Gang Signal

Gang Signs

A gang signal is a visual or verbal way gang members identify their affiliation. This can take many forms including slogans, tattoos or hand signs. Many of these, especially slogans and hand signs, have become part of popular culture. ‘Throwing up’ a gang sign (e.g., ‘Stacking,’ ‘walk’) with the hands is one of the most known and obvious forms of ‘claiming.’

It is used in many situations where other identifiers may not be possible or appropriate, and it can also show that a gang member is in the area to ‘do business’ as opposed to just passing through. Usually these signs are made by formation of the fingers on one or both hands to make some sort of symbol or letter. It can also serve to relay more specific information, such as what set they represent within a larger gang or in which activities they are currently taking part.

Individual letters can be used to tell stories when flashed in rapid succession, each representing a word beginning with that letter. These signs, because they are displayed only when wanted (as opposed to tattoos), are usually the most consistent across various areas. Many of these hand signals are quite close to other common hand signs, and this can cause confusion among gang members, non-gang members, and anti-gang authorities. ‘Stacking’ is also known as a ‘Page.’ Another identifier that can be displayed only when desired is a gang handshake, which usually includes some component of the gang hand signs and/or other hand and finger symbols.

Tattoos have long been associated with gang membership, and connote the toughness desired by gang members as well as the permanence of gang affiliation. The designs used are frequently symbolic and represent particular deeds, such as murder. Burn-marks may also be a way of recognition to a gang or a gang member. The gang symbols used in tattoos and graffiti are fairly involved and refer to the mythology and meaning that each gang may invent. For example, the Star of David represents the Folk Nation (an alliance of street gangs, based in the Chicago area) once led by a man known as King David. The six point star is also sometimes used by Crips. In addition, each point of the star represents a ‘value’ of the ‘nation.’ Sureno (groups of loosely affiliated gangs that pay tribute to La Eme, Mexican Mafia) use the numbers 13 and 3 to refer to themselves, referencing the fact that ‘M’ is the 13th letter of the English alphabet.

Graffiti has also long been seen as a gang-related activity, and its use is closely connected to the fact that many gangs have particular areas that they always try to control. As above, the graffiti is often highly symbolic and may contain more information about the gang’s activities, values, and their current opponents. Most often, gangs spray graffiti to mark territory or send a threat to a rival gang. When at war with another gang, they may visit locations the rival gang has already made their mark upon, crossing out the names of enemies they have killed, or simply covering up the rival. This is also known as a ‘cross out.’

One Comment to “Gang Signal”

  1. Of course WE have cnetributod to the formation of gangs. Guys with low self-esteem but quick witted and with some smarts that haven’t been honed so he feels secure in himself will go and seek out other guys in his same situation and reign havoc and mayhem on the society they see have neglected them and thrown them aside. Crazy you say but it is a part of the many and varied reasons gangs form. We have turned a blind eye to domestic, physical and financial abuse; we’ve pretended that its a pretty situation when you can’t feed em you shouldn’t breed em by having baby showers and pretending that having children out of wedlock is NOT a sin; we don’t lobby for laws to deal with sperm-donors; we drive past kids walking to/from school who are from the lower rungs of society; we forgot to teach them to say grace for their meals; we forgot that what made us unique and kept us special was:- IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD. We forgot that each child; whether biological or not is OURS; just look at the havoc OUR younger residents caused two weeks ago!! Wouldn’t it have been better for Gov’t and private sector to have given those that needed/wanted vocational and technical training the assistance they needed rather than have the devil occupy their minds and time? YES we have failed. We as a nation has failed the test and I give an F as a grade!! BUT we can go back to the drawing board and re-do some of the ways we have been doing business with our future investments and just may save most of the next generation. God help us as we work together to make amends for the ills we have created and may He continue to bless the Cayman Islands

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