Not Kid Stuff

Natalie Wiggins struggles with gangs, cops, and her children in Hallandale Beach

Asked the origin of the fight, Rolando has a simple answer: "Girls."

All of the '80s Babies approached by New Times had one point to make: They aren't a gang. They may get raucous, and they may rumble if provoked. "You don't hear about us going over to Hollywood and starting anything," Rolando says. "They come here."

"We ain't no gang," Tony insists. "We're just a bunch of guys hanging out, enjoying each other's company." And Love insists such fights between Hallandale Beach and Hollywood are nothing new. "This has been going on since before we were born," he says.

Natalie Wiggins wonders whether her mothering will be enough to launch Fernando, age 13, and Raven, age 10, into a responsible and productive adulthood
Colby Katz
Natalie Wiggins wonders whether her mothering will be enough to launch Fernando, age 13, and Raven, age 10, into a responsible and productive adulthood
Hair gets greased, babies are tended, and complaints are aired as a young crowd settles onto Natalie's threadbare sofa
Colby Katz
Hair gets greased, babies are tended, and complaints are aired as a young crowd settles onto Natalie's threadbare sofa

Sgt. Flournoy, to some degree, accepts this argument: "I don't believe they are a street criminal gang," he opines. "Have associates of theirs been arrested? Yes. Are they operating in concerted behavior with each other? I don't believe so. They are associates, and they have come under this name." In a way, just calling themselves the '80s Babies has brought trouble their way, Flournoy points out. "By grouping themselves, they have become targets of groups from other communities," he says.

In January, after a Dania Beach girl was fired upon while she drove through Hallandale Beach, a group of South Broward mothers called a meeting. They took the name Women of War and vowed to put an end to the feuding among their children. Natalie heard about the January 16 summit hosted by the Women of War and was relieved other mothers recognized the seriousness of the problem. "I'm tired of it, to tell you the truth," Natalie says. "I've been dealing with this for years."

The meeting was featured on television and in newspaper accounts in the Herald and the Sun-Sentinel. Natalie was portrayed as the worried mom, talking about her '80s Babies. Also quoted was neighbor Josephine Edwards, who learned of the meeting from a flier that had blown into her yard. Edwards spoke to the group about the havoc wreaked by the '80s Babies and talked privately with police.

Although she went to the meeting hopeful, Natalie now regrets appearing with the Women of War. The news accounts contributed to the perception that the '80s Babies are thugs, she believes. That was confirmed for her a week later, on January 25, when Hallandale Beach police, assisted by members of the Broward County sheriff's gang unit, descended on the '80s Babies' "known hang-out" -- Natalie Wiggins's house. Butch, a 19-year-old friend of the Wigginses, ran from the scene, according to a Hallandale Beach incident report, and was arrested for resisting arrest without violence. As he fled, officers saw Butch make a "throwing motion." Later, police found a loaded .22 caliber revolver in the back yard, according to the report. The 15 or so boys hanging in the Wiggins yard at the time were ordered to the ground and searched. As Officer Christopher Boyd patted down Eduardo, he felt a lump in his shirt pocket. Police cited Eduardo for possession of tobacco by a minor. Rolando's car was towed.

On a recent Saturday, Armando was arrested for giving a false name to police. When questioned at a nearby field as he watched some kids race go-carts, Armando told police his last name was Mayer.

Natalie blames Edwards and the Women of War for the increased police scrutiny. "It should have put the focus everywhere," she says of the Women of War. "And instead, the focus is just going in Hallandale. You haven't heard about a gang raid going to Dania or the gang force going to Carver Ranches. No, they came to Hallandale."

But since the raid, Natalie has been shooing kids away. "As soon as I let one in the yard, all 20 will be back standing out there. They can't do that anymore," she says. "Now that they're big and grown up, it don't look so good anymore."

About 7 p.m. on the day of Eduardo's birthday, after the boys had their fill of chicken and peas, Natalie made a sweep outside. "OK, go home," she shouted. "It's over."

More recently, her vigilance has waned. On a Saturday in March, several boys lolled around on Eduardo's car. Other kids drove up and stopped to talk. And as the crowd swelled, Edwards stood on her bare concrete floor, watching it all, disgusted. She's collected evidence of the drug activity in dated envelopes -- tiny colored plastic baggies about the size of stamps. A couple of them appear to contain marijuana residue. "They got a dope business going on over there," she says. "They work in shifts." Edwards was out praying in her yard one morning when she saw the 5 a.m. work crew report in. "One group comes in, and the other leaves," she says. "Those kids are doing despicable things."

Edwards says she knows all about thugs -- her son is in prison serving 17 years on drug-dealing charges. "They like to play bad," she says of the '80s Babies. They ain't Boys N the Hood or New Jack City. They want to portray that, but they ain't it."

As a taxi stopped in front of the Wiggins house on a recent day, Edwards looked out the door. It was a drug deal in the making, she said triumphantly. "See, they just waved him on.... They'll meet him down the street."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest