Cody Lumpkin is a 7-4 soulja till da end. Or, in gangster-speak, he’ll be a Gangster Disciple until he dies. That’s how the 21-year-old Athens man shows himself to the world on his Facebook page, replete with photos of him flashing gang signs, posing with guns, bragging about money and disrespecting women. Whether or not he’s a genuine member of the notorious Gangster Disciples street gang, Lumpkin played the part last weekend when, police say, he killed a man with a gunshot to the head. The shooting happened Sunday night at Rolling Ridge Apartments off Kathwood Drive, where Jeremy Sean Buchanan was shot and killed by Lumpkin in an apparent robbery, which police said also was drug-related. “Cody Lumpkin gives every appearance of being a gang member,” said Robert Walker, a nationally-known gang expert who analyzed Lumpkin’s Facebook page Friday. He never directly states he’s a member of a gang, but Lumpkin uses what gang investigators call alpha-numeric code to tell people who he is. According to Walker and other gang experts, when Lumpkin wrote he is “7-4,” the corresponding letters are G and D, for Gangster Disciple. Also on his Facebook page, Lumpkin lists a well-known Gangster Disciple “prayer” as his favorite quote: “When i die $how no pity $end my $oul 2 6angsta city, dig a hole 6 feet deep and lay 2 $taffs acro$ my feet, lay 2 $hotguns acro$ my che$t and tell King Hoover i did my be$t.” He replaces the “G” in gangster with a six, because the Gangster Disciple’s symbol is a six-pointed star. The ode also pays tribute to the Chicago-based gang’s founder, Larry Hoover. “I see pictures of him with his friends, and everybody’s flashing signs, there’s weapons involved, so, yeah, I’d say he’s a gang-banger,” said Walker, a former agent with the U.S. Border Control and Drug Enforcement Administration who trains law enforcement agencies and others in gang awareness. Walker’s consulting firm, Gangs Or Us, maintains a website to educate the public, and another that only can be accessed by law enforcement officers to share gang intelligence. Just because a group calls itself the Gangster Disciples, Crips, Bloods or Latin Kings doesn’t mean they are affiliated with those national criminal synidicates, according to Sgt. Christopher Nichols, an Athens-Clarke police gang investigator. “The criminal street gangs most prevalent in the state of Georgia, to include Athens, are hybrid gangs or, as I like to call them, homegrown gangs” that adopt the names of the well-known gangs, Nichols said. They can be just as dangerous. “Though hybrid gangs may not pay dues to larger organizations, it does not mean that they are not the ‘real deal,’ ” Nichols said. “Hybrid gangs commit the same types of crimes as the traditional street gangs, but not on as large of a scale.” Some young men band together in gangs for a sense of belonging, a feeling they don’t get from their own families when there’s no parental guidance, Nichols said, or they bow to peer pressure. “They may have been exposed to it by other family members, they may have friends that are associated with criminal street gangs, or it may start out as youth without proper direction becoming involved in criminal activity,” Nichols said. Once a young man joins a gang, starts carrying guns, covers his body with tattoos and adopts the other trappings of a gangster, he might be on a path where violence is inevitable. “There is a saying, ‘You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?’ ” Nichols said. “No one likes to be called out or challenged. If a person portrays that they are ‘hard,’ then they cannot allow someone to embarrass them, especially in front of a group. “The person feels obligated to fulfill whatever image they have presented so that they are not all show,” he said. The violence sometimes turns deadly, according to Walker. “People who never thought they’d be killing someone find that once in a gang they are expected to kill,” he said. People have banded into small gangs for generations in Athens, usually groups that identified themselves either with the Eastside or Westside. But technology has made it easy for teens to learn the lingo of the big-time gangs, according to Nichols. “If a person wants to know something about gang culture, they can simply look it up on the Internet, view videos, print pictures and download reading material,” he said. “Technology has increased the rate of learning for those wanting to delve into the criminal street gang world.” Athens-Clarke police didn’t publicly acknowledge the community had a gang problem until 2004, when a duplex off North Avenue was raked with gunfire in a drive-by shooting to settle a beef between rival Hispanic gangs. But Jean Turner Horton literally saw the writing on the wall as early at 1999 when, as a state probation officer, she began snapping photos of gang graffiti on public housing. One photo depicted a six-pointed star with a “G” in the middle, a tag associated with the Gangster Disciples. Horton brought the photos to the Athens Housing Authority, which immediately adopted a zero-tolerance policy for gang activity. Since that drive-by, which wounded three men, Athens-Clarke police began taking measures to fight back, including graffiti eradication, collecting gang intelligence and requiring officers to undergo gang recognition training. “I’m really glad that Athens finally recognized it had a problem,” Horton said. “I can drive through Athens and not notice graffiti on the walls anymore.” Last year, an officer on patrol came across strange writings on the wall of a vacant house in West Athens that would be mumbo-jumbo to a lay person, but he recognized it for what it was. In one message on the wall, the tagger referred to a “Slob” — a derogatory term for a Bloods gang member — and replaced the “ck” in a profane word with “cc,” since the letters CK mean Crip killer in gang graffiti. Police didn’t believe the writings were made by genuine Crips, but found it disturbing nonetheless. “Anytime there’s gang tagging going on it’s of concern to the police department because it means they are trying to identify certain areas of the county and claim it as their territory,” Athens-Clarke Assistant Police Chief Tim Smith said. Walker was impressed with how far Athens-Clarke police have come in identifying gang activity and learning ways to suppress it. “Gangs are here to stay, and that’s why it’s important for police departments to take action, like getting proper training and arresting gang members,” he said. “We’ll cure cancer before we solve the gang problem.” Police will not discuss Cody Lumpkin’s possible gang ties while his murder charge is pending. But his gangster lifestyle shows how the problem can be just out of sight, until a tragic crime again brings it into the forefront. “There will always be things happening that the police do not know about,” Nichols said. That’s why the police need the help of others, including the schools, churches, community organizations and individual residents, he said. “Only by working together as a community can problems such as theft, drugs and gang violence be curtailed,” Nichols said. People who are suspicious of gang activity should report it immediately, he said. Athens-Clarke police also offers a gang-awareness presentation, and Nichols urged people who have questions about street gangs to call the police department.
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