The Memphis Police Department’s Gang Response and Intervention Team (G.R.I.T.) is presently conducting a thorough and comprehensive intelligence program. During the course of their research, G.R.I.T. has identified a number of gangs and gang-related activity in the Memphis area.  Look at graffiti around Memphis gangs are here and they are making their presence known. The emergence of gangs in Memphis can be linked to places like Los Angeles, Chicago and other large cities. The emergence of gangs has also been linked to problem youths from other cities being sent to Memphis to reside with relatives. As a result, these problem youths also bring with them old gang affiliations. For the most part, gang structure is fairly loose. Leadership is usually assumed by a member who demonstrates dominant control at any given time. Most times, members are males from 13 to 28 years old, but police are also seeing female subsets of existing Memphis gangs.  Gangs are not just comprised of African-American youths, gang members represent all racial and ethnic groups.


Hand Signs
Almighty Latin Kings
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

Gang members hang out together. They then seek to engage in, and encourage, a growing cycle of criminal activity. Through names, symbols and leadership, they claim a specific territory or turf. Gang members wear specific apparel to show gang affiliation or “colors”. They dress in a basic style or color chosen by gang leaders. Members wear professional sports team jackets, caps and shirts, so identifing them is more difficult.  Some are easily spotted by tattoos or clothing styles. Their personal belongings may be covered with gang names or symbols. And, of course, anyone who is often seen with known gang members or has a record of gang-related arrests is certainly not above suspicion.

The first sign of gang activity is graffiti, it’s the underground newspaper of gangs and it serves several basic purposes. It identifies the gang and their territory, graffiti serves as a warning and challenge to rival gangs. And it glorifies the gang in general. Graffiti can also point out which gangs are fighting with each other. The Memphis Police Department has developed a PARENT NOTIFICATION LETTER to inform parents when youths have met criteria that suggest gang association or membership. Officers will emphasize the importance of immediate intervention.

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