Crips Still Going Strong in Utah

Crips Still Going Strong in Utah

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams is gone, executed at San Quentin last week for four slayings in 1979, but the gang is still going strong in Utah.

The 51-year-old Williams claimed to have undergone a redemptive transition in prison. He wrote and spoke out against gang warfare.

But his message has not had noticeable effect on Salt Lake City streets, where a new generation of Crips gangs, and the rival Bloods, still flourish, according to police.

Officers say they have documented 900 people in the Salt Lake City as Crips. That does not include 150 more who are in prison.

Most Crips at the Utah State Prison appeared unaffected by Williams' execution Tuesday, said Ron DeMill, a rehabilitative specialist for the Utah Department of Corrections.

"They really didn't have a whole lot to say," DeMill said.

DeMill said some felt Williams should not have been executed because it was not positive that he was to blame for the four slayings.

Some did not recognize his name.

The actual number of Crips in Utah could be much higher because of other gangs that align with them, said Lt. Dale Craig of the Salt Lake Area Gang Project.

Salt Lake City is considered a secondary gang city because it has many of the same gang affiliations as influential cities Los Angeles and Chicago.

But the make up of the Salt Lake gangs is different. In Los Angeles most Crips are black; in Salt Lake, they're Polynesian, Craig said.

In the early 1990s, the Lay Low Crips was the largest Crips sets in Salt Lake City, Craig said. However, the Tongan Crips Gang, which doesn't claim a specific turf, has since outgrown them.

Most gangs make their living trafficking drugs, and engage in violence to protect their enterprises, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a former bureau gang coordinator for the Los Angeles Police Department.

While the Crips originated in Los Angeles, most of the gang members in Salt Lake City are local youths who adopted the California gang lifestyle.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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