|Founded c. 1994 by Martin Lorenzen in or near Clearing
Founded in Clearing, 62nd and Normandy
— c. 1994
|Black and Grey
Cross with 5 slashes above it and a halo
For this history I am not going to get into the whole Insane Pope history; however, that is the organization where the Almighty Popes spawned out of, the larger Insane Pope nation. The south side Insane Popes started in 1973 at Archer and Komensky in the Archer Heights neighborhood.
In 1990, a new section opened at 62nd and Normandy, which was started by Chris “The Kidd” Hamilton. By the early 1990s this section became quite popular and swelled in numbers. Chris was the younger brother of Mike Hamilton the leader of the Insane Popes at the time and this was when Chris started to get more of a name for himself running his own branch.
In the year 1992, Mike Hamilton, the leader of the Insane Popes, started to back out of a lot of leadership roles for the Pope nation and this is when individual sections began to govern themselves more which would prove to be a major issue later on. Mike Hamilton mainly spent time with the 34th and Hoyne section because he resided there at the time and was among like-minded guys.
In the year 1992, Lord Conan officially stepped down as the leader of the Popes but was still behind the scenes a lot for the next 10 years until he completely walked away. During that same year “Crazy Eddie” from the north side Insane Popes (he may have been retired from the Popes by this time) came down to visit Mike Hamilton and the guys from 34th and Hoyne. These north side Popes Eddy came from still believed in a lot of the “WPO” or “White Power Organization” ways which was to have a gang that was more about being mostly white and protecting white neighborhoods. Mike Hamilton began to like the idea of having the south side Popes follow more of a WPO way and he was not happy with the drug trafficking most of the other branches had become involved in, in the early 1990s. Mike then devised a plan to pull the Popes into a “Renegade” status and break away from the People alliance and follow a more WPO type of path. Hamilton had the backing of 34th and Hoyne which consisted of most of the older members of the Popes and these Popes began visiting other Pope branches to push this issue. Crazy Eddie also joined the south side Popes to help push this issue. Mike’s slightly older brother Russell Hamilton who was an original Pope since 1973 disagreed with Mike’s renegade plan and was involved in the drug and weapons trade alongside his younger brother Chris Hamilton. Many of the Pope sections were also not happy about the white power stance because the Popes had been admitting many more Mexican members since the mid 80s and felt the WPO stance was a slap in their faces.
For the next two years leading up to 1994 there was feuding between Pope sections over the fighting between the Hamilton brothers and disputes on which direction the Popes would move in. In 1993, 62nd and Normandy was one of the major sections feuding with Mike Hamilton’s group. Russell Hamilton then began to devise a plan alongside his younger brother Chris and Martin Lorenzen to kill Mike Hamilton to stop the proposed renegade ways. The plan was for Russell to get Chris to carry out the murder but the police ended up arresting them for this murder for hire transaction and a separate raid on Russell Hamilton’s home in February the feds raided Hamilton’s home at 3427 W 54th St (54th and Homan) in the Gage Park neighborhood. Feds found 27 guns and 31 grams of Cocaine along with over $7,000 in cash. Russell Hamilton then flipped to becoming a Latin King in 1994 in wake of all this and his brother Chris flipped as well.
I don’t know if I have my chain of events completely correct about 1994 whether this next event happened after or before the big bust but in that year of 1994 the feuding Popes went through a major split that would effect the destiny of their organization forever. 20 year old Martin Lorenzen, who was one of the three arrested and charged for conspiracy to commit the murder of Mike Hamilton had achieved rank in the Popes and before he tried to have Mike killed he looked up to Mike and was said to be a protege of Mike. Just like Mike Lorenzen didn’t drink or do drugs and had leadership traits like Mike. Mike had bestowed the 83rd and Homan section to Lorenzen to run the young members there.
Mike Hamilton finally became fed up with 62nd Street Popes and 50th to 51st Popes refusing to become renegade and drop the People alliance. One day he gave those Popes until midnight to refute the People alliance or be destroyed by the rest of the Popes. This smashing never happened and instead 62nd and 50th became the Almighty Popes and officially split from the IPN which began a war.
During the feuding Lorenzen often visited Vittum Park and 62nd and Normandy and developed major influence over the young Popes. Even though Lorenzen looked up to Mike he ended up turning against him as he didn’t agree with the WPO renegade direction Mike was moving toward; however, he did like the original name of Crazy Eddie’s Popes from up north as they used to be known as the “Almighty Popes” back in the 1950s, 60s and earlier 70s. Anyway, Lorenzen took the name of “Almighty Popes” and went renegade in his own way against the Insane Popes that year. Lorenzen swept up all of 62nd and Normandy at first and flipped them into becoming Almighty Popes. Just to clarify the Almighty Popes had nothing to do with Crazy Eddie’s Popes in Irving Park he simply copied their old name which is ironic considering that Popes up north were white power which was the reason the APs began to avoid that white power and anti-drug dealing sentiment. Lorenzen also used the whole concept of going renegade from Mike and the name from Crazy Eddie to go against Mike and the Insane Popes, this started a non-gun play war between the newly formed Almighty Popes and the Insane Popes. Many of the younger Insane Pope sections flipped to APs because of how they felt about Mike Hamilton and the ideals he had especially about the drug game and WPO ideals. One of the men arrested and charged with conspiracy was James Satala. Satala was not a member of the Insane Popes, he was a member of the Twelfth Street Players, implicating that the Players may have been involved because Billy English of the Players didn’t like Mike Hamilton. A short time later Billy English was shot to death in hotel after two men burst in with guns.
The APs took over five more sections from the IPs in 1994, 46th and Whipple, 49th and Long, 50th and Kilpatrick, 51st and Kostner and 71st and Harlem in Bridgeview, IL. 83rd and Homan remained IPN despite the fact that Lorenzen originally ran this section and developed his first leadership there. Despite all the hatred between IPs and APs not single killing was even made between the two gangs against each other.
The Almighty Popes were immediately aligned tightly with Latin Kings, Twelfth Street Players and Latin Counts and this is how they had immediate recognition into the People alliance.
The APs grew into new areas and multiplied into the hundreds in membership. The APs colonized the Vittum Park area further in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood at 50th and Leclaire. The Popes also opened a section in the suburb of Orland Hills at 162nd and Haven. The APs hung out at the Fleetwood Roller Skating Rink (7231 W Archer Ave) in Summit at Archer Ave and 72nd Court.
In the year 1995 Martin Lorenzen was put in prison and flipped to another gang right before going inside. After his release in the year 2000 he left gang life. I am not sure who was running the Popes after Lorenzen went inside.
In 1995, the Almighty Popes were at the peak of their power and had a promising future in expansion. It almost appeared that they would outpace the Insane Popes in growth, the APs were definitely becoming a vacuum for all potential recruits in the Midway area. All this success would collapse due to one shooting incident on December 14, 1995 at Hale Elementary School, 6140 S. Melvina Ave (61st and Melvina) in the Clearing neighborhood.
The Ridgeway Lords street gang was a gang dying out since the 1980s that came from the Little Village neighborhood, now the gang was trying to stay alive in the Justice, IL suburb which was not far at all from the Midway Airport area. Three Ridgeway Lords gang members had been seen in the area in a gold colored mini van very frequently. The Almighty Popes had seen it before and saw the guys looked like gang members and flashed signs at them causing the three to represent Ridgeway Lords. It was at that point that the van was marked as a rival gang especially since the Ridgeway Lords were a Folk Nation gang. The APs were upset that these RLs would start recruiting in the area so they were told to watch out for the van; however, some of the members of the gang took things too seriously. Sopron did not order this vehicle to be shot up; however, a group of Popes including Nicholas Morfin, William Bigeck, Nicholas Liberto, Eric Anderson and a Latin Count gang member Edward Morfin, the cousin of Nick Morfin gathered up to plot on shooting this van up. The real reason the RLs were in the neighborhood is because one of them started dating 13 year old Helena Martin even though he was 18 years old. 13 year old Carrie Hoval was Helena’s good friend and the girls would hang out in this van.
On Thursday December 14, 1995 William Bigeck, Nicholas Morphin and Eric Anderson got a .357 magnum and .44 caliber revolver that they had stolen from a nearby Chicago police officer’s home in the neighborhood, and walked across the park and opened fire on the gold van. The van had 5 people in it including at least 2 Ridgeway Lords gang members, neither gang member was shot or the third other male, instead Carrie Hoval and Helena Martin were the ones that took all the bullets and died at the scene.
After the shooting, all five members involved in the shooting were arrested including the two accused AP gang leaders Wayne Antusas and Matthew “Misfit” Sopron. Gang member testimony claims they heard Matthew Sopron say “We need to pull a roll on this van” meaning to shoot it up; however, later many said they were lying or wrong. The court case was confusing to say the least. In the mean time Almighty Popes were having a hard time keeping it together entering 1996. Gang members were tattling on each other over this court case and the Chicago Police were red hot on both the Almighty Popes’ and Insane Popes’ tail. On the whole south west side CPD was hunting down Popes and clearing them off the streets and arresting them for anything and everything. Several Popes of both Pope gangs were finding themselves locked up and arrested and this led to territory loss for both gangs and recruitment lagging.
As the leaders of the Popes were still awaiting trial by December of 1997, there was a big Almighty Pope bust in the suburb of Orland Hills. At the address of 16199 S. Haven Ave, the Almighty Pope gang leader of the suburban operations Shawn Robinson, who was 18 years old at the time, had rented this house at 162nd and Haven and was throwing wild parties while running drug operations on this street corner. Things started escalating by 1997 as neighbors were reporting the increased gang activity as the Popes multiplied to having about 30 members at this Orland Hills faction. Shawn Robinson was a dangerous individual that had been arrested for several crimes before, including an incident where he slashed a woman’s face. Robinson was originally from the intersection of 62nd and Knox in the Clearing neighborhood. By October of 1997, Robinson began plotting to murder an Orland Hills police officer. Robinson came into possession of a sawed off shotgun and was ready to creep into his yard and enter the home and do the murder. On December 9, 1997, the police closed in on Robinson and took him down with several other Popes. This brought a major blow to the suburban chapter and closed down Orland Hills operations.
To put a little background into the Almighty Popes and Ridgeway Lord rivalry, it originates in the suburb of Justice. In the Sterling Estates mobile homes subdivision by Archer Ave and 88th there was a buildup of gangs from Chicago that included Ridgeway Lords, Satan Disciples and other various gangs. The Almighty Popes colonized this subdivision and went at it with RLs and SDs. Their biggest rival was the Ridgeway Lords. The gang banging in this area was intense in the mid-1990s as this was perhaps the most violent time period for the residents of this community. Along with the Orland Hills chapter this was perhaps the most legendary AP section in the Chicago area until 1998 when this area was rested away by the Popes after the nation dissolved.
In 1998, Sopron, Antusas and the 5 others involved were found guilty of the murders of the two teenage girls in 1995. Sopron, Antusas and Eric Anderson received life sentences while all the others just got harsh sentences. It is said by many, even by Insane Popes that Sopron is innocent and did not give the orders. Starting in 1998 the APs began to crumble at a faster rate and all operations ceased to exist later in the year.
In 1999, the APs began to get back together for plans to put the organization back together and the talks escalated by the year 2000 but soon fizzled out in 2001 then members went back to either being Twelfth Street Players from 62nd or they returned to the IPN.
In recent developments, Matthew Sopron was exonerated of the murder charges of Carrie Hoval and Helena Martin and has just been released from prison in December 2018 after testimony from Eric Anderson and Bryan O’Shea later revealed they were coerced by Chicago police to admit that Matthew Sopron and Wayne Antusas where the ones that ordered the shooting. Bryan O’Shea was the first to confess long ago that he was coerced at a young age but recently Brian Anderson came forward admitting that Matt Sopron did not order the shooting and was not even aware. Chicago police were eager to convict the leadership of the Almighty Popes and even provided Bigeck and O’Shea with alcohol and even let them watch pornography at the police station as long as they pinned everything on the leadership of the Popes. This was a horrible injustice; even though Sopron had a leadership role of the Popes he did not deserve this punishment for this crime. It was also incorrect that Sopron and Antusas were the overall leaders of the Popes, at that time Lorenzen was still in charge but also did not have any part in ordering this shooting, the shooters acted on their own at that moment and many even say Nicholas Morphin didn’t even know the shooting was going to happen and that Brian Anderson just pulled out the gun and started shooting all on his own as Morphin could only watch. Wayne Antusas still sits in prison and should be released as well.
It is important to understand that just because a man leads a gang doesn’t automatically make him guilty of all the gangs’ crimes. Sometimes gang members do things on their own that normally violate the moral code of the gang. This is exactly what happened in 1995 when those two girls were killed. The APs that did it acted on their own against Matt and Wayne’s wishes and it led those men to lose over 20 years of their lives when they more than likely would have eventually retired from the gang life and became legit citizens on their own but an overzealous prosecution team locked them up instead.
Please send in some 1990s repping pics and graffiti pics so they can be posted!
Sections of the Almighty Popes from the past
Sections of Archer Heights
51st & Kostner
Sections of Brighton Park
46th & Whipple
Clearing neighborhood Established 1994-1996
Sections of Clearing
63rd & Oak Park Ave (Popes Alley)
62nd & Normandy Established 1994-1996
Garfield Ridge neighborhood Established 1994
Sections of Garfield Ridge
50th & Kilpatrick
50th & LeClaire (Vittum Park)
Bridgeview 71st & Harlem
Central Stickney 49th & Long
Justice (The Horseshoe, Sterling Estates Mobile Homes)
Orland Hills 162nd & Haven
Summit Archer Ave and 72nd Court