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The Manor Boyz on Their Heels
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Photo: eastbaytimes.com

The Manor Boyz on Their Heels

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RICHMOND, CA — July 22, 2018

About half a dozen members of a menacing Richmond, California based street gang linked to a criminal network have been apprehended and put behind bars. The announcement of the arrest of members of the ominous group, known as the Manor Boyz, was made by the FBI and the Richmond Police on Wednesday at a news conference at the Richmond Police Department's Regatta Boulevard headquarters. “This is a case that has impacted the people of the city of Richmond and the Bay Area should not live in fear,” said FBI Special Agent John Bennett. The police said members of the gang were responsible for cases of shootings, home invasions in various places, human trafficking (including the sex trade) and homicides. Their criminal acts date as far back as July, 2016 to the most recent which happened in May this year, the murder of Alexandria Sweitzer. a Discovery Bay area woman. It was reported that she was killed during a drug transaction when their was a disagreement, in the parking lot of Richmond’s Booker T. Anderson Park, over how much she was supposed to pay. The murder case has led to the arrest of a fifteen year old boy in connection to it. Two other suspects are still being sought, Teari Watts, 21 years old, in connection with Sweitzer’s death, as well as on suspicion of robbery and gang-enhancement charges and conspiracy and his younger brother Josha Watts, 19, for a probation violation.

John Bennett, in his statement, further stated “I give a warning to the other ones out there; you better start looking over your shoulder, because they’re coming, and it’s not going to be something that we are going to announce.” He also said this task force was designed to identify and dismantle violent gangs across the Bay Area and will not relent in its efforts to curb crime. Some of the items that were seized at the point of arrest were also displayed as evidence, including large amount of cash, credit cards, narcotics, drugs and firearms. Also on display, were blurred pictures of other members which have yet to be nabbed but the police said they are keeping eyes on.

According to the Chief of the Richmond Police Department, Allwyn Brown, “This case is a good example of how the nature of serious offending and gang involvement really goes beyond borders … and happens across boundaries and jurisdictional lines.” He went on to say, “It underscores the value and necessity of cross-agency collaboration and cooperation.” “Their crimes include murder and the conspiracy to commit murder, human trafficking involving sex trades robbery to include home invasion takeovers,” said Allwyn Brown. Operation Crescent Moon and Operation Big House was initiated by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and backed by the district attorney’s office to annul and get the violent gang off the streets. The Manor Boyz's crime activities span across cities in the Bay Area with incidents in Richmond, El Sobrante, Oakland, Antioch and as far away as Sacramento.

The gang first rose to prominence in early 2015 when Richmond police had to respond to nearly 750 shootings and 10 homicides in just the first half of the year, one more than in all of 2014. The killing of 23-year-old Sirmonte Bernstine in the city's Crescent Park Apartments in January of that year can be said to the catalyst for the wave of violence that engulfed the city afterwards, including the killing of Fontino Hardy Jr. at the Monterey Pines Apartments in July 2015 and a retaliatory shooting just hours later at the Pullman Point townhouses.

Monterey Pines was, and is, the homebase and origin of the Manor Boyz, who got their name from the former name of the complex, Kennedy Manor. Their original territory in Richmond, before they spread out to other cities and jurisdictions across the Bay Area, stretched from S. 37th St. and Cutting Blvd. to Berk Ave., down to Potrero Ave. and Carson Blvd and Hershey Court.

The Manor Boyz are far from being the only cause of violence in Richmond. In fact, the spate of shootings and homicides in the area can be directly attributed to the competing alliances and rivalries between the area's gangs. The Manor Boyz, the Crescent Park Villains (CPV) and the Smash Team formed one such alliance and their chief rivals and enemies consisted of "The Lils," "Deep C" and the Easter Hill Boys, according to Richmond police.

In the months following the initial shooting of Bernstine, in January, police reported seeing several spraypainted tags on the walls in Monterey Pines that read "F**k the Lils" and "F**k Sirdy."

Sirdy was the nickname for Sirmonte Bernstine, whom police describe as having been one of the leaders of The Lils, and whom they firmly believe was gunned down by one of the Manor Boyz.

The gang war gathered steam with retaliatory shootings and homicides all across the area, from Monterey Pines and Pullman Point all the way to Vallejo.

The original cause of the war, including Sirdy's murder, has never been revealed. In most cases though, police attribute these kinds of wars to disputes over territory and drugs or interpersonal conflicts between higher up members of competing cliques.

Bystanders, not involved in any of the competing gangs and alliances, have also been caught up in the violence, including a man in his early 20s who was shot in the head.

A decade ago Richmond was ranked as one of the most violent cities in the country, but things had gradually improved throughout the early 10's and residents were feeling better about their communities and safer in their own homes and neighbourhoods. But that was before the explosion of violent crime in 2015.

Richmond police have attributed the spike in violent crime to several factors, not just gang violence. Among those factors are funding reductions for police and emergency services, on the local level, ostensibly to help resolve the city'd budget deficit. And, most importantly, according to former Richmond police chief Chris Magnus, a continued lack of "economic and educational opportunities" in the city.

"You get a number of people off the streets, either those who make better and different life choices and in other cases, they're incarcerated, and then you have this lull," Magnus said in an interview with the Bay City News. "The problem is, you also create a vacuum that is not necessarily being filled by great things."

Author: USA Really