Gangs R Real Logo- Gangs are real awareness website

This Gang Awareness Message is from Michael Leonard, Criminal Justice Consultant.


Knowledge is the Key to Keeping Our Youth
from Becoming Gang Members

What is a Gang?

There are many definitions of a gang. Fundamentally, a gang is a group of people that engage in violent, unlawful and criminal behavior. They typically have a name, claim a territory or turf, distinguish themselves from other groups and their members hang out together on a continuous basis.

There is no ethnic predisposition to gang involvement. Gang members can be white, black, Asian, Jamaican, Dominican, Cuban, etc. All ethnicities participate in the gang culture. One general misconception is that each gang is made up of only a single ethnic group but this is usually not true.

See the side panel for the broad categories of gangs.

Know Your Kids: Signs Your Kid May be in a Gang?

  • Look for Gang Signs, Hand Gestures and/or Tattoos
  • Strong Preference for a Specific Color
  • Dramatic Change in Dress Style
  • Have Extra Money that You Didn't give Them
  • Going Out Late and Staying Out Without Permission
  • Skipping School or Cutting Class

See the side panel for a list of symbols. Look for them in your child's notebooks, doodlings and drawings.

Some Reasons Kids Join Gangs

  • Parties, girls, drugs or money
  • Want respect and power
  • Seeking a feeling of caring and attention almost like a family
  • Self protection

Mr. Leonard says "Give life back to the kids, its about the children". Provide kids with a family at home so they don't seek out a family on the streets.

Gang Clothes

These seem like everyday kids but they have several gang-related signs:

  • Tilted baseball cap
  • Pulled up pants on the left leg
  • Bandana
  • Red items represent the gang's color

Gang-like Hat Styles

These hats are being sold in New York city and are gang-like in nature with the crown symbol and colored bandanas. The style targets our youth and glorifies the gang culture.


Sports Caps Representing Gangs

Ever seen these caps worn out of place?

They are now being worn by some gang members. The Phillies and Cowboys cap for the People's Nation and the Boston Red Sox cap for the Bloods.

Selected Gang Hand Signs

Do Not Use These Signs to be Cool or for Fun!
Gang Members and their Rivals Take Them Very Seriously.

Hand Sign Below the Waist Means Disrespect

Neta Gang Hand Sign

Signs made below the waist are done by a rival gang to disrespect another gang.

Neta Gang


MS13 Gang Hand Sign

BK or Blood Killer Hand Sign

MS13 Gang

Means "Whats up blood?

Five Pointed Star Hand Sign

C for Crips

 A five pointed star is associated with the People's Nation alliance.

The C stands for the Crips and the blue wrist band represents their color.


Gang members use a wide variety of different weapons to commit crimes for money, drugs, etc. They also carry weapons to protect themselves from rival gangs or to hurt their rivals.

There are many styles of guns and knives that can be easy hidden on one's person. But almost anything can be misused as a weapon. Those that are less obvious and harder to detect are also very dangerous. Keep this in mind when observing your own kids or working with children in schools or other settings. Finding a weapon on a child is a good indicator that they are hanging with the wrong crowd, if not already in a gang, and need some intervention.

Box cutter and knives.

Box cutters and common knives.


Comb, lighter and earser.


Comb, lighter and earser as weapons.

Weapons can appear as common objects such as a comb, lighter or eraser.

The comb portion would go unnoticed sticking out of someone's pants pocket or hat. Yet, the other end is a sharp pick and can be used as a dangerous weapon. The lighter is fully functional and also has a spring loaded blade. The eraser was removed from the container and replaced with a razor blade.

Consequences of Being in a Gang

  • Conflict with rival gangs that may lead to serious injury or even death
  • Family members may also be "targeted" by rival gangs
  • Learning bad habits and even being arrested when just hanging out or associating with gang members

Statistics to Think About

It is estimated that 39% of gangs active in 2000 had at least one female member; 2% of gangs were identified as being composed of predominantly female members (FASTEN Network Gang Statistics). Females are allowed to join gangs by being born-in (related to a family member), sexed-in or committing a crime.

Nationwide, alcohol is a contributing factor in 80% of homicides (California Wellness Foundation).

A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a family member or friend or to commit suicide than to defend oneself (New England Journal of Medicine, 1986).

Annual Maximum Number of Gang Members, 2002-2005

Number of Gang Members

Larger Cities

Suburban Counties

Smaller Cities

Rural Counties

No Data Reported





3 or Fewer




















More Than 30





Gang-Problem Rate, 1996-2005

Table and Chart: National Youth Gang Center (2007). National Youth Gang Survey Analysis. Retrieved 11-2007 from

What to Do if You Find Graffiti? 

See Video Answer on YouTube


Read: Gang graffiti can be very dangerous and a threat to many.
Record: Graffiti should be photographed.
Report: Graffiti should be reported to your local police department.
Remove: Graffiti should be removed immediately after it is discovered.


Officer Leonard Points to Latin Kings Graffiti

Mr. Leonard points out gang-related graffiti on the side of a tractor trailer found in Monroe County, PA.

"King" is the person's street name. The "LOC" means "Love of Crips" and the up arrow gives respect to the Crips e.g., "Crips Up". The author of this graffiti may be a neebie since Crips almost always write in blue. Red is the color used by Bloods.

Graffiti at a School Bus Stop


Circle-A and KKK on Road Signs

Graffiti at a School Bus Stop

These photos of graffiti were taken at a school bus stop in a private lake community.  The video discusses the photos and other incidents of hate in Pike County.

The vandals are likely white supremacist and satanist. The Circle-A is an anarchist symbol. "KKK" and swastika are Neo-Nazi symbols. The upside down cross is a satanic symbol.

Michael Leonard
Keynote Speaker

"Unsung Heros of Black History"

African American Student Association, ESU
Sunday, 2/12/12

Michael Leonard ESU Keynote Speaker

Click for Article
Michael Leonard Sr
Interviewed on January 31

Michael on the Sy Effect Radio Show!

Introducing Michael Leonard's Book

"Youth, Gangs and God"

Book Cover: Youth, Gangs and God

Order Now!

World-Wide Internet Radio Interview

Mr. Leonard Sr.
on Bullying
"Successful Powertalks"
with Sandra B. Tate

Saturday Sept 18th
Archived Broadcasts

Download it (mp3)
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Michael at Book Signing on Channel 13 News
Michael Interviewed on Gangs in Monroe County, PA

Gang and Hate Symbols


The two main alliances of gangs are the People and Folk Nations.


People Nation Identifiers

List of Gangs


Five point star
Spanish cross
Champagne glass
Bunny head



Folk Nation Identifiers

List of Gangs


Six point star
Winged heart
Devil's horns
Devil's tail
Backwards swastika
Bent ear bunny head
Pitch fork



Hate and White Supremacist Symbols


or 88

"H" is the 8th letter of the alphabet. Two Hs or 8s stands for for the Nazi greeting, "Heil Hitler."




White Pride World Wide


WAR Image

White Aryan Resistance


W with Crown/Halo

"W" represents the white race and a crown/halo signifying the group’s belief in the elite and sacred nature of the white race.

Neo-Nazi Symbol- Swastika

The swastika is a Neo-Nazi symbol.


KKK Symbol- Celtic Cross with Blood Drop in Center

A cross in a circle with the "blood drop" in the center is used by the KKK. The blood drop represents the blood shed by Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for the White Aryan Race.

White Supremists Sysmbol- Confederate Flag

Confederate Flag is used by White Supremacists to represent white domination of African-Americans.


ADL Database of Hate Symbols


Graffiti Art or Gang Related?

Graffiti is vandalism but not all graffiti is the same. A graffiti artist is just one particular person who does it for the fame and wants to see their name in lights. Gang graffiti is done to mark a territory and as a status symbol. It also communicates messages and is often referred to as the "newspaper of the street". Gangs have their own symbols, alphabet and language.

Some examples:

6 Droppin and 5 Poppin

Folk Nation "6" will be hurt by the People Nation "5"


Playboy Bunny
Playboy Bunny = Prostitution


Wacky Rabbit
Wacky Rabbit = Drugs


Money = Drugs



Victims believed the offenders were gang members in about 12% of all aggravated assaults that occurred between 1993 and 2003.

Offenders were identified as gang members in about 4% of rapes, 10% of robberies, and 6% of simple assaults.

Bureau of Justice Statistics


Gangs are not just a big city problem:

20% of cities with 2,500 and 24,999 people reported gang activity.

35% of suburban counties reported gang activity.

11% of rural counties reported gang activity.

FASTEN NetworkGang Stats (2001)

Michael's Videos

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