Once you’re familiar with the story (Part One & Part Two) of the Los Angeles based gang The Crips, it’s only right that we should elaborate on the history of their counterpoint and long standing rivals, The Bloods.
The Crips were originally set up as loose gang affiliations to protect themselves from attacks from rival gangs in South Central Los Angeles. The Crips were therefore the first gang set up in 1969. They were never one big happy family though and internal rivalries were not uncommon. One of the more serious altercations resulted in the Pirus gang breaking away from the Crips and allying with other street gangs also unaffiliated.
Thus the Bloods were formed, similar to the Crips it was a loose affiliation with no overall leadership but importantly with far fewer numbers than it’s rivals. This lower number of gang members led to an increasing prevalence towards violence towards members of rival gangs, particularly the Crips.
As with the Crips, the rise of crack cocaine provided the Bloods with an opportunity to use their street networks to distribute the drug. They also became involved in the manufacture of crack, allowing them to make significant amounts of money, leading to expansion into other cities. The Bloods quickly gained large quantities of members in other states and cities although, as with the Crips, this generally involved new members just using the name, rather than becoming fully fledged members.
As the Crips gang colour is blue, so the Bloods gang colour is red and sports clothing figures heavily in their ‘uniform’. Gang members are usually teenagers or in their early twenties and will very occasionally be women, although they will not perform any tasks such as drug mules or engage in prostitution. Although the Bloods do not have an overall leader, each affiliated gang will have a membership hierarchy and senior members earn their positions by earning respect through mostly violent acts and strong character.
Like the Crips, once you join the Bloods you are a member for life. Life expectancy is thought to be between 20 and 21 for members on the street and around 2 for those in prison.