Among the various types are personal musings, tagging, piecing or bombing, and gang graffiti. The most common type of graffiti is that of personal musings—thoughts written down quickly in public places, such as restrooms and phone booths. Sometimes humorous, this type of graffiti might be of a sexual context or might include memorable quotes.
Oftentimes, it concerns race relations. The National Gang Threat Assessment notes that both the South and the West have a high level of gang involvement in graffiti. Tagging is another type of graffiti. A tag is a signature, or moniker, that may incorporate the artist's physical features or symbolize his or her personality. Tags are usually found on exterior building walls in urban areas. They may also appear on mass transit systems buses and trains , freeway overpasses, and other areas for all to see and wonder how it got there.
Tagging first appeared on the East Coast in the late s and made its way to the West Coast by the s. Taggers feel a sense of power and fame as more and more surfaces contain their tags. Mural-type graffiti is known as piecing or bombing. The piece usually contains elaborate depictions or a montage of images. Oftentimes, slogans appear within the piece. Whereas tags can be done quickly, piecing may take up to several hours and require many cans of spray paint in many colors.
Gang graffiti employs all the aforementioned types. Gangs use graffiti for many purposes. In some instances, it may be a way of communicating messages to other gang members, functioning like a newsletter.
Tags or monikers may be used to show a gang's hierarchy. Pieces may memorialize a dead gang member or pay tribute to the crimes committed by gang members. Some pieces may enumerate rules in the gang's society, whereas others may advertise a gang's presence in the neighborhood.
Hand signs are a way of communicating concepts or ideas without using words. However, only those individuals who are familiar with the gesture's meaning are able to understand the message being conveyed.
The rise of gang hand signs began in the Los Angeles area during the s. Since that time, many gangs have developed hand signs for use between members of the group. For example, the Los Angeles Bloods use the sign B creating a circle with the thumb and index finger, with the other fingers raised to signify membership in the gang.
Crips use a sign that represents the letter C. Even though this is a good way for gang members to recognize other members or affiliates, it can be used against them as well. A gang might use gestures created by a rival gang in an act called false flagging. When this occurs, a gang member will flash a rival gang's hand sign as a way to infiltrate the opposing gang or to lure an unsuspecting adversary into a bad situation.
Most gangs recognize many universal hand signals. Gang hand signs may also appear prominently in gang graffiti. The idea of wearing different colors to identify opposing sides is not new. For example, during wartime opposing armies used different colors to symbolize their cause or protect their territory. Flags, uniforms, and the like were made in the color chosen to represent the nation or army at war. By donning the color of the army, soldiers were easily identified as being on one side or the other, and the enemy could be spotted easily.
During the American Revolution — , most of the British forces wore red uniforms; thus, they were called the Redcoats. To distinguish themselves from the British, the American colonists chose uniforms of blue. This is also true of gangs. Recognize the Signs notes that for many years they have used color to distinguish themselves from rival gangs, while protecting their territory. For example, the two largest gangs in the Los Angeles area are the Bloods and the Crips. The Bloods use red, and the Crips use blue.
Harold O. These colors are a way to symbolize the gang's unity, power, and pride. The National Gang Threat Assessment indicates that even though colors make it easier for other gangs to identify rival members, they also help law enforcement and school officials recognize gang members. Law enforcement officials have been able to crack down on gang-related criminal activities by rounding up juveniles and youths wearing gang colors.
In response to this new threat, many gangs have opted to forego their traditional colors and are developing new methods of identification. Wearing a hat tilted to the left may show membership in a gang whose rivals are those who wear their pant legs rolled up. Gang members also use hand signs to identify their affiliation to certain groups. People tend to organize themselves into groups of like-minded individuals to meet and participate in group-related activities.
Groups offer fellowship—a way to bond with others who share similar interests or goals. This is no different for youth. Scouting, athletics, or debate clubs offer ways for kids to meet new friends and participate in various group activities, such as camping, learning crafts, and so on. The group organizers recruit members by offering experiences that a boy or girl might not have unless he or she is a member of the group.
Even though their activities are often criminal and their recruitment tactics highly aggressive, gangs operate in a similar fashion.
Gang recruiters offer prospective members a chance to be a part of something—to gain a sense of belonging that might be lacking in their life.
Through the use of graffiti, the wearing of colors or tattoos, or intimidation tactics, the gang recruits new members to increase its power. In turn, some juveniles see this power in the schools or on the sides of buildings and may feel pressured into joining a gang. In some instances, gang members threaten the child or members of his or her family into joining, offering protection from bullies or rival gangs.
Others might be eager to join a gang, thinking it is cool and exciting to be part of a clique that engages in criminal activity.
In response to gang recruitment activities, some states and localities have changed their laws to make any kind of gang recruitment, even if it does not involve criminal behavior, illegal.
For example, in Illinois proposed to amend its criminal code by making street gang recruitment on school grounds or public property a felony, even if it did not involve the use or threat of physical force.
Gang recruitment of any kind is illegal in Virginia, and recruitment of minors is a felony in New York. As is common in some social clubs, many prospective gang inductees must undergo an initiation to show the members that they are worthy enough to be accepted into the group.
This may include stealing or damaging property, assaulting someone, or carrying and selling drugs. More radical forms of gang initiations may involve drive-by shootings or rape. Some have difficulty trying to leave a gang. In these cases the youth might be pressured to remain in the clique or might be hesitant to leave because his or her friends and family including parents are in the gang.
Studies show that in many cases, the modern adolescent may refuse to join a gang or leave it without fear of reprisal, even though gangs try to maintain the illusion that leaving is impossible.
Terence P. However, Egley, Howell, and Major find that gang membership appears to be getting older, which indicates that youth living in highly disadvantaged areas, where there is an absence of economic opportunity, may remain in gangs to later ages. Wyrick and James C. However, the more signs that a youth exhibits increases the likelihood that he or she is headed for gang involvement.
The following are some of the warning signs: Experiences a sudden drop in school grades Lacks interest in school and other activities that were once important Becomes truant skips school Acts more outwardly aggressive or outright defiant Develops a new circle of friends who seem more rough and tough Behaves more secretively and is less forthcoming Changes clothing style; begins wearing some colors exclusively or wears clothes in a unique way consistently such as rolling up pant legs Exhibits more antisocial tendencies and becomes withdrawn or uninterested in family activities Suddenly acquires costly material possessions CDs, DVDs, electronics equipment, etc.
An overwhelming majority of gang members are reported by law enforcement agencies to be male; this fact changed little over the NYGS survey years. Though the low estimates of females in gangs are typical findings from law enforcement data, these estimates are challenged by other data.
Other researchers who survey gang members themselves find higher proportions of female members. Though the numbers generally remain low, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency stated that female gang members are growing rapidly as a part of the national juvenile justice population. The FBI report also states that though female membership in male gangs continues to increase, the number of all female gangs remains low.
Some differences have been found to exist between female and male gang members. Females involved in gangs are believed to join and leave gangs at an earlier age and at a faster rate than males. Female gang members are also believed to be less involved in serious or violent crimes than male gang members. As a result, this lower rate of serious criminal behavior may not bring female gang members to the attention of law enforcement officials.
Gang members are not always juveniles; in fact, over time law enforcement agencies have reported that a larger percentage of gang members are adults. However, this proportion varies by the size of the community; in the largest cities adults make up a larger proportion of gang members, compared to the smallest population groups, where juveniles predominate.
Gangs have a particular appeal to some youth. Gangs sometimes serve as families for children whose own families may be dysfunctional. Gang members have said there is often little need to intimidate youngsters to recruit them because they know what youth need and are willing to provide it in return for the child's commitment. Gangs provide emotional support, shelter, and clothing—in essence, just what the child's family may not be providing. However, some children are intimidated into joining gangs either out of fear or for protection from other gangs.
Egley, Howell, and Major also comment on the age ranges of members of youth gangs by area type where gangs operated in Minorities are overrepresented among gang members because gangs arise and persist in economically disadvantaged and socially disorganized areas, and minority communities are overrepresented in these communities. The National Gang Threat Assessment also notes the connection between recent immigrant communities and gangs.
New immigrant communities are often isolated by language barriers and difficulties in finding employment. Gangs are attractive to many in Hispanic immigrant communities because they provide support and protection. By contrast, Asian communities are less likely than other communities to report criminal activity to law enforcement agencies.
As a result, gangs often victimize these communities. Several Hispanic gangs originated in California but have since spread throughout the nation. According to the National Gang Threat Assessment, in Sur 13 was present in 35 states across the nation. This group has connections to the Mexican mafia. The Hispanic gang 18th Street, which is open to individuals of any racial background, reportedly has spread across the country and recruits in elementary and middle schools. The Latin Kings is a powerful gang that has split into three factions; its membership is primarily Puerto Rican males, but it does include individuals of other ethnicities.
It is particularly active in New York, New Jersey , and Connecticut, where it engages in drug-related crime and bitter territorial wars with other gangs. Law enforcement officials report that they are seeing an increasing effort of some Hispanic gangs to align with one another to organize a criminal network. A gang subculture has also emerged on Native American reservations. These gangs are primarily composed of youth.
He celebrated his achievement by sipping white wine with former first lady Laura Bush at the White House. A few months later, he was back in jail. Gabriel joined F13 when he was 14 years old. He had a tough home life, he says, so he moved out and crashed with a gang member named Diablo since killed. When Gabriel was 16, a girl who was riding on the handlebars of his bike was shot and killed by rival gang members who were aiming for him.
He learned to sling sell drugs, steal cars and use a gun—"I used to love holding it," he recalls. When he was 21, he was sent away to prison for spraying the house of another gang member with bullets. He was released after only two years, but got two strikes for the incident; one more serious felony conviction and he would be sent to prison for life. Covered with tattoos when he emerged, he was unemployable.
Fearful of winding up back in prison permanently if he rejoined his gang, he wandered into Homeboy Industries, an organization in downtown L. A natural leader, Gabriel got a job there.
He became a better husband, had another child and moved away from the old neighborhood, Florence. But he wasn't free. From time to time, he'd get "G'd up"—crease his pants, iron his shirt and go looking for his old "homeys.
In , months after his White House visit, he was back in his old neighborhood, "chilling" with friends, some of whom, he says, were smoking "primos" crack in marijuana joints. The police arrived. They got me. I'm like, 'F———! I'm through'. But the one gang member there who was not on probation agreed or was convinced by the others to take the rap. As Gabriel rode in the police cruiser, he thought of his wife, Sandra, who begged him not to go back to his old friends.
You were right. I almost went to jail for life'," he says. A few months later, Gabriel was right back out there. He was arrested with his gang buddies and sent to jail for violating his parole and for public drinking. By now he had four kids. Sandra would pile them in the car and drive to the jail after work.
Gabriel and Sandra arranged a signal: he'd wave a piece of paper from his cell window and she'd flash the lights on the car. But he couldn't resist getting in his car and just driving, slowly circling East Los Angeles, which helped him fight his impulse to drive to Florence.
Gabriel, normally articulate, struggled to explain the strange draw: "Sometimes, when I'm arguing with my wife, I'll want to go … to my neighborhood, you know? And now it's like I'll block myself out—like, 'F———! Where are you going now? It's like I drive in circles, you know what I mean … Just stop my mind or just thinking about the s———, being in jail.
I don't want to go back to jail and s———. David Davila got out of "camp," as juvenile detention is known, six months ago. He has been working at Homeboy Industries and staying out of trouble, but he still lives in a crash pad in his neighborhood he doesn't know his father, his mother is in Colombia and he's estranged from his grandmother.
Inside there is a statue of the grim reaper, draped with a blue bandana and chains.
Citation Information. The huge growth in gangs and gang membership slowed in the late s. He would be nominated for the honor six times in total.
One who is emotionally mature and uses reason and logic to make decisions. In order to bring about a radical change and end the cycle of chaos, each individual must make a rational commitment to change.
On the wall are pictures of the priest from Homeboys whom he credits with saving his life, Father Gregory Boyle "Father G" to Gabriel, who named his 3-year-old son after Boyle ; a portrait of himself posing with Laura Bush at the White House; and a movie poster from "Scarface" quoting Al Pacino as dope dealer Tony Montana: "I want what's coming to me … the world … and everything in it. I'm like, 'F———! They sabotage their success. The reasons vary greatly among gang members, but there are a few basic motives. David Davila got out of "camp," as juvenile detention is known, six months ago. Founded more than 20 years ago, Homeboy Industries now helps at least 8, men and women from as many as gangs annually, but some go back to the street, and others turn to drugs.
As was generally the case, each gang would gather it's members together, meet in a deserted lot or park and physically fight to the end. During their early years of existence, Crips' main activities included extortion of funds from non-gang members, theft and assault.
Gangs sometimes serve as families for children whose own families may be dysfunctional. One who is emotionally mature and uses reason and logic to make decisions. The following are some of the warning signs: Experiences a sudden drop in school grades Lacks interest in school and other activities that were once important Becomes truant skips school Acts more outwardly aggressive or outright defiant Develops a new circle of friends who seem more rough and tough Behaves more secretively and is less forthcoming Changes clothing style; begins wearing some colors exclusively or wears clothes in a unique way consistently such as rolling up pant legs Exhibits more antisocial tendencies and becomes withdrawn or uninterested in family activities Suddenly acquires costly material possessions CDs, DVDs, electronics equipment, etc.
After that time, however, gangs spread to smaller areas. The Crips and the Bloods began nearly thirty years ago in a small section of Los Angeles, and today, there are over thirty-three states and one hundred twenty-three cities which are occupied by Crips and Bloods gang members.
When Gabriel was 16, a girl who was riding on the handlebars of his bike was shot and killed by rival gang members who were aiming for him. Tagging is another type of graffiti.