Interview with a marked man (Part IV of V)

This is the fourth story in a five-part series on Native American gangs.

MINNEAPOLIS — According to Boots, one of the last times someone tried to kill him was when an 8-year-old pulled out a revolver and opened fire.

The boy was a member of the Gangster Disciples, and Boots was a member of Native Mob, a notorious Indian gang based in Minneapolis and known nationally for its ability to function as an organized criminal entity as well as for its propensity for violence.

Luckily for Boots, the boy wasn’t a very good shot.

Since then, Boots has kept his eyes peeled for trouble.

Boots, 19, is one of dozens of Native American gang members who escaped arrest and indictment in 2013 after a massive local, state and federal takedown of Native Mob. With the arrests, the organization has gone underground and, in many places, nonoperational, leaving members like Boots with little to no support to fight off rival gangs or defend themselves from those looking to settle old scores.

Boots, who agreed to go on record if identified by his street name, is in a unique position. With the birth of his son only months ago, he decided to renounce his ties to gang life in order to raise the child. The problem is, his Native Mob former family and old rivals don’t care. A commitment to gang life is a life commitment.

“I can’t be out here. I’m going to run into a pack of people, and I’m going to be by myself,” he said. “Who can I call to come back me up? There ain’t nobody.”

Read more here at Al Jazeera America.

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Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic, and more. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.

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