|“Crip” Gang Knowledge|
|By Tracy E. Barnhart|
“Crippin’ is a choice, but it’s forever. You may slow down, but you will always be down forever.”
The Crips are a primarily, but not exclusively, African American gang founded in Los Angeles California in 1969 mainly by 16-year-old Raymond Washington and Stanley Tookie Williams III. What was once a single gang is now a loosely connected network of individual sets, often engaged in open warfare with one another. Through the years the gang has grown to be one of the largest and most powerful gangs in the United States, currently with over 30,000 gang members. The gang is known to be involved in murders, robberies, drug dealing, among many other criminal pursuits. The gang is notorious for its gang members’ flamboyant use of the color blue in their clothing. However, this practice has waned due to contentious police crackdowns on gang members.
The Crips are known to have an intense and bitter rivalry with the Bloods and various Chicano gangs. They are also locked in an ongoing struggle over the drug trade with the Vice Lords in Memphis, Tennessee. Raymond Washington initially called the gang the Baby Avenues in an attempt to emulate older gangs and the activities carried out by the Black Panthers, a movement with which he was fascinated. The gang renamed itself the Avenue Cribs and then took on the nickname Cribs because of the young age of the members. The name Crips was first introduced in the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper in a description by crime victims of young men with canes, as if they were crippled (though there is some discussion that it may have initially been a simple spelling mistake). The name stuck.
Stanley Tookie Williams, generally acknowledged as co-founder of the Crips (Community Revolution in Progress), started his own gang called the Westside Crips. The Crips became popular throughout southern Los Angeles as more youth gangs joined; at one point they outnumbered non-Crip gangs by 3 to 1, sparking disputes with non-Crip gangs, including the L.A. Brims, Athens Park Boys, the Bishops and the Denver Lanes. The Crips eventually became the most powerful gang in California. In response, all of the other rival gangs, including the Pirus, formed an alliance that later became the Bloods.
Along with friends, Williams and Washington created the initial intent of continuing the revolutionary ideology of the 1960s. These aspirations were unattainable because of a general lack of political leadership and guidance. Washington and Williams were never able to develop an agenda for social change within the community and instead became obsessed with protecting themselves from other gangs in the community. By 1971 the gang’s notoriety had spread across Los Angeles. The gang became increasingly violent as they attempted to expand their turf. By the early 1980s the gang was heavily involved with drug trade (Majority was Crack Cocaine).
In 1971, a Crip set on Piru Street, Compton known as the Piru Street Boys was formed. After two years of peace, a feud began between the Piru Street Boys and the other Crip sets. It would later turn violent as gang warfare ensued between former allies. This battle continued until the mid 1970s when the Piru Street Boys wanted to call an end to the violence and called a meeting with other gangs that were targeted by the Crips. After a long discussion, the Pirus broke off all connections to the Crips and started an organization that would later be called the Bloods, a street gang infamous for its rivalry with the Crips.
Since then, other conflicts and feuds were started between many of the remaining sets of the Crip gang. It is a popular misconception that Crips sets feud only with Bloods. In reality, they fight each other — for example, the Rollin’ 60s and 83rd Street Gangster Crips (”Eight-Tray”) have been rivals since 1979. This conflict has resulted in the majority of “Gangster Crip” sets feuding with most “Neighborhood Crip” sets. In Watts, Los Angeles, the Grape Street Watts Crips and the P Jay Crips have feuded so much that the P Jay Crips even teamed up with the local Bloods set, the Bounty Hunter Bloods, to fight against the Grape Street Crips. This mentality also is consistent inside of our nation’s prisons and jails.
For many years, Crips were characterized by their tendency to wear blue in orderd to easily identify each other. One suggested origin of the selected color is traced to the school colors of Washington High School in South L.A. Another theory is the co-founder, Stanley Williams, had a good and close friend called “Buddha”, who wore blue shirts, khakis, shoes, and a blue bandana from his back left pocket. When Buddha died, Williams made blue the Crip color in honor of Buddha. A particular set of Crips, the Grape Street Crips, have been known to wear purple in addition to blue. The Shotgun Crips (SGCs) are separated into three sub-sets: the Nine, 139th street; the Foe, 134th street; and the Deuce, 132nd street in the city of Gardena, California and have been known to wear dark-green, the city color of Gardena, in addition to blue to show that the Shotgun Crips are from Gardena.
Crips also wear blue bandanas and British Knights sport shoes (using the company moniker BK, which the Crips use as a backronym meaning “Blood Killas”.) They usually refer derisively to their rivals, the Bloods, as “slobs” and “busters”. More recently, however, the Crips have begun to cease the use of colors as a means of identification, since it is likely to draw attention from police. Methods such as the use of college sport team jerseys and hats are sometimes used, but in general, what set a certain gang member claims can be determined solely by their tattoos.
Many Crips will also change words containing the letter B or choose another word to replace it, the best being a word with a C. This is due to their hatred of Bloods. If no word can reasonably be substituted, the letter B will be crossed out to show disrespect. Sometimes excessive use of the letter C also occurs, such as “I’ll C right baCC” to refrain from using the initials “ck” which stands for “Crip Killer”, and not using “B” which is the first letter in Blood. Also, the letter B can be written BK as in “Blood Killer”. The Crips wear blue bandanas out of their left pocket, opposite of the Bloods, who wear red bandanas out of their right pocket.
Stanley Tookie Williams was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times while in prison for murder. SAN QUENTIN, Calif. Convicted killer Stanley Tookie Williams, the Crips gang co-founder whose case stirred a national debate about capital punishment and the possibility of redemption, was executed Tuesday morning December 13, 2005. Williams, 51, died around 12:35 a.m. after receiving a lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison, officials said. The case became the state’s highest-profile execution in decades. Hollywood stars and capital punishment foes argued that Williams’ sentence should be commuted to life in prison because he had made amends by writing children’s books about the dangers of gangs and violence. Some of your Hollywood stars that spoke on Williams’ behalf were Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and Snoop, both who is self admitted Crip gang members or who have Crip affiliations.
In the days leading up to the execution, state and federal courts refused to reopen his case. Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams’ request for clemency, suggesting that his supposed change of heart was not genuine because he had not shown any real remorse for the countless killings committed by the Crips. “Is Williams’ redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?” Schwarzenegger wrote. “Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption.”
Williams was condemned in 1981 for gunning down convenience store clerk Albert Owens, 26, at a 7-Eleven in Whittier and killing Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple’s daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned. Williams claimed he was innocent. Witnesses at the trial said Williams boasted about the killings, stating “You should have heard the way he sounded when I shot him.” Williams then made a growling noise and laughed for five to six minutes, according to thetranscript that the governor referenced in his denial.
Consistent with other gangs, Crip gang members will use tattoos as a means of identification. Both west coast and east coast Crips use this method of identification but you will find that the Crips on the west coast tattoo a lot more then east coast Crips. Below you will find a list and description of these tattoos, along with pictures.
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