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Bloods & Crips Bandana : origin of gangs

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Bloods & Crips Bandana  : origin of gangs

The Crips, represented by their blue bandana, and the Bloods, represented by their red bandana, are two gangs that have marked the history of the United States.

Through this article, we will help you understand their origin and their rich history...

Indeed, what started as a group to fight the violence of the Crips and compete with them quickly turned into a rival crime syndicate that persists even in New York City jails today.

Most Americans are fortunate to be completely ignorant and unaware of gang culture, the harshness of street life, or adherence to the vital code that must be followed in order not to be killed. But even this majority, living on the periphery, has been culturally sensitized to the Los Angeles Crips and Bloods.

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0) Gang definition:

"A gang is an interstitial group, originally formed spontaneously and then integrated through conflict," although Thrasher's social analysis goes back nearly a century, the main tenets of gang culture - namely, attachment to a local territory, haven't really changed much since then.

According to Julia Dunn, gang culture shifted from minor crimes such as theft and forgery in the 1920s and 1930s to extortion and gambling in the 1940s.

1. The Crips (blue bandana):

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It was in the 1950s that the lowrider culture was introduced to Los Angeles, although the weapons of choice at the time were primarily knives and baseball bats.

The 1960s, however, saw the emergence of more armed, organized and violent gangs: the Crips, in South Central Los Angeles.

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Gang activity originated primarily on Los Angeles high school campuses, with factions emerging in Compton. Eventually, these groups were all at war with each other.

In the 1970's, in an effort to protect themselves from these countless Crips gang groups, other gangs and leaderships were born. Namely, the Bloods.

2. The Bloods (red bandana):

bloods red bandana

The Bloods distinguished themselves from other Los Angeles gangs in the 1970s by engaging in more violence and crime than their peers. The gang was established around West Piru Street in Compton.

Two City of Angels natives, Sylvester Scott and Vincent Owens, first founded the Bloods under the name Compton Pirus.

Naturally, the Crips had established themselves in the same neighborhood years earlier, so serious conflicts broke out between the two groups.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the Bloods were violently demolished. As a result, several smaller groups and gangs that had been undermined by the Crips in the past regrouped and joined forces under the Bloods umbrella.

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The Bloods were encouraged to wear red to distinguish themselves, and the red bandana, the symbol of the gang, became widespread.

In the late 1970s, after establishing a firm "take no prisoners" attitude, the Bloods "began to claim certain neighborhoods as their territory. Their gang rivalry became vicious and bloody."

By the early 1980s, nearly 30,000 gang members who represented either the Crips or the Bloods now lived in Los Angeles.

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The 1980s was a prolific decade of expansion and diversification for the Bloods. Children as young as 14 were now viable candidates for gang membership, but not without an act of violence necessary to prove that these members were "ready."

This usually involved fighting a member, in addition to committing a particular crime in a pre-determined neighborhood. Alternatively, future members might choose to attack a rival gang member.

Later, the decade of America's crack epidemic saw the Bloods become heavily involved in the drug trade. What had once been a gang focused on neighborhood protection and a unified defense against rival groups, was now firmly entrenched in the local drug trade.

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In 1983, African American gangs in Los Angeles seized on the availability of narcotics, particularly crack cocaine, as a source of income.

Unfortunately, the Reagan era and its economic fallout did not find a home in the downtown South Central communities. Buying cocaine in bulk and selling its crack variety, which had never been in such demand, seemed a financially savvy way to become a more independent gang.

Between poverty and unemployment, and the choice between welfare and crime, the Bloods grew up and began to make a significant portion of their income from drug dealing. A member could easily earn between $300 and $500 a day by throwing a few rocks of crack around the neighborhood.

As a result, the Crips and Bloods controlled a significant portion of the crack operations across the country. The business had quickly outgrown the local stock exchanges and spread to every city in the country.


Members would simply announce their visit to a certain city and be informed of the leaders, connections and local protection. This naturally led to an exorbitant increase in violence that was once limited to certain areas of Los Angeles.

The Bloods have migrated across the country and are seen in most states and their prison populations. There are literally hundreds of outfits for individual gangs under the main names Blood and Crips.

Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Bloods have even established themselves in New York City, where prison life in facilities like Rikers Island is largely coordinated by the gang.

The Mac Balla Bloods are currently one of the most established and influential gangs in New York City, particularly in the city's prison system. From smuggling sensitive information and illegal contraband into the city's prisons and an upstate jail, crack cocaine, scalpels and opioids are sold.

The Bloods' nearly five-decade-long evolution, however, is not entirely negative. According to Gothamist, hundreds of current and former Bloods and Crips marched in solidarity against violence in the South Bronx in early April.

Impact of these gangs on fashion: the bandana

bandana gang style fashion

In addition to the gang aspect and the violence, the Bloods and Crips have had an impact on the fashion and style of dress of many young Americans.

Indeed, they popularized the bandanas, which they used as a sign of belonging to the gang: blue bandana for the crips and red bandana for the bloods.

The ways of wearing bandana were varied, the most common were :

  • around the head, like a headband
  • in a back pocket
  • around the wrist
  • in the hair

This fashion of the bandana was also largely transmitted to the general public through the intermediary of rappers such as Tupac for example, who also wore the bandana and who through their popularity, have greatly spread it.

Today the bandana is still a very present accessory but it is greatly democratized, and is not limited to the simple use by gangs. You can find many bandanas for men, and thus impose your own style.

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