A protective social circle that creates a community in neighborhoods whose "normal" community-forming institutions have failed. Often found in inner cities and low-income areas, where schools are underfunded, parents cannot afford to pay for adequate childcare and must work long hours to make a living, and other youth organizations (sports teams, etc.) are lacking.
A scapegoat for a city's problems. Government's excuse to glorify police and avoid confronting the real "problem" in the inner city: underfunded schools and the criminalization of people of color.
The LAPD instituted a new "war on gangs" and increased police patrolling in the Hispanic areas of East Los Angeles.