California, also known as Killa-Cali due to the amount of gangs and gang members. California is the wild west when it comes to gangs, it is the home and the birthplace of some of the most legendary street gangs. California birthed the 2 most notorious and violent street gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, but it is home to many more. In this article we will take a look at how California became the gang capital of the world.
Welcome to Cali
California is a state on the west coast of the United States. California is home to approximately 40 million people, to give you an understanding of how many people that is, that is more people than all of Canada the country north of the United States.
California has the largest economy in all the United States, and it is home to a lot of rich and famous people.
Due to its size, California is divided into two major divisions, which are Northern Cali, and Southern Cali. This alone gives some people a reason to fight.
The two areas are divided up even more into their respective regions, you have:
- Shasta Cascade
- North Coast
- Bay Area
- Central Valley
- Sierra Nevada
- Central Coast
- South Coast
- California Deserts
These regions set the borders and areas of California.
Most Dangerous Cities in California
California cities are known to be in the news for shootings and other acts of violence, mainly related to gangs. A lot of people think that Los Angeles is the most dangerous cities as it was the birthplace of street gangs, it is in fact some of the smaller cities that are more dangerous.
Here is a list of some of the most gang infested places in California
A look at Gangs in the Sunshine State
Gangs in California have become a serious problem for law enforcement, gang violence continues to rise. Crimes like drive by shootings, homicides, home invasions, and robberies have become a huge threat to the safety of the public. The California department of Justice estimates that there are 300,000 gang members in the state.
Los Angeles has been recognized as the epicenter of gang activity nationwide. There are as many as 1,350 street gangs.
Law enforcement defines gangs members as “any person who actively participates in any gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.”
Gangs that are making the majority of these crimes are: Hispanic Gangs, Black gangs(particularly bloods and crips), Asian Gangs, and white gangs, especially skinheads.
Hispanic gangs are the majority in California. Most Black gangs belong to either a Blood or Crip set. Asian gangs include: Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotion. White gangs are mostly involved in hate crimes.
Mexican Gangs in Cali
As we mentioned Mexican gangs are the majority gang in California. They have been established in California since the 1920.
Mexican street gangs were first formed by mexican youths as a way of banding together, as there was a lot of social prejudice and discrimination. These youth groups formed in the barrios(neighborhoods). The average age of the youth were around 14 to 20 years old.
At that time, the only crimes they were committing were burglary, robberies and petty vandalism.
Unlike the mexican street gangs of today, these gangs had no type of formal structure or real leadership.
The gangs would be very territorial and would protect their barrio at any cost. Gang fights would happen because of this, they would fight using knives, zip guns, chains, and other small projectiles.
The scene in the movie “Blood in, Blood out” is very accurate of a fight over the barrio.
By the 1980s gangs started becoming more organized, gangs started developing leaders and ranks for older gang members.
Black Gangs in Cali
Black gangs started forming in California in the 1920s, these gangs were more like clubs and social groups. At the time black youth were not allowed to join any youth groups whites were in. So this left a lot of black youth searching for social groups and yearning for a sense of belonging.
The earlier gangs of this time consisted of members that were family members or neighborhood friends.
It wasn’t until the late 1960s until the Crips and Bloods formed when things started getting really violent. The Crips were the first to form.
The Crips began recruiting other street gangs of the time to form sub sets of the Crips. Gangs that did not want to join the Crips automatically became rivals and tension began to grow as gangs that didnt join ended up getting out muscled and out numbererd.
Due to growing number of Crip sets, the other gangs decided to band together to form an alliance to fight the growing Crips. This became the gang we know as the Bloods. The Bloods were started in the area around Piru street, which is why some blood gangs go by Piru.
The Bloods were first founded in 1972, to provide protection against the growing Crip threat. This decision was made following the death of Robert Ballou Jr. Robert was beaten to death by 20 Crips for not giving up his leather jacket.
3 months after this incident, Fredrick “Lil Country” Garret was murdered by Westside Crips, Lil Country was part of the Brims. The Brims as well as other gangs would use this as the reason to form the Bloods.
By the 80s there were approximately 15,000 Crips and Bloods on the streets of Los Angeles.
Asian Gangs in Cali
Asian gangs are slowly becoming the most lethal and deadliest gangs in California. Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian gang members make up the majority of these street gangs.
Members formed Asian gangs to protect themselves from the growing threat of mexican and black gangs in their hoods.
They copied the same structure of other gangs, and created blood and crip sets strictly for asians, but there are asian gangs that are stand alone gangs and do not claim blood or crip.
Asian gangs started popping up in 1970 and have since grown to become very money driven. They are more interested in growing their criminal empire, though they do still fight with other gangs as well.
California Crime Rates
California has continually seen a rise in violent crime, based off a report in 2021 here are some crime rates.
- California’s violent crime rate increased by 6.0%
- Robberies fell by 1.9%
- Aggravated assaults have jumped to 8.9%
- Homicides increased by 7.7%
- Rape increased by 7.9%
Gun related incidents continue to rise as well and homicides and aggravated assaults. This can be directly correlated with the gangs in California, as gangs play a huge part in gun violence.
Gang Homicide Study
There was a study that looked into the gang homicide statistics. it revealed some interesting facts about California gang violence and gang related murders from 1970-1994.
- a third of victims are not associated to violent gangs
- Victims are on average only 21 years old
- Gang related deaths for black men, ages 15-19 has trippled in those years
- Gang related death for latino men, ages 15-19, increased by 30%
- 5% of gang deaths at the time of the study were related to narcotics trafficking, which has probably increased
- 95% of murders were done using a gun
- Semiautomatic usage has increased by 40%