“There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from..”
Prodigy of Mobb Deep
Prodigy was spot on when he rhymed what is one of the most memorable opening lines ever on a rap song back in 1995. New York’s five boroughs were staggered by high crime rates from the usual suspect in the form of drugs and all of the crime that it fathers. The Bronx, Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan and sections of Queens were war zones. Drug crews and stick up kids were plying their criminal trade with total disregard for police, until “Giuliani Time” began in the late 90’s for better or worse depending on who’s waxing poetic. It was survival of the fittest indeed but despite New York City in the midst of historic low crime rates over 20 plus years since Prodigy spit his unforgettable verse from the classic The Infamous album, there’s still a war going on outside. Its in the predominately black and brown neighborhoods of the outer boroughs. The war never stopped in most of the Bronx or in huge swaths of the County of Kings. Ditto for Jamaica Queens and Queensbridge. The war never stopped in parts of Harlem from the west side to Spanish Harlem on the east side. The Lower East Side still has pockets of crime. I can go on and on. But Prodigy stressed that no man is safe in the streets. That shouldn’t apply to a kid. A 15-year-old boy who had dreams of joining the NYPD. The war came for innocent Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz on a summer night last week in June in the Bronx, and there is rage in the streets over this shocking crime.
Apparently enraged over a sex tape circulating on social media because this seems to be where beef is ignited these days, alleged gang members from the Trinitarios set upon Guzman-Feliz who was hiding for his life inside a Bodega on E. 183rd Street & Bathgate Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx. He was horrifically murdered, hacked and stabbed repeatedly by 5 grown men armed with Machetes and knives in a crime caught on surveillance video from the Bodega, which in turn was circulated on social media sites because, of course. Several cell phone videos captured the mortally wounded kid staggering across the street attempting to save himself by running to nearby St. Barnabus hospital just 2 blocks away. Guzman-Feliz died just outside of the emergency room. Police have since made public that he was a victim of mistaken identity, and are asking the public to help identify his 5 killers. This is where the “G” Code enters the discussion.
Depending on who you ask, the mythical G in the G Code stands for either “gangster” (Gangsta for the Hip Hop heads and the streets), “game”, or “gentleman’s” code. It is an untraceable, unwritten rule of absurdity akin to Baseball’s unwritten rules of their sport which are totally ridiculous in their profession. Rap and the streets are infinitely linked because rap was birthed in the streets, therefore when rappers who sometimes are unaware of the vast reaches of their influence, rhyme about the consequences and dangers of snitching along with a history’s worth of anti-police sentiment, when a crime such as this one hits home, there is misdirected outrage. Incredibly, people are hammering the NYPD for not doing anything to save poor Lesandro’s life. This is not a pro police rant. This is not what I am writing here. Take a look at the what is going on for a minute here: Surveillance video clearly captures 5 men assaulting Lesandro and then he attempts to run for his life to the hospital. Ask yourself, could anyone have stopped in their cars or even walking in the street to attempt to save his life? Instead, what we see is a few cell phone footage videos that people figured were more important than themselves actually calling 911 with those same cell phones or trying to stop Lesandro from bleeding to death. People recording the police who at the scene are making notifications and frantically attempting to get information are being yelled at by other people recording them telling the police they are doing nothing to save him. This is the world we live in today.
In the aftermath of the horrific murder of Lesandro, police are working “tons” of leads regarding the suspects. Is that snitching? Is this violating the Gangsta Code? I saw an Instagram post in which it was stated that although tragic, this happens in the hood everyday, and the streets should be quiet and let the police do their job. This statement made my head spin. I agree that this does happen too much in the streets of New York although Mayor deBlasio will have you believe otherwise because you know, New York City is the safest big city in the country, but if this crime does not once and for all put the ridiculous “G” Code to sleep, all hope is lost.
I reached out to an old acquaintance of mine who still dabbles in and out of street activities. I asked him specifically about this crime and if he would give a statement to police if they questioned him about it. His response? “Fuck yeah. That was a kid from the block who was a good kid. The rules of the streets are no kids or women unless the women are involved in activity. Kids are off-limits”. I pressed him about snitching if he gave a statement to the cops. His response: “There is no code of the streets. Niggas is always snitching to save themselves anyway. Always looking to cut a deal and shit. No loyalty out here. There’s levels of snitching. The foul dude who is raping and shit like that? Fuck him. Tell on his ass. Ya man that is hustling on the corner? I ain’t saying shit to the cops”. His words.
So is calling the police tips hotline giving information for Lesandro’s cruel murder snitching? I don’t think so. As of this writing, there has still been no statement from the Mayor’s office regarding this crime. Why? Because it happened in the Bronx that’s why. Because it involved Dominicans and who cares about Dominicans killing each other right? Because it happened in front of a Bodega, a staple in the hood right? Because it didn’t involve a cop shooting a black kid so there is no media grab for headlines.
“New York got a nigga depressed, so I wear slug proof underneath my Guess..”
Prodigy of Mobb Deep from Survival of the Fittest
God knows what was going through Lesandro’s head when he was being dragged by his hoodie from the Bodega on to the sidewalk where he would be savagely hacked to death. In this instance, a video that made the social media rounds can be a gift to investigators scrambling to apprehend suspects, but it could be divisive for the public, most of whom have valid anti-police sentiments. Leasndro was a member of the NYPD’s Explorer’s program which is for youth who are interested in a career in law enforcement. The NYPD is taking this crime personally as they should. Not just because Lesandro was a good kid with dreams of becoming one of their own, but because of the sheer brutality of a crime caught on video. So forget the Gangsta/Game/Gentleman’s Code and everything it stands for. If you see something, say something. The whole world can see this. It’s on video. Prodigy told you 23 years ago there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from. Today, not even kids are safe.
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