Be social

  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Newsvine
  • Stumbleupon

Tookie’s Mistaken Identity

On the trail of the real founder of the Crips

Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 12:00 am
Photo by Ted Soqui
The founder of the Crips was not lethally injected minutes after midnight Tuesday morning in the sterilized death chamber of San Quentin State Prison. There was no news of his death. There were no Oscar winners or rap stars urging that his life continue. Fifty-year-old white women in $5 million Hancock Park homes did not ponder the gang leader’s fate in his final days. No bums pushing shopping carts on Sunset and Vine had opinions on whether a governor should spare him from a state-inflicted death.

No, the founder of the Crips was gut-shot with a sawed-off on a dreary South Los Angeles corner 26 years ago.

Contrary to popular assumption, Stanley Tookie Williams, who was fatally injected Tuesday morning and pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m., was not the founder or even the co-founder of the Crips. The undisputed father of the notorious black street gang was one Raymond Washington, a fearless and mighty 5-foot-8 fireplug who loved to fight and loathed guns. He was killed at age 26 by a shotgun blast — allegedly by someone he knew — on the corner of 64th and San Pedro streets on August 9, 1979.

There was no mention of his death in the Los Angeles Times or The New York Times or any other major newspaper as there was of the death of Williams. But on the hardcore streets of South-Central Los Angeles, Watts and Compton, the slaying of Washington was akin to a presidential assassination.

“All this talk lately about Tookie, we was wondering when someone was gonna finally tell the real story about the Crips, tell the story of Raymond,” said Debra Addie Smith, who knew the gang leader back in the early and mid-1970s.

Raymond Washington was born in Texas, but grew up on 76th Street near Wadsworth Avenue, just west of Central Avenue.

“Raymond was a good kid when he was a boy,” said his mother, Violet Barton, who now lives in Phoenix. “Raymond didn’t go out of his way to fight or do anything bad, but if someone came to him, he would protect himself. And he was well-built. He tried to protect the community and keep the bad guys out. But after a while, every time I looked up, the police were coming to the house looking for Raymond.”

Others on 76th Street, a well-kept block of small single-family homes that is now more Latino than African-American, said that while Raymond protected the boys and girls from bullies from other neighborhoods, he bullied them himself.

“I don’t have a whole lot of good to say about Raymond,” said Lorrie Griffin Moss, 48, with a laugh. She grew up directly across the street from Washington on 76th Street, just west of Wadsworth. “Raymond was a bully. A muscular bully. He wouldn’t let anybody from outside our neighborhood bother us. He would bother us. Raymond could be very mean.”

Washington was known as a great street fighter.

“Raymond could really toss ’em,” said Los Angeles Police Department Detective Wayne Caffey, referring to Washington’s fist skills as a street fighter. Caffey’s cousin attended Fremont High School, where Washington was occasionally schooled when he wasn’t kicked out for fighting. “He was an awesome football player, but he didn’t want to play organized ball. He wanted to be a knucklehead.”

Raymond, Caffey said, deplored guns and considered those who brought guns to a fight to be punks. Washington — who had three older brothers — was a street legend, especially to his one younger brother.

“He was real, real good with his hands. He could bring it from the shoulders. Like Mike Tyson in his prime,” said Derard Barton, 46, who added that his brother had 18-inch arms and a 50-inch chest. “He weighed abut 215. All muscle. I never saw my brother lose a fight, except to my older brothers when he was real young. But when he got older, he could even take them.”

Even youths miles away from Washington’s 76th Street neighborhood remember him.

“I remember that Raymond Washington was a hog,” said Ronald “Kartoon” Antwine, a community activist from Watts who remembers seeing the Crips founder at the Watts Summer Festival. “By hog, I mean Raymond would take his shirt off and fight his ass off all day long.”

Washington was kicked out of every school he ever attended for fighting. He would go away to juvenile detention camps and be sure to let everyone know when he was back in the neighborhood, said Griffin Moss.

“He’d go away for a few months, and when he came back, he come up to my dad and mom and say, “Hey, Mr. Griffin, I’m back. Hello, Mrs. Griffin. I’m back.”

His younger brother remembers Raymond fondly and proudly.

“He was like a Robin Hood type a person, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor,” said Derard Barton from his home in Phoenix.

Washington admired the Black Panthers and tried for a while to emulate them as a youth.

He eventually joined the local gang called the Avenues led by a youth named Craig Munson. He later left the Avenues after “he kicked Craig Munson’s brother’s ass,” according to Detective Caffey.

He started his own gang. The origin of the name Crips has many tales, has become folklore. Some, including Tookie, have said the name came from Raymond’s gang the Baby Avenues, which became the Avenue Cribs. In a drunken state, Cribs mispronounced their name into Crips.

However, Washington’s brother and Griffin Moss say the name simply came from an injury that one of Raymond’s older brothers incurred.

“My older brother Reggie was kind of bowlegged, and then he twisted his ankle bad one time, and he was walking with a limp, so he put “Crip” on his Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars and Raymond took the name,” said younger brother Derard.

As for Raymond’s nickname, he was sometimes referred to as Ray Ray — as many Rays are for some reason — but mainly he was just called Raymond.

Coachella by the Numbers


Digging deep into the Valley

Theater Reviews: Beaverquest!: The Musical, My Fair Lady

By LA Weekly Theater Critics

Also, Chico’s Angels: Chicas Are Forever, The Time of Your Life, and more

Syrian Brunch Sundays at Sham

By Jonathan Gold

Spice-scented pleasures

Pellicano Trial Prosecutors Rest Their Case


The color of dirt

NYC's BLT Steak

By Jonathan Gold

Send in the clones

Bad Rap: How Aspiring Hip-hop Star Herbie Gonzalez Got Pegged as the Manhattan Beach Housekeeper Mur (42)

Wed, Apr 9, 3:50 pm

Anatomy of a false confession

Singleton's "Small-Town L.A." Papers Nosedive (26)

Wed, Apr 2, 5:30 pm

Suburban coverage hit hard as the Press-Telegram, Daily News, Daily Bulletin, others, falter

What Hillary Clinton Doesn't Know About Gunshots (9)

Wed, Apr 2, 5:25 pm

Liar, liar under fire

How to Get Divorced by 30 (35)

Wed, Mar 26, 12:00 pm

A beginner’s guide to ending your starter marriage

The Eternal Search for Chinese on the Westside (7)

By Jonathan Gold
Wed, Apr 9, 10:57 am

Go East, young chowhound

Who's Resurrecting the Electric Car?

Wed, Jul 12, 2006, 3:00 pm

Forget those poky little golf cars — the battery-powered muscle car is just around the corner

Bad Rap: How Aspiring Hip-hop Star Herbie Gonzalez Got Pegged as the Manhattan Beach Housekeeper Mur

Wed, Apr 9, 3:50 pm

Anatomy of a false confession

Miss Hooker's Tricks Aren’t for Kids

Wed, Apr 9, 3:00 pm

Miss One Dolla No Holla!

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted

Wed, May 30, 2007, 7:00 pm

L.A.’s august Pulitzer honoree says it was never about censorship

• Advertisement •



Guser Gets a Year
Wed, Apr 16, 9:35 pm

Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily

Yet Another Really Bad Marketing Idea...
Wed, Apr 16, 7:41 pm


The Justice League
Wed, Apr 16, 5:54 pm

Style Council

Wed, Apr 16, 12:22 pm

Another Green World

Continuing elsewhere . . .
Wed, Apr 16, 11:39 am

Catch of the Day

I've Just Seen a Face
Tue, Apr 15, 10:38 pm

I Got Feelings Too, Man

Feeling About George Clooney, Adam Carolla and The Dem Debacle
Mon, Apr 14, 9:36 am

LA Daily

Kaye Rebuffs Rumor
Sat, Apr 12, 1:09 pm


Sham's Syrian Sunday Brunches

Massive kebab plates and warm rounds of fresh-baked pita and more

4/15 Cobrasnake Photos

BIrthday party and American Vintage fashion show

Streichelzoo - New Art Show by Heraklut

The German street art duo opens their first solo US Exhibition at Carmichael Gallery

Does Jerry Brown Want to Cut Emissions Or Just Run for Governor?

Wed, Apr 16, 6:01 pm

The war on greenhouse gases and suburbs

How Not to Fight Global Warming

Wed, Apr 16, 6:00 pm

Will Sacramento’s “ready, fire, aim” approach backfire?

Pellicano Trial Prosecutors Rest Their Case

Fri, Apr 11, 3:30 pm

The color of dirt

Bad Rap: How Aspiring Hip-hop Star Herbie Gonzalez Got Pegged as the Manhattan Beach Housekeeper Mur

Wed, Apr 9, 3:50 pm

Anatomy of a false confession

Coming Back From Iraq

Wed, Nov 28, 2007, 5:00 pm

And all they want are normal jobs

Villaraigosa's Spin Cycle

Wed, Sep 5, 2007, 3:00 pm

He’s gushing over his “historic” school-reform plan, and so are some in the media. Look again


Wed, Aug 8, 2007, 5:00 pm

Downtown gets its first grocery store since 1950's flight left a ghost town

Youtube Rubes

Wed, Jul 25, 2007, 7:30 pm

Four Fairfax High boys attack the homeless with dreams of Internet fame

LA Weekly Promotions

Education Guide

From online learning to 4-year colleges, LA Weekly's Education Guide '08 has answers to all your education questions.

Opportunity Rocks Career Fair

Be the first to hear about the latest career opportunities. Click here to find your dream job!

Little Sexy Black Book

Bring sexy back with LA Weekly's guide to the sexiest spots in Los Angeles.

Living Quarters

Get the real story on LA real estate. Whether you're a renter, a buyer or a seller, Living Quarters is your guide to LA living.

Blank Blankly

Speak Freely at LA Weekly with your own Blank Blankly slogan. Consider Thoroughly, then Create Adverbially only at LA Weekly.

Career Guide

Jumpstart your career with the LA Weekly Career Guide. All the info you need to take the next step in life.

Digital Jukebox

Be. Hear. Now. Listen to the hottest bands and stay on the leading edge of LA's music scene with free streaming music from LA Weekly.

Hook Me Up

Want FREE stuff? Sign up for this week's contests and get the hook-up from LA Weekly.


Get Inside with LA Weekly. LA Weekly Insiders has the what to do and where to go in LA. Sign up and we'll deliver Insiders right to your inbox!

LA to Vegas

What happens there starts here. LA to Vegas is your guide to living it up in Sin City.

Jonathan Gold Text Alerts

Get Jonathan Gold's restaurant picks sent right to your phone and never miss another great meal!

Restaurant Gallery

Hungry? Check out LA Weekly's Restaurant Gallery advertorial for the best grub in LA.