Tricell, Park View and Robinson Place are said to be some of the most dangerous neighborhoods. They're areas in the city where police say gang violence is a common occurrence.
Marcus Baker said, "This is the so called gang area, they probably told you you shouldn't have come down here because this is a violent area, in fact it's not a violent area."
Nineteen year old Taqiyy Paster and Terrance Johnson call these streets home. In 2008 they were charged with attempted first degree murder after shots were fired inside an after hours club in Monroe. Paster says he was pulled over and arrested. Johnson claims he saw himself on the news and turned himself in.
Johnson said, "I just turned myself in, I ain't have nothing to hide."
Paster and Johnson were labeled as members of the three unit gang. They know the criminal charges against them will be decided in court. But, in the court of public opinion, they want people to believe that the word "gang" is wrong when it's applied to their group of friends in this neighborhood. Tell me about 3-unit, what does it really mean?
Paster said, "Robinson Place, Park View, and Trichell. Three different groups of friends who like to be close by each other, it was never a gang thing, it was kids who go to school together."
Johnson and Paster say many neighborhoods have names for themselves, but that doesn't mean they're gangs. A "gang" they believe, is a group organized specifically to engage in crimes. The use of that one word, "gang," they believe, is ruining many young lives by stigmatizing entire neighborhoods.
Johnson said, "I can't go to school, they labeled me a menace to society, if I get pulled over by police they call me a nick name, I can't get a job."
Marcus Barker says nearly 20 years ago he too was part of three unit. He served 10 years in prison for a non-gang related crime and says his mission now is to help clean up the reputation of the south side.
Baker said, "These dudes just young brothers out here trying to survive, these ain't gang leaders."
But, if they're not gangs, what's behind all the shootings?
Paster said, "This the reason there's so much shooting right here because when we got off from this there was so many people that liked us just from being in jail, we had so much popularity, it made us famous, that's why there's so much shooting now."
The men admit that too many children look up to people who get into fights, especially with guns. And then there's what Baker calls a fundamental, human power struggle.
Baker said, "Today you fight me, you get the best of me, I go out steal my fathers gun and go out and shoot at you. Does that consider me a gang member because I did that?"
Some people might say no, but a group of teens hanging out on the streets after dark, could still lead to trouble.
Baker said, "There's nothing for them to do in this community, you got 3 different locations down here on this side of town, no rec centers."
Baker says until the community gives young men something constructive to do with their time, violence will only get worse, even without organized gangs.
Baker said, "This is the future, this the future so who's going to speak to the future? These going to be the next state representatives, the next doctors the next lawyers, but if they can't get in school their going to be the next guy that goes to prison and stay in there to the next 15 to 20 years."