Hendon Publishing - Article Archive Details

Print Article Rate Comment Reprint Information

Gangs: Slang, Words, Symbols

Written by Darin Dowe

Criminal street gangs in America have been in existence for centuries. The initial reason for their formation was to strengthen ethnic and racial solidarity. These gangs (e.g., African-American, Irish, Italian, Hispanic/ Latino) formed in the neighborhoods they identified with and defended. They were territorial, causing tension with other neighborhood gangs.

The Crips and Bloods started as street fighters defending their neighborhoods, only to become more dominant, organized, defined and identifiable in the late 1960s. They evolved into notorious, ultra-violent and criminally successful street gangs, posing a major threat to Los Angeles.

The hundreds of Chicago street gangs and their members, both those incarcerated and on the street, established and aligned themselves with the People and Folk Nations. These four gang nations/affiliations have a presence in the U.S., from the East Coast to the West Coast, and abroad. Several have entrenched themselves with Mexican drug organizations (MDOs), establishing transnational drug distribution networks. All currently pose a threat to public safety throughout the U.S.

Localized criminal street gangs that are directly linked with or emulate established criminal street gangs/gang nations more specifically identify themselves by their “set” names. These names are usually unique, sometimes including the name of the geographic area, neighborhood, street or “turf” in which they live and operate, fror example, the Grape Street Crips (Los Angeles). Each “set” has a varying level of criminal influence in its area of operation.

The Crips, Bloods, People and Folk Nations have many commonly identifiable signs, symbols, clothing items or styles of dress, colors, alphabets and traditions. In addition to the aforementioned street gangs, the 1990s saw the emergence of hybrid and independent street gangs.

No matter how complex some criminal street gangs are, each can be identified and documented. The burden is on the local jurisdiction to have the ability to identify, understand and document gang activity. This documentation must be able to be presented and defended during a criminal proceeding. There is so much gang terminology and symbolism that no one book could centralize and define it all.

Gang Slang/Terms

The following is an abbreviated list of common terms and slang used by street gang members. Terms, slang and graffiti will vary from set to set, from nation to nation, and geographically.

Folk/People Nations
•All is One: Folk Nation gang member greeting another Folk member. •All is Well: People Nation gang member greeting another People member.
•Vicky Lous: Derogatory term to identify the Vice Lords.
•Five in the sky, six must die: People (nation) in heaven, Folks must die.
•Six is high, five must die: Folks have the power and will kill the People.
ADR/Amor de Rey: Love of the King (Almighty Latin King Nation) and a greeting from one Latin King to another.
Donuts: Derogatory term used to identify the Black Gangster Disciples.

•Cuz: Crip gang member greeting or referring to another Crip.
•Scuzz/Crab: Derogatory terms used to identify Crips.
•Slobs: Derogatory term used to identify the Bloods.
•ADDIDAS: All day I diss all slobs.
•What it B like: Blood gang member greeting another Blood.
•What it C like: Crip gang member greeting another Crip.
•Damu: Term for Blood in Swahili.
•Piru (Blood): Name of the street in Compton, Calif., where the Bloods were formed.

General terms
•Gat: A gun.
•Deuce Deuce: A 22 caliber pistol.
•Strapped: Carrying a gun.
•Turf/Kingdom: Gang’s claimed area.
•Slippin: Gang member letting his guard down.
• Put ‘em in check: Discipline or correct a member of the gang.
•Violation: Punishment for a gang member who breaks the rules.
•S.O.S.: Shoot on sight.
•B.O.S.: Beat on sight.
•T.O.S.: Terminate on sight.
•Mad Juice: Respect for.
•Flag/Rag/Heart: Specifically colored bandana used by a gang member to identify with his gang.

•Beat in: A prospect’s initiation into the gang by fighting established members.
•Sex in: A female prospect’s initiation into the gang by having sex with its member(s)/leadership.
•Cheddar/Snaps: Money.
•Chop it up: Talk.
•Area codes: Members use area codes to identify their geographic areas, i.e., Miami (305)/Los Angeles (213), etc.
•187: California penal code for murder.
•OG: Original gangster.
•BG/Pee Wee: Baby gangster.
•Banging: Gang fight/shooting.
•MOB.: Money over bitches.

Graffiti/Tattoo Identification

The key to identifying criminal street gangs, its members and its associates is to have a solid knowledge and foundation of what traditional gangs have left as a legacy—symbols, hand signs, alphabets, terminology and beliefs. Although you may have a solid foundation, always keep an open mind. Newly forming gang sets may misinterpret or modify established symbolism, or create their own. This can delay identification and make it harder to document pursuant to your agency’s policy or state statute.

When reading graffiti and tattoos, start by reading from left to right and top to bottom. You should also view from different perspectives. Some graffiti and tattoos are cluttered, making symbols and letters hard to identify. Determine if the gang whose graffiti you are observing and the gang member you are interviewing are active in your area. The member you are interviewing may not be from your jurisdiction but rather there to do business.

The graffiti you are observing may be a challenge to one of your identified gangs. Neither piece of intelligence can be written off if it is not from one of “your” identified gangs. Interviews and graffiti identification are major factors in developing the most up-to-date intelligence. Without this knowledge, the presence of an active criminal street gang can be overlooked.


The Crips have several symbols and hand signs with which they identify themselves. Some Crip sets will use six-point stars, six- and three-point crowns and the number 6. Some gang sets and/or members will place a distinctive dot on each point of the graffiti or tattooed pitchfork, which stands for Mi Vida Loca (“My Crazy Life”). Back-to-back letter C’s have also been documented as being unique to some sets. This could be perceived by some to be inaccurate and a sign of disrespect.

Crip gangs’ style of dress favors the right-hand side. Members and associates will roll their right pant leg up, wear their hat turned/tilted to the right, and “flag” (throw their gang signs) to the right. Their primary hand sign is the Crip “C,” and their primary color is blue. However, there are deviations, such as the Grape Street Crips in Los Angeles who use purple.


The Bloods also have several primary symbols and hand signs with which they identify themselves. Some Blood sets will use the five-point crown, the five-point star and the number 5. The Bloods’ primary color is red, which is relatively consistent. Use of the term “Piru” is synonymous with Blood. Less commonly, the Bloods use the crescent moon, which represents the splitting of the Black Nation into the East and the West.

Blood gangs emphasize the left-hand side in their style of dress. Members and associates will roll their left pant leg up, wear their hat turned/tilted to the left and “flag” to the left. Their primary hand signs are the “b” for Blood and the word “blood.”


The Folk Nation (All is One) has several primary symbols and hand signs that it uses to identify itself. The most recognizable is the three-pronged pitchfork, which is the Nation’s power symbol. Some gangs will place the initials of their set on top of each point. The six-point star, also referred to as the Star of David, corresponds to the Nation’s six primary beliefs: Life, Love, Loyalty, Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding (L, L, L, K, W, U).

The six-point crown and anything pertaining to the number 6 also correspond to these beliefs. The sword symbolizes life and death within the Nation and its struggle to survive. The devil’s horns, usually seen on the top of the Folk heart, symbolize the Nation’s determination to overcome all obstacles. The heart symbolizes love of the Nation.

Folk Nation gangs emphasize their style of dress to the right. Members and associates will roll their right pant leg up, wear their hat turned/tilted to the right and “flag” to the right. Colors vary from set to set. Their primary hand signs are the pitchfork and six-point star.


The People Nation (All is Well) has several primary symbols and hand signs with which it identifies itself. The most notable are the five-point crown, which corresponds to each of the Nation’s five primary beliefs—Love, Loyalty, Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge—and the five-point star.

The People Nation uses several other symbols. The pyramid and its three corners represent physical, mental and spiritual knowledge. The pyramid has 21 bricks, which is highly symbolic to the People. The eye seen in their graffiti is the eye of Allah watching over them. The hat represents shelter, the cane represents the staff of strength and gloves represent purity.

People Nation gangs will emphasize everything to the left. Members and associates will roll their left pant leg up, wear their hat turned/tilted to the left and “flag” to the left. Their colors vary from set to set.

The most notorious People Nation gang is the “Latin Kings.” This gang will use the five-point crown and the common People hand sign. It is identified by the acronyms ALKQN (“Almighty Latin King Queen Nation”), ALKN (“Almighty Latin King Nation”) and ALCN (“Almighty Latin Charter Nation,” Connecticut). Latin King members have king names by which they are identified (e.g., King Loco). The primary colors are black and gold.

Simple Codes

Many Crip and Blood sets use less complex/symbolic graffiti and tattoos than the Folk and People Nations, which is easier to identify in some cases. They will also deviate from the standardized, symbolic manner of dress to which most Folk and People Nation gangs adhere.

A simple code used by criminal street gangs is the substitution of specific numbers which correspond to particular letters of the alphabet (e.g., 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, etc.). An example would be the Insane Gangster Disciples who use 974 (I=9, G=7, D=4). There are also more complex codes and alphabets that are used to conceal messages.

Many gangs, gang members and associates will have “bibles” or documents with the gang’s rules, codes, alphabet and symbols. These documents could be the formal or informal rule book, or simply a gang member’s notebook or school book with gang symbols drawn on it. In either case, it can be documentation of gang activity, membership or association.

Symbol Inversion

Street gangs routinely use graffiti to challenge and disrespect rival gang sets and nations. Gangs will post their symbol but invert, break and/or cross out the rival gang’s or nation’s symbol. They will post derogatory gang terms like Crabs, Slobs, etc. They will usually do this in a conspicuous place so the challenge is clear and they attain notoriety in that neighborhood. It is important to identify new graffiti and remove it. A new challenge is usually indicative of an imminent problem, one that should be anticipated and addressed.

The key to identifying criminal street gangs is having an open mind. Graffiti/symbol recognition and translation, field interviews, intelligence gathering and exchange, and training are a foundation. Gangs have continuously evolved and expanded since law enforcement realized they weren’t just street fighters, but a significant criminal threat to public safety.

Lt. Darin D. Dowe is a 24-year veteran of a large southeast Florida sheriff’s office. He is a veteran investigator with a background in street gangs, narcotics, homeland security and patrol. He served on the board of directors for the Florida Gang Investigators Association as the southeast vice president. He can be reached via e-mail at dddswat@aol.com.

Published in Law and Order, Mar 2011

Rating : 9.9


Comment on This Article

Wasted Lives

By Copper

To the so-called gangsta's here,

How about getting an education ? Never thought of that, did you? At least then you could spell words correctly, and maybe just maybe.....get a job!

Submitted Feb 19 at 7:28 PM


By Prince^6

Almost everything ive read here so far is wrong. I don't share my knowledge with any of you fuck niggas cause I walk in silence. Every one of yall are violating. But just to be clear to LOWKWEY A SAVAGE, Follk is not crip. Folk is far from crip.
G's and c's share no relation anymore. You all need to get to yalls superior and and learn your shit.

Submitted Feb 17 at 11:20 AM


By Trigaveli

do wut you gotta do..but all my niggas need to band together on some real shit this globe could be ours we got the numbers and power of the masons and the gov we gotta do the right shit with it nobody gone care bout us but us real shit. plus some of these sets are gov agents how hard is is to scream blood and bust a crip or vice versa and set some shit off when there was never a real issue just niggas trying to make it .they setting us up niggas. and sites like this help feds track bangas

Submitted Feb 13 at 12:28 PM

Northside B boyz

By cKrab Killa

This is fuked up bloods flag on da right dumb ass faggots. We aint even shootin up cKrabs n mo we lightin up ms-13 now. Get ya shit right. Deuce Klik we ain't fuckin round. My boyz got choppas in da trunk erywhere we ride. Quit talkin shit about us whities we get jumped in and do tha same shit as my black homies. Blood in blood out. We gotta unite. Bloods n Latin Kings should join up wit da cKrips and fuck up ms-13. We gon win. 5's in the sky till I die. Shout out to my nigga Brotha Lynch on 24th garden blocc even tho you cKrips you still good wit me. Soo woo. 5 KB out nigs 5

Submitted Feb 10 at 8:35 PM



5uwxxxxxx 5hxut5 xut tx my Bl94d nigga5 my 187 Piru nigga5 5uwxxxxxxx cKraB killa all dayy

Submitted Feb 8 at 3:10 PM

Bloods crips gd

By Mafuckaitsme

aight y'all i kno we ain't like each other but we need to unite, bloods and crips and folk nation. Think bout how much we can accomplish if we come together. Hell, we could make our own country wit no punk 5o on our ass all day juss our laws

Submitted Feb 8 at 1:36 PM


By 4's UP

Hat Cock to the LEFT With the 4'S Ina Air Put the Pole Ina Air watch his SOUL dissapear GANG Shit Shout out To the GD'S & Them MOE'S

Submitted Feb 8 at 9:44 AM


By Dwayne Cross

fuCC who ever woowoo is suPKPKosed to C,fuCC BKloods,PKirus,BKrims,viCCy lous,Conservative viCCy lous,almighty PK stones.6k5 PKunCh a sloBK in the liPK and watCh his dread/dead Color driPK.man I will kiCC any sloBK ass that's on my 6 PKoint Crown 0-39.

Submitted Feb 6 at 2:54 PM


By 118 ECC BkigBabky

118 ecc flowerk slobk

Submitted Feb 3 at 2:40 AM


By radish

Just heard about some bust from a bud of mine in the police. Some low laying gang is now being targeted after 3 officers were shot. Non of them died but aparently they are spread between phili baltimore and wilmington. No expert but sounds like some action will happen. But i keep hearing stuff from my bud. Hes a sarge in the city police dept in balt. He told me to stay away from anything with thier tag. They aparently are getting big.

Submitted Jan 30 at 7:49 PM


By radish

Just heard about some bust from a bud of mine in the police. Some low laying gang is now being targeted after 3 officers were shot. Non of them died but aparently they are spread between phili baltimore and wilmington. No expert but sounds like some action will happen. But i keep hearing stuff from my bud. Hes a sarge in the city police dept in balt. He told me to stay away from anything with thier tag. They aparently are getting big.

Submitted Jan 30 at 7:49 PM

Dis ain't al

By Mastesarith

Dis som bul there's mor gangs Dan dis I hope dis dum ass knos dis feel me nigga

Submitted Jan 30 at 11:57 AM

All about that Folk cuzz Life 6 da fullest.

By Leader Crip Leader ;

I don't see no C®!p Love on this Biztch all I see is Fuzz love Ted stankin disgust blood lov niccas check yo self get it right 6point do y'all wankstasssssss wanna fuck red wearing hoes cause all hoes wear Red All Y'all Bitches can choke and Slob and swallow on a Big Dick Its Cuz Folk True Blue Crop every way Baby none the Less Crazy we love no slob damu piru nigga or suwu you retarded zounding Nigas Swahili that ya stsnkin bitches imean bloods From The Crip Leader Nation.

Submitted Jan 24 at 10:19 AM


By cKrabKilla

WooWoo nigga 5poppin6droppin

let it flood let it drip
let a Piru kill a CKrip
let it rain let it flood
kill a CKrabb kuz i CKlaim BLOOD
Let it rain let it thunder
bury a CKrabb 5ix feet under

Submitted Jan 19 at 12:03 AM




Submitted Jan 15 at 11:22 PM


By Az

Niggas we need to stop fighting each other and convert to Islam and then kill all Whites

Submitted Jan 6 at 6:43 PM

yall all fugged up

By Killjoy

Hot ass millers writing some fugged up shit. Nigga dont you gnow anything. Fugg it. 5ff young bloodz. Geep it poppin a 10O

Submitted Jan 6 at 1:29 AM

soowoo bx elm st blood

By soowoo to the behive

This its some lame ass mistake boy bloods keep yall head above the water homies keep it 1hunna 5's dnt blow the spot keep it low

Submitted Jan 2 at 10:41 PM

Get yo ahit straight cuhz

By K-S-W-I-S-S

Crips wear they flags to the left much diss do them slobs call me a cr** wassup then lobsta FUCC all slob 520 tuscon crips

Submitted Dec 28 at 11:48 PM

Real crip fucking tired of this shit and u giving a bad name for us

By Real crip real problems real drugs

Lol this shit retarded everybody no we working together to stop ms13 now bloods and crips we ant fightin as much anymore it's all about stoping ms 13 yet u ant got no derogatory name for them in this article u shit

Submitted Dec 19 at 12:44 AM


By That Christ Child

All gang members go to hell. Quit the gang are you will perish in hell. If you believe otherwise you are wrong, satan is a liar.

Submitted Dec 16 at 3:20 AM

dumb ass crackers want to b us. n dumb ass wanna b gang bangers make black people look bad all over

By yall need jesus!!!

U can tell it was dumb ass crackers who wrote this dumb shit. Because niggas already know what this shit means. Only these dumb ass crackers is still tryna catch the boat. N on the real gang members r pussies. Y'all niggas act hard til that lead gets pointed to ya head. N after ya dumb ass is dead n cant c ur peeps anymore than u regret the dumb mistakes u made in ur dumb ass lives. Stay in school yall wanna b gangs make all black people look bad. Stupid asses

Submitted Dec 15 at 4:23 PM


By rollin20$G

Crips till I die ima stay true to my start and my religion

Submitted Dec 10 at 2:38 AM


By R60llin Sixties

Itsa FuCCin Crip world or no world C.I.pk Swantoe and That lil NiCCa Kriss From da WestkCoast he

Submitted Dec 4 at 5:24 PM



Folk is crip becouse folk is under a 6 Blood is 5 idk about people nation tho I'm bounty hunna I'm bangin to DA right.

Submitted Nov 28 at 2:50 PM

this shit is fucking stupid

By your all fucking dumb

This is the most stupidest shit I ever read all of you will get nowhere in life have any of this knowlegde I'm actually very sad to see how many of you know this sorry ass. This is a waste of my time I'm out fuck all of you stupid street knowledge fucks drop that shit and reach higher if not then fuck you

Submitted Nov 18 at 11:20 PM

dumbk as fucc

By bk

This shit aint truu. yall got all type o shit fuccd up.
we flag on the left nigga now u finna hav some fake ass pussies tryna flag some fake shit on the right
obkvi yall dont kno shit
slippin asses

Submitted Oct 30 at 9:08 PM

slang and gangs

By Anonymous

I was related to a gang member. I recall some of the slang words I heard. Green light means murder. Doing Dirt means commiting crimes. Taking the heat off means trying to not look suspicious. I heard pee wee was a term used for a small pistol gun. Cheddar was someone that was a sissy.

Submitted Oct 27 at 5:08 PM

Folks, people, Crips, blood,...

By DeJuan Gambino

Bloods are on the right. Crips LEFT. Snoop said, "I keep a BLUE flag hangin' out my backside but, only on the LEFT side. Yeah, that's the CRIP side". FOLKS are on the RIGHT. Hooks, I mean, people, are on the left.

Submitted Oct 27 at 7:02 AM

Bad Info

By DamuTk.

Not all Bloods flag to the left,when we do it means something,we flag to the right.

Submitted Oct 16 at 7:41 AM


By Diesel

Who ever wrote this was talkin to some fakes or is ignorant as hell. This info is wrong C's don't bang on the right side. That info ain't even secret its right in ya face an in songs too. Also Mi Vida loca ain't a crop thing. What u doin fool??

Submitted Oct 11 at 6:01 PM

wrong info

By citizen

A lot.of info is inaccurate

Submitted Sep 21 at 2:28 PM

Related Products


Article Images

Click to enlarge images.

Events and Tradeshows: LAOPFMTRPSIT
Close ...