A Gang Is Only as Strong as a Community
Allows it To Be
The more aware
your community is, the better prepared it is to deal with gang problems. The
National Concerned Officers CSI also known as National CSI frequently holds
workshops to discuss gangs and gang prevention strategies. These workshops,
slide presentations and discussions will assist you in learning how to recognize
gang behavior in your children, your community, your school, your business and
your agency as well as how to cope and how to fight back.
One simple step
you can take to fight gangs is to remove graffiti from your property as soon as
possible -- and as often as necessary. Graffiti is often the first indication
that gang activity is in your community. Once a community allows graffiti to
remain, it is seen as giving in to the gang. Your wall becomes their wall.
NOT a juvenile prank; it is a powerful message from the gangs that they
control your neighborhood. For a community to rid itself of gangs, the
community must remove the graffiti and report gang activities.
The best defense against gangs begins in
be aware of the identifiers gangs use and be observant that they do not appear
on the personal articles of their children. Book bags, posters and gang colors
are used to convey the gang message. Parents should be alert that their homes
are not being used by the gang to hide contraband. By directing their sons or
daughters into constructive activities and by knowing their friends, parents are
not only protecting their offspring but are also helping their neighborhoods
Following is a
list of items to assist you in recognizing street gang members that you may
encounter in your neighborhood. Please remember that if a person is wearing one
of the following identifiers it does not always mean that he or she is a gang
member. Parents should be on the lookout for multiple identifiers, or
patterns in the use of these identifiers.
gang members all the same?
basically four types of gang members:
Hardcore. These are considered the O.G.s or Original
Gangsters. They are in it for life and have often been in and out of the
correction system for various crimes. They have done and will do anything for
the gang (“hope-to-die-for” gang member). Hardcore members make up about 5-15%
of the total gang membership.
Member. These are people who have gone through the initiation
process and have become part of the gang. They have passed all of the gang
requirements and tests and have become true gangbangers/homeboys/homegirls.
Associate. These are the people who are closely associated with
a certain gang. They may wear gang colors and may imitate members of a
particular gang, but they are not yet official members. They are the prospects
or “wanna be’s” who are trying to get into a gang and will do anything to be
Peripheral. These are the people who hang out with or are
friends of gang members but do not claim any gang affiliation. They find the
idea of gang life romantic and exciting.
What are some of the more
most common gangs are the Crips
and the Bloods. Both are Los Angeles
street gangs that grew to prominence in the 1960s. California is considered by
the National CSI as the Motherland of all gangs. Initially, both gangs were
predominantly made up of black males, but now include both male and female
members of all races and social classes in every state of the nation. The Crips
and Bloods are rival gangs.
Also in the ‘60s, three street gangs emerged from Chicago (The Fatherland of all
gangs). These gangs can now be found in various parts of the country. They are
the Black Gangster Disciple Nation (BGDN), Black Gangsters (BG) or Black
Gangster Disciples (BGD), the Vice Lords or the Almighty Latin
King and Queen Nation (ALKQN).
from California have also migrated to the Eastcoast. They are generally divided
into two groups: the Surenos and the Nortenos.
An entirely different
category of gangs is the White Supremacists. These white gangs are not
motivated by greed. Their motivation comes from a strong belief system based on
hate and an ultra-right wing political ideology. They adhere to violence,
intimidation, vandalism and anything that will insure the survival of the white
race. They routinely terrorize people of color, Jews, Catholics, immigrants,
people who have married interracially and members of the gay community. Such
gangs include neo-Nazi groups, The Klan, World Church of the Creator and
skinheads. They believe that minorities are taking over the country and
therefore believe they are justified in ‘preserving’ their culture by preaching
and demonstrating violence against minorities.
The gangs most prominent in the New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and East
Coast region are Bloods and Crips (several sets of each), Vice Lords, Latin
Kings, Black Gangster Disciple Nation, Surenos and Nortenos, Eastern Hammer
Skinheads, Ku Klux Klan, All Mighty Latin Kings and Queens, Nortenos 14, ACS
Skinheads, Surenos 13, and local street gangs.
How does someone become a
member of the gang?
person must be “jumped into” a gang. Jumping in consists of having to fight
multiple gang members at the same time. Potential members demonstrate courage
and commitment by the manner in which they fight back. Prior to the actual
jumping in, the potential gang member may be put through other tests, such as
being asked to commit a specific crime – theft, beating someone up, etc.
How does someone get out of a gang?
It is often
very difficult to get out of a gang. Gang membership is looked upon as a “for
life” commitment, particularly in traditional gangs. It is sometimes possible
to be “jumped out” of a gang in the same manner that members are taken in to the
gang in the first place.
Who seems to be at
highest risk for joining a gang?
are marks of high risk for gang involvement:
Ineffective parental skills
History of family gang involvement
Evidence of parental abuse or neglect
Poor progress or achievement in school
Low self esteem
Truancy from school
Lack of hobbies or something to do with leisure time
Resentful of authority
Frequent negative contact with police
Perception of little caring/acceptance
Drawing of gang insignias or graffiti
Problems at home
Excessive or gang-style tattoos, burns or scars
Residence in a neighborhood where gangs exist
Alienation from school, teachers, peers, family, society
Gang members as friends – seldom alone, often in groups
Liberal or favorable attitude toward gangs and drugs
Friends with gangs or people who use drugs
Early aggressive behavior
some signs that someone may be involved in a gang?
Gang involvement does not
happen overnight. It is a gradual process and if you are alert you will see the
– May show subtle or obvious choice of color in clothing or accessories.
2. Graffiti – Unusual signs, symbols, alphabets or nicknames on
notebooks, papers, clothing, hands/arms, books, etc.
3. Tattoos – Symbols or names tattooed on arms, chest or elsewhere on
4. Language – Use of uncommon terms, words, names or phrases.
5. Hand signs – Unusual ways of signaling or greeting each other.
6. Initiations – Suspicious or otherwise unexplained bruises, wounds,
burns, or injuries may be a result of gang initiation ceremonies.
7. Behavior Change – Sudden mood or behavior changes, drop in grades,
secretiveness, change in friends, truancy.
8. Right/Left Rule – Apparel worn in a specific manner, either right or
left, to show gang affiliation. Examples: glove worn on one hand, pocket hanging
out on one side, pant leg cuffed or pulled up on one leg, bill of hat to one
9. Jewelry – Friendship beads in gang colors; pendants, rings and pins
that display gang symbols (like the Star of David); a lot of gold chains.
10. Clothing – Jogging suits in gang colors; pro-team clothing items and
hats; hood of sweatshirt out over jacket to show colors; hats tilted to one
direction; a particular brand of clothing or shoes.
11. Hairstyles/fingernails – Designs cut into hair; colored
beads/barrettes; colored streaks on side of head; pony tail/braids with colored
rubber bands; picks or combs in bead or hair (front or back/left or right.
Nails – 2 nails with gang colors on left or right hand, nail on pinky finger
12. Gang look – Posture, walk, stance; dress in colors/styles/symbols.
13. Milling – gathering/hanging out, especially where there is an
- Right ear, gangs
affiliated with the Disciples (Folks)
- Left ear, gangs affiliated
with the Vice Lords or Latin Kings (People)
- Tilted to the right,
affiliated with the Disciples (Folks)
- Tilted to the left,
affiliated with the Vice Lords or Latin Kings (People)
- One on right hand,
affiliated with the Disciples (Folks)
- One on left hand,
affiliated with Vice Lords or Latin Kings (People)
A number of
local street gangs have tried to adopt wearing the glove to indicate that they
are carrying a weapon but we found this to be a fad. The wearing of the glove
indicate gang association not weapons position. We have also found that some
organizations and government agencies are spreading rumors about gangs in order
to continue or receive gang grants.
Right / Left Rule
right-and-left rule applies to other items, including belt buckles, parts in
hair, hair coloring or streaking, combs or picks in hair, eyebrows cut on
one side, pant leg rolled up, bandannas hanging from one pocket, etc.
represents the Disciples (Folks)
represents the Vice Lords or Latin Kings (People)
- Six-point -- Folks
- Five-point -- People
- Straight ears -- Latin Kings
- One ear bent -- Disciples
- The color of the shoe vs. the color of the
- Two different colors of laces
- "Converse" shoes with the five-pointed
star shaded in
- Tongues -- one side up, the other down
- Laces -- halfway laced on one side
- Five- or six-pointed stars
- Rabbit heads
- Italian horns
- A variety of professional or homemade
tattoos on (or between) fingers, wrists, etc. Tattoos can be as simple as
dots or as complete as a king image.
- Painted with gang colors and/or symbols
- The latest fad in outerwear is also the
most prominent gang wear. Usually the colors of the starter jacket represent
the gang's colors
Do girls get involved in gangs?
At one time,
girls assumed subservient roles in gangs. Frequently, they were used to carry
weapons, drugs and other contraband because they were less likely to be searched
by the police. Often, gang members used them for sex. Females could not be
full-fledged gang members. Times have changed, however. Females not only have
their own gangs, but also often enjoy full membership in what were once
exclusively male gangs. Female gangs and/or gang members are often very violent
– frequently even more so than male gang members.
What is gang
graffiti and what should you do about it?
serves one of the following purposes:
1. Establishes the
presence of a gang or gangs.
2. Establishes turf or
3. Warns of impending
danger or threats (fights, etc.)
4. Puts down rival
gangs and/or issues a challenge.
With any kind
of graffiti, you should follow the four 'Rs':
Record (photograph or videotape) it.
Report it to law enforcement.
Remove it as soon as possible.
What do the
numbers sometimes found in gang graffiti mean?
Part of the
language of gangs includes the use of numbers as symbols or numbers that
correspond to letters of the alphabet. It provides a kind of shorthand or code
for gangs. For example, the numbers 1-26 correspond with the letters of the
alphabet. 15-11-2 would mean OKB (Oriental Killer Boys). 2-11 would mean BK
(Blood Killer), a sign of the Crips.
The number 5 always refers to the People Nation (i.e., the 5 pointed star
symbol). The number 6 always refers to the Folk Nation (i.e., the 6 pointed
area codes are used to identify gangs:
973– area code for North Jersey
732– area code for Central Jersey
202– area code for New York
Zip Codes are also used to identify local
communities and areas.
you may frequently see is 187 – the police code for murder. You may also see
the use of dots by Hispanic and Asian gangs. Frequently, these identifiers are
found in the web of the hand, on the back of the hand or between the fingers.
They are often in groups of three and may mean one of the following: Mi Vida
Loco (My crazy life) or family/friends/gang.
Are there any tips for parents to help their children avoid getting into gangs?
your children’s friends – and their parents.
Encourage your children and their friends to spend supervised time at your home.
Occupy your children’s free time in positive ways.
Develop positive lines of communication with your children.
Learn to listen.
Spend time with your children.
Set limits for your children.
Ask questions – and expect answers.
Become informed about issues that may affect your children.
Talk to other parents.
Become an active participant in the education of your children.
Participate in the community; teach your children civic pride and positive
Be a positive role model.
Be an active, not a passive, parent.
Hug your children.
Say “I love you”.
Organize or take part in neighborhood block parties.
Encourage your children to participate in family activities.
Encourage your children to become involved in sports, scouts, clubs, etc.
Establish and enforce home rules.
Spend quality time with your children.
Communicate openly with your children and their friends.
Communicate with parents of your children’s friends.
Know about who and what
influences your kids.
Know what your children are doing at all times.
Set the example for your kids–they will do what you do.
Believe in your young person.
No one thing along indicate gang involvement and/or
activity. How however two or more merit your attention.
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If you have any questions please feel
free to contact us at the below number. Also feel free to leave a detailed
(732) 922-4525 or
823 West Park Avenuem, Suite 161, Ocean, New Jersey 07712
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