Crip gang member with tattoos.
In Los Angeles, California,
United States
Founded by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams
Years active 1969–present
Territory United States[1]
Ethnicity Mostly African American[1]
Membership 30,000–35,000[1]
Criminal activities Drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, murder, burglary, identification theft[1]
Allies Folk Nation,[2] Gangster Disciples,[3][4] La Raza,[1] Black Guerrilla Family[2]
Rivals Bloods,[2] People Nation, Ñetas, Hoover Criminals [5] Sureños

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,[1] 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.[6]



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.[7] Williams discounted the sometimes cited founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption.[7] 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.[8][9][10][11]

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.[12] A Los Angeles Sentinel article in February 1972 referred to some members as "Crips" (for cripples).[1] 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."[7] 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.

Crip showing a gang signal.

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.[7]

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.[13] 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.[1] In 1999, there were at least 600 Crips sets with more than 30,000 members transporting drugs in the United States.[1]


Crips has over 800 sets with 30,000 to 35,000 members and associate members, including more than 13,000 members in Los Angeles. The states with the highest estimated number of Crips sets are California, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Members typically consist of young African American men, with some members being white, Hispanic and Asian.[1] Famous former gang members or those suspected to associate with the Crips include Snoop Dogg, Eazy-E and Ice-T.[14] Ice-T began his rapping career for Crip audiences,[15] and is addressed by his Crip friends and acquaintances as Tray or Tracy.[16]

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 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,[17] 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.[18]


Crip graffiti tag in Olympia, Washington.

The literacy practices of Crip's gang life generally include rapping, graffiti 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.[19] Crips traditionally refer to each other as "Cuzz", which itself is sometimes used as a moniker for Crip. "Crab" is the most disrespectful epithet to call a Crip, and can warrant fatal retaliation.[20] Crips in prison modules during the 1970s and 80's would communicate verbally with Kiswahili to maintain privacy among guards and rival gangs.[21]


Like the Bloods, the Crips are made up of gang sets.

  • Asian Boyz
  • Grape Street Watts Crips
  • Hoover Criminals

See also

Simbolo triada.jpg Gangs portal


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j U.S. Department of Justice, Crips.
  2. ^ a b c "Los Angeles-based Gangs — Bloods and Crips". Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  3. ^ "Crips". Gang Prevention Services. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  4. ^ "Black Gangster Disciples". Gang Prevention Services. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  5. ^ Gold, Scott (2009-09-18). "A gang feud's fallout". The Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ "Gangs Increasing in Military, FBI Says". McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  7. ^ a b c d Williams, Stanley Tookie; Smiley, Tavis (2007). Blue Rage, Black Redemption. Simon & Schuster. pp. xvii–xix, 91–92, 136. ISBN 1416544496.
  8. ^ Washington was murdered August 9, 1979 and Williams was executed December 13, 2005. Stacy Peralta (Director) (2009). Crips and Bloods: Made in America (TV-Documentary). PBS Independent Lens series. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  9. ^ "Timeline: South Central Los Angeles". PBS (part of the "Crips and Bloods: Made in America" TV documentary). 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  10. ^ Sharkey, Betsy (2009-02-06). "Review: 'Crips and Bloods: Made in America'". Los Angeles Times.,0,7721785.story. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  11. ^ Cle Sloan (Director) (2009). Keith Salmon. ed. Bastards of the Party (TV-Documentary). HBO. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  12. ^ "Los Angeles". Inside. National Geographic Channel. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  13. ^ Crip History
  14. ^
  15. ^ Simpson, Colton (2005). Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang. St. Martin's Press. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-0-312-32930-3. 
  16. ^ Simpson, Colton (2005). Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang. St. Martin's Press. pp. 298. ISBN 978-0-312-32930-3. 
  17. ^ Capozzoli, Thomas and McVey, R. Steve (1999) Kids Killing Kids: Managing Violence and Gangs in Schools St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton, Florida, p. 72 ISBN 1-57444-283-X
  18. ^ War and Peace in Watts (2005-07-14) LA Weekly. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
  19. ^ Smith, Debra; Whitmore, Kathryn F. (2006). Literacy and Advocacy in Adolescent Family, Gang, School, and Juvenile Court Communities. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805855998.
  20. ^ Simpson, Colton (2005). Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang. St. Martin's Press. pp. 280. ISBN 978-0-312-32930-3. 
  21. ^ Simpson, Colton (2005). Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang. St. Martin's Press. pp. 122–124. ISBN 978-0-312-32930-3. 

Reference publications

External links

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