From the cradle to the grave.

Avenues to Cribs

The failure of the Avenue gang led to the rise of the crips under the direction of Raymond Washington. Washington was a street hardened thug by the time he came up with a plan to organize what he believed would "oneday be the most notorious gang in the world." Armed with street credibility which can only be earned in the heat of battle, Washington began recruiting former classmates from Fremont, Locke and Washington High Schools in Los Angeles whom he knew shared his desire to be apart of something unique and powerful.

Washington launched a citywide recruiting drive which added stalwart soldiers which included the likes of Big Jimel Barnes, Mack Thomas, Mad Dogg, Tam, Mad Bull, No.1, Ecky, Puddin and Batman. Washington's troops stormed through the Eastside instilling fear in the hearts of rivals who happened upon them. Washington's gang soon took on the agressive personality of its founder which he dubbed crips. The origin of the name is a matter dispute which will probably never be resolved. Jimel Barnes (founder of the Avalon Gardens crips) related the story of the gangs inception as such. "Raymond came to me and pulled out a picture of a baby's crib and said, "this is what I am going to call our gang, crips-like cribs, from the cradle to the grave." "I was stunned because he seemed so happy and delighted."

Long immersed in the world of street gangs, young Raymond wanted to establish a place of honor for himself in gangland history. This process began modestly with a name chosen for his group, Washington and the boys sought to further identify themselves by adopting a uniform. An earring worn in the left ear in addition to a panther style leather jacket came to symbolize crip. Short on cash the gang turned to strong armed robbery as a means of securing the coveted leather jackets. Word of the gangs exploits spread quickly earning Washington and his ban of thugs an equal number of admirers and adversaries. Crips factions began to spring up throughout Watts and parts of South central due in large part to the efforts of personable figures asscoiated with Washington.

East and West side crips.

Big Jimel Barnes founded the Avalon Garden crips in 1971, followed in short order by the Inglewood crips and Puddin and Tam's Compton Crips. A crips set independent of Washington's influence on the westside was headed by Stanley (Tookie) Williams. An avid weightlifter, Williams was the bulked up equivalent of Washington. Born in Louisiana, Williams grew up fighting on the streets of Los Angeles and admittedly was heavily influenced by an ex-con friend of his older brother. The product of a single parent home, William's life closely resembled that of his crosstown rival. As with Raymond, Williams attended several L.A., area high schools before landing at Washington Prep in 1971.

As word of Williams prescence at Washington spread, everyone expected the two to meet in a final titanic battle which would leave the city under the control of one or the other. Washington quickly passed word that he wanted to meet Williams and much to everyones surprise the two got along famously and decided to join forces. The alliance left Washington in control of a large section of the city which stretched from Slauson Ave., to Imperial Highway. East to west Washington's East side crips controlled virtually everything from Figueroa St., to Wilmington Ave. As the leader of the west side crips Williams territory ran north to south from Florence Ave., to Imperial Highway, with their cross sections stretching four miles west of Vermont Ave.

It is hard to imagine the menace which has spread worldwide was aided in its growth by then councilman Tom Bradley. Following the beating death of 52 year old N.J. (Ozzie) Orr on 109th St., near Figueroa a demand was issued from city hall to curtail the activities of resurgent youth gangs most notably the crips. The response was the formation of the cities first anti-gang task force. The task force came to about in large part througth the efforts of councilman Billy Mills. Mill's claimed he was tired of complaints concerning gangs extortionate activities, robberies, assaults and vandalism. In a curious twist of fate councilman Mills and his task force became the subject of a furious debate and endless criticism after it was learned that the murder of Orr had not been committed by gang members.

During this period a noticible decline in gang related crime was noted, the decline coincided with a period of incarceration for Raymond Washington. During his abscence the crips enjoyed quite abit of favorable press resulting in the institution of a government funded youth program aimed at curbing gang activity and envolvement. Youth counselors and former inner-city gang members such as Lonnie Wilson, Alton Trimble and an admitted crip known only as Danifu began reconstructing the public personna of Washington's creation. Danifu at a regular meeting between gang leaders and members of the LAPD's 77th street community council announced the true meaning of crip was Community Revolution in Progress. This comment has been twisted into a legend aimed at revising the history of Raymond Washington and his notorious creation.

The emergence of independent sets and Ghetto stars.

By 1978 several independent crip gangs had established themselves as seperate entities in the crip community. With this independence came festering disputes which in the past had been quickly squashed through diplomatic processes. These disputes turned violent with increasing frequency ushering in a new gang era. Where Raymond Washington, Tookie Williams, Jimel Barnes and a select few had enjoyed universal respect and admiration amoung there followers, in this new era that same respect would come to be earned through acts of extreme violence and depravity. Raymond and Tookie remained revered figures but their almost mythical stature made them almost un-approachable to the common crip. In turn they were replaced in this new age by local warlords now known as O.G's and generals.

From the original gangster crips the forerunner of the eight-trey gangsta crips came Sidewinder a figure beloved in his hood for winning his sets independence from Tookie during the mid 70s. Raymond Washington's eastside gang split into various factions the largest of which are the east coast crips and the notorious Hoover criminal gang. The east coasts are reknowned for their size in terms of territory covered and membership numbers whereas the Hoover's have a long and storied history which includes powerful leaders like Tony Stacey. Long incarcerated for gang related crimes, Stacey's power has not been curbed by his twenty plus year abscence from the streets. .

[email protected] Gate City Publishing-California Crime File.

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