When most people think of gangs in California the flash of red and blue come to mind. California is home to the two most well known street gangs of all time, The Bloods and the Crips.

So how does a State known for Celebrities, beaches and Million dollar homes associate itself with some of the most dangerous types of people?

Believe it or not but its because California has been to spot to move to for all types of different people.

Origins of Street Gangs

Street gangs in California have complex origins, intertwined with socio-economic factors, racial tensions, and the rise of urbanization. While pinpointing the exact beginning of street gangs in California is challenging, their emergence can be traced back to the early to mid-20th century.

Migration and Segregation

The Great Migration of African Americans from the Southern United States to the West Coast during the early 20th century brought about demographic shifts in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. Discriminatory housing policies and practices led to the formation of segregated neighborhoods, where marginalized communities faced economic hardship and social exclusion.

Post-War Era and Disenfranchisement

Following World War II, the economic landscape changed significantly. Many returning veterans faced difficulties in finding stable employment and housing. This, coupled with racial tensions and discrimination, contributed to the formation of street gangs as a means of protection and solidarity within marginalized communities.

Social and Cultural Influences

The emergence of street gangs in California was also influenced by popular culture, including movies, music, and literature. Gangster movies and urban novels often romanticized the idea of gang life, which might have influenced the perception of street gangs among marginalized youth.

The Growth of Street Gangs in the West

We can look back in history and pinpoint the turning point of street gangs in California.

The timeline for street gangs looks like this:

First period: 1890s–1920s

– Ganglike groups of Mexican descent appeared in the West region in the 1890s.
· The first Los Angeles Mexican American gangs likely formed in the 1920s.

Second period: 1940s–1950s

· Two events in the 1940s stimulated growth of Mexican American gangs in West: the Sleepy Lagoon murder and the zoot suit riots.
· Mexican immigration accelerated in the early 1950s.

Third period: 1950s–1980s

· By the 1950s, African American gangs in Los Angeles were beginning to assume a street gang presence.
· African American gangs were well established by the 1960s in low-income housing projects.
· Mexican American gangs steadily grew following the Vietnam War, the War on Poverty, and the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
· By the 1970s, street gangs had emerged in most populated areas across California.
· In the 1980s, the gang culture melded with crack cocaine dealing and consumption in the African American ghettos.

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