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37 Int. J. Offender Therapy & Comp. Criminology 1 (1993)

handle is hein.journals/ijotcc37 and id is 1 raw text is: 




      Associate Editor's Editorial



      Urban Violence in Historical

      Perspective

      Leon D.  Hankoff



      It became dangerous to wear any gold buttons or girdles, or to appear at
      a late hour in the streets of a peaceful capital (Gibbon, 1845, p. 57). With
      these words Edward Gibbon  described sixth-century Constantinople when
      two contending factions regularly attacked each other and passersby in
      the city for little apparent reason. The blues and greens, as the factions
      were known, based their origins on colors used by athletic contestants in
      the hippodrome. The contending factions elaborated differences in dress
      and manner  and regularly engaged in violent exchanges. On one festive
      occasion, producing concealed  weapons  the greens slaughtered 3,000
      blues.
          I offer this unlikely example as my introduction to the question of
      group violence in our time of increased urban danger. The example  is
      instructive in that it highlights the factor of group solidarity in our efforts
      to understand the riots and rampages that have marked 20th-century cities.
      The Los  Angeles  riots of 1992 threatened to ignite a chain reaction
      throughout the United States. The obvious elements in the Los Angeles riots
      were the presence of a large disadvantaged community and the provocation
      of a perceived miscarriage of justice against that community. The riots of
      Watts in 1965 and Newark in 1967-68 were similarly viewed. It is necessary,
      of course, to go beyond these headline issues of deprivation and injustice
      and understand the full anatomy of group violence in the 20th century. We
      must distinguish between the ostensible immediate inciting causes and root
      causes of a more continuing nature.
          As the example of Constantinople suggests, material deprivation is less
      central than some form of pervasive group assertion. In our own time we
      have seen rampages by the attendees at rock concerts and sports events. A
      recent study of soccer fan behavior portrays their often lethal behavior as a
      sport of its own, providing a  euphoric group  experience for English
      hooligans (Buford, 1992.) Following a Saturday game these working class
      men regularly seek the thrill of punching, stabbing, gouging, and crushing
      any human  target to be found. In their 1985 assault in Brussels, 39 soccer


from the ,aie   o    J o sOff er hlray nd Comparative Criminology, 37(1), 1993

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