Analytical Essay Sample
The Aryan Brotherhood is a notorious gang and criminal organization originating within the United States prison system. Over several decades, this group has come to represent white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and a legacy of violence. Gaining a deeper understanding of this threat is crucial due to its interactions with society, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system. In turn, knowledge about the Aryan Brotherhood’s origins, members, laws, and symbols sheds light on the volatile organization that started from a small group and eventually infected the nation.
The gang has a long history tracing back to the 1960s in the San Quentin State Prison, California. White inmates created it to protect themselves from other racially based groups, especially African-American and Hispanic gangs (Brook). Their ideology revolved around white supremacy and neo-Nazism, which is why they exacerbated racial tensions and committed hate crimes against non-white inmates. The gang rapidly expanded its influence to other state and federal prisons across the United States and even outside prison walls. It attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies as it became involved in such criminal activities as drug trafficking, extortion, racketeering, and murder (Southern Poverty Law Center). The gang was designated as a major security threat, leading to multiple federal indictments and convictions, but it managed to survive and adapt to changing circumstances. Thus, the Aryan Brotherhood remains a significant concern because it spreads harmful ideologies and perpetuates violent crimes through its numerous members and affiliated groups.
The Aryan Brotherhood operates with a hierarchical structure that consists of leaders, shot-callers, soldiers, and associates. Leadership positions are highly secretive, while all members tend to have nicknames or aliases to maintain anonymity (Brook). Members are typically white and supportive of white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies, and the majority has a history of criminal activities prior to joining the gang. Since the Aryan Brotherhood primarily operates within the prison system, it mostly attracts incarcerated individuals. They may join for protection against rival gangs, a sense of belonging, or access to the benefits and privileges of gang membership (Morales). The recruitment process involves thorough vetting and initiation rituals, during which new members must prove their loyalty and dedication through acts of violence or other criminal activities. While it is difficult to become a member, vast opportunities to join and the appeal of membership have helped the gang to build an expansive network that resists constant crackdowns.
The Aryan Brotherhood has a set of laws and codes that govern their operations and dictate how members must behave. Above all else, members must maintain absolute secrecy about the gang’s activities and the identities of other members (Pelisek). They are forbidden from cooperating with authorities and law enforcement, providing information, or testifying against the gang’s interests. This loyalty extends to how members are expected to protect and respect their associates both inside and outside of prison, resorting to violence when necessary to defend the gang’s reputation. They are supposed to be fearless as they prioritize the gang over self-interest because cowardice and weakness are not tolerated (Brook). Furthermore, the Aryan Brotherhood enforces strict discipline and adherence to their ideology. Disobedience or insubordination can lead to physical punishment or expulsion from the gang, just like associating with non-white individuals and engaging in homosexual activities. Although the Aryan Brotherhood is a criminal group, it needs its own laws to keep its complex hierarchy in line.
The members of the Aryan Brotherhood use symbols and tattoos to show allegiance to the gang and their ideologies. One of the most common symbols is a shamrock with additional imagery embedded in its leaves (Brook). The leaves may portray 666 – “number of the beast” that is associated with Satanism and symbolizes rebellion. They may also include the initials “AB” or their alphanumeric equivalent of 1 and 2 as a simple abbreviation to represent the gang. Different Nazi symbols may be either included with the shamrock or on their own to demonstrate alignment with neo-Nazi beliefs, such as the swastika or the SS lightning bolts. Moreover, members may have tattoos with the Celtic or iron crosses, even though these are not the gang’s official symbols and have been widely appropriated by other extremist groups (Morales). These symbols serve as identification within the prison system and a means of intimidation towards other inmates or rival gangs, which is why law enforcement agencies actively track them to combat gang-related activities.
In conclusion, the Aryan Brotherhood stands as a grim testament to the resilience of hatred and violence in the shadowy annals of criminal organizations. It started in one prison and evolved into an expansive web with a secretive hierarchical structure. The gang’s members may be found inside and beyond prison walls, united by their commitment to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. As they engage in various criminal activities from drug trafficking to murder, they follow their own rules and face severe repercussions for disobedience. Their unique symbols help to identify them, but law enforcement still struggles to put an end to this enduring threat.
Brook, John Lee. Blood in, Blood out: The Violent Empire of the Aryan Brotherhood. SCB Distributors, 2011.
Morales, Gabriel C. The History of the Aryan Brotherhood. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2021.
Pelisek, Christine. How the Aryan Brotherhood Kills: From the Gang Signs to the Sanctioned Hits, The Daily Beast , 12 July 2017, www.thedailybeast.com/how-the-aryan-brotherhood-kills-from-the-gang-signs-to-the-sanctioned-hits.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Aryan Brotherhood, 2023, www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/aryan-brotherhood.