A gang signal is a visual or verbal way gang members identify their affiliation. This can take many forms including slogans, hand signs and colored clothing. Many of these, especially slogans and hand signs, have become part of popular culture. The wearer usually favors, or is in, that particular gang. With symbols, graffiti is a large symbol displayed on walls or trains.

Hand signs

The original usage of hand sign can be traced back to the Pilgrims[who?]. They would use them as code not only to represent themselves, but to identify themselves to other members.[citation needed] "Throwing up" a gang sign (e.g., "Stacking", "page", "gang walk"[clarification needed]) with the hands is one of the most known and obvious forms of "claiming".[clarification needed] It is used in many situations where other identifiers may not be possible or appropriate, and it can also show that a gang member is in the area to "do business"[clarification needed] as opposed to just passing through. Usually these signs are made by formation of the fingers on one or both hands to make some sort of symbol or letter.[1] It can also serve to relay more specific information, such as what set they represent within a larger gang or in which activities they are currently taking part. Individual letters can be used to tell stories when flashed in rapid succession, each representing a word beginning with that letter. These signs, because they are displayed only when wanted (as opposed to the types of identifiers above), are usually the most consistent across various areas. Many of these hand signals are quite close to other common hand signs, and this can cause confusion among gang members, non-gang members, and anti-gang authorities.

Another identifier that can be displayed only when desired is a gang handshake, which usually includes some component of the gang hand signs and/or other hand and finger symbols.[citation needed]


Clothing is a strong signal that all gangs show. The clothing gangs wear allows rival gangs to identify who is friend and who is foe. For example, the uniforms for many Hispanic gangs are standard and easily recognizable. Gangs such as the Latin Kings would wear long white T-shirts, baggy pants, and either a bandana or a hat, sometimes both. Black gang members are generally more individualistic with their clothing. The gang would wear a specific clothing and certain accessories that would match their crew's colors. Examples include the Bloods, whose gang colour is red, and the Crips, who wear blue.[2]


Bandanas can be worn in various types of colors and ways. This is done by gang members to signify which gang they are affiliated with. The most popular bandana colors are red, blue, black, white, grey, and yellow. It is typically worn on the head or in the left or right back pockets of gang members.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Gang Signs[self-published source?]
  2. ^ "How Are Gangs Identified". Los Angeles Police Department. 
  3. ^ Waldron, Leah. "What Is the Meaning of Colored Bandanas?" EHow. Demand Media, 17 May 2010. Web. 05 Nov. 2012