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Raymond Washington, a 15 year-old student at Fremont High School, started what would later become known as the Crips in late 1969 or very early 1970. After much of the Black Panther power base was eliminated during the tumultuous 1960s, and as other social and political groups became ineffective agents for social change in Los Angeles, Washington, who was too young to participate in the Panther movement during the 1960s, but absorbed much of the rhetoric of community control of neighborhoods (Baker 1988, p. 28) fashioned his quasi-political organization after the Panther’s militant style by sporting the popular black leather jackets of the time and adding the walking canes for style. In addition to emulating the Panther appearance, Washington also admired an older gang that remained active throughout the 1960s called the Avenues, led by Craig and Robert Munson. He decided to name his new organization the Baby Avenues (aka Avenue Cribs) to represent a new generation of youths.
Washington got together a few other friends near his 76th Street home near Fremont High School. His initial intent was to continue the revolutionary ideology of the 1960s and to act as community leaders and to aggressively protect their local neighborhoods. The revolutionary vision did not endure and because of immaturity and a lack of leadership young Raymond Washington and his group never were able to apply their vision of neighborhood protection into a broader progressive strategy. They were immediately met with conflict by other neighborhoods, and from 1969 to 1972 neighborhoods began to clash that challenged the Crip identity, fighting to maintain their own identity.
Early members of Raymond Washington’s East Side crew included L.C. Butler, James “Lil James” Compton, Raymond Cook, Craig Craddock, Greg “Batman” Davis, Elvis Dexter, Mad Dog David, Howard “Vamp” Morrison, Bennie “Bull Dog” Simpson, Head, Worm, Ecky, No. 1 and Black Johnny. In 1970 in Compton, Raymond recruited Joseph “Salty” Leblanc, Mac Thomas and Sugar Bear and they became known as the Compton Crips. By 1971 Judson Bacot, Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Big Bob had a West Side crew that later became known as the West Side Crips. Other Westsiders included Donald “Sweetback” Archie, James “Cuz” Cunningham, Thomas Ellis, Melvin Hardy, Erskine “Mad Dog” Jones, Curtis “Buddha” Morrow, Ricardo “Bub” Sims, Monkey Man, Warlock and Angelo “Barefoot Pookie” White.
After several reprisals by the Walnuts, including being shot, Jimel Barnes in the Avalon Gardens on 88th Street & Avalon joined the Crips for protection and Michael Christian, before becoming a champion bodybuilder, led the Inglewood Crips in 1972. Many of these youth became the neighborhood “toughs” and by 1972 had violent clashes with several non-Crip neighborhoods in South LA.
In 1972 there were about eight Crip neighborhoods which grew to about 45 in 1978 according to LA County Probation Department statistics. By 1982, according the LA County Sheriff Deputy Mark Porior, there were 109 Crips in LA County and by the late 1990s, StreetGangs.com identified 199 individual Crip gangs active in LA County. Crip growth in Los Angeles has since stabilized and even declined in certain areas that are undergoing demographic change, but in other parts of California, the United States and abroad, troubled youth have started copy cat Crip gangs of their own.
The Crips are not one gang, but an identity that many gangs associate themselves with and “copy cat” Crip gangs in other cities may fashion themselves by regional cultural indicators that have nothing to do with Los Angeles. Some of the first Crip gangs in Los Angeles included the East Side Crips, Compton Crips, West Side Crips, Avalon Garden Crips, 43rd Street Crips, Harlem Crips, Hoover Crips, Inglewood Crips, and Grandee Crips.
Cities and places in Los Angeles County – Crip gangs