There are three major gangs that inhabit the South Central area of Los Angeles. These gangs all have multiple focuses from identity theft to murder for hire. Each gang has a pyramid leadership system, but it does not always lead to one man running the gang due to the different “sets”, or factions, of each gang. These three main South Central gangs are known as the Crips, Bloods and 18th street gang.
The Crips was originally founded under a different name by two teenagers Raymond Washington (15), and Stanley “Tookie” Williams. This gang was founded in 1969 when these members started a small street gang known as the baby avenues, named after Central Avenue in East Los Angeles. Originally the baby avenues committed minor crimes for well organized groups such as the Black Panthers, and most members became infatuated with that community. This Baby Avenue set gained much popularity with the help of its founders, and grew into a violent gang that spread its turf rapidly. Soon after this gang began to spread they changed their name to the baby cribs, which later was shortened to Crips. These Crips began to wear a blue bandanna around their neck, which transformed into their gang’s color and flag. As the Crips grew in numbers, many smaller street gangs began to form an alliance against them. This alliance eventually grew in the widespread gang known as the Bloods, who became the main rivals of the Crips.
The Bloods were founded loosely around 1971. They began to form an alliance from many smaller street gangs to combat with the violent nature of the new Crip sets. It was originally formed for protection of the larger gang, and adopted an opposite color of blood red to mark their membership. The Piru set of the Crips was directly responsible for the shift into a “Blood Nation” due to the internal war which they started with the Crips. Because this war brought violence upon all non-Crip sets it sparked the rapid growth of the original Piru bloods, which in turn split into many sets, similar to the Crips leadership pyramid. Being outnumbered by the Crips three to one, the Bloods became known for their extreme violence, and brazen crimes. The Bloods has now become closer to an equal of the Crips, and it seems their competition will be everlasting.
The last of the major South Central Gangs is the 18th Street Gang. This gang was originally formed in 1959 by Mexican-Americans for protection against the African American street gangs. Nowadays the 18th Street Gang is recognized as the largest gang in the Los Angeles area. This gang is well known for its rigid membership status ranging from “Shotcallers” (leaders), Lieutenants (Street Leaders), and foot soldiers. Disobeying an order form a member above your rank results in the gang retaliating in murder. Some sets of this gang are known as “The Children’s Army” due to their recruitment efforts of young children. The 18th street gang is now the largest gang influence in South Central, and is open to many races for members, although African American members are rare. Their gang markings are usually tattoos representing the number eighteen in some way, or the word “best”, which stands for Barrio Eighteen STreet.
These Los Angeles gangs have become a normal part of our contemporary society. They have all been growing steadily for over fifty years, and show no signs of stopping. Each of these gangs has spread nationally, and sometimes internationally throughout the world. Many of these gangs are now not only prevalent in urban areas, but suburbs and rural areas as well. These gangs have also began to spread into our armed forces, which can lead to numerous problems for our country. It is important to learn where these gangs came from, and what they stand for in order to understand why they are here, and if they will ever leave.