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Retired Chicago PD Gang
Detective, Joe Sparks and King County, WA, Gang Specialist Gabe Morales just
released a new book entitled “Chicago Based Gangs: Beyond Folks and People”.
The writers expose important information useful in developing a thorough
knowledge and working grasp of gangs which have now spread to all fifty states
and beyond the US.
Here are a few exerts:
It is interesting, many
of the city’s first gangs consisted of different volunteer fire departments
that competed with each other. Some of the first documented Chicago street
gangs were Irish, many of whom, also ironically later became cops or politicians.
There were Irish gangs such as the Dukies and the Shielders who raided the
railroad yards, stock yards, and preyed on their own as well other immigrants
like the Polish, Germans, and Jews. Sometimes the Irish gangs were referred to
as “Mickies” referring to the high number of Irish surnames that began with
In Irish communities,
sponsorship of gangs by politicians and businessmen transformed them into so
called “athletic clubs” like the Hamburg Club, Ragen's Colts, and the Old Rose
Athletic Club. Based in saloons and clubhouses, and often claimed membership of
over a hundred men ranging from their late teens to early thirties. By the turn
of the century, Italian/Sicilian gangs began to take over the crime rackets.
The first Vice Lord
teacher was Edward “Pep” Perry. He first tried to join the Imperial Chaplains,
but was rejected so he started up his own group the “Phantom Burglars”. Once he
was locked up at the Illinois Youth Center at St. Charles, Pep and six other boys
decided to form the Vice Lords. According to legend, Pep stated “The White man
was always the lords of vice. It’s now time for Black people to be vice lords.”
The Sixties are known
for many things: assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther
King, the King riots, the Democratic National Convention riot, and the Vietnam
War protests, but to Joe Sparks, it was a decade of explosive growth for Black
The Vice Lords actually
started in the late 1950s in St. Charles Juvenile Corrections Facility (Charlie
Town). But they became the gang that others emulated in the 1960s after many
where released and went back to their West Side neighborhoods. They are the
oldest and second largest Black street gang and one of the founders of the
People Nation. Bobby Gore, along with Blackstone Rangers (El Rukns) Jeff Fort,
Black Gangster Disciples under “King David” Barksdale and Larry Hoover, and
Latin Kings led by “Lord Gino” Colon became legends.
The late 1960s was also
the period of one of the bloodiest gang wars Sparks can remember. Besides the
BGDs and Blackstone Rangers killing each other, both sides where killing
innocent youth who wanted no part of gang life. Some were actually dragged out
of their houses and assassinated because of it.
In Spark’s professional
opinion, Black gangs invented gang banging in Chicago while the others, White
and Hispanic gangs, were years behind when it came to organizing, politics,
money making, dealing narcotics, etc.
As Gabe Morales
recalls, the 1980s were known to many in the gang world as an expansion period
of Crips and Bloods out of California. But “Rock Cocaine”, also known as
“Crack”, which fueled growth of California groups was also readily available on
the streets of Chicago and it was mostly local gangs that dealt it.
According to a Senior
DEA official who worked Seattle during the late 1980s to early 1990s, law
enforcement actually made the gang situation worse in some ways. Many of the
local kids not wanting to be Crips or Bloods gravitated to “Knowledge” or
“Literature” kicked down to them by Chicago gangs, in particular Black Gangster
Disciples (BGD). Thus, many local peer groups converted to BGDs. In fact, there
are more BGD/GDs today in the Greater Seattle area than any place west of
In 1989, the Seattle
Police Dept.’s Drug Task Force found many active BGD members. BGDs also
communicated within WA-DOC. In 1993, at a Washington State Prison, a letter was
confiscated by staff that was being sent to the head of the BGDs to ask for
explicit official approval for local groups to act in concert with the Chicago
They have uncovered, in this book, the
important historical development of Chicago gangs, their roots, their politics,
and their propaganda. This book further goes beyond this foundation and
provides essential insight, often through personal experiences of the authors,
into the pathways of these gangs and their violence to help younger cops and
communities learn more.