch on Chicago’s South Side after one of those gang rivals, prosecutors say, they shot him 11 times.

Prosecutors said that other possible factor that he was killed was a smiley-face emoji Reese posted that the suspected gunman may have interpreted as a insult about his mom.

According to new law enforcement data provided exclusively given to The Associated Press ahead of its release Tuesday by the Chicago Crime Commission, the report said that Gangs’ have embraced social media to provoke foes or conceal drug dealing in emoji filled text, has become the biggest change in how gangs operate compared to 10 years ago,

This frame shows a March 2, 2017 Twitter post by Lamanta Reese, whose nickname was Taedoe, nearly three months before he was fatally shot in Chicago in what prosecutors say was a gang-related killing. (Twitter via AP)

Gang culture has largely changed because of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites.  It has shown to have similar influence on gangs nationwide.

Rodney Phillips from a gang conflict mediator and works in a low-income area of Englewood neighbourhood said that they have seen recently that there will mostly likely be a link between an outbreak of gang violence, that is linked to something said online.

“I Google it,” Phillips said. “I look on YouTube and Facebook. Today, that’s how you follow the trail of a conflict.”

He was asked to what led to his son’s death, Reese’s father, William Reese, answered, “Something on the internet.”

He said his son and Quinton “ManMan” Gates, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing, they had been trading war of words on Facebook.

This undated photo provided by the Chicago Police Department shows Quinton Gates. Gates is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of rival street-gang member Lamanta Reese in May 2017, after Reese posted videos on YouTube of him and his gang taunting gang rivals in Chicago. (Chicago Police Department via AP)


Gangs have always put retaliation for perceived disrespect. In the past, insults rarely spread beyond the block. However no they are broadcast via social media to thousands in an instant.

“If you’re disrespected on that level, you feel you have to act,” said Phillips, employed with Target Area, a nonprofit group that seeks to defuse gang conflicts.

Reese, used his nickname Taedoe and used Twitter frequently, posting 28,000 tweets under the handle @taedoeDaShoota.

This photo provided by William Reese shows his son Lamanta Reese. (Courtesy of William Reese via AP)

He displayed bravado but was also introspective, he tweeted about his odds of dying a violent death. In one of his last tweets, he said,  “Death Gotta Be Easy Because Life is Hard.” It included a sad-face emoji.

Police say there was a gang connection to most of the 650 homicides in Chicago recorded in 2017, the figure are much more higher than in Los Angeles and New York City combined.

Homicides so far in 2018 are down around 20 percent.

Police have said that better intelligence and the deployment of officers to neighbourhoods could help decreasing gang killings.

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