Gangsters in Bacliff

The unincorporated town is up to its elbows in youth gangs, poverty and crime

But if it made a less-than-ideal vacation spot, it was a decent enough place to live, for a time. Galveston Bay wasn't so polluted back then, nor was the shoreline as eroded as it is today. The shrimping industry was booming. "There was still a beach in Bacliff, and cliffs," remembers Miller. "There were still flying fish in the bay."

Miller recalls that the land was so cheap in the 1950s that The Galveston Daily News bought a huge parcel and awarded free homesites to new subscribers. "If you canceled your subscription, you lost the homesite, and they gave it to someone else," Miller says. "So now, there are a lot of really fucked-up titles in Bacliff, and that's why there's no big business there. Kroger doesn't want to build a store and have somebody come out of the woodwork with title to the land."

Miller remembers the town as fairly well off until a downturn hit the shrimping industry in the '80s. Since then, there has been an exodus of the well-off to places like Dickinson and San Leon and an influx of people with nowhere else to go — impoverished illegal aliens, sex offenders and other felons. Bacliff's tiny lots are still cheap, and some owners have attempted to maximize income from them by putting multiple trailers on one lot.

A Bacliff Blood lets his fingers do the talking.
A Bacliff Blood lets his fingers do the talking.
Block Bully, currently a fugitive, displays his tats with a buddy.
Block Bully, currently a fugitive, displays his tats with a buddy.

Sergeant J.D. Wilson of the Galveston County Constables says that the absentee landlords don't care about their run-down properties and background checks are seldom run. "When they are renting out a 60-year-old mobile home with huge holes in the floor, they don't care who they rent to, as long as they get their money."

It's that mean-streets, trailer-trash vibe that the 4th Street Players picked up on and ran with, but instead of adopting traditional badass white-dude personas like outlaw bikers or rockers, they adopted their own version of black street culture, as codified by gangsta rap (see "Bacliff Wiggers: The Other Kind of White Gang").
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It's probably no coincidence that the decline of the shrimping industry and the rise of gangs in Bacliff came at the same time. "This has always been a working-person's town, but the shrimping industry is just a catastrophe right now," says Miller.

Miller had a front-row seat for both developments. After the death of his wife, he raised four kids alone a couple of blocks away from the 4th Street Players' unofficial HQ.

"My last kid turned 18 in 2002 or somewhere around there, so I have firsthand experience with living in that community and having these guys with the red outfits running around."

According to Miller, 4SP was the white Anglo response to a tough Mexican street gang from the other side of Grand Avenue — the Brown Assassins. Tired of being hunted for sport by the B.A.'s, and inspired by gangsta rap and movies like Colors, two kids started calling themselves the 4th Street Players in the early '90s.

Miller says that 4SP was born in an extremely unsavory place: "There was an old guy — he's dead now — an old pedophile that lived in a trailer there on 4th Street," he says. "He had no children, but he had video games and swing sets and monkey bars in this fenced compound, and he provided sanctuary for these guys for years."

Miller says the gang's crimes started small — at first they were content to swipe bicycles (including his own and his son's, which they promptly spray-painted red), break into cars and peddle pills they had swiped from their parents' medicine chests. Also, the gang's weapons in the early days were laughable. "They were armed with stuff like nunchucks," Miller remembers. Few regarded them as anything more than a nuisance. "They were just real poor kids," Miller says. "The neighborhood hoodlums. It wasn't a big deal."

One woman — we'll call her Mary — with three sons who affiliated with 4th Street denied it ever got much beyond that, federal indictment or not. "Back in the day, and I'm talking probably eight, nine years ago, they used to call themselves the 4th Street Bloods. But it wasn't a gang. It was really nothing. They didn't terrorize people. They smoked pot, and probably some of them did go further, but that's where I don't have any knowledge, 'cause my kids never really went that far."

Miller says two gang-related events drove him out of his house in Bacliff. One night he got a frantic phone call from his son — he was trapped in a house with the 4th Street kids outside wanting to beat him up.

I loaded my shotgun and went to get him," Miller says. "The 4th Street kids told me, 'Motherfucker, we'll kill you,' and I said, 'Start killin'.' They didn't, but I was watching my back for a long time."

Not long after that, he popped around the corner to the store. There was a scuffle in the parking lot. "I look over, and there was a kid dressed in red on the ground and he is cut straight across his belly and there's blood everywhere," Miller says. "He was wearing red basketball shorts and a red shirt." While Miller didn't get a good look at the assailant, he believed the knifing was the work of the Brown Assassins.

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2 comments
isaacblack233
isaacblack233

This is a stero type i have threw red shoes over power lines also blue and im 13 so this is sorda a insult and to think that these people just do it to get high no some do but sime also do it bc they need to take care of there kids si b4 u start critizing a person or a town check yours or it and there was alot if bs added to this so please stop the judgmental comments and be realistic thanks and byee.!

sharonkay016
sharonkay016

There is good and bad here in Bacliff. There are many good people here that will go out of there way to help others. There is good and bad in every place in the world. And there is poverty in all parts of the world. There are many people here that are not poverty. In this column about Bacliff it is making our little town sound like the worst place ever to live, not so. It has its problems like every place else does. There are some really nice homes in Bacliff, and there not all next  to the shore lines. You don't have to be rich to have a nice home.

 
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