The Crips is the name of a major gang that started out in Los Angeles but has spread across the United States. But to better understand the gang, it helps to understand its background and roots.
Throughout the 1920's and 1930's in Los Angles, African Americans started forming street gangs on the EastSide. The largest gangs were the Goodlows, Magnificents, and the Blodgettes. In the 1940's these gangs began to spend time in Central Ave area and East Los Angeles. These gangs formed clubs that were for protection against white residents. In the 50's and 60's these clubs would become more acitve throughout the Civil Rights Era. The Watts Rebellion came out of the this time period. In the 60's and 70's these clubs came under direct fire by the FBI and LAPD. There were some added problems during this period, including some murders and other acts of crime. Teenagers during this time were considered too young to become involved in groups such as the Black Panthers, so they turned to forming their own gangs.
It was after the murder of several blacks by the LAPD Criminal Conspiracy Section, a young 15 year old boy, Raymond Washington, started his own group. He and his friends hung out around his school, Washington High School, and called the gang, the Baby Avenues. (There was an older gang, the Avenues which has been around since the early sixties.) The name changed to Avenues Crib, as it's slang for baby, and then crib changed to crip, making the gang the Avenue Crips. It should be noted that various original members have given different explanations for the name's origin.
Washington organized several other "crips" throughout Los Angles. By 1971, there were the Avalon Garden Crips, Inglewood Crips, and Compton Crips. Several of the youngsters in charge were Washington, Stanley Williams and Jimel Barnes. The sign of the Crips was a blue bandana either worn about the neck or tied about the leg or head.
The Crips were well-organized and very aggressive in expanding terriotory. It was as a result of this expansion that the bloods were formed. By the end of the 80's the Crips were heavily into the drug trade and were selling a new product called 'crack'. The Crips continued to develop a great network of spies and other gangs throughout the country. Also in the 80's, there was a development of the Crips in Belize. These members would later migrate to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and other points throughout the country.
There is a complex initiation process in getting involved in the Crips. A male member must commit a crime in front of several other members. Female members have a choice, either they commit a crime or become Sexed-In (sex with several older members).
A great resource for this is www.gripe4rkids.org and also www.streetgangs.com. The official website is www.crips.com (though it looks like either its been hacked or points to a weird website I can't quite figure out)