Playboy Gangster Crips Essay, Research Paper
The Way of the Crips
Los Angeles; By 10 a.m., the Playboy Gangster Crips are hanging down on Corning Street, calling each other “Cuz,” sipping quarts of Old English 800 Malt Liquor.
The graffiti on the building behind them is theirs. So is the broken beer bottle glass on the piece of dirt front yard. They’re listening to rap tunes blaring out of an enormous boom box radio. They punch each other in the shoulder and laugh at jokes only they understand. The PBGs are open for business. If you’ve got $100, drive by and they’ll sell you a gram of cocaine. Count on it; they’re never out. That’s why they’re festooned with gold chains as thick as ship’s rope. It’s always this way on Corning Street. It’s this way on lots of streets in Los Angeles.
Gangs flourish in Los Angeles, the current “gang capital of the U.S.,” in spite of increased community and police efforts. This city has 750 gangs, and there are distinctions among them, but the similarities outnumber the differences. They’re powerful, they’ve got money, they control turf, most sell drugs, and they kill to protect all of it. A background check on the ever growing Crips can lead one to thinking one word; fear. The Crips began as a predominately all male black and Hispanic street gang in southern Los Angeles, California in 1969. Active and highly successful in the drug trade, members of the gang are now being discovered in numerous other cities and states where they are attempting to control the drug trade. The word ?crip? was believed to be developed by the fact that members wanted the hardest and toughest thing imaginable; thus they came up with Superman and the only thing that could hurt him was Kryptonite- this was shortened to Crip. So how do people know that the Crips are spreading and are being discovered not just in California? The answer is in the way they dress.
Members of the Crips are proud of their gang and freely admit their membership. After all, they did pay a hefty price to be initiated into their ?family.? The Crips have their own rituals for “jumping in.” Usually it’s a fist fight. A recruit has made the grade if he’s still standing after up to a 10 minute bout with as many as 10 gang members. In several West Los Angeles Crip gangs, recruits have to steal three car stereos in a night. Some South Central L.A. Crips have required applicants to commit murder, but experts say that’s losing ground. Crips are moving faster, apparently because new recruits prefer the Crips’ color, blue. The Crips adopted the color for their clothing to set them apart from other rival gang members. The color blue continues to be the dominate color, however other dark colors such as black, brown, and purple may also be blended to identify certain sets. Not only the colors of the clothes are important to be a Crip, but also the way to wear them. The PBGs, representing the Crips? style nationwide, all wear khakis, which they buy about three inches too big in the waist, so they “sag real good” on their hips. With that, unbuttoned blue and brown plaid Pendletons over white T-shirts worn loose and un-tucked. Socks are always white, too. Clothes are so important they go shopping at least twice a week, usually at the Midtown Swap Meet. They never go anywhere without their blue “rag,” a bandanna sticking out of their pants pocket. They all wear similar types of shoes. Whether they be leather sneakers and blue or black corduroy slippers, or Doc Martins, soldier boots and brand named tennis shoes. British Knights, another shoe manufacturer, stands for blood killers according to the Crips. Other identifying items include belt buckles with the gang?s initials, key chains, starter jackets (team jackets) which are usually Oakland Raiders apparel. Accessories are just as important as the clothing the Crips wear. Expensive gaudy jewelry such as heavy gold chains, earrings and large rings are the norm. Blue Baseball caps are worn backwards, a fashion spawned because the brim gets in the way when firing a weapon. For the Crips to keep their fearful reputation to society they need to be equipped with the most deadly weapons possible. Examples of these include the fearsome AK-47, sawed-off shotguns, Uzi?s, shaved down baseball bats, spiked wrist bands and knifes of all types. Although popular with many other gangs, Crip members are not enthusiastic about using tattoos to identify their gang and ordinarily don’t do so. Crips tend to be more individualistic and less inclined to permanently identify themselves with any one group. However some members may tattoo the area code they control to indicate geographic origin of the gang or other members. The Crips have been known to burn cigarettes on their hands leaving scars, the more burns the more the member is respected. On a larger basis, the cars they drive are Cadillacs and Impalas, with 14 inch all gold wire wheels. Foreign pickup trucks with windows tinted so you can’t see who’s driving and bodies jacked down so low they’re barely off the ground are also quite common. All of these fashion statements contribute to the making of a Crip gangster.
So now you may be asking yourself, why do the Crips dress the way they do with hardly any variety in their clothing? The reason is quite simple; to let people and other gangs such as the Bloods (whose dress code is dominantly red) know who they are and to be afraid of them. They have their own rules, and their own culture, and they’re obsessed with the symbols that identify both. It’ s all specialized, right down to the pants they wear. They want society to easily identify them as the strongest and most terrifying gang in the country, and to allow fellow Crips to be able to identify them as well. Gang membership offers kids status, acceptance, and self esteem they haven’t found elsewhere. In poorer communities, a breakdown of family and community structures may leave kids more prone to gang recruitment. Financial gain is a powerful motive for gang involvement, especially for poverty-stricken youths with poor education and lack of access to decent jobs. They can make more than $2,000 a night. Some of it goes for AK 47s on the black market, at $100 each. But usually the money goes for jewelry. The vast sums of money available through the drug trade have increased the size of gangs, both by recruitment and long term members.
Looking at the Crips, you will find that there are both male and female members. However, female gang members are slaves. A female may often have group sex with male members but is never considered a girlfriend. Gang members can spend her money, but won’t buy her anything. Female Crips are often very violent as a way to prove themselves to their male counterparts. The blues and styles of dress often mirror their male counterparts. The female plays a very important part in being not only a Crip but in any gang, in which they are asked to be mules (carry drugs or weapons) for male gang members because they are less likely to be searched by male police officers. A non-gang woman is treated as a lady, her cigarettes are lighted, and her doors opened. Usually the women date the members because they feel that they are powerful and can protect them for anyone, when in actuality they are more prone to violence because of having connections to the gang.
The Crips are a specific group of young adults who simply do not want to live by the laws of society. I think that the following quote by Irving Spergel (1989) suggests the best summary for the Crips in society today. “The Crips are juvenile and young adults associating together for serious, especially violent, criminal behavior with special
concerns for ‘turf’. Turf can signify the control of a physical territory, a criminal enterprise, or both. By simply wearing the wrong color in a certain neighborhood can get you killed.?