Best Known For
Stanley Tookie Williams is best known for founding the Crips gang.
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This division led ultimately to both Williams' and Washington's downfalls. In 1979, Washington was shot and killed in a shooting in Los Angeles. His murder was blamed on the Hoover faction of the Crips, which led to a war between the Hoover and other Crip factions. No one was ever arrested for his murder, but theories state that Washington knew his killer well.
That same year, Williams and three fellow gang members, under the influence of PCP-laced cigarettes, drove to a convenience store with the intention of robbing the clerk. According to later police reports, 26-year-old store clerk Albert Owens was walked into a back room by Williams while the other members of the gang took money from the register. Williams then shot out the security monitor in the back room and killed Owens with two execution-style shots to the back. The group made $120 from the transaction. Williams later denied killing Owens.
On March 11 of that same year, prosecutors say Williams broke into the office of the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles. Once inside, he allegedly killed three members of the Taiwanese family who owned and operated the motel. A ballistics expert linked the shotgun shell at the motel to Williams' gun, and several gang members testified that Williams had bragged about the crime. Williams denied this shooting as well, claiming that he was framed by other Crips members.
In 1981, Williams was tried and convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of all four murders plus two counts of robbery, and was sentenced to death. On April 20 of that year, he was sent to San Quentin to sit on death row. Williams did not adjust well to prison life, and by the mid 80s he was given a six and a half year stay in solitary confinement for multiple assaults on guards and fellow inmates.
After two years in solitary, Williams started to examine his life choices and repented for his past actions. He attributed his transformation to God, and began speaking out against gang violence. He filed for a federal appeal in 1988, and told court officials he was a changed man, but his appeal was denied. In 1994, he was released from solitary. With his new mindset, he began writing a book and in 1996, with the help of co-author Barbara Cottman Becnel, he published the first of eight Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence anti-gang books aimed at children. The next year, Williams wrote an apology for his role in creating the Crips. " I am no longer part of the problem. Thanks to the Almighty, I am no longer sleepwalking through life," he wrote. He also wrote the book Life in Prison, a short non-fiction work explaining the horrors of jail.
In 2002 Mario Fehr, a member of the Swiss Parliament, nominated Williams for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for his work against gang violence. Although he did not win the award, many supporters spoke out in favor of the former gang member's transformation into social reformer. He would be nominated for the honor six times in total.
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More than 30,000 gangs plague American streets, wreaking havoc from Los Angeles to New York. This violent subculture floods cities with drug traffic, extortion, and even weapons trading. But some members stand apart from others for their fearless attitudes and business savvy. From Leroy "Nicky" Barnes, one of Harlem's biggest drug king pins, to Kody "Monster" Scott, a member of L.A.'s Crips gang by the age of 13, these notorious gangsters have become legendary for rising to the top of their organizations by pushing the limits, no matter the cost.
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