How has the Crips Street Gang evolved since the 1960’s? Gone are the days when battles were over community control, when loyalty meant self- determination, not self destruction. In the 1980’s crack cocaine became a major source of income for many African – American gang members in Los Angeles. Gangs were faced with intra-conflict old codes of conducts versus laissez-faire attitudes of the younger gang members. Gang violence increased as many capitalized on this new market the distribution of crack cocaine. Neighborhoods in gang infested Los Angeles areas were not immune to the violence of gangs.
The Rolling 60’s were one of the first cliques or sets to take root in the Los Angeles area of South Central. Adopting their name from the numbered streets between Slauson and Florence avenues. In those days the Rolling 60’s could be vicious in the defense of their neighborhood. Respect, trust, unity, devotion, and defense of their neighborhoods were codes of conduct that each gang member obeyed. In the 1970’s Crip’s held a favorable reputation and position in the community. Some argued that Crip was an acronym for Community Revolution in Progress.
In the 1980’s crack cocaine hit the streets of Los Angeles for some it brought quick fortune but for many doom. Crack cocaine had become a major source of income for those who had been locked out of mainstream America. Heavily armed the Rolling 60’s were one of the most violent, active gangs in Los Angeles. The Rolling 60’s gang members no longer fought over neighborhood rule but, profit endeavors. Gang members had became both a slave to the business, doing whatever the drugs demanded them to do. Crack cocaine had erased those codes of respect, trust, unity, devotion, and defense of their neighborhoods.
Crip had begun to betray Crip for the profits from the distribution of crack cocaine. The protection and camadarire once shared between gang members had disappeared. Crack had become an equal –opportunity alternative, the employer of last resort in many of Los Angeles poorest neighborhoods. Gang members capitalized this market and sold crack as many car salesmen sale cars. Competition was fierce and violence was used at ones leisure even if it meant betrayal of a fellow gang member.
The neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles wore scares of the 1980’s crack era and the evolution of area gangs. The old rules did not exist where you did not shoot children or somebody’s mother, nor did you fire on cemetery, hospital or church. When fights were fought with muscle not with military weapons. Drive by shootings claimed the lives of many young and old. Children at play or home watching television were prey to the violence on the street gangs of Los Angeles. Those who escaped the drive-bys were sucked into a demise of addiction to crack cocaine. As California replaced Florida as the chief import for the Colombian cocaine cartels, drug distributions trigged violence; violence caused the destruction of families and claimed the lives of many. The community would not recover from the violent introduction of crack cocaine.
Los Angeles dubbed the City of Gangs has earned its reputation. Gangs which were organized as a form of community protection between black males evolved to criminal orientated profit making units. Old fashioned codes of ethic were replaced with the views of capitalism. The American dream seemed attainable to many by any means necessary. The author used Keith Cardell Thomas as an example of the old generation of Crips versus the new capitalist Crips. Thomas also known as Stone clung to the old fashioned ideas which controlled gang violence. Violence escalated after the introduction of crack cocaine. Many older members known as O.G.’s questioned the violence involved in the distribution of crack cocaine. They all witness the rocked monkey create a monster which rocked the fragile foundation of those urban areas. Where does the “tipping point” lie among gang members? Does the desire to rise above circumstance create violence and increase criminal activity for gang members? I would have to say yes, of course racism, deindustrialization and other social issues have helped to keep the under dog down. Stone though he lived by the old codes of banging would eventually pay with his life. Those beliefs caused him to believe in a generation of youth who planned his demise through murder and betrayal.