Out To Defend Ourselves
This first critical history of a street gang in a Canadian city is a result of a four-year collaboration between a university professor (Ted Rutland) and the leader of les Bélangers (Maxime Aurélien). Out to Defend Ourselves tells the story of Montreal’s first Haitian street gang, les Bélangers. It traces how the gang emerged from a group of Haitian friends, the children of migrants from Haiti in the 1970s. It documents the forms of racial violence they experienced and their battles against them. It also documents the everyday lives of the gang members, the petty crime some members engaged in to make ends meet, and how the police actions against the gang changed its nature and function – making it, finally, a more criminally oriented and violent formation. It is a story about a gang, but it is also a story of young Haitians making their lives in 1970s and 80s Montreal and a story about Montreal in a period of great change.