Often, street gangs require members to get a tattoo. This tattoo symbolizes a member’s commitment and allegiance to the crew. Gangs also use tattoos to send a message of intimidation and ownership to other gangs. Each symbol is specific to a certain gang and cannot be replicated by anyone else.
Following are some examples of popular gang tattoos and their meanings.
- The number 243 inside of a badge – This symbolizes physical violence against a police officer and is often placed on the hand that was used during the assault.
- Barbed wire across the forehead – This, along with most facial tattoos, symbolizes a gang member’s life sentence in prison.
- Barbed wire around the forearm or wrist – This symbolizes time spent in prison, often years.
- A dagger in the neck – This signifies that the wearer has killed before and is available for hire to kill in prison.
- A goat – Often given unwillingly as a form of humiliation, this tattoo is used to mark an informer. Goats represent an animal without honor.
- A spider – This often symbolizes racism.
- Skulls – Each skull symbolizes a murder that was significant enough to merit with a tattoo.
While these tattoos are intended to permanently mark the wearer as a member of the gang, not all gang members remain loyal. Even though they’re told that death is the only way out, there are other ways. This often brings gang members into laser tattoo removal clinics.