Gangs Across America And Their Symbols

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This pocketguide is a reference tool that can be carried daily by law enforcement officers to help them identify the signs and symbols of gangs anywhere. A brief history of gangs in America is followed by a section on understanding and analyzing gang graffiti. This section explains a gang's various purposes in using graffiti, for example, to mark the gang's turf and to send a message.

The law enforcement response to graffiti should be to photograph it; analyze it while it is intact; remove it; keep an archive of the photo; document the colors used, the gang "tag" names, and the indicators of "beef" or violence; and get involved in or create an anti-graffiti program to cover over all graffiti.

This section is followed by instructions on how to identify a gang member by attitude, demeanor, clothing, symbols, colors, grooming, and gang customs. A separate section provides details on gang symbols. Other sections of this pocketguide provide information on gang colors; sports apparel and designer clothing; a reference for symbols, phrases, and words; and specific gangs.

The pocketguide concludes with information on products, services, and seminars that can help law enforcement officers deal with gangs. Asian gangs; Gang member attitudes; Graffiti; Hispanic gangs; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Motorcycle gangs; White supremacists. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided.

You have clicked. We used standard search engines to obtain reports from law enforcement agencies and studies in academic journals on OMGs.


We present the observations of 1 author who has conducted ethnographic research on outlaw bikers since the s. The emergency department ED is at particularly high risk for violence against healthcare workers. ED personnel may encounter members of these groups. The authors aim to elucidate certain aspects of the culture of OMGs so that ED personnel can better understand the mentality of the outlaw biker.

OMGs present a challenge to ED personnel in that they are well organized and thus able to mobilize their members quickly to assist an injured comrade, and are often impulsive and heavily armed. These gangs have expertise in sophisticated weapons and possess an intricate intelligence network. Quinn and Forsyth 7 divide one-percenter clubs into 4 categories:. Support clubs, which have minor to moderate involvement with criminal activity and maintain a relationship with a larger one-percenter club for protection and to bolster their reputations e. Satellite clubs, which are created and controlled by members of the larger one-percenter clubs and serve as sources of recruits to the larger clubs; members of a satellite club perform tasks related to the criminal activity of the larger club e.

Regional clubs, which have limited membership and territory e. The larger one-percenter clubs e. Interclub relations are complex. Interclub affiliations may reflect a temporary alliance primarily among large clubs or a partial surrender of a small local club to a larger international club. Satellite clubs provide an expendable criminal labor force for the larger clubs and serve as proving grounds for men who want to join large international clubs. Furthermore, OMGs are almost entirely white in the U.

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Many outlaw bikers are racists, and there are strong links between the respective cultures of outlaw bikers and white supremacists. Black OMGs exist, but these groups operate within a different milieu and have their own symbols and values. OMGs composed of African American or mixed race members are less extreme in their entrepreneurialism and organization compared to OMGs composed of white members, and do not use the Internet as much as white OMGs do.

Most black OMGs are local or regional rather than national or global in their reach, and are usually encountered on the East and West Coasts of the U. Many but not all black OMGs have a color scheme. These are the most powerful and widely known among the black OMGs. While members of white OMGs in the U. ED personnel should be aware of which OMGs are active in their state of practice. Some of these websites provide information about smaller clubs affiliated with the larger club. However, not all clubs will have such websites e.

Pocketguides: Gangs Across America and Their Symbols by Lou Savelli (2001, Paperback)

Because there are so many OMGs active in the U. Most OMGs have two hues associated with their respective insignias. Full-patch members are fiendishly protective of the exclusivity of their insignia, and clubs hold copyright on their logos and other major symbols. Club officers have a patch listing their rank sewn onto the front breast of their colors, and some bikers will display the locations of chapters with which they have ties on the side of their colors. Knowledge of color schemes is consequently more important for recognizing members of OMGs.

Members may wear tattoos, T-shirts, and jewelry that incorporate acronyms, symbols, or logos associated with the club. Any biker who is not in good standing with the club must burn off club-related tattoos, usually by heating a butter knife and applying it repeatedly onto his skin. If a gang member perceives disrespect from anyone, including ED staff, the outcome can be deadly, as gang members have an overarching requirement for respect and for saving face in all encounters and from every individual with whom they come in contact.

The gang member will not hesitate to injure or kill someone if he believes that person has shown disrespect to himself or his gang.

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The latter are more likely to take reasoned actions within or beyond legal boundaries, but both are very capable of expressive violence. Outlaw bikers should always be treated with respect, regardless of whether their behavior warrants it. If an injured member arrives at the ED, other members of his club will often arrive to protect him or inquire into his welfare.

A man was alleged to have briefly argued at a bar with a member of the Sin City MC, who returned with 15 to 20 other members and attacked the man with a machete.

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The fact that OMGs are well-organized and primed to respond swiftly with aggression in the event of a member being injured should make ED personnel alert law enforcement with greater urgency in the event that supporters of the injured biker start to congregate at the hospital. For example, a fight bite is a laceration of the hand sustained by striking another individual in the mouth with a clenched fist, and such a wound can result in devastating infections if it is not treated early and correctly.

Outlaw bikers may have weapons hidden on their persons that are discovered as their clothing is removed during the course of care.

These weapons are not limited to guns and knives. Members of a specific OMG sometimes carry a particular everyday item as a weapon, the possession of which contributes to their sense of membership to the club. For example, a member of the Hells Angels MC may carry a ball-peen hammer, whereas a member of the Sons of Silence MC may sport an industrial flashlight. A biker with such a rocker is a candidate for membership to the club and may be more prone to committing acts of aggression than a full-patch member to prove that he is worthy of membership.

Women who support the club can also facilitate violence in the ED. The culture of OMGs is notoriously misogynistic, and women affiliated with these gangs are generally forced into prostitution or street-level drug trafficking. However, female associates often do not display such insignia, which makes identifying their affiliation with an OMG more difficult.

Female associates are often extremely loyal to the club and assist members with illegal activities.

ED personnel should be aware that women who arrive to see an injured outlaw biker may carry weapons or drugs for the biker or members of his club. If the members of rival OMG meet each other in the ED waiting room, a violent altercation is inevitable. Many OMGs consider themselves to be in a perpetual state of war with law enforcement. Thus, police officers providing security in the ED, especially if they are in uniform, may have an inflammatory effect on bikers who arrive at the hospital. ED personnel may encounter outlaw bikers who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or through interpersonal violence.

Outlaw bikers follow a pack mentality that demands that every member support each member to the utmost. Although OMGs share characteristics of many other types of gangs in the U. The authors hope that this article will encourage ED personnel to conduct formal studies that focus on outlaw bikers who arrive at the ED for treatment and the outcomes of such visits.

Conflicts of Interest: By the West JEM article submission agreement, all authors are required to disclose all affiliations, funding sources and financial or management relationships that could be perceived as potential sources of bias. The authors disclosed none. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. West J Emerg Med. Anand N. James F. Todd B. Christoph J.