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Raymond Lee Washington (August 14, 1953 – August 9, 1979) was an American criminal involved in street crime. He was the original founder of the notorious South Central Los Angelesmarker street gang that came to be known as the Crips.

Washington is said to have first started his gang, the Baby Avenues, which became the Avenue Cribs before the name evolved into the Crips, because he wanted to form a group that could protect their territory in South Central and keep troublemakers and more violent gangs out.

He disliked guns and held to the belief that fist fighting and unarmed combat was the best way to resolve differences. By the time of his death, however, his influence on the gang had diminished and guns had become widely used. Washington's murder, committed with a sawed-off shotgun, has remained unsolved.

Early life

He was born in Houston,Texasmarker, the son of Violet Samuel (born c. 1930). He had three older brothers, including Reggie, and one younger half-brother, Derard S. Barton (born 1959). Raymond grew up on 76th Street, just west of Wadsworth and Central Avenues.

From what is known about Washington, it has been stated by most people that he had a passion for fighting. He was constantly getting into trouble for fighting, but his mother is quoted as saying, "Raymond was a good kid when he was a boy. Raymond didn't go out of his way to fight or do anything bad, but if someone came to him, he would protect himself. And he was well-built. He tried to protect the community and keep the bad guys out. But after a while, every time I looked up, the police were coming to the house looking for Raymond."

However, neighbours who grew up with Washington remembered him in a different way. Lorrie Griffin Moss, who grew up directly across the street from Washington on 76th Street, said, "I don't have a whole lot of good to say about Raymond. Raymond was a bully. A muscular bully. He wouldn't let anybody from outside our neighborhood bother us. He would bother us. Raymond could be very mean."

A friend stated that Washington was a good football player, but did not want to play organized ball. He transferred between schools repeatedly after being expelled. In a short time, he went from Locke High to Fremont Highmarker, then to an alternative school attached to Washington High. He then attended Fairfax High, in the Fairfax District near West Hollywoodmarker.

Gang involvement

Youth violence in South Central and Wattsmarker escalated dramatically in the late 1960s, especially in the three housing projects known as the Bricks: Imperial Courts, Nickerson Gardens and Jordan Downs. Violent street robberies were common among young hoodlums. Older street gangs like the "Slausons," the "Businessmen" and the "Gladiators," had been absorbed by activist groups such as the Black Panthers and US Organization (Us). Numerous gangs began to form among the "baby" youth that rejected the old gang names. Some of the names of these new gangs were "Sportsmans Park," "New House Boys," "Acey Duecy" and "Chain Gang."

In 1969, 15-year-old Washington organized a group of other neighborhood youths in South Central and started a gang called the "Baby Avenues." The Baby Avenues wanted to emulate a gang of older youths called the "Avenue Boys." The Avenue Boys, whose territory was on Central Avenue in East Los Angelesmarker, had been involved in gang activity since 1964. The Baby Avenues then began using the name "Avenue Cribs," in reference to the gang members' relative youth.

Washington was the best fighter in the Avenue Cribs and was feared by his fellow gang members. However, it has been stated that before his gang became a haven for violence, he had hoped to create a gang that could police the area that he and his friends lived in, in order to eliminate more dangerous gangs.

The Crips

By 1971, the use of the word "Crip" had taken the place of the gang's name. Meanwhile, Washington and his collection of young gang members influenced other area gangs resulting in the formation of many Crip sets. Some of these sets included the "Avalon Gardens Crips," the "Eastside Crips," the "Inglewood Crips and the "Westside Crips," which was formed by Tookie Williams.

The Crips are one of the oldest, largest, and most notorious gangs in the United Statesmarker. They have been involved in robberies, drug dealing and murder. What was once a single gang is now a loose network of individual sets around the country. The gang is known to have an intense and bitter rivalry with the Bloods as well as with some Chicano gangs.

The first mention of the Crips in the L.A. Times was on February 8, 1972. The two articles that ran that day told of how, on the evening of February 6, N. J. "Ozzie" Orr, a 52-year-old white truck driver of Bell Gardensmarker, who was a twice-wounded Marine veteran of Guadalcanalmarker and Iwo Jimamarker, was suddenly attacked and beaten to death in a matter of a few minutes by a gang of 15 to 20 juveniles near 109th and Figueroa Streets. He had been visiting a black family he was friends with. After hitting him with heavy objects, one fatally to the head, the hoodlums all ran off before the man who had driven him there could get out of the car to help. The motive may have been robbery, as a few of them seemed to be trying to get his wallet before they panicked and ran.

The story went on to state:
One of the gangs in the area is known as the Crips, which started out at Washington High School as an extortion and terror organization and spread to other schools where the gang members enrolled after being expelled from Washington, police said.

Gang members take lunch money away from school children and force them to bring them more money from home for "protection," police said. If a gang member sees a youngster with a piece of clothing he wants—a new jacket, perhaps, he takes it.

Police said this gang has been spreading "like an octopus" and now has members throughout South-Central Los Angeles, Inglewood, Compton, South Gate and the Firestone area.

Gang members, to identify themselves, wear black gloves on their left hands and gold-colored earrings in their left ears, which are pierced, according to police. They sometimes carry canes, which they use as weapons.

There are two stories circulating on the derivation of the word Crips. One is that it stands for cripple, because some of the founders were injured and had to carry canes for a time. The other is that the founders once wore Afro-style hairdos and their parents made them "crip it."

With the rise of media coverage, which put these new violent gangs on the front page, soon many disaffected black youths were running to join the Crips, many without ever being contacted by gang leaders.

It has been stated that while Washington hated guns, he believed in the idea of street gangs, fighting and robbery, but only when necessary for survival. This is mainly what led to his notorious reputation, since he, Tookie Williams and other Crip sets felt an increasing need to steal food, money and clothing to survive in the poverty laden areas of Los Angeles. When new and aspiring Crip members began acting out of control of their leaders and committing homicides, it solidified Washington and the gang's reputation among the police as troublemakers.

Death and legend

Raymond Washington was murdered at the age of 25 on the corner of 64th and San Pedro Streets in Los Angeles. No one was ever arrested for his murder.

Some legends surrounding Washington's death state that he had just left his home, where there was some type of dispute, and was killed in an alley beside his house by someone in a car who fired a sawed-off shotgun; most likely the shooter was someone he knew and was enemies with.

By 1979, Washington no longer had any real control over the gang he originally founded. He wanted to unite warring gangs in peace. He was always against guns, which radically increased as part of the gang scene during the 1970s. His murder was blamed on the "Hoover Crips" (now "Hoover Criminals"), which led to a war between the Hoover Crips and other Crip sets. Uninvolved Crip sets began to choose sides in the battles. Another version, however, is that he was killed by a member of the Bloods. Whatever the truth, he walked up to a car from which he was shot, which might suggest he knew the occupants.

See also


  1. California Birth Index, Name: Raymond Lee Washington, Birth Date: Aug. 14, 1953, Gender: Male, Mother's Maiden Name: Samuel, Birth County: Los Angeles.
  2. California State Death Index, Name: Raymond Lee Washington, Birth Date: 08-14-1953, Sex: Male, Birth Place: California, Death Place: Los Angeles (19), Death Date: 08-09-1979, SSN: 549-90-2416, Age: 25 yrs.
  3. Social Security Death Index, Name: Raymond Washington, Birth: 14 Aug 1953, SSN: 549-90-2416, Issued: California, Death: Aug 1979, Benefit Sent To: 75928 (Bon Wier, Newton Co., TX).

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