Fashion trends come and go; what is considered a fad one day may be seen as the norm months later. The same is often true with gangster fashions. At one time baggy, saggy pants were a good indicator of gang association. Today, while still widely worn by gangsters, baggy pants can be seen on youths who have no gang ties. However, perception is everything. A youth who dresses in this fashion may be--mistakenly--identified by gang members as a possible rival, thus putting himself in danger.
The traditional big-shirt-and-baggy-pants look started decades ago when Hispanic gang members would wear the oversized and baggy pants more for economic necessity than style. With limited income, they invested in larger-sized clothing so that they would not grow out of them. Wool Pendleton shirts also served a dual role. In the winter they were buttoned up to the top and served as a coat. In the summer only the top button was buttoned and was worn over a T-shirt or a tank top.
In general, clothing items that have been altered with ink letters or symbols, or with additional embroidery may indicate gang involvement. Alterations that include a gang name, cross-outs of certain letters, "187," "BK," or "CK" are definitely suspect.
Bandannas of all colors can be gang-related. Gang members who align with Crip sets will wear blue. Those aligning with Blood sets will wear red. Bandannas black or brown in color are indicative of Hispanic gangs, while some unaligned gangs may wear green. Asian gang members often wear white bandannas and purple bandannas are worn by members of some Folks gangs.
Traditionally bandannas are worn hanging from a pocket or tied around the head. Some gangsters are more cautious about wearing these obvious identifiers, especially around police officers or in the schools. Wearing a bandanna invites close scrutiny from authorities and most schools have dress codes prohibiting the wearing of bandannas.
Likewise, baseball hats are also often banned in schools and even in some recreation centers. Hats that have been altered are suspect. A hat that has all the Bs or Cs crossed-out or that has lettering added, especially to the underside of the brim, very often is gang-related.
Gang members sometimes wear professional or college sports clothing items. Examples would be Blood sets wearing Chicago Bulls clothing; Crip sets with Norte Dame or Denver Broncos clothing; QVO or Brown Pride members in Cleveland Browns clothing; or Folks gangsters wearing Colorado Rockies gear. However, always keep in mind that some youths are genuine fans of the teams whose clothing they wear. This clothing by itself does not indicate gang association.
Wearing the military style, web belts is catching on in this area. These belts consist of a web material that is available in a variety of colors and a metal belt buckle. The buckle has a letter cut into it, and often more than one buckle is threaded onto the belt. Gang youths may have "CK" for Crip Killer on their belt or "TOP" for Tiny Oriental Posse or "A" for Avenues or "D" for Diamond Street or "QVO." Usually the belt is quite a bit too long and the tail of the belt is worn hanging down.
Athletic shoes with the brand name British Knights ("BK") or Columbia Knights ("CK") should be viewed with suspicion. Parents should weigh carefully possible ramifications in allowing their youngsters to wear this apparel.
Shirts or other items with the Calvin Klein logo, "CK," are suspect if there are additional indicators that a youth is gang-involved. Flannel shirts, especially those in red or blue may indicate gang affiliation. Gang members will often button just the top button. And, custom-made shirts which commemorate the death of a gang member (usually with a slogan such as, "In memory of .....") can precipitate gang confrontations. A double homicide that occurred in Salt Lake City began when a gang member noticed a rival wearing such a shirt and made a remark about it.
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