Errol Flynns

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The Errol Flynns were a criminal organization, or street gang, founded on the east side of Detroit, Michigan during the 1970s. Reportedly the gang appropriated their name from the Hollywood film star Errol Flynn because they fashioned themselves as flamboyant gangsters in dress and ‘jitting’, or using hand signs to identify themselves publicly. This semiotic use of hand gestures to display gang membership, common to contemporary American street gangs as well as hip hop culture, evolved from dances such as the “Errol Flynn”, which were in themselves territorial gang symbols. In the 1970s, house parties in Detroit could be identified by gang affiliation through the type of dance party-goers performed, whether or not they were actually in the gang.

The Errol Flynns evolved, like other Detroit street gangs such as their Westside Detroit counterparts in the late 1970s the Nasty Flynns (later the NF Bangers) and Black Killers or drug consortiums of the 1980s such as Young Boys Inc., Pony Down, Best Friends, Black Mafia Family and the Chambers Brothers, out of the racial and economic unrest that transformed Detroit in the late 1960s and 1970s. As people and capital left Detroit for suburban communities, the city's social and economic infrastructure buckled, leaving the community fractured and impoverished. As the murder rate soared to the highest in the United States, and the city became increasingly viewed as dangerous and in perpetual decline, gangs began to seize...
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