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.
Crips are publicly known to have an intense and bitter rivalry with the Bloods. Crips have been documented in the U.S. military, found in bases in the United States and abroad.
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. Williams discounted the sometimes cited founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption. 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.
By 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs, called sets, operating in Los Angeles. They were heavily involved in the production of PCP, marijuana and amphetamines. On March 11, 1979, Stanley Tookie Williams, a member of Westside Crips was arrested for four murders and then on August 8, 1979, Raymond Washington was gunned down. Wshington had been against Crip infighting and after his death several Crip sets started fighting against each other. The Crips leadrship was dismantled prompting a gang-war between the Rollin' 60 Crips and Eght Tray Gngster Crips. The East Coast Crips and the Hoover Crips severed their alliance after Washington's death. By 1980 the Crips were in turmoil warring with the Bloods and against each other. The growth and power of the gang really took off in the early 1980s when crack cocaine hit the streets. The huge profits from distribution of crack cocaine induced many Crips to establish new markets in other cities and states. As a result, Crip membership grew steadily and by late 1980s it was the one of the largest street-gangs in the country. 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. In 1999, there were at least 600 Crips sets with more than 30,000 members transporting drugs in the United States.
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" evolved 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 Sentinel article in February 1972 referred to some members as "Crips" (for cripples). The name had no political, organizational, cryptic, or acronymic meaning, though some have suggested it stands for "Common Revolution In Progress", a backronym. According to the film Bastards of the Party directed by a member of the Bloods, the name represented "Community Revolutionary Interparty Service" or "Community Reform Interparty Service". 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." 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 bandana 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 bandana 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.
Chain of Command
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. The gang became increasingly violent as they attempted to expand their turf.