Los Angeles Crips and Bloods: Past and Present
Julia Dunn
Poverty & Prejudice: Gangs of All Colors

"A gang is an interstitial group, originally formed spontaneously, and then integrated through conflict. It is characterized by the following types of behavior: meeting face to face, milling, movement through space as a unit, conflict, and planning. The result of this collective behavior is the development of tradition, unreflective internal structure, esprit de corps, solidarity, morale, group awareness, and attachment to a local territory" 1. African-American gangs began to emerge in the Los Angeles area during the 1920's, which was in concordance with the large black population in the city. The gangs in existence at this particular time in history were not territorial. On the other hand, they were "loose associations, unorganized, and rarely violent" 2. Moreover, they did not employ monikers, graffiti, or various other gang characteristics to identify themselves. Gangs of the 1920's and 1930's were composed mainly of family members and friends, and they were involved only in very limited criminal actions. In fact, the main purpose of these criminal activities was to transmit a " 'tough guy' image and to provide an easy means of obtaining money" 3.

During the 1920's and 1930's, gangs such as the "Goodlows," "Kelleys," "Magnificents," "Driver Brothers," "Boozies," and the "Bloodgetts" wandered the streets of Los Angeles. All of these gangs committed petty crimes in comparison to gangs today. The "Boozies," for example, consisted of brothers and their friends who engaged in prostitution, theft and forgery. As the 1940's approached, black gangs were beginning to grow in numbers. Gangs including the "Purple Hearts," "31st Street," and "28th Street" emerged in this decade, and their activities were very similar to those of gangs in the 20's and 30's. In addition to theft, prostitution and forgery, gangs of the 1940's were involved in extortion and gambling. "They were very effective in forcing local merchants to pay the gangsters for protection, which amounted to paying the gang not to burn the merchant's store" 4.

The 1950's witnessed the arrival of car "clubs," which included the "Low Riders," "Coasters," "Highwaymen," "Road Devils," "Businessmen," "Gladiators," "Slausons," "Rebel Rousers," "Huns," "Watts Farmers," and the "Blood Alley." These particular gangs were extremely protective of their territory, however, they were not organized very well and did not consist of many members. The activities of the gangs remained the same in relation to previous decades. Any conflicts that did arise between gangs occurred when rival gang members found themselves in an enemy's territory. As was generally the case, each gang would gather it's members together, meet in a deserted lot or park and physically fight to the end. The gang with the most people standing at the conclusion of the fight was declared the winner, and the losers would simply limp home and recover. Weapons, such as chains, knives, and bats, were used occasionally in these rival conflicts. These types of weapons are in stark contrast to the commonly used semi-automatic handguns and AK-47's in today's gang fights.

As the 1950's came to an end and the next decade emerged, car "clubs" began to languish and more organized groups came to the forefront. The late 1960's was the site of the development of what would be one of the most violent and unlawful African-American gangs in the history of Los Angeles, the Crips. It all began with the creation of a small gang called the "Baby Avenues" by two South Central Los Angeles high school students, Raymond Washington and Tookie. These young men soon began referring to their gang as the "Cribs," which is thought to have eventually given rise to the current name of the South Central gang, the Crips. Raymond and Tookie claimed to have started this particular gang as a means of protection against other gangs in the area who were committing various crimes.

The activities of the Crips originated on high school campuses throughout the Los Angeles area. Freemont High School was the home for the "Eastside Crips," and the "Westside Crips" originated on the opposite side of the 110 Harbor Freeway. In addition, another faction of Crips was formed in the Compton area of Los Angeles, which came to known as the "Compton Crips." Nearly a decade after the institution of this particular gang, "the Crips had grown from a small Los Angeles gang to an organization with membership spread across the state of California"5. Even previously established gangs, such as the "Main Street Crips," "Kitchen Crips," "5 Deuce Crips," and the "Rolling 20 Crips," came to consolidate the Crip name into their gang set. Despite the fact that these gangs embraced the Crip name, they often remained independent and continued to have their own leadership and members. Many of these Crip subsets were in conflict with one another due to the independent nature of several of these gangs. Thus, the "Crips had become just like the gang members they had once sought to protect themselves from-Crips had become gangbangers who terrorized their own neighborhoods" 6. During their early years of existence, Crips' main activities included extortion of funds from non-gang members, theft and assault. The founders of the Crips gang both lost their affiliation with the gang close to a decade after its establishment. A rival gang member murdered Raymond Washington in 1979, and Tookie was incarcerated that same year on four counts of murder.

During the early 1970's, several other African-American gangs emerged in an effort to protect themselves from the many Crip gangs forming in the area. One of the most well known of these particular gangs is the Bloods, which came to be one of the other most violent and unlawful African-American gangs in Los Angeles. The Bloods established themselves around the West Piru Street area in the Compton section of Los Angeles. Sylvester Scott and Vincent Owens were the founders of the Bloods, and this certain gang actually started out as the "Compton Pirus." The swift expansion of the Bloods was aided by a severe conflict between the "Compton Crips" and the "Compton Pirus ," in which the Pirus were greatly outnumbered and brutally crushed. This conflict brought several sets of the Pirus together, and the Pirus subsequently joined forces with the "Laurdes Park Hustlers" and the "LA Brims." In fact, the Brims were quite fervent to join forces against the Crips, who had recently murdered one of their gang members. Various other gangs around the area who had been attacked or threatened in the past by the Crips were also eager to join the forces against them, and these gangs were united under the Blood name. "Red" gangs in the Compton refer to themselves as "Pirus, " and several other "red" gangs in the area such as the "Brims," "Bounty Hunters," "Swans," and the "Family" are known as the "Bloods." Those associated with the Bloods are fairly well accredited for their "take no prisoners" attitude as well as for their merciless and violent behavior.

During the latter half of the 1970's, the Crips and the Bloods began to divide into smaller sets, and as they disseminated throughout the Los Angeles area, they "began to claim certain neighborhoods as their territory. Their gang rivalry became vicious and bloody" 7. Close to thirty thousand gang members associated with either the Crips or Bloods made their home in and around Los Angeles during the early 1980's. Gang members ranged in ages from as young as fourteen to as old as twenty-four, and they were required to perform certain acts in order to receive initiation into these gangs. Future members of either the Bloods or Crips were expected to "jump in" and fight established members of the gang which they wanted to join. These future members would also be asked to commit a crime in a particular neighborhood or attack a member of a rival gang.

The Bloods and the Crips were extremely territorial and quite ardent in protecting their neighborhood against invasion by one another as well as other rival gangs. Due to the large number of gang members occupying a relatively small area of Los Angeles, the gangs devised a method of identifying one another. This system of identification would allow gang members to avoid assaulting members of different sets who belonged to the same gang. The Crips "identify themselves with the color blue, which is believed to originate form the colors of Washington High School in south Los Angeles. Crip gangsters wear articles of blue clothing, blue handkerchiefs, shoelaces, hair rollers, hats, belts, or sweatshirts" 8. If one's clothing is ambiguous, gang signs are often used, which is a derivative of sign language for these gangs. Crip members will also replace the letter "b" with the letter "c" when writing certain words. Thus, "coffee" becomes "boffee," "compton" becomes "bompton," and "cat" becomes "bat." When speaking to one another, Crips refer to each other as "Cuzz" and "Blood Killas" (BK), and members of this gang can be seen wearing British Knight (BK) athletic shoes. The Bloods, in contrast to the Crips, identify themselves with the color red, which is Centennial High School's color (high school where the Bloods originated), and unlike the Crips, the Bloods can be seen wearing red clothing such as red bandannas or rags. "Another color may be used in relation to the name of the set, such as green for the Lime Hood Pirus" 9. Members of the Blood gangs address one another in several ways such as "Blood," "Yo Blood," and "Wuz up blood?" Bloods will also cross out the letter "c" as a sign of disrespect for the Crips, and in addition, the Bloods will adorn walls and property with graffiti which is disrespectful towards the Crips.

Prior to the 1980's, the Crips and the Bloods had limited active participation in narcotics trafficking. "However, by 1983, African-American Los Angeles gangs seized upon the availability of narcotics, particularly crack, as a means of income" 10. Many of the gang members who became involved in the buying and selling of narcotics came from the inner city areas where poverty and unemployment are a way of life. Gangsters could make anywhere from three hundred to five hundred dollars per day selling crack cocaine. Thus, the money involved was a main component which drew gangsters to this particular line of work. Crips and Bloods control crack cocaine distribution in many cities around the country. Members of these gangs will migrate to other cities, ascertain the narcotics demand in that city, identify the dealers in the city, and figure out the established operations for narcotic sales. Gang involvement in the drug market has led to an extraordinary amount of violence throughout certain cities due to the members fighting over "profitable narcotics trade" 11. So, as members of the Bloods and Crips migrate to various cities throughout the United States, they bring with th6m the sale of narcotics and the violence associated with it. Gang members often relocate to other cities based on established family ties within a particular city and the enticement of quick profits from the buying and selling of narcotics. The Crips and the Bloods "have migrated throughout the country and are seen in most states and their prison populations. There are literally hundreds of sets or individual gangs under the main Blood and Crip names" 12. Eastern coast-based gangs including People Nation and Folk Nation have become so well known that the Crips and the Bloods have formed allies with them. Bloods have formed an alliance with the People Nation, and the Crips have formed an alliance with the Folk Nation. The Crips and the Bloods began nearly thirty years ago in a small section of Los Angeles, and today, there are over thirty-three states and one hundred twenty-three cities which are occupied by Crips and Bloods gang members. New York City is one of the major cities in the U.S. engulfed with Crips and Bloods, and its prisons are the

home for many of these gang members.




1 Thrasher, Frederic. 1927 The Gang. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pg. 57.

2, 3 http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~rickg/Teaching/Gangs/Gangs2000/african80s.html

  1. http://www.onetime.simplenet.com/crips3.html

5, 6 http://www.tookie.com/abtook.gtml

  1. http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~rickg/Teaching/Gangs/Gangs2000/african80s.html

8, 9 http://www.onetime.simplenet.com/crips3.html

  1. http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~rickg/Teaching/Gangs/Gangs2000/african80s.h
  2. http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~rickg/Teaching/Gangs/Gangs2000/african90s.html
  3. http://ww.dc.state.fl.us/security/reports/gangs/la.html





Bakeer, Donald. 1987. Crips: The story of the L.A. street gang from 1971-1985. Los Angeles: Precocious Publishing.


Kinnear, Karen. 1996. Gangs. Santa Barbara: ABC-C Lb, Inc.

Klein, Malcolm. 1995. The American Street Gang: Its Nature, Prevalence, and Control. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.

http://www.onetime.simplenet.com/crips3.html http://www.tookie.com/abtook.html





Crip/Folk Gan~ Svmbols and Meanings

University of Illinois


Initials 'U" and "I" together appear to be a pitchfork being thrown up

Tampa Bay Lightning

Gangster Disciples

Colors: Black/Blue

Orlando Magic


"Magic" stands for "Maniacs (MLDs) and Gangsters in Chicago"

Los Angeles Raiders


"Raiders' stands for "Ruthless Ass Insane Disciples Everywhere Running


Indiana University

Imperial Gangsters Folks

Initials "I" and "U" overlapping appear to make the shape of a pitchfork

showing "Folks" affiliation



"Duke"= "Disciples Using Knowledge Everyday"


Stands for "California Revolutionary Independent Pistol Slangerz"



Stands for "All day I disrespect all slobs"

Dallas Cowboys


Stands for "Crips out west bangin on you slobs"

Colorado Rockies Symbol


Stands for "Crips Rule"



Stands for "Kill slobs when I see slobs"



Stands for "slobs ain't sh*t~~

White Soxs


Stands for going up "X out slobs" or Slobs On Execution

North Carolina College


NC stands for "Neighborhood Crips"



Stands for "Hoovers on your ass slob"


All gangs

Stands for "Niggas Insane Killing Everybody"

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