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September  22

Believe It... Or Not

Usually, we send these things right to the trash bin, but this time it came from a source inside the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. We're talking about the e-mail we received today warning about a gang initiation procedure threatened for this weekend. Be aware that this e-mail has circulated for years, and is considered an urban myth. It's just that this time it comes to Baristaville via Bloomfield councilman Ray Tamborini, who apparently got it from an assistant prosecutor.


Shelton L. McCall, Jr.
Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor
Essex County Prosecutor's Office

Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 9:42 AM

To: All_ECPO

Subject: FW:

Police officers working with the DARE program has issued this warning:

If you are driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights on, DO NOT FLASH YOUR LIGHTS AT THEM! This is a common Bloods gang member "initiation game" that goes like this:

The new gang member under initiation drives along with no headlights, and the first car to flash their headlights at him is now his "target". He now required to turn around and chase that car, then shoot and kill every individual in the vehicle in order to complete his initiation requirements.

Police Depts. across the nation are being warned that September 23rd and 24th is the "blood" initiation weekend. Their intent is to have all the new bloods nationwide drive around on Friday and Saturday nights with their headlights off. In order to be accepted into the gang, they have to shoot and kill all individuals in the first auto that does a courtesy flash to warn them that their lights are off. Make sure you share this information with all the drivers in your family!

Please forward this message to all your friends and family members to inform them about this initiation ritual. You can save someone's life if you heed to this warning.

Shelton McCall is, by the way, a real person, although he didn't return our calls. We did get our call returned, however, by Dante Pasquale, in "gang intelligence" in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. He'd received the same e-mail and said the office was abuzz about it. And while he's aware that false rumors about this initiation rite have circulated for years, his advice is to take it serously. "I would just abide by it, basically," he said. "You never know."

UPDATE: Assistant prosecutor McCall called us back to say there's no verification of this urban legend, and that he had no intention of spreading it.

September 22, 2005 in Really Freaking Weird | Permalink


This is one of the oldest urban legends around. Aren't there more current (and cogent) things to write about, such as why so many sirens this afternoon?


Posted by: Jon Bonesteel | Sep 22, 2005 6:57:13 PM

a little different then alligators in the sewers-why chance it?

Posted by: cstarling | Sep 22, 2005 7:59:15 PM

If the cops are taking this seriously, I'd like to think that, on the days mentioned, they'll be tooling around looking for cars with their headlights off, to pull them over and search for weapons. Then of course we'd read about the arrests iin the paper. That's what I'd LIKE to think, What I actually think is that someone got snookered by this old hoodwink and now they're to embarrassed to admit it.

Posted by: Mr. Snitch! | Sep 22, 2005 8:37:46 PM

Hm. Well. Ray Tamborini >is<
Bloomfield's answer to Rudy Giuliani. So should we take it seriously because it came from him? Hey! Let's have Ray pose next to his e-mail and he can use it in his campaign mailers this time around.

Posted by: Agent 99 | Sep 22, 2005 8:38:43 PM

You should check out www.snopes.com for the real story - sorry it is urban myth.

Posted by: caris | Sep 22, 2005 8:44:00 PM

"I would just abide by it, basically," he said. "You never know."
Yeah, these guys sound reeeeeeeaaal sharp. This is one of the oldest urban legends on the books. Looks like they haven't yet discovered a great investigative tool -- Google.

Posted by: drob | Sep 22, 2005 9:38:25 PM

I just put a tooth under my pillow...I'm so excited. Mommy, where's my qtr?

Posted by: John L | Sep 22, 2005 10:09:31 PM

Its all well and good for all of you to be flip about this but my cousin once flashed his brights at a car with no lights on and was chased for miles (he lives in the hills of Kentucky) when his car finally ran out of gas three members of "the Bloods" street gang filled his Toyota with Pop Rocks and Jolt cola and he was sufficated.

Posted by: Eddie Shore | Sep 22, 2005 10:11:10 PM

Having interned in an Essex County Superior Court, I say heed the warning. Urban legend or not, these gang members believe that they have nothing to lose and a lot to prove. Gang violence is an epidemic in areas very close (and in) Baristaville. Don't flash.

Posted by: Dana | Sep 23, 2005 12:58:30 AM

Yes, lets eschew courtesy. I would like to hoist a glass to living in fear.

P.S. You know they also shoot you if you vote.

Posted by: Eddie Shore | Sep 23, 2005 2:14:01 AM

You know, it's fine to disregard the urban legend. But.....WHAT IF ???? Tonight you are driving--and a car with no lights comes at you? What do you do?

Posted by: grme | Sep 23, 2005 6:56:55 AM

Don't worry...It would probably be Cathar out messin' with ya.

Posted by: grme | Sep 23, 2005 6:58:23 AM

>> Tonight you are driving--and a car with no lights comes at you? What do you do? <<

This is Jersey, remember? You don't flash, you roll your window down & yell, "Hey you stoopid piece of ----, put yer freakin' lights on!"

Posted by: crank | Sep 23, 2005 8:56:16 AM

This is probably the worst thing I've ever seen on this site.

It's getting bad.

Posted by: realhawker | Sep 23, 2005 9:19:09 AM

I'm flashing my lights no matter what. This is ridiculous to abide by, frankly, the fact that any law enforcement folks are "falling for it" these days is kind of scary.

Posted by: Tom | Sep 23, 2005 9:30:58 AM

Absolutely pathetic that a governmental official would fall for this canard. Next think you know they'll be warning you about the appearance of someone girl in her prom dress standing on the side of the road in the pouring rain trying to hitch a ride.

People who study urban myths make clear that the one's that survive do so for a reason, not by accident. They tap into something real. This one, of course, it all about white people's fears of young black men.

Posted by: montclair_is_crazy | Sep 23, 2005 9:46:33 AM

"Don't worry...It would probably be Cathar out messin' with ya."

grme- you may be correct, as testimonial mention of his participation in similar feralistic activity is well documented within these pages of yore.

"I, for one, was even in an integrated street gang "back then."

Posted by: Barknee | Sep 23, 2005 9:56:46 AM

OK, its time to be smart. This urban legal has been pushed around for a very long time. Alot of fear and very little facts so take it with a grain of salt. And here a some tips and idea's. I'm not a law enforcement professional but lets consider using our heads.
1. Be alert.
2. If you feel like something is wronge or something is going to happen in your car, house, where ever, call 911. Cell phones, even ones without service plans, will still make 911 calls.
3. Call you police department and tell them you are concerned about this urban myth. They may do 2 things. Help you to calm down and instruct their officers to be more alert.
4. Everyone can protect themselves. You don't have to be violet or "strong". You need to be smart and have a plan.
5. Hey, stay at home or walk instead of drive. I may not kill you to walk alittle or take a little break.
6. If you are going completely nuts because of anxiety or fear, call a friend, go to church/temple/etc..., or call a health professional to calm you down.

The "enemy" is never really the enemy. The enemy is fear. Usually, fear is used by some person who wants to control other people. When you choose to overcome or ignore fear, your advantage increases and the fear-mongers advanatage decreases. But really, just use your head and calm down.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR

Posted by: lasermike026 | Sep 23, 2005 9:57:08 AM

Don't know if these are any good but take a look.

For a UK prespective.

Posted by: lasermike026 | Sep 23, 2005 10:16:14 AM

You've made my mother worried. Thanks a bunch.

Posted by: comeongivemeabreak | Sep 23, 2005 11:25:16 AM

Lasermike026: Are you posturing for Mike Chertoff's job?!

Posted by: Jim | Sep 23, 2005 12:06:15 PM

Wouldn't it make sense for all of us to go around flashing our headlights to totally confuse the "gangs". I mean, lets face it, people in gangs aren't generally the most brilliant members of our society.

But as someone posted earlier, if someone does drive around without headlights on - they are essentially marking themselves for the cops. Let's hope we (and the police) see all the gang members out in force this weekend!

Posted by: Todd | Sep 23, 2005 12:14:25 PM

Hoax, hoax, hoax. I have more important things to worry about.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Sep 23, 2005 12:15:59 PM

I'll flash them!

With my bodacious ta-ta's.

Posted by: Sarah | Sep 23, 2005 12:45:02 PM

As if any significant portion of the Bloods and Crips even own cars. Laughable. I did like it a lot more though when it was Hell's Angels. (I wonder if the Hell's Angels have an inferiority complex now that they are not the subject of urban myths and outalndish rumors.)

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