Skinheads formed as racist gangs and were not turf oriented nor profit motivated. Their crimes ranged from vandalism and assaults to murders. Generally, targets of their crimes included non-white, Jewish, homeless, and homosexual individuals. Confronta tions between the Skinheads and their targeted victims were often random, but they usually culminated in serious injury or death to the victim.
The age of the Skinhead gang members varied from early teens to mid-20s. Both males and females belonged to the gang; and their weapons included baseball bats, knives, fists, and steel-toed boots.
Similar to other gangs, Skinheads resort to graffiti, hand signs, and tattoos as typical gang characteristics. Common graffiti includes swastikas and lightning bolts. Most of the graffiti is used to deface property rather than indicate gang territory. Hand signs include both the Nazi salute and formation of the letters "W" and "P" for White Power. Tattoos include swastikas, Nazi flags, hooded Ku Klux Klansmen, and the letters SWP for Supreme White Power and WAR for White Aryan Resistance.
Skinheads began to establish associations with some of the more traditional whitesupremacy groups--such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the White Aryan Resistance (WAR). Gang members would travel throughout California and other parts of the country to atte nd KKK and WAR rallies, marches, and demonstrations. Skinheads have participated in cross-burnings and become members of the American Klan in Modesto.
Skinheads have attended the annual meeting of the Aryan Nations' Church, a Neo-Nazi organization in Idaho linked to The Order--a former domestic terrorist organization. Skinhead gang members identify with the imprisoned and deceased Order members as "pris oners of war" and "martyrs" in the white-supremacist movement.
Skinheads from California were residing with Skinheads in Portland, Oregon, during December 1988 when the Portland Skinheads used a baseball bat to beat an Ethiopian immigrant to death. The Oregon Skinheads were arrested and convicted for the murder, and the San Diego leader of WAR was indicted by a federal grand jury and found guilty of inciting violence by encouraging them to commit the murder. He had sent Skinheads from California to teach the Skinheads in Oregon how to commit crimes of violence agai nst minorities.