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1992 Watts Gang Truce

There are multiple instances where there is conflict without resolution. For instance, when talking about topics such as religion it is possible for values to be deeply ingrained to the point of no return, making resolution the most difficult to attain. However, there are multiple cases where resolution has been possible. By evaluating the various entrances and the escalation within the conversation, we can pinpoint the: position, interests, and values that make resolution more likely. These categories are the key to finding a common ground for the exit route. In this example I will be talking about the gang rivalries Bloods and Crips in Los Angeles (LA). Gangs in general are one area that has the most lack of reconciliation present which often results in violence and oppression. However, even in rivalries such as these, there have been at least a couple of times that they have both come together according to NBC (2020) and Southern California Public Radio (2014). These scenarios can also be reflected upon when reading from Douglas Stone and colleagues (2011) book, “Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most”.

To give some backstory, the Crips were established in 1971 in efforts to defend against gang violence in LA. They positioned themselves around safety from violence; were interested in their neighborhoods safety and freedom; and valued protection from gang violence. On the other hand, the Bloods were established during 1972 in response to the uprising of the Crips; their rivalry initially began in 1960 in response to a gang attack from the Crips against them. On the furthermore, they held positions in brotherhood; interests in stability and family; and value in protection from others. Looking over these standpoints among the two groups, we can definitely say that the value of protection is shared. From these categories, we can also argue how some of these came to light. For instance, valuing protection of each other came from the current gang violence at the time which stemmed from fear of losing loved ones. Although these are two different groups, they share a common value and emotion towards violence within their area. 

Looking back at the times where the gangs did find common grounds, we can pinpoint two points in history. First to note, the Watts Truce in 1992. This truce was established the day before the Rodney King riots; a riot after the death of Rodney King from a police brutality attack at the time. Instead of protesting, the two gangs declared a ceasefire in response to the vast murders among Bloods and Crips in efforts to honor Rodney King and many others that have fallen victim to police brutality (Stoltze, 2014). Since this truce, there has been a decline in gang violence within LA which lasted roughly 10 years (Stoltze, 2014). Second to note, the death of Nipsey Hussle in 2019. This truce was established to mourn the death of Nipsey Hussle (a former Crip gang member) who was a famous musician and peacemaker at the time; before his death, he had prior plans to meet later that night to help the Los Angeles Police Department reduce gang violence (Alicia et al, 2020). Instead of suppressing feelings of sadness, the two groups came together to share and talk about Hussel in honor of his life. 

With these events in mind, I can relate these moments with topics discussed in the book throughout chapter five “The Feelings Conversation” (Stone et al, 2011). First, the Watts Truce. The value of protection stemming from the fear of violence is prevalent on both sides. Unfortunately, these emotions have been suppressed from the beginning which has caused violent behavior; according to the book, this is an example of “Feelings Being Leaked Into The Conversation” (Stone et al, 2011). This portion of the book discusses instances where hidden emotions leak into the conversation through other means, such as: self-distancing, aggressive body language, or sarcastic tone. Such prevalence of unexpressed feelings makes it difficult for the gang’s to connect with each other which has led to a poor relationship between them; hence a rivalry. However, when the gang’s came together, they shared a feeling of fear to leave the house without experiencing violence, along with the feeling of needing to act with violence to be protected. The two groups were able to frame their feelings in regard to the problem by analyzing the full spectrum of the situation without monopolizing each other; this is an example of what was discussed in the book from the sections “Sometimes Feelings Are All That Matter”, “The Importance Of Acknowledgement”, and “Don’t Monopolize” (Stone et al, 2011). These portions of the book discussed the importance of talking about feelings and the acknowledgement of other people’s feelings in the process. Stone and colleagues (2011) also add that everyone’s feelings are important, and no one’s feelings are more important than another’s. This type of process allowed for a space to share feelings without judgement which perpetuated reconciliation. In accordance with the book, this is another example of “Don't; Vent: Describe Feelings Carefully” (Stone et al, 2011). This portion of the book discussed the importance of evaluating one’s own feelings before disclosing them to others. Stone and colleagues (2011) say that this allows one to determine true feelings toward a particular situation without disclosing a false emotion through: the process of framing, expressing the full spectrum, and just sharing. Second, the death of Nipsey Hussel. This is also an example of “Don’t Vent: Describe Feelings Carefully”; both groups came together again in response to the loss of Hussel. Instead of acting with violence and suppressing emotion, the two groups come together to mourn without judgement. As a personal reflection, I can see why there is no judgement in this situation. I feel as though death holds a particular space for feelings than other situations. When mourning, no one can deny the feelings of loss and no one can judge others for also feeling loss. Similar to the brutality of King, there is a space held due to the similar feelings it brings across multiple groups. If there is judgement, there is the denial of one’s own feelings as well; no one would want to do that. 

When analyzing difficult conversations in relation to real-world examples of conflict and resolution, such as the Bloods and Crips, it is simple to pinpoint: position, interest, and values. In this instance between the Bloods and Crips, the categories are obvious due to the backstory behind each category. When reflecting on the book, it is also evident to pinpoint where there is conflict. In this instance, the Bloods and Crips have conflict due to the overlooked emotions which have caused violence in their county. However, during the times where the gang’s have been able to come together and share common feelings, resolution happened even if it was for a short period of time. In my personal reflection, when looking at conflict that may seem impossible to find resolutions to, I have to remind myself of the hidden messages that may be concealing the true problem at hand. Oftentimes, I can see that these hidden messages share a commonality between two parties. I feel as though if conversations started with identifying hidden emotions, we would find more similarities between groups, and therefore come to more resolutions than conflicts in the future.



“Have Your Feelings (Or They Will Have You).” Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone et al., Portfolio/Penguin, 2011, pp. 85–108. 

Lozano, Alicia Victoria, and Erik Ortiz. “Nipsey Hussle's Killing Inspired Rival Gangs to March in Peace. A Year Later, Did It Last?”, NBCUniversal News Group, 29 Mar. 2020,

Stoltze, Frank. “Historic 1992 Watts Gang Truce – Bigger than the LA Riots?” Southern California Public Radio, 14 Jan. 2014,



Hailee Mingo

Hailee Mingo is a student at the University of Oregon. She believes that "When you have a conflict, that means that there are truths that have to be addressed on each side." - Dolores Huerta  MORE >

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