No matter where you heard it, Stanley "Tookie" Williams was not the co-founder of the Crip street gang in Los Angeles.
This is a story designed many years later by his media manipulators to give "Tookie" some status he did not deserve.
The time was the late 1960s and the place was just east of the 110 or Harbor Freeway that now divides Los Angeles into East and West sides. A small group of African-American 14- and 15-year-olds led by Raymond Washington became the nucleus of what would later become the notorious Crip street gang. They would later be called West Side Crips because at that time Central Avenue was properly the East-West dividing line in the City of Angels.
Young Raymond was a charismatic but troubled kid who was kicked out of one school after another. He had no grand revolutionary ideas or Black Panther-like organization. He and his friends were just kids hanging together for protection in the violent streets of South Central Los Angeles in the radical years following the Watts riots of 1965.
Washington had a friend and fellow gang member who walked with a limp. And his older brother Reggie had bad ankles and walked bow legged also. Raymond himself was said to have been injured during his early years and temporarily used a cane. The youthful friends often teased each other calling each other "cripple."
Reggie's Converse tennis shoes sometimes were adorned with the word "Crip" written by his brother.
Later, a crime victim of the Washington gang referred to one of the suspects when describing his assailants as a "Crip," short for cripple. As a result, by 1971 the Los Angeles Sentinel was reporting on these incidents using the name that had become common to the gang, "Crips."
These were the days of Hoodlum Priest coats and Stingy Brim hats and Trench Coats. The Crips stood out in their gangster khaki pants, with the suspenders hanging down from the waistbands. Stacy Adams shoes, brimmed hats, and a Crip walking cane were the accessories.
Early Crip Greg Davis set much of the style.
Earrings made an appearance in the Crip's left ear. The leather coat was in and then faded away. Later Golf caps, clubs, and umbrellas were in style. The canes, clubs, and umbrellas were used as weapons. Somewhere early on the blue bandanna became the Crips' flag and color.
Like wildfire the Crip gangs spread throughout South Central Los Angeles. By late 1972 South Central, Compton, Firestone, Florence, Willowbrook, Carson, and the Athens area of Lennox all had multiple Crip sets of their own.
Raymond Washington was a born leader, but he was not the organizer or even really responsible for this Crip proliferation.
He had set the style, and imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
Many of the leaders of these new Crip gangs knew each other at Washington, Fremont, or Locke High Schools.
But more often they were fellow inmates at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Youth Authority, and Fred Shaw or Bob Simmon's Home for Boys.
There was no central leader like the history revisionists write about. The Crips often fought against other Crips, and they continue to do so even today. There have been many attempts to unite the Crips under the "Consolidated Crip Organization" (CCO) and the "Blue Notes" but all have failed. It is this Crip vs. Crip vendetta that keeps them from overrunning their enemies in the smaller numbers of Blood and Piru gangs.
Strong young men with even stronger personalities on both sides of Central Avenue from 92nd Street to Gage Avenue became leaders of Crip sets like the following:
The Avalon Gardens Crips, Jimel Barnes
BMCD, Foster Grigsby
Grandee Crips, Mack Thomas
House Crips, Kenneth Jackson
Kitchen Crips, Hillis and Lee families
Mafia Crips, Steven Robinson
Main Street Crips, James Compton
Neighborhood Crips, Gregory Davis
In the late '70s Raymond Washington moved out of the Crip limelight and began hanging out with a motorcycle group. He claimed," Those youngsters are too crazy," referring to both Crips and Bloods. He was murdered on August 9, 1979. He missed the Crack Cocaine epidemic of the mid '80s and the notorious status of major Crip drug organizations like Wayne "Honcho" Day, "Freeway" Rick, and others.
Thank You to Retired LASD OSS Gang mentor Curtis Jackson, the source for much of this Crip history.