Bloods and Crips: LA Gangs
Two of the Most Notorious Gangs in America



Warning: The following footage may be disturbing to some viewers

 
Bloods and Crips: LA Gangs
Two of the Most Notorious Gangs in America

 
Crime in the city of Los Angeles has been a major problem in Southern California and a concern for Angelenos since the early 20th century. Crime is down 8% since 2006. Los Angeles is informally known as the "Gang Capital of the Nation".

In the first half of 2008, Los Angeles reports 198 homicides - which corresponds to a rate of 9.6 (per 100,000 population) - a major decrease from 1993, when the all time homicide rate of over 21.1 (per 100,000 population) was reported for the year. This included 15 officer-involved shootings. One shooting led to a SWAT team member's death, Randal Simmons, the first in LAPD's history.



NGC takes viewers to the streets of South Central Los Angeles as it charts the rise of two of the most notorious gangs in America: the Bloods and the Crips.

Follow along as an emerging cocaine trade fuels staggering levels of bloodshed and the streets of Los Angeles begin to resemble a war zone.

Exclusive interviews include Bloods founder T Rodgers; original Crip Angelo "Barefoot Pookie" White; former LAPD chief Darryl Gates; and LAPD gang unit veteran Tony Moreno.

Bloods

The Bloods are a street gang founded in Los Angeles, California. The gang is widely known for its rivalry with the Crips. They are identified by the red color worn by their members and by particular gang symbols, including distinctive hand signs.

The Bloods are made up of various sub-groups known as "sets" between which significant differences exist such as colors, clothing, and operations, and political ideas which may be in open conflict with each other.

Since their creation, the Blood gangs have branched out throughout the United States. Bloods have been documented in the U.S. military, found in both U.S. and overseas bases.

Gangs in some European countries including England, Holland, and France pledge their allegiance to the Bloods but they are not thought to be directly linked to sets in the US.

The Bloods gang was formed initially to compete against the influence of the Crips in Los Angeles.

The origin of the Bloods and their rivalry with the Crips dates to the 1970s, where the Pirus street gang, originally a set, or faction, of the Crips, broke off during an internal gang war, and allied with other smaller gangs to found the gang that would eventually become known as the Bloods.

At the time, Crips sets outnumbered Bloods sets by three to one. To assert their power despite this difference in numbers, Bloods sets became increasingly violent, especially against rival Crips members.

The Pirus are therefore considered to be the original founders of the Bloods. During the rise of crack cocaine, the gang's focus shifted to drug production. Bloods sets operate independently of each other, and are currently located in almost all states. Blood sets on the East Coast are often seen as affiliated with the United Blood Nation, a gang which originated in Rikers Island.

 
"Throwing up" a gang sign (e.g., "Stacking," "walk") with the hands is one of the most known and obvious forms of "claiming." It is used in many situations where other identifiers may not be possible or appropriate, and it can also show that a gang member is in the area to "do business" as opposed to just passing through.

Usually these signs are made by formation of the fingers on one or both hands to make some sort of symbol or letter. It can also serve to relay more specific information, such as what set they represent within a larger gang or in which activities they are currently taking part.


The United Blood Nation, simply called the Bloods, formed in 1993, within the New York City jail system on Rikers Island's GMDC (George Mochen Detention Center), sometimes called C 73.

GMDC was used to segregate problem inmates from the rest of the detention center.


Prior to this time period, the Latin Kings were the most prevalent and organized gang in the NYC jail system. The Latin Kings, with mostly Hispanic members, were targeting African American inmates with violence.

These African American inmates, organized by some of the more violent and charismatic inmates, formed a protection group which they called the United Blood Nation.

This United Blood Nation, which was actually a prison gang, was emulating the Bloods street gangs in Los Angeles.

Several of the leaders of this recently created prison gang formed eight original Blood sets to recruit in their neighborhoods across New York City.

By 1996, thousands of members of the Blood street gang were establishing themselves as a formidable force among gangs and continued a steady drive for recruitment.

At this time, the Bloods were more violent than other gangs but much less organized. Numerous slashings (razor blade or knife attacks) were reported during robberies and discovered to be initiations into the Bloods.

This Blood in ritual became the trademark for the Bloods. Bloods recruited throughout the East Coast.

Crips

The Crips are a primarily, but not exclusively, African American gang. They were founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1969 mainly by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. What was once a single alliance between two autonomous gangs is now a loosely connected network of individual sets, often engaged in open warfare with one another.

The Crips are one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States, with an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 members. The gang is known to be involved in murders, robberies, and drug dealing, among many other criminal pursuits.

The gang is known for its gang members' use of the color blue in their clothing. However, this practice has waned due to police crackdowns on gang members.Crips are publicly known to have an intense and bitter rivalry with the Bloods and lesser feuds with some Chicano gangs. Crips have been documented in the U.S. military, found in bases in the United States and abroad.

Stanley Tookie Williams met Raymond Lee Washington in 1969, and the two decided to unite their local gang members from the west and east sides of South Central Los Angeles in order to battle neighboring street gangs. Most of the members were 17 years old.

Williams discounted the sometimes cited founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption.

Gang activity in South Central Los Angeles has its roots in a variety of factors dating back to the 1950s and '60s, including post-World War II economic decline leading to joblessness and poverty, racial segregation leading to the formation of black "street clubs" by young African American men who were excluded from organizations such as the Boy Scouts, and the waning of black nationalist organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Black Power Movement.

 
By 1971, a gang on Piru Street in Compton, California, known as the Piru Street Boys was formed and associated themselves with the Crips as a set. 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 and by 1973, the Piru Street Boys wanted to end the violence and called a meeting with other gangs that were targeted by the Crips.

After a long discussion, the Pirus broke 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 Crips 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 have been rivals since 1979. 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.

The original name for the alliance was "Cribs," a name narrowed down from a list of many options, and chosen unanimously from three final choices, which included the Black Overlords, and the Assassins.

Cribs was chosen to reflect the young age of the majority of the gang members.

The name "Cribs" generated into the name "Crips" when gang members began carrying around canes to display their "pimp" status.

People in the neighborhood then began calling them cripples, or "Crips" for short. A Los Angeles Sentinel article in February 1972 referred to some members as "Crips" (for cripples).

The name had no political, organizational, cryptic, or acronymic meaning, though some have suggested it stands for Common Revolution In Progress.

Williams, in his memoir, further refuted claims that the group was a spin-off of the Black Panther Party or formed for a community agenda, the name "depicted a fighting alliance against street gangs—nothing more, nothing less."

Washington, who attended Fremont High School, was the leader of the East Side Crips, and Williams, who attended Washington High School, led the West Side Crips.

Williams recalled that a blue bandanna was first worn by Crips founding member Buddha, as a part of his color-coordinated clothing of blue Levi's, a blue shirt, and dark blue suspenders.

A blue bandanna was worn in tribute to Buddha after he was shot and killed on February 23, 1973, which eventually became the color of blue associated with 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, The Drill Company, and the Denver Lanes.

By 1971 the gang's notoriety had spread across Los Angeles.Initially Crips leaders did not occupy leadership positions, but were recognized as leaders because of their personal charisma and influence. These leaders gave priority to expanding the gang's membership to increase its power.

By 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs, called sets, operating in 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. Some of these Crips sets began to produce and distribute PCP (phencyclidine) within the city.

They also began to distribute marijuana and amphetamine in Los Angeles. In the early 1980s Crips sets began distributing crack cocaine in Los Angeles. The huge profits resulting from crack cocaine distribution induced many Crips members to establish new markets in other cities and states. In addition, many young men in other states adopted the Crips name and lifestyle.

As a result of these two factors, Crips membership increased throughout the 1980s, making it one of the largest street gang associations in the country. In 1999, there were at least 600 Crips sets with more than 30,000 members transporting drugs in the United States.