Although there are thousands of individual street gangs, the majority and largest gangs that are active in the State of Tennessee are Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Mara Salvatrucha. Active in Chattanooga are Bloods (south side), Crips (East Lake and North of Willow and Dodds), Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Mara Salvatrucha and MS-13.
Though there are many gangs in Chattanooga, it is important to note the very nature of the communities that these gangs reside in. After speaking with an individual who asked not to be named, he stated geography is key. Each community has a territory that serves as a syndicate that controls drug trafficking, home invasions, robbery, theft and other crimes. It is important to note that color does not apply to gang affiliation in Chattanooga.
Crime has plagued Chattanooga for years and has left the city at the statistical top of every list. Based on the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Chattanooga has the third highest property crime rate in the nation among cities with populations of 100,000 or more (Ochs Center).
When looking at the inner city, there are a higher percentage of African American crime victims in Hamilton County who are younger, when compared to their white counterparts. Among African Americans, 58% of crime victims were 34 years old or younger. African Americans represent more than 31% of all crime victims nationwide.
More importantly, they represent 41% of all crime victims under the age of 18. The Ochs Center reports that arrestees were disproportionately African American men between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. They stated that in April 2010, there were 1,443 individuals in Silverdale or Hamilton County jail.
In 2009, 349 individuals went to state prison from Hamilton County and the majority of the individuals going to prison were 89% men, 53% African American, and 55% between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. In four Hamilton County sub-regions, Amnicola/East Chattanooga, Ridgeland/Oak Grove/Clinton Hills, Glenwood/Eastdale and Bushtown/Highland Park, one out of every fifty males has returned to the community from prison within the last two years. They "account for nearly 25% of all inmates release from prison back to communities in Hamilton County in 2008 and 2009" (Ochs Center).