are a primarily, but not exclusively,
African American gang
. They were founded in Los Angeles,
California in 1971 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
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
and lesser feuds with some
gangs. Crips have been documented in
the U.S. military
in bases in the United States and abroad.
"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
seventeen years old. Williams discounted the sometimes cited
founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black
. 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
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
the waning of black nationalist
organizations such as the Black
and the Black
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
article in February 1972 referred to some members as
"Crips" (for cripples). The name had no political, organizational,
cryptic, or acronymic
meaning. Williams, in
his memoir, further discounted claims that the group was a spin-off
of the Black Panther Party
formed for a community agenda, the name "depicted a fighting
alliance against street gangs—nothing more, nothing less", Williams
wrote. 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 memorium to Buddha after he was shot and
killed on February 23, 1973, which eventually became the color of
blue associated with 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
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
in Los Angeles. In the early 1980s
Crips sets began distributing crack cocaine in Los Angeles. The
huge profits resulting from crack
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.
Crips has over 800 sets with 30,000 to 35,000 members and associate
members, including more than 13,000 members in Los Angeles.
with the highest estimated number of Crips sets are California, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Membership typically consists of young African American men, with
members being white
Crip on Crip violence
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
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
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 literacy practices of Crip's gang life generally include
and substitutions and deletions of particular letters of the
alphabet. The letter "b" in the word "blood" will be "disrespected"
among certain sets and written with a cross inside it because of
its association with the enemy. The letters "CK", which stand for
"Crip killer", will be avoided and substituted with a double "cc",
and the letter "b" will be replaced. The words "kick back" will
instead be written as "kicc bkacc". Many other letters are also
altered due to symbolic associations.
Crips usually identify with the color blue in several different
shades and usually wear a blue rag or handkerchief as an identity
item. They often wear jogging suits and tennis shoes, professional
sports team jackets and caps bearing the names of Los Angeles
teams, and sometimes Adidas sweatshirts. They also may wear Dickey
brand cotton work pants or bib-style overalls. Nike and British
Knights shoes are also popular. Crips refer to each other as "Cuzz"
and use the letter C to replace the letter B in their conversations
and writings. They have an intricate communication system which
involves not only graffiti on walls which mark their particular
territorial boundaries, but also the use of hand signals
(flashing), displaying their colors, and wearing selected athletic
clothing. The initials BK represent their status as "Blood
- Product no. 2002-M0465-001.