Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters
aka: Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters
"I got Harlem, Richie. I took care of Harlem, and now Harlem is gonna take care of me. You can believe that."
It's not enough for it to just feel good to be a gangster
, you should also win the sympathy of the audience. Since racketeering, random murders and selling drugs don't really fly with the general public, heroic criminals in fiction are usually Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters
There is truth to this, particularly in the birthplace of the mob, Sicily. Eventually, the locals of that harried island got tired of being invaded every other week, and banded together with the local gangsters. The same goes for Harlem during the Civil Rights Struggle, which saw its share of unfair treatment by police.
This trope is usually set against more villanous locals or outsiders
. Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters
almost always have standards
; refusing to deal hard drugs is a common one.
This trope has some elements of Truth in Television
: crime syndicates that wish to survive in a community try to have good public relations
, after the philosophy "don't shit where you eat". Many criminal organizations (including the Sicilian Mafia, the Chinese triad societies, and most American street gangs) also have their roots in community self-defense efforts, although they share a strong tendency to degenerate into more euphemistic "protection" among other abuses. Moreover, having an organised crime outfit in your neighborhood tends to help cut down on dis
organized crime—the common criminals who might otherwise commit crimes in that neighborhood are too afraid of committing a crime against the wrong person
, and paying
Compare Even Evil Has Standards
, Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster
, Gentleman Thief
, Loveable Rogue
, The Family for the Whole Family
, Honor Among Thieves
, and The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
. Contrast Ruthless Foreign Gangsters
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Anime & Manga
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 5 has a section of Passione, a gang which carries the series protagonist, Giorno, as its newest member. The gang are a small subgroup in the prominent mafia which are an exception in that the people like them, rather than the extortion side. The only nasty member gets his early on and is replaced by Giorno, following which it is revealed that the group leader Bruno Buccellati hates drug dealing and dirty deeds and only joined up to help put a stop to it (Similar to Giorno himself). The plot then becomes about the desire of Bruno's group to elevate one of them to the level of The Don, which combined with the fabulous nature of the manga's art gets referred to by fans as their desire to be gang-stars. The team is so neighbourhood-friendly that old people willingly go up to ask them, a group of rogues with supernatural abilities and trouble surrounding them, for help.
- Giorno got into crime because of one of these. When he was a child, regularly bullied and abused, he found a man bleeding out in a patch of tall grass. The men who'd shot him asked Giorno where the man had gone, and Giorno lied, saving the injured man's life. That man was a mobster, and after he recovered he made it a point to protect Giorno from a distance (his first act: making it clear to Giorno's stepfather that any more abuse would result in him being... dealt with). The only person who ever treated Giorno well was in the Mafia, and that inspired him to go the same route.
- Baccano! doesn't really touch at all on the crime-for-profit element of The Mafia (except for a few mentions of speakeasies), and its mobster characters might as well be violent aristocrats given their behavior and portrayal. The light novels do go a bit more into crime, with the Genoard fortune coming from cocaine and the Gandors being explicitly opposed to drug dealing. Of course, this only reinforces which characters are Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters.
- Also, Jacuzzi and Nice run a crew of community minded delinquents.
- Yusuke from YuYu Hakusho is a Neighbourhood Friendly Punk who shoplifts, smokes, gambles, and gets into fights for fun.
- The Kuroda group in Gokusen is like this. They still like a good fight and get most of their resources from illegal gambling and protection of hostess bars. Though unlike others they don't just get protection money to extort them, they really do protect them.
- The Washimine group of the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc in Black Lagoon is an ethical Yakuza, fighting an uphill battle against more ruthless Delinquents and The Mafiya headed by Balalaika. Ginji Matsuzaki, the wakagashira and resident Badass of the group, comments that while they're impoverished, it's more honourable than "selling women and meth."
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, for the first 8 volumes, is a wacky comedy where the cast is supposed to be a Mafia family. They're really more True Companions than anything else.
- Then the other part of their family show that they are not Friendly and engages in the battle for succession of the boss title.
- Later, another mafia family is introduced. This one (in the future) has taken over the world.
- And the latest flashbacks reveal that the protagonist's family in its first generation was a vigilante group, and only later has been turned into a full-blown mafia family.
- The Dollars in Durarara!! are something of an example, whether they're a gang, a neighbourhood watch organisation, or just a group of random anonymous people depends on how you look at it. Also when Kida ruled them the Yellow Scarves were this, at least in comparison to Blue Square.
- The Yakuza of Futakoi Alternative. Granted, when compared to biomechanical flying pyromaniac squid, simple Yakuza seem pretty tame.
- HOMRA in K gives off a strong street-gangster vibe and can often be rude to innocents, but they never intentionally do something evil. Their actions are mostly pushed by their close bonds and their instincts to protect and stick up for members of the gang.
- Souchirou's gang in Heaven's Memo Pad started as him and a few other delinquent punks getting together to protect themselves and those they cared about against other gangs, and grew from there. They're still small and realize they can't keep doing the gang thing forever, and so have been exploring more legitimate services like managing and promoting shows for bands at local clubs. They are also very down on most drugs, and Souchirou helps the heroes find and stop the source of a dangerous new euphoric drug circulating among the poor and disaffected in their area.
- The E Street Bloodsuckers from Formerly Known as the Justice League were super powered child prodigies who dropped out of college at 15 to seek enlightenment on the streets. They pretended to be gangsters in order to protect their neighborhood from genuine crime, and steal stuff. And, oh yeah, they were based on The Three Stooges.
- Catwoman and the Alleytown Kids. No drugs, no guns and don't steal from locals.
- After a tornado destroyed the already crumbling Hub City, Mayor Fermin hired the local biker gangs on as a police force. They actually did a better job than the real police.
- At one time or another, several of Gotham's street gangs have been under the leadership of Batman, whether they know it or not.
- During the Gang War storyline, Tarantula took over her neighborhood and forced the gangs to be more proactive.
- The later half of Brian Bendis's Daredevil run has Matt Murdock publicly beat Wilson Fisk and declare himself Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. He tries to encourage other heroes to do the same for their respective neighborhoods.
- The Tsuruya Yakuza in the Suzumiya Haruhi Fan Fic Kyon Big Damn Hero.
- One chapter of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic Progress has Luna take up the mantle of the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well and try to fight crime. Unfortunately, she fails to find any; she even barges in on a Mafia meeting only to find that the mobsters are planning not a heist, but a charity toy drive.
- This often used in Axis Powers Hetalia fics involving Romano. It's canon that he's involved with the mafia in his country, but plenty of authors love to have him use that influence to help or protect others (humans, Spain, Italy, etc.)
- Johnny Dangerously. "I mean, sure, we were criminals, but we never hurt the general public. And every year at Christmas Time, we'd send a bit of money back to the community."
- Michael Jackson was meant to be one in the Smooth Criminal segment of the Moonwalker film against the evil mobster Mr. Big, played by Joe Pesci.
- American Gangster, though the drug trade isn't toned down, or glorified for that matter.
- The Corleone Family of The Godfather are like this under Don Vito: principled gangsters who look out for those who show them respect, refusing to deal with drugs. Whereas the other families, particularly the ruthless Tataglias and Barzinis, are downright evil. Becomes somewhat of a Lost Aesop in the video game, when you're running around beating up shopkeepers and collecting protection-money in the name of The Family...
- Subverted in the sequel when Frank Pentangeli denounces the Rosato Brothers for 'doing violence in their grandmothers' neighborhoods.'
- Sonny (Chazz Palminteri) in A Bronx Tale. Since it's all based on Palminteri's youth in the Bronx, the original Sonny is probably an example of Truth in Television as well.
- It is worth noting that while Sonny does believe in taking care of the neighbourhood, a lot of the guys he is in charge of are either losers or violent thugs, and there are some small hints that if one of the other guys was running things instead things would be a lot messier for that neighbourhood.
- Played for laughs in Ali G Indahouse. The sleepy suburb of Staines has two resident "gangs," who are really just middle-class kids who like to imitate gangsta rappers. Completely harmless to the public and each other, their biggest crimes are graffiti and smoking weed. One particular scene focuses on how Ali G won't even exceed the speed limit. He even volunteers at a leisure center to teach kids how to "Keep it Real."
- The male protagonist of Victor/Victoria is a sort of Gatsby-like character- an educated guy who is the brains/face for mobsters, but he doesn't do anything evil on screen except struggling against other gangsters who are presented as bad guys, and his gayngster bodyguard is an all-around nice guy as well.
- In the Mexican film El Crimen Del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro), the local priest has a long-standing friendship with the local drug lord who donates large sums of money for the church's new leper's hospital and orphanage.
- Moses and his gang from Attack the Block. When he finds out that Sam lives in the Block, he apologizes for mugging her at the beginning of the movie and gives back the ring he took from her, and he's even willing to give his life to protect the Block from an alien invasion. He survives.
- Frank White in King Of New York seeks to be this, killing off rival gangsters who have 0% Approval Rating from the community for pimping young girls and dealing drugs indiscriminately and plans to use the profits from his drug trafficking to build a hospital for the underprivileged. Doesn't stop him from being a coldblooded killer, however.
- Night Nurse (1931): Mortie took a bullet rather than sell a rival bootlegger's dangerously bad hooch, knocks over a delicatessen to get milk to save a dying child, and upon hearing about the plot against the children immediately offers to have Nick the Chauffeur taken for a ride.
- Marcone from The Dresden Files can fall into this trope as his syndicate helped Harry take down a serial killer in book one, and the police for the most part don't bother him due to the fact that his organized crime tends to keep lesser gangs from going rampant.
- It should be noted, however, that the "serial killer" in Storm Front was actually targeting Marcone and his gang, so Marcone's extremely limited help was enlightened self-interest. Also, Marcone is the only crime boss in Chicago. There are no other gangs; he controls his own people ruthlessly, because unnecessary violence is bad for business, and attracts police attention. However, god help anyone, criminal or otherwise, who hurts a child if Marcone finds out about it— even his own people are to leave kids alone.
- Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series keeps Vlad sympathetic by showing how the Jhereg criminal organization to which he belongs has a strict code of ethics. They deal in the vice industry, but don't force anyone to take their wares. They demand protection money, but actually follow through with it. They carry out assassinations, but generally only on fellow power-players. If you're a common citizen who keeps his nose clean, you have virtually nothing to fear. Eventually, however, Vlad becomes disenchanted by criminality altogether.
- The Thieves Guild in Discworld 'has standards' and arranges crime in mutally benificent forms (as far as crime goes): rich people pay an annual premium, and arrange for a convenient date to rob an acceptable amount from these rich clients in their own home. Poorer (but not penniless) citizens are robbed in a fairly polite fashion on the streets, their business premises or homes, are not badly injured, and are given a receipt which guarantees they won't suffer another official robbery for the rest of the year. Criminals who don't keep to this arrangement, or who don't display their licence when on business, are dealt with by the Watch if they're lucky... or by the Thieves' Guild if they're unlucky.
- The Troll criminal organisation "Breccia" also fits the mold, even though they are pretty ruthless. Chrysophrase helps Vimes prevent riots on Koom Valley Day by revealing a drug lab.
- That's because the drug manufactured there would cause homicidal insanity, and later death. Chrysophrase wants stable business, which is rather hard with dead customers. Breccia is an extremely ruthless Mafia organization - Chrysophrase chops up one of his underlings for being disrespectful in the very same scene (well is implied to, anyway) - but they don't want to rock the boat too much and destroy their own chances of getting rich(er).
- Not just implied:
Chrysophrase pushed forward a crate. "Here. Dis is dat troll what was so disrespec'ful of you an' you family earlier. He suggest I would bring harm to your lovely wife or your son. He a bad troll. Very disrespec'ful."
Vimes stared at the crate. It was far too small to fit a whole troll. "And what would you suggest I do with him?"
Chrysophrase shrugged. "Could start a rock garden."
- It is stated in the later books that the Thieves Guild is slowly evolving into an insurance company note . Chrysophrase also claims to be moving into legitimate property and financial services more than his first business, drug smuggling, though he remains a major underworld figure, whereas the Head of the Thieves Guild is an important and respected citizen who, it is implied, could even be a candidate for Patrician.
- Crime bosses Stragen, Platime, and Calaador, all members of the "secret government" of thieves in David Eddings' The Elenium, are willing allies of the protagonists. Each is depicted as being essentially driven by good business sense rather than cruelty. Stragen in particular had taught his Guild to prey more upon the aristocracy than the common folk.
- The hooligans in Football Factory are pretty close to a organized crime group, and even sell some drugs, but are decent people for the most part, with a code of honour to only fight with other hooligans and the "old bill".
- Recurring character Tony Marcus from the Spenser series runs most of the black crime in Boston, but is generally a pretty friendly guy, even when he's threatening Spenser. But just as often he's willing to lend out his people to Spenser to get someone worse out of Boston.
- The Mafia of Snow Crash are, essentially, just another corporation by this point. They engage in gang war with some other, newer and more ruthless gangs—it's stated at one point that a Mafia branch had taken over an area traditionally dominated by the newer gangs, and turned it from a stereotypical gang-crime hellhole into a more-or-less peaceful neighborhood. Of course, in Snow Crash the distinction between criminal syndicate, corporation and country is never entirely clear.
- In The Red Vixen Adventures the Red Vixen's crew only use stunners when boarding, only take the cargo and sometimes the captain for ransom, and leave the ship intact enough to call for help. And even when she starts on her vendetta against House Highglider she allows crews to escape in lifeboats before blowing their ship up. Her rival Bloody Margo, as her name suggests, is far more brutal.
Live Action TV
- Jason Morgan and Sonny Corinthos of General Hospital. Outside of their work, they're quite sociable and very loyal to their loved ones and friends.
- Boardwalk Empire:
- Nucky is the city boss of Atlantic City and is tied into the Republican party power structure. He's a Villain with Good Publicity, out only for his own gain, but in doing so often helps keep order and works to build up Atlantic City's industry.
- Atlantic city's primary industries are gambling and party-based tourism, both de facto illegal at the time of the setting, so anyone interested in supporting the community can't really avoid this trope.
- Chalky White is the boss of the black population. He maintains his power over the community by helping them solve various problems. In several scenes he's shown to have a detailed knowledge of the local residents and their day-to-day lives. In one scene, however, several black women accuse him of preying on the community and giving back only baubles like Christmas hams to keep them placated.
- Weevil becomes one towards Veronica later in Veronica Mars.
- The Wire: A running theme shows how druglords seek notoriety and often stand as influential members of the community.
- The Barksdale crew sponsors a crosstown basketball game against the Eastside Proposition Joe crew. The Barksdales also help fund Cutty's boxing gym.
- Even Marlo is seen giving out money to the local kids for back to school clothes. In the process he seems to be on the lookout for new hoppers such as Michael.
- Omar Little, in contrast to the druglords, has a more Robin Hood-esque reputation. He would steal drugs and cash from stashes, and then distribute the drugs for free to people who lived near his hideouts. They would then act as spies for him.
- A major theme in Sons of Anarchy is the MC's belief that they're good for the community and help protect it from drugs, violent gangs, and greedy land developers. They're considered leading members of the community in spite of the fact that everyone knows that they're gunrunning criminals. It's frequently pointed out that the Sons really don't care about the community. Their actions are motivated only by the desire to have a safe base of operations to live their outlaw lifestyle. The growth of Charming has been stunted due to the fact that the Sons want to maintain their dominance over it.
- The Ha'la'tha in Caprica, but only for Taurons. Over time, it becomes apparent that the Guatrau has drifted from the practice of helping Taurons and is more concerned with making money. This inspires Sam and Joseph to turn on him.
- Michael and company have to deal with a gang leader of this sort in an episode of Burn Notice. The episode implies that this gangster's presence in his local community would be much more preferable to the rival gang.
- Castle and Beckett come across one such gang in an interesting characterization of the Westies.
- Sweet Daddy Williams is this on Good Times. One prime example is that he did not charge his usual exorbitant rates on the money that JJ owed him for Thelma's wedding. He was moved by Thelma giving him her heirloom necklace that Florida had given her for the wedding because it reminded him of his mother. Since Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, he tells the family that he is letting them off the hook on the condition that they not tell anyone about his kindness.
- Gunn from Angel used to belong to this kind of gang, and the members of his old gang appear in several episodes. The enemy they defend the neighborhood from is, of course, vampires and other demons.
- Generally averted in The Sopranos where the predatory nature of the mob is not hidden and the local business suffer regularly, but the Jersey mobsters throw a traditional Santa Claus party and occassionally organize activities for the community. One deconstructed example has Paulie as manager of an amusement fair. He is such a cheapskate that he cuts corners and security budget to the point one ride becomes hazardous and an accident ensues.
- Levi's crew in Amish Mafia is this. Levi's gang's duty is to help out his community. Half the community sees Levi as a saint.
- WWE's Cryme Tyme were brought in as a parody of neighbourhood gangstas, quickly stealing the hearts of the fans. Shad... well, he got worse.
- L.A.X. could be seen as this to the hispanic audiences, especially once they turned full blown face.
- Grove Street Families and Varrios Los Aztecas from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, while still committing gang-warfare and gunrunning, nonetheless are shown to abhor the drugs trade, with the Grove Street Families cracking down hard on anyone who sells drugs on their turf.note Eventually however, the loss of drug revenue makes the gang splinter from the inside.
- Of course, weed and LSD are not considered drugs and thus get a pass.
- This is the justification used by the 3rd Street Saints in Saints Row; specifically they seek to end a turf war in the city, but they jump off the slippery slope pretty quickly, particularly in the sequels, even then they are a lot more respected than the other three gangs and Ultor as people often come and show approval to the Boss.
- This is the major theme of Saints Row: The Third; the gang has been selling themselves out for popularity and power, to the point where the victims of their robberies ask for autographs mid-shakedown, the penultimate choice of the game that decides the ending is completely dependant on if you want to go back to being corporate whores or (violently) show the world you're serious.
- Winston Chu's and later Wei Shen's Water Street Boys in Sleeping Dogs are "only" strong-arming street vendors and drug running, though one of Wei's first tasks for the gang is to defend several "protection clients" from unaffiliated thugs. On the other hand, "merely" running extortion and protection rackets pretty much makes the Water Street Boys a picked-on "lower class" of the Sun On Yee triad, whereas more powerful subsidiaries are involved with more profitable drug trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, pornography, and money laundering, and the events of the game start with "Dogeyes" Lin's Jade Gang encroaching on the Water Street Boys' territory. However, none of them (even Jackie) have any problem casually talking about how the last undercover cop they found was tortured before being Buried Alive. It's also stated that the reason Winston's gang only runs extortions and protection rackets is because they're too dumb to successfully pull off anything more complicated than that.
- The Kantou Haguro-gumi in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army are a quick-tempered bunch, but they're generally Robin Hood-types. When their community is threatened, they are more focused on and do a better job of protecting it than the Army.
- Played straight (until Fridge Logic kicked in) in the fun but forgettable Cold Zero action game. The plot had you working for a Mafia boss after a rival frames him and starts selling a drug with 100% lethality (...wait, what?). The game even ends with a Spinning Paper reporting "Mob Boss cleared of all charges!" You're supposed to feel pleased about this, but you're given no in-game reason to think this Don is any less psychotic than your average Mafioso.
- The Thieves Guild in Oblivion plays this trope straight. They're based in the waterfront (poor district) and refuse to steal from the poor as well as stealing their tax money back from the guard.
- In Morrowind as well. Gentleman Jim Stacey runs an orderly, profitable business and avoids bad PR. Members of the Guild do not kill, do not rob those who cannot afford to be robbed (no profit in stealing from the poor anyway), etc. The heroes of the Guild are Robin Hood-type figures, and later missions include things like saving a poor woman's home from a corrupt official by stealing his forged land deed, stealing a locket that a retired miner was forced to sell to pay his taxes and returning it to him, and stealing history books to give to a temple trying to help educate the community.
- Which is starkly contrasted by the opposing criminal organization, the Cammona Tong, a group of xenophobic murderers, drug pushers, slave dealers, and blackmailers. They're the only major civilian faction the player (as an "outlander") cannot join, and the only group other than the cult led by the Big Bad which is never portrayed in a positive light.
- The Yoshimitsu Group of the Soul Series. They are established to protect the poor from both the corruption of the rich and the permeating evil of Soul Edge.
- The Hidden Beks in Knights of the Old Republic. For a while they were a resistance cell against the Mandalorian occupation of Taris, and Gadon was planning to repeat that by fighting the Sith's occupation. Unfortunately, Carth turned out to be right - the Mandalorians like a good one-to-one fight, but the Sith prefer things like orbital bombardment.
- The Freakshow in City of Heroes are a gang of scary, drug addicted, Cyborg gangers that exemplify the trope "Anarchy Is Chaos". That is, until Miss Francine comes along and teaches them how to to use their powers for good. Westin Phipps has you kidnap Miss Francine and bring her in for torture so the Freakshow will stop being altruistic. Thankfully, you can willingly fail this mission. Even Evil Has Standards, after all. Friendly Neighborhood Freakshow "inspired by Miss Francine" later show up in a Going Rogue tip mission. Heroes can rescue Miss Francine from Arachnos in another tip mission. Or they can just beat Phipps.
- The Kings of Fallout: New Vegas are a gang of Elvis Impersonators who help protect the locals of Freeside, the slums of New Vegas. Mr. House provides power and security to the people on the Strip, but doesn't care about Freeside or the even-more-dilapidated Westside — the Kings are effectively both the government and the police in his stead.
- It's a little bit more grey than that. The game makes it clear that although the King himself is a genuinely good person who cares deeply about the members of his gang and the people of Freeside, there are some in the gang (especially his right-hand man) who are really just in it for power and the opportunity to feel important.
- Brotherhood of Nod is the terrorist variation, at least in the public opinion in the Yellow Zones.
- Mass Effect crime boss, Aria T'Loak, who controls the Omega space station; she provides useful information to Shepard, refuses to deal with the Collectors, she even provides the grieving mother of one of Morinth's victims with Shepard's e-address so she can properly thank him/her for avenging her daughter, and in Mass Effect 3 she puts the Blood Pack, Blue Suns and Eclipse crime syndicates at Shepard's disposition to help in the fight against the Reapers.
- Also from Omega, the Talon gang which is led by Aria's old friend, Nyreen: They actively resist Cerberus' occupation while assisting and evacuating civilians caught in the crossfire.
- While most of the Yakuza in the Ryu Ga Gotoku series are the bad kind of gangsters, the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu represents a lot of the qualities that real-life yakuza said they used to embody: "We kept the streets clean. People liked us. We didn't bother ordinary citizens. We respected our bosses."
- Despite being Yakuza, the Sonozaki family in Higurashi: When They Cry enforces the peace in Hinamizawa whenever the cops aren't around.
- The Kitaki Family in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney certainly qualify for this; when you meet the boss's wife, she is cleaning up spilled paint on her own, and later, one person comments that the Kitaki's are "locally responsible gangsters." It turns out that they're actually trying to go legit by running a bakery, especially since the boss's son Wocky Kitaki has a bullet inside of him.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Cumberland, Maryland mob is led by King Radical, and works for the community through actions such as forcing college-bound students to go to the local Community College.
- The Dark Mage Gang in Aetheria Epics.
- The Undersiders are this trope in Worm following Leviathan's devastation of the city. They provide disaster relief using their criminal funds to buy outside supplies, keep order in their territories where the overwhelmed superheroes are incapable, and fund a massive reconstruction project that incidentally ends up with them owning a significant portion of the city. Skitter even takes on a superpowered serial killer to protect civilians, earning her the respect of the community, who repay this debt when Dragon comes after her in a public school. Eventually they become a permanent institution.
- Al Capone had soup lines set up in Chicago during the Great Depression. He had a soft spot for children, once trying to see that they got good milk. Ironically, the supplies for Al Capone's soup kitchens were acquired by threatening bakeries, packinghouses and other food suppliers if they didn't meet the quota the gangsters demanded.
- In return for release from prison and deportation, Lucky Luciano supposedly used his underworld connections to provide aid against Mussolini's regime in Italy as well as keep American docks free of strikes and sabotage. There is debate, however, about whether he actually provided any worthwhile aid or whether it was all a scam on his own country during a time of war.
- Chicago sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh spent years researching the Black Disciples Nation crack cocaine gang, and noticed they spent a part of their income to hold block parties and paid the families of dead members. The leader of the gang explained that they didn't want to be seen as a scourge to the community, rather a pillar.
- During the days immediately following Martin Luther King's assassination, there were horrific riots on the West Side of Chicago. The South Side, which was generally considered a much more dangerous area was not subject to rioting because the two large and powerful gangs (whose power struggle was what made it such a dangerous area in the first place!) the Blackstone Rangers and the Disciples, cooperated to keep it calm.
- This urban legend.
- African-American street gangs such as the Crips originally started as informal youth-oriented "street clubs" intended to protect the immediate community and counter the effects of the racism (both overt and institutional) that was pervasive in the mid-20th century.
- The notorious MS-13 gang in Los Angeles was started by Salvadoran immigrants in response to attacks and intimidation by already-established Mexican and African-American gangs.
- Many South-American gang with large amounts of profit from drugs provide better safety and security to locals than the goverment themselves would.
- The Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Yakuza gang in Japan, is headquartered in Kobe; during the earthquake in 1995, they donated money and a helicopter to the relief effort, and had their men rescuing people from the rubble. This trope is actually a part of their traditional code, since they considered themselves protectors of their communities. Many yakuza traditions go back to vigilante groups in the early Edo period.
- The Yakuza were a major contributor to the rebuilding of Japan after WWII's devastation. It's one of the primarily reasons why they gained the power to go from small-time gangs to the corporate-level organizations they are today.
- And the cleanup and assistance crews at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster zone are also heavily composed of yakuza. While it's scandalous and worrisome in some ways, and likely an attempt at good publicity, they are doing work that a lot of people would absolutely refuse to do out of justified fear of radiation risks to their health.
- Cracked lists "5 Inspiring Acts of Kindness by Terrifying Crime Syndicates"
- The notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar invested heavily in the welfare of his HQ city of Medellín, building housing projects, churches and sports facilities. The people of the city, especially the poor, saw him as a local hero. Escobar also offered to pay the entire Colombian national debt in exchange for immunity.
- When the police and army of Jamaica raided Kingston in search of Christopher "Dudus" Coke—suspected by the U.S. to be a gang leader and drug smuggler—the fighting just to get into the city block where he was suspected to be hiding killed some 50 people. The search wasn't helped by the fact that Coke is quite popular in his neighborhood, thanks to several charity initiatives he runs there.
- This is pretty much how large terrorist organizations work (and in many places, the line between "terrorist" and "gangster" can be blurry): they provide food, medical services, sometimes even run power plants to provide electricity better than the legitimate government, ensuring a friendly population who will hide them in an area they can base their attacks from. If the legitimate government is especially corrupt or incompetent (or simply doesn't have enough resources to provide for the entire country and concentrates on one area) the terrorists can become the de facto government. This is why Hezbollah is in control of parts of Lebanon, and Hamas did so well at this that it actually democratically won a majority in the government of the Palestinian Authority (and then took complete control of Gaza).
- Solntsevo is Moscow district, that was home of Solntsevskaya Bratva, one of the most powerful groups from The Mafiya. At the same time it was safest neighbourhood in the city, as no one dared to make trouble on the Bratva teritory and Bratva itself was keeping good PR.
- Example from Balkans. There is a report about case in which Mob retrived a car stolen from man who paid them for "insurance".
- Many of the Mexican drug cartels (especially the old-school ones) could pass as this, with the exception of the Zetas which are relatively new and known for their utter ruthlessness:
- The former drug lord Malherbe is regarded as a great benefactor of his home village, paving the streets and building schools and hospitals.
- Osiel Cardenas, the head of the Gulf Cartel, even after his capture sent trucks filled with toys, clowns and magicians to the children of impoverished neighborhoods and slums every Children's Day (April 30), he even included greeting cards encouraging the children from there to go to school, study and work hard.
- In the towns afflicted by the Drug War the members of the Gulf Cartel reportedly assist people looking for directions and give warnings about violent outbreaks, always remaining them that they are "Here to protect you".
- Apocryphally, word has it that petty street crime rose considerably in some neighborhoods of New York City after the FBI successfully disrupted some major organized crime outfits.
- Henry Hill in his autobiography 'Wiseguy' describes the unfortunate fate of a young black would-be mugger who tried to ply his trade in their neighborhood.
- The Loomis Family, a notorious clan of criminals in nineteenth-century central New York State, made a point of not only not stealing, or allowing their associates to steal, from neighbors, but helping them get goods back that were stolen by others. Allowing this arrangement to break down was one of the reasons the neighbors ended up turning against them.
- In the non-fiction book Chinatown Gangs: Extortion, Enterprise, and Ethnicity, author Ko-Lin Chin notes that many Chinese youth gangs are like this. They even have specific rules about how to treat those from whom they extort money. (For example, they generally won't trash a place of business simply because the owner fails to pay protection money one time, as such action is bad for public relations.)