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10 Cities That Have Been Taken Over By Gangs

20 Years Since The Rodney King Verdict Sparked Infamous L.A. Riots


Although gangs aren’t often talked about in many cities in which they aren’t prevalent, in those where the groups run around town and cause violence, they are a real concern. While one dangerous person is something to fear, a group of them is even scarier, with gangs posing a threat to anyone who might cross their path or upset them. With a few towns hoping to decrease gang violence, here are the ones that are having trouble, as they’re the U.S. cities overtaken by gangs.

10. Buffalo, New York

Dealing with a lot of economic issues over the past decade or so hasn’t helped Buffalo, New York’s attempt at running gangs out of town. While the murder rate was the lowest in a decade in 2014, the widespread poverty in the Northeastern city continues to add fuel to the fire in terms of violent crimes, making Buffalo one of the most dangerous places in the U.S.

9. Stockton, California

One might think that everything in the state of California is all sunshine and roses, but the city of Stockton proves otherwise. One of the most violent places to live in the United States thanks to its high violent crime-rate, Stockton has an infestation of gangs. Like others on this list, Stockton has fallen on tough economic times, scaling back police force which has only increased these illegal incidents.

8. St. Louis, Missouri

The gateway to the West might have some historic monuments and great history, but St. Louis, Missouri is still run by a lot of gangs on the streets. While the good news is that crime rates have been cut in half from where they were in the middle-’90s, the drug-trafficking that is so high in St. Louis continues to deter any growth. With 1 in 11 people involved in a violent crime, gangs are a major factor in the reason why, and police are focusing on trying to weed them out as best they can.

7. Cleveland, Ohio

Much like the aforementioned problems in Buffalo, New York, the economic situation in Cleveland, Ohio might be even worse, with poverty and drug use continuing to be a major issue to solve. Some of the poorest residents in the nation, Cleveland continues to see violent crimes infect the city, with gangs being a key contributor to them. Murders did drop a bit, but not much to give the city too much hope at this point.

6. Birmingham, Alabama

For those outside of the south, Birmingham, Alabama might be perceived as a place with old history and deep roots. Unfortunately, it’s still a city divided by racism, rampant poverty and separation of classes, which is evidence by the gang violence and high drug usage. With historic crime rates over the years, Birmingham continues to see itself on lists mentioning the most unsafe cities in the country—which isn’t something residents prefer to see.

5. Baltimore, Maryland

With the reputation as the Heroin Capital of the United States, Baltimore, Maryland has proven that the former TV show The Wire wasn’t too far off in its plot, as murder and gang-related violence continues to take place. With a crime rate of 65 per 1,000 residents, Baltimore deals with high murder rates, aggravated assaults and armed robberies.

4. Memphis, Tennessee

Like others on this list, the southern city of Memphis, Tennessee continues to struggle with racial boundaries and prejudice, causing a separation between many of the residents. One major factor in that has been the influx of gangs in the city, with violent crimes continuing to occur at a record pace. Beale Street might be known for blues music and barbecue, but it can get a bit sketchy when wondering around at night, especially if intoxicated and alone.

3. Oakland, California

While the No. 1 violent crime in Oakland, California is robbery and not murder, the city by the bay is still one bad place for gangs to migrate to. Rather than flock to its more wealthy neighbor, San Francisco, gangs see an opportunity in Oakland to get what they want to thanks, in part, to a depressed economy and high drug usage, making it a magnet for crime.

2. Atlanta, Georgia

Home to one of the notorious street gangs in the country, MS-13, Atlanta, Georgia has seen an influx of gang-related violence in recent years. The aforementioned gang has even spread to other parts of the world, leaving an impact that is traced back to the southern state that those in the city want no part of. From robberies, assault and murder, each increased over the past few years, with the cause often being drug-related between gangs.

1. Detroit, Michigan

There’s a reason why Detroit, Michigan continues to be ranked among the most dangers cities in the United States, and a lot of it has to do with the prevalent gangs that occupy the city. The economic situation in the city is well-known—Detroit filed for bankruptcy and is still trying to recover—and the violent crime-rate is about five times what the national average in other cities is. With people on the street and gangs roaming, Detroit continues to try and overcome.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Written by Nick Dimengo

Graduate of the University of Kentucky. Cleveland sports fan. Frustrated respecter of LeBron James. Influencer of bad ideas.
In addition to Worthly/Housely, I'm a regular contributor to Bleacher Report, Scout, Esquire and Maxim, and run or bike way too much for my own good when not writing.

The day a Cleveland sports team wins a title is the day I can officially say my life is complete.