Crips and Bloods: Made in America
|Crips and Bloods: Made in America|
|Directed by||Stacy Peralta|
|Written by||Stacy Peralta
|Edited by||T.J. Mahar|
|Running time||93 minutes|
Crips and Bloods: Made in America is a documentary by Stacy Peralta discussing the unique circumstances and factors that led to the creation of Crips and Bloods, two of the most violent gangs in all of United States history.
The documentary goes beyond the general background of and discusses the external factors that fueled the African American youth to turn to gangs. It also raises many questions regarding the government responses/lack thereof to such minority conflict.
- 1 Cast
- 2 Setting
- 2.1 Substance
- 2.2 Background
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Skipp, Nikko and Bow Wow: Former Bloods and Crips members join together as a part of UNITY ONE, working to help active gang members to make a better living and make the transformation they need.
Aquil Basheer who is Maximum Force Enterprises and Aqeela Sherrils who is Reverence Project, both currently direct the intervention program specializing in the violence abatement, truce negotiation and youth empowerment.
Terry Goudeau, Naji and James Harris: Original gang members and now working as community recovery and reconciliation counselors.
Jim Brown: Pro football hall of famer, and founder of the Amer-I-Can foundation and Program, helping provide life management skills and resource to at-risk youth for over 20 years.
The setting of the movie is South Central Los Angeles. Both gangs of the Crips and the Bloods are only miles away from the richest cities of the richest state in the United States of America. South Central Los Angeles is ten miles away from Pacific Coast Highway and the Santa Monica beaches. It is about five to ten miles from Hollywood. It is about twenty miles from Anaheim, Disneyland, and Orange County.
These gangs are “surrounded by the American Dream”, a dream so far that it cannot even be imagined by the members of these gangs. The documentary states that gang violence between the Crips and Bloods has taken more than 15,000 lives. Five times as many lost in Ireland's sectarian conflict.
The documentary discusses the many, unique circumstances of the 1960s that lead to the creation of these violent gangs. Some of the factors that are discussed in the documentary are listed below:
Lack of Organizational Acceptance, Identity
Blank Bird, now Blank Blank of Blank, discusses his multiple attempts to join youth organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America or Explorer Scouts of America. He stated that he, like most other young African-American males, was constantly shut out of such predominantly white organized activities or organizations. He felt that it was almost like there was nowhere for young African-American men to turn. Bird accounts a lack of a sense of identity or acceptance and that is when African-American males began forming their own fraternities.
It began with small competition, between neighborhoods and streets, and definitely was not as violent. Groups like the Slausans, Del Vikings, and the Gladiators formed. <http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/03/local/me-businessmen3>. Often, they fought protected against the white gangs of the area terrorizing the African American neighborhoods <http://www.communitywalk.com/location/the_slausons/info/944937>. In these brotherhoods African Americans found acceptance and a sense of identity.
Regulation by Los Angeles Police Department
First and foremost, the media portrayed and the public perceives African-American males as violent criminals. Therefore, the Los Angeles Police Department, especially under Chief Officer William Parker regulated the Los Angeles area "like a military." African Americans were to remain in their neighborhoods at all times. Like Kumasi said, you had to be at the "right neighborhood at the right time. You couldn’t go to Alameda, for example."
That was a predominantly white neighborhood, where African Americans were not wanted. Kumasi further discusses the invisible barriers that African Americans were not allowed to cross. If one was found simply walking through the “wrong neighborhood,” he was questioned and investigated almost like a criminal. There was in essence no freedom to walk to streets of a free country.
Kumasi described the experience of an African-American male of Los Angeles as a "walking time bomb." They were experiencing so much hatred from the police that sooner or later they would erupt. "The only question was upon whom," said Kumasi.
The documentary then goes on and demonstrates how these African-American experiences set the stage for the Watts Riot. African-Americans were killed for absolutely trivial crimes. After a police encounter leading to the arrest of an intoxicated male, his brother, and mother, African Americans took to the streets against the Los Angeles Police Department, protesting racial injustices against them. Chief Officer William Parker only fueled the already racialized tension by calling African-Americans "monkeys in a zoo." The documentary discussed how it was all over the news and media. Let alone the Los Angeles Times, newspapers all over the nations were covering the Watts Riots of Los Angeles.
Institutional changes occurred afterwards. The documentary discussed the changes that were led by Black Panther Organization and then the backlash against these organizations. FBI investigations began, claiming that "Black panthers were the biggest threat to internal stability of USA." Its leaders were murdered, jailed, etc. After those leaders disappeared, the new generation started – Crips and Bloods (see background, membership, and history below).
Backdrop – California
California was different from the South. There were no prior bus laws or segregation in public schools. However, there were covenants against black housing. There was neighborhood segregation. Even after outlawing it eventually, neighborhoods stayed that way.
Industrialization hit in Los Angeles in the late 1950s in response to the booming industries of the country. The American economy was changing to an economy with either high end or low end jobs. African-Americans found themselves displaced in the job market. They did not have the prior skills, knowledge, or education to perform the high wage technological jobs, due to the historical discrimination and lack of opportunities.
They also did not feel like they, as U.S. citizens, should have to do the low labor jobs either. After all, they felt that they were above the immigrant low level jobs. In turn, they found themselves totally displaced from the labor market. Eventually, by the latter half of the 1960s, jobs and factories both disappeared from the Los Angeles region. Consequences were enormous. Businesses are empty and there is nowhere to turn. It simply becomes harder and harder to survive as time goes on.
After the introduction of crack cocaine, even the African-American families were torn apart. The family institution became dysfunctional as well. There were no male role models in the family any longer. Seventy percent of black children are born to single mothers. Twenty eight percent of all black men will be jailed in their lifetime. There is a disproportionate number of black males in prison, making the possibility of a male figure in an African-American family even less likely.
Crips - Founders
Crips are well known as one of the most violent and largest gang in the United States, with an estimated membership of around 35 to 40 thousand members.
Crips were founded by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams in Los Angeles, California in 1969. Washington and Williams decided to unite a few local gangs from different sides of Los Angeles in order to battle against the other neighboring street gangs. Washington and Williams wanted to start the gang to protect their territory in South Central Los Angeles from the other dangerous gangs.
Williams said his intent in starting the Crips was to “address all of the so-called neighboring gangs in the area and to put, in a sense—I thought 'I can cleanse the neighborhood of all these, you know, marauding gangs.' But I was totally wrong. And eventually, we morphed into 60's Crips the monster we were addressing." ("A Conversation with Death Row Prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams from his San Quentin Cell". 2005-11-30. Retrieved 2009-01-31)
Ironically, Washington disliked firearms and knives and believed that only hand-to-hand combat demonstrated the real strength of a man. Since his early years, Washington often got into fights and was in trouble with the Los Angeles Police Department. He was always a muscular and athletic man, but was excluded from sports due to his poor grades and his constant expulsions. Washington was murdered five days from his 26th birthday on August 9, 1979. His murder still remains unsolved.
Crips and Blue
The name “Crips” was chosen after narrowing down to various names. It reflected the young age of majority of the gang members - a large majority of them were only 17 years old. The word “Crips” generated from the younger gang members acting like pimps – their cane and their walk caused people in their neighborhoods starting to calling them “cripples”. It was later cut short to “Crips”.
Crips usually have blue in their clothing, which also came to represent their gang. Williams recalled that one of the Crips leaders Buddha often wore a blue bandana. Since then, the color blue has been associated with Crips.
In 1971, Crips’ biggest rivalry formed. The Piru Street Boys from Compton, California, who had first associated themselves with the Crips, separated, forming the biggest, most infamous, rivalry in the United States history, the Bloods.
Bloods is a street gang, started in Los Angeles, California. Bloods originated from the Pirus Street Gang, which broke up during an internal gang war during the 1970s (5: “War and Peace in Watts”. LA Weekly. July 14, 2005. They joined other smaller gangs and became known as the Bloods, with the primary enemy as the Crips.
Bloods are often known as the MOBs (“Members of Bloods”). Bloods call themselves the CKs (“Crip Killers). Blood greet each other by saying the word “blood.” They try to avoid any word which starts with or even includes the letter ‘C.’
The “Associates” were not fully members of the gang yet. They mostly just took part in some or few of the criminal activities. Many times, women were associates because they would help carry the gang members’ guns or hold on to drugs. Women could even prostitute to make money for the gang.
Bloods’ general members were called the “Soldiers.” Soldiers usually consisted of young African-American males around the age of 16-22. In general, they were the more dangerous gang member, because they were looking for an opportunity to show their commitment. They were many times willing to do just about anything to get respect within the gang. By committing the dangerous acts, they would not only make their name within the gang, but also gained respect from the gang’s leaders.
Once a gang was fully joined, there was no turning back or switching.
“Big Homies” were the senior leaders of the Bloods. Leaders were chosen by age and criminal record. In general, the older the member and the more dangerous the criminal record meant the higher the rank.
By 1996, Bloods had thousands of members. During this period, Bloods were much more violent than any other gangs, but they were still not well-organized.
Bloods members usually identified themselves with color red. Everything from their jewelry, clothing, and tattoos had red. Sometimes, they even affiliated themselves with sports teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bulls, due to the color red.
At the time of their establishment in the 1970s, Crips outnumbered the Bloods almost three to one. The purpose for the Bloods was to compete against the Crips in Los Angeles streets.