'I got more power doing the right thing than I ever had being an actual violent gang member," says Derek Grover, author of The Gangbanger's Dictionary: One Hundred and Eighty-Seven Things You Better Know Before You Join a Gang. Grover will be giving a lecture and signing his book at the San Diego Public Library in Mira Mesa on Saturday, September 3. For a quarter of a century Grover went by the name D-Man and was the leader of the Bloccide Crip Gang in Southeast San Diego. With his book he hopes to educate the public. Grover instructs kids how to answer a simple question like "Where are you from?"
"Your answer could get you killed," he writes. "The best way to answer this is to just stand there and look at his hands. Let God talk for you. To say anything else is a form of disrespect to the [gang]banger."
Grover explains, "There's a lot of killings on holidays because on holidays a gangster plans rival attacks. All holidays are like that except Christmas Day. Gangsters are extremely spiritual people because they die young. When you go to jail, you believe in God one hundred percent." Grover has been to jail around 40 times in the past 27 years for gang-related crimes. "I was sitting in San Quentin and God came to me and said, 'I'm gonna show you some things, and I want you to write this book.' He wasn't coming and telling me in a soft, squeaky voice or a loud voice, He was telling me in my own voice because it's my own voice that I trust. But I knew it was God talking to me because it was thoughts that I couldn't control; it was something more powerful than me."
When he was at the top of his game Grover was a millionaire. "I got those millions of dollars from robbing and stealing and taking," he says. "Fighting gang wars is extremely expensive; it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year because you have to pay your gang members. If you don't pay people then nobody comes to you with information. The more money you got the more the streets talk to you. The streets tell you what's going on."
In Gangbanger's Dictionary, Grover defines several street terms, a few of which he reads aloud: "'Busted on' means to shoot a full clip. A 'gat,' that's a gun that's fired no matter what. A gun is used by law enforcement, [and] a gat is used by a violent criminal. When somebody says 'gat,' he's saying he's shot [the gun]. A "strap" is a fake gun, and as any stoner can tell you, a "blunt" is a "cigar from which tobacco is removed and replaced with marijuana" that is resealed and smoked. A "homeboy" is a well-connected friend, and a "homie" is a person who is not well known.
"The reason I wanted to write this book [is because] one of my homeboys was killed in a fiery shootout in 1997. My gang robbed the Saks Fifth Avenue in Mission Valley for two million dollars in diamonds." A week after the robbery police officers caught up with Grover's homeboy, Bobby Lewis Kirk, Jr., while he was at home. "[Bobby] just sprayed 'em up a hundred times with an AK 47. They shot back and burned the house down on top of him," says Grover. "I couldn't take his death like it was just another day. I wanted to dedicate my life to righteousness after his death." Bobby is one of four people Grover lists in his book under the words, "This book is dedicated to the homeboys of the Bloccide Crip Gang. Your loyalty to the gang will never be forgotten."
In his gangbanging days Grover regarded police officers the same way he did the Bloods, his rival gang. "The police are gangsters, too. It don't seem like it, but only a gangster can bring down a gangster. If you was a cop and you didn't do nothing bad, you wouldn't catch nobody. You have to use deadly force against some gangsters in order to disarm them. That's how it goes in the world of gangbanging."
How do his old homeboys feel about the D-Man's new book? "Gang members don't kill people that preaches peace 'cause all gang members are looking for peace. They just need somebody who knows their language to talk to them." -- Barbarella
Gangbanger's Dictionary lecture and booksigning with author Derek Grover
Saturday, September 3
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
San Diego Public Library
Mira Mesa Branch
8405 New Salem Street