The Collective Eye offers this tutorial on how to understand gang graffiti symbols, handshakes and codes, using as an example the distinction between People versus Folks in the Chicago-area gang lexicon. Excerpted from The Heart Broken in Half, an anthropological documentary about a Chicago street gang, the Latin Kings.
In addition to advertising gang membership, tattoos provide other details about the bearer. For the incarcerated, images of chains and locks represent the loss of freedom; an hourglass or clock face without hands indicate doing time; a string of numbers may be an inmate's prison ID; one laughing face, one crying face means play now, pay later or my happy life, my sad life; a tombstone with numbers may indicate years of incarceration; the face of a female crying usually means someone on the outside is waiting for them. Caption information provided by POLICE gang expert Richard Valdemar.
FBI agents and Los Angeles police officers arrested at least eight of
those named in a racketeering indictment, officials said. Several
more of the 39 members and associates of the 18th Street Columbia Lil Cycos clique
were already in state and federal custody.
New York detective Ricky Smith has devoted his life to battling for control of the streets.
Professional and college teams' sportswear has become extremely popular with some gangs. Members wear sweatshirts or ballcaps to signify their gang. There are several reasons why gangs do this, and they're not all obvious.
Gangs exist everywhere in this country. Although we might like to think we are immune, no community should give in to this belief.
Looking back at this year, street gang behaviors have changed little. However, those of us who work the street must have noticed a few unique changes in the types of gang alliances, memberships and the crimes in which some street gangs have been involved.