The latest trend in gang symbols

About 10 years ago, one of my hobbies was driving through the ‘hood (with windows up and doors locked) to look at gang graffiti. I’d see a lot of six-pointed stars, winged hearts, and pitchforks, signifying the Gangster Disciples; and five-pointed stars and canes, indicating the Vice Lords.

Somtimes the symbols would be more elaborate. A picture of a joint next to a dollar sign indicated “drugs for sale at this location.” The number 187 next to someone’s name was a death threat (187 is the California criminal code for homicide). A six-pointed star next to an exploding cane or exploding five-pointed star would indicate that the Gangster Disciples were declaring war on the Vice Lords (“6 poppin, 5 droppin”).

Well, Sunday I was talking with a friend at Sleep Out’s, and he told me that these days, gangs have a new way of identifying themselves: specialty license plates.

One gang apparently uses the Tennessee Walking Horse plate to indicate membership. My friend commented on seeing a tricked-out Caprice Classic with risers and spinner rims rolling down the street. “You know he ain’t got no damn horse,” he said.

Another gang uses the Tennessee Arts Commission Fish plate to mark their vehicles. Not sure which gang goes with which plate.

So the next time you see one of those plates, it may not indicate that the driver has a love for horses or the arts, but rather a love for crack cocaine, bling bling, ho’s, and 9 mm semiautomatic pistols.