|Founded||Founded in 1958 in or near Fuller Park|
|Formerly known as||
Egyptian Cobras 1958-1966; Cobra Stones 1966-1977; Mickey Cobras 1977-present
2000 or later;
|Colors||Black, Red, and Green|
|Primary ethnicities||African American|
|Symbols||Cobra, Whip, Flail, Crescent Moon, Pyramid, Eye, and 13-3|
Cobra snake, whip, flail, crescent moon 1966-present, 21 brick pyramid 1966-present, eye 1966-present, 13-3
I would like to start off by clarifying a long standing confusion about the history of the Mickey Cobras. Legends have flown around the internet for almost 20 years and I myself have reported the same legends for years that the Mickey Cobras originated on the west side of Chicago in the year 1954 then opened up on the south side. I would like to clarify that even my own long standing beliefs and all those legends are incorrect. The Mickey Cobras have never had anything to do with the west side as far as their foundation is concerned.
For years I have been researching in vein on how to truly link the west side Cobras to the south side. Granted old news articles from the late 50s and early 60s linked them together easily. Here you had two black gangs with the same name making headlines so naturally the city thought they were the same club. There is also no doubt the two groups hung out together and maybe even committed crimes together but when it came to leadership it was just completely void of a connection. Although the generalized legends say the south came from the west there were absolutely no stories or specifics linking them. Not only this sources I have linked to the original south side Cobras said there was nothing to do with the west side. These were guys in the MCs since day 1 and they said there is no link. I can totally agree because my research never properly linked them besides a general street legend and some old newspapers. For those of us that know how things work you can barely trust or accept what the media portrays of these organizations. Just look at how the west side has been laid out for the past 55 years. The west side Cobras never became Cobrastone or Mickey Cobra. The west also closed down in the mid-70s leaving no MCs out west. How could a powerful organization not be able to control their original turf or keep it going? All the foundation just goes up in smoke? This is how there is no link. The Mickey Cobra nation is a well-established and flourishing group and for sure if they were founded on the west side they would have a clear influence out there linked to their foundation. There is nothing out west because the Egyptian Cobras that existed in North Lawndale and the Near West Side was a different gang entirely.
What is similar about the south side Egyptian Cobras and the west side Egyptian Cobras is some the same reasons for coming together and the meaning behind the Egyptian Cobra name. The name “Egyptian Cobras” was chosen because the black Egyptian Cobra snake is the most dangerous snake in the world that has venom that can kill quickly. The Egyptian Cobra dominated Africa and is the most common deadly snake in the continent. The Egyptian Cobra is also known to appear in other continents around the world including North America. This snake is also known to be the largest sized venomous snake in Africa. Not only was this name chosen because of the deadly and dominating nature of the reptile itself but also because in ancient Egyptian culture the Egyptian Cobra snake was an iconic symbol in Egyptian mythology and was the symbol of sovereignty of the pharaohs.
This group of Egyptian Cobras started in the year 1958 in the Fuller Park neighborhood at 43rd and Princeton. In the 1950s the Fuller Park community was transitioning from being a mostly white community into being a mostly black community and the racial transition was not an easy one but it was not well documented. Within no time the Egyptian Cobras spread into the Englewood, norther Hype Park, Kenwood and Grand Boulevard communities.
When the Cobras began in Englewood they fought white gangs that dominated the neighborhood at the time and they fought with the original Devil’s Disciples (Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples). The Cobras also fought white groups and Disciples in the Hyde Park and Kenwood areas. In Englewood Leonard Johnson ran that group of Cobras and may have been the co-founder that started that chapter. In December of 1959 Johnson was put in prison perhaps ending his leadership of this section.
Legend has it that “Joe Bob” started the Cobras or at least the 45th and State branch in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood amount the dilapidated tenement apartments along State Street and Federal Street. From here they spread to much of the rest of the neighborhood becoming a large presence.
The Cobras quickly migrated to the Cabrini Green public housing projects started by Soloman “King” Taylor who ran that section of Cobras and was likely a co-founder. This is how Mickey Cobras ended up Cabrini Green until the city tore the projects down. Taylor was titled “Supreme Chief” so perhaps he ran the entire organization at the start up.
A December 8, 1959 Chicago tribune article reported that Cobras had invaded the territory of a south side gang and they were going to fight at the Dan Ryan Woods. When the fight didn’t happen, the Cobras wondered to the north side of the city to the North Center neighborhood where they played catch with a shotgun at the Riverview Park festival scaring the crowd to death.
By 1960, according to the Terre Haute Tribune Star newspaper July 17, 1960 issue, it was reported there were 500 members of the Egyptian Cobras on the south side of Chicago and hundreds more in two chapters on the west side of the city. The article stated the Cobras were on three sides of the city indicating they had migrated up north, the only likely area up north would be Cabrini Green. (Source: Terre Haute Tribune Star July 17, 1960). Even though the source talked about the west side the west side and south side were not connected.
In the year 1960, all branches of the Egyptian Cobras went on a violent and murderous rampage living up their name. As I said the Egyptian Cobra snake is deadly, dangerous and dominating and that is exactly how the Cobras acted in 1960 and 1961 as their legendary rampage soon engulfed the newspapers with tales of violent crime and murder. Gang member addresses in the papers showed anywhere from the Maxwell Street Market area to North Lawndale to Englewood, Hyde park, Woodlawn and a lot of them in Grand Boulevard.
After the Egyptian Cobras settled fully on the south side by 1960 they came across another gang that was very similar to them called the “King Cobras.” The King Cobras were led by Theotis “Emperor Thee” Clark. Both gangs decided on a merger in 1960 that would combine their concepts. The two Cobra gangs had something in common besides being both named “Cobra.” The King Cobra is also known to be one of the longest and most venomous snakes in the world. Another interesting fact is that the characteristics of both types of snakes are often combined when used in Indian Chakra mythology: the Serpent of kundalini. Both organizations had strong beliefs about the betterment of the black community and this brought both leaders together to combine concepts. The King Cobras still operated under their own name but were still part of the same organization as the south side Egyptian Cobras.
In 1960, Henry “Johnny Ringo” Ponder was only 16 years old but already proving to be a dangerous leader as he led groups of Cobras on a murderous crime spree in the Hyde Park area between 1960 and 1962. The spree started on November 23, 1960 when Ponder, James Braden and Johnathan Phillips robbed a tailor shop at 53rd and Woodlawn beating the 72 year old shop owner Lester Wolf to death. In March of 1961 the three were said to have robbed and killed a cab driver at 51st and Cottage Grove. When Ponder was arrested in February of 1962 he was already on trial for the murder of Lucious O’Neil, a security guard at a laundromat at 51st and Cottage Grove on August 19, 1961. Four other members of the Cobras were also apprehended for shooting a man at 54th and University that refused to give up his money when he was robbed (Hyde Park Harold, February 21, 1962).
After Ponder was convicted of his crimes in 1962, 17 year old Henry “Mickey” Cogwell stepped up to lead the south side Cobras. Mickey was a fast-talking hustler overflowing with charisma and was heavily involved in the Policy racket that was controlled by the Italian mafia. This early relation tapped the Cobras in with organized crime. Mickey was related to possible founder James Cogwell but Mickey was not the founder.
Henry Cogwell shifted the Cobra main focus to the freshly built Robert Taylor public housing projects that was built directly over the old territory at 45th and State, now Cobras moved back into 45th and State and took the 4555 and 4525 buildings. Cobras also took the 4101 building near 40th Place and Federal. The Cobras near 51st and Wabash in Washington Park immediately moved into the 5326, 5322 and 5323 buildings that formed a “U” shape that became known as “The Hole.”
It was also in 1962 when the Cobras squashed their wars with Blackstone Rangers after Henry Cogwell proposed an alliance idea to Theotis Clark. Clark at first rejected the idea but then reluctantly accepted and this is how Stones and Cobras first came together.
After the conviction of Henry Ponder was followed all over the news the Cobras went into seclusion more of less and were not in the paper as much between 1963 and 1968.
In December of 1966, Mickey was approached by Eugene “King Bull” Hairston and his Blackstone Rangers to join the Black P Stone nation. Mickey accepted just like all the other gangs asked to join because they all had a common enemy, the Black Disciples. Theotis Clark did not agree with joining the BPSN and opposed it but he had to go along with it just as he opposed the original 1962 alliance. The Egyptian Cobras were then known as “Cobrastones” on the south side and the Egyptian King Cobra name was dissolved. Although this name was not heavily thrown around by members or even identified much by the press or law enforcement at first.
By the later 1960s, the Cobras were able to take over more of the Robert Taylor homes while still being led by Joe Bob. The Cobras now opened at the 4844 building at 48th and State that extended down to 49th and State, these Cobras became known as the “Fidel Castro Cobras.”
Mickey Cogwell was now the official spokesman for the BPSN. Cogwell had more of a seat ever since his younger brother Jerome “Pony Soldier” Cogwell was killed on September 7th or 8th 1968 at 5244 State street right outside the entrance of the Robert Taylor homes, he was killed the same weekend as Jeff Fort’s younger brother Leroy Hairston. The murders were done by the Devil’s Disciples which was the main gang allied with the Black Disciples alliance. In December of 1968 Jeff Fort led a massive march down State Street demanding that the city rename State Street after Jerome Cogwell. The Stones proceeded to smash windows, cars and rioting all up and down as they marched causing destruction. This march was meant to protest the disorderly conduct charge that police were using to harass residents.
In January of 1969, Despite the investigations on the Stones and Jeff Fort and Jeff Fort walking out on the Senate hearing in July of 1968, a major shock came to law enforcement when an Illinois politician sent an invitation to Jeff Fort to appear at the January 1969 Presidential inauguration ball. Jeff Fort declined the invitation and instead sent Henry “Mickey” Cogwell the Cobrastone leader to the ball alongside Herman “Moose” Holmes another Main 21 leader. While Mickey Cogwell was mingling with high society politicians making the Stones look great Chicago police were back home trying to arrest him for crimes and even went to his house just to find out he wasn’t there and worst yet when they found out he was invited to the White House they had a major fit. Law enforcement all over the Chicago area felt betrayed that Stone leaders were invited to this event. This event was further solidifying Mickey Cogwell’s political connections which of course would help connections to the whole Black P Stone nation.
Since government funding had mostly dried up by 1969 due to the Senatorial investigations, Mickey Cogwell and Reico Cranshaw were the first Stones to bring the nation into the direct drug trade business. Chicago Police Department’s G.I.U. group claims to have photos and surveillance of Stones and Italian Mafia associates meeting to discuss this business. The first of these meetings was with Joseph “Little Caesar” DiVarco, Joseph “Big Joe” Arnold and Morris Lasky. I don’t know the full extent of the deals, but this was supposedly when the Stones began to directly partake in the drug trade mainly in Heroin and prescription Ts and blues. The motivation for this connection was because Stones needed the money as their numbers had exceeded 6,000 members by 1969 and the legitimate forms of money they were receiving prior were either non-existent or minimal. The Stones were the first gang to engage in higher level drug marketing and this is how Jeff Fort got the reputation as being the king of the Heroin business on the south side even though he was not involved in this early deal. This started out a deal for just Cranshaw’s Stones and Cogwell’s Cobrastones (The Almighty Black P. Stone Nation, Moore, Williams). Because of this business deal with Cogwell this is how the first major Heroin distribution business came to the Robert Taylor projects, especially in “The Hole,” the cluster of three buildings around 53rd and State in the Washington Park neighborhood. This Heroin involvement was not big enough to catch the attention of law enforcement much as mainly Stones were known for selling Marijuana, Codeine and other narcotics and pills. Stones also began robbing other drug dealers in the area as they went to great lengths by even robbing drug dealer homes.
Beginning in the year 1970, The Cobras in Cabrini Green began to take their war with the Black Deuces and Black Gangster Disciples to another level as the guns were blazing in these projects for the next two years causing many deaths including two Chicago police officers that were picked off by sniper fire in 1970. All the smaller gangs in the projects were caught in the crossfire and by 1972 they all either flipped to Disciples or Cobras, some became Vice Lords.
In 1972, Jeff Fort was brought up on several charges for mismanaging government funding and he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Before he left he appointed Mickey Cogwell to be the interim leader and to keep Eugene Hairston out of power if he got paroled. Cogwell at that point was running the entire BPSN on the streets and became well known along with the Cobra Stone name.
Although Cogwell was heavily tapped into the numbers racket he was still more known as an activist that involved himself in the political side of helping the black community and this caused the press to have less interest in him because he didn’t fit the full mold as the gangster kingpin the public wanted from black street gangs. The black man doing wrong and killing in the streets is what interested people and the press not a man trying to help his people move forward.
In March of 1976, Jeff Fort was released from Leavenworth federal prison. He made a big announcement that he had converted to the nation of Islam while he was in Leavenworth, now he expected select members of the BPSN to convert to the nation of Islam and become the “EL Rukns.” Jeff Fort asked Mickey Cogwell to join the El Rukns but Mickey declined but there were no hard feelings like many believe.
Rumors had flown around that Jeff Fort ordered the death of Mickey Cogwell on February 25, 1977. on this day Mickey was walking home at 3:45 in the morning to his home after he had been dropped off. An assassin came up behind him and Mickey started to run, the assassin fired his 9MM pistol into the back of Cogwell, after Cogwell collapsed the gunman shot him two more times in the back then fled. No one was prosecuted or identified as the killer but the Cobras accused Jeff Fort for ordering the hit. It was said Mickey was killed because he spoke out about the new Islamic doctrines but that was never verified. The Cobras then changed the organization’s name to the “Mickey Cobras” and declared a full scale war on the EL Rukns. The war did not die down until April, 1978 when the Mickey Cobras joined the People Nation alliance with enemies EL Rukns and Vice Lords. Although the Cobras were now at war with El Rukns it wasn’t because of the Islamic doctrines it was because the Cobras just didn’t agree with the new group. Many have thought the Cobras were bitter because of Islam being pushed on the Stone nation but that isn’t correct. El Rukns drew up territory in the same areas as the Cobras and they couldn’t agree, this would be an on and off conflict for years. It wasn’t even Mickey’s death that started the war because there has been evidence that Mickey was gunned down by the Chicago Outfit especially since his partner who was a white Chicago Outfit member was killed at the same time.
In the late 1970s after Mickey Cogwell’s death, the Mickey Cobras lost most of their Robert Taylor project territory to the Black Disciples with the exception of The Hole.
Henry “Mickey” Cogwell was greatly missed by the Cobra Nation as he was a clever hustler and big time numbers racket Chief. For the first time since Teddy Roe, a black man was back in charge of the numbers racket since the Outfit took it over after Roe’s death in 1952. Mickey ran the racket like a mob boss while still helping the community and being active in politics. It was Mickey that repaired this damaged organization that originally taught the black man to stand up to white gangs in the 1950s. Mickey rebuilt the nation when he took over, however, Mickey’s legacy still remained with the Cobras’ leadership that continued to operate in an organized fashion.
After the killing of Henry Cogwell relations between Cobras and El Rukns were not good even after being bound by the People alliance. Cobras still used the name “King Cobras” to distinguish the part of the organization led by Theotis Clark and Herman “Moose” Jackson. In 1985, Jeff Fort ordered the murders of several King Cobras in April of 1985. According to court documents in the case of United States vs. Andrews, Jeff Fort wanted complete control of the heroin trade at 54th and Bishop in the Back of the Yard neighborhoods and 67th and Stoney Island in the Woodlawn neighborhood. The King Cobras stood in the way of Jeff Fort’s progress, and the indictment stated that Fort summoned the “Guerilla Family” hit squad of the El Rukns to kill off the leadership of the King Cobras. This resulted in the death of Herman “Moose” Jackson and the attempted assassination of Theotis Clark, Andre Chalmers and Tredis Murray. Rico Chalmers, Glendon McKinley, and Vicki Noldenand were all killed by the El Rukns in this conspiracy. Tredis Murray was in charge of the Cobras at this point in time.
As the 1980s progressed, the Mickey Cobras grew in numbers spreading in many more areas on the south side and into some suburbs by the 1990s and 2000s. I think the King Cobra name diminished after the assassinations and attempted assassinations in 1985 as they all seemed to go by “Mickey Cobras” going forward.
Mickey Cobras also grew very large in the 1980s because of the sanctions passed down to the Black P Stones by the El Rukns. In the year 1979, the El Rukns declared that all Stones had to drop the name “Black P Stone” or “Blackstone” or face dire consequences. Many Stones then flipped to Mickey Cobras to avoid these sanctions and MCs became very close to the Maniac P Stones. This is how the MCs bounced back after leaving the BPSN.
In the 1990s and 2000s, much of Cobra territory was removed due to the demolition of the Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor public housing projects which were the two biggest sections the Cobras had. 53rd and State “The Hole” was a big time piece of turf that brought in many thousands of dollars from the drug trade in these buildings. When they tore The Hole down in 1998 Cobras were forced to moved further norther above 51st Street living amount Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples resulting in a bloody war. Cobras also had a stronghold in the Dearborn projects since possibly as far back as the late 1950s as they battled heavily against the Gangster Disciples, when the buildings were renovated some time ago many members had moved out of the buildings decreasing their numbers further. Cobras still remain active in Fuller Park, Woodlawn and West Englewood. Much of Grand Boulevard is going through renovations so many Cobras have left that area in recent years.
Please send in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s pics! 1950s pics especially wanted!