Street Gangs Tone Down Use of Colors, Tattoos

Street Gangs Tone Down Use of Colors, Tattoos

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Street Gangs Tone Down Use of Colors, Tattoos

By DAVE COLLINS Associated Press Street Gangs Nearly gone are the gang days of the 1980s and ’90s, when the Bloods wore head-to-toe red, the Crips wore blue and Latin Kings wore black and gold.

Gangs from coast to coast have toned down their use of colors and are even removing or altering tattoos to avoid being easily identified by police and witnesses, law enforcement officials say.

Today, the most you might see is part of a red handkerchief hanging out of a back pocket or a gold and black baseball cap, said Johnmichael O’Hare, a Hartford police sergeant who monitors gangs.

"Many of them don’t wear colors. They tell us they’re not in gangs," O’Hare said. "They’re trying to avoid detection from law enforcement."

Gang members also don’t want to stand out because they are committing more white-collar-type crimes, such as credit card and identity thefts, authorities say.

"If you want to go into Macys or Neiman Marcus and use a fraudulently obtained credit card and you have all these tattoos, it’s more difficult," said William Dunn, a Los Angeles police detective and author of the 2007 book "The Gangs of Los Angeles."

Another impetus: laws passed in several states making it easier for police to target gangs.

In Connecticut, officials can use racketeering laws once reserved for the mob to go after gangs. In Los Angeles, court injunctions allow police to enforce nighttime curfews and arrest people for hanging out in public and wearing gang colors.

"So we don’t see so much wearing of the colors. We don’t see so much of the tattooing," Dunn said.When it comes to going to prison, gang members also don’t want to be identified because they’ll be placed in more restrictive conditions for security reasons, officials say.Wearing colors has long been a way for gang members to show solidarity, but the FBI says gang members are indeed shying away from displaying identifiers. Often the only time colors and other identifiers are now displayed is […]