Saints
Saints

Saints

Founded Founded in or near New City (Back of the Yards)
Founding story

Founded in the Back Of The Yards section of New City neighborhood, 45th and Wood

Affiliations People Nation — 1989 – 2000 or later;
Colors Black and Light blue
Primary ethnicities Latino (Mexican)
Symbols Stick Figure and Halo
Symbol usage

Stick figure smoking a cigarette or blunt, halo with 3 rays

Status Active

The Saints very well could be the oldest of the existing gangs in Chicago.  In the book Thee Jerusalem Gangster written by devoted Saint member Emad U Deen the author mentions when he first joined the Saints in 1981 he met Saint members in their 50s in age that the author said joined in their teen years.  That would mean they would have joined the Saints in the late 1940s or sooner.  The author did not say if these Saints were in their early 50s, mid-50s or late 50s at that time so I am figuring they were in their early 50s.  Later in the book the author met what he described as an “old Saint” which probably means he met this Saint while the man was in his 50s or older.  Granted everyone has their own interpretation of “old” but from what I gather about the author he does not consider people in their 40s and younger as “old.”  The author is not an exaggerator in the way he tells the story ruling out that he wouldn’t just consider someone 40 as “old” because is an exaggeration.  The author does not write in an exaggerating manner.  I also heard a story from another source from a guy that was involved in gangs in the mid and late 80s that encountered an “old cop” that had the Saint’s symbol tattooed on his hand which is the stickman figure with the halo and cigarette.  As far as his interpretation of “old” I don’t quite know if he would exaggerate age but from what I knew of him he wasn’t a big exaggerator of older ages either.  If there were Saints in their 50s in age in the 1980s that can for sure trace this organization back to the 40s.

On the subject of the Saint’s stickman figure.  Legend has it that they adopted this symbol from the legendary The Saint series that began in 1928 and ran until 1963.  The Saint began as mystery novels in the United Kingdom in 1928 and eventually made it’s way to radio in 1940.  The Saint then made it the United States as comic books in 1947 then daily comic strips in 1948.  Now that The Saint was in comics kids would fall in love with these comics and that is very likely what happened with the original Saints as they would probably grab those comics for entertainment in the late 40s then they adopted the symbol in their own version smoking a cigarettes.

There isn’t much legends well known of the Saints in the 1940s and 1950s which says to me they were a small group and not career criminals or anything like that.  They were a club of tough guys that protected the area of 45th and Wood during a time when greaser gangs were becoming a major issue in the Back of the Yards.  The Back of the Yards had some of the meanest and toughest greasers in the whole city and I would not doubt for a minute that the Saints were probably one of the toughest of the groups.  Most gangs were white in the Back of the Yards as Mexican families were of a small percentage in the neighborhoods. The Saints took in Mexicans as far back as their beginning; therefore, this mostly Polish gang had no issues with Mexican people since the start.  Back in the 1950s there was much racial migration on the city’s south side, especially in nearby Englewood which put the Saints on high alert.  Early Saints did not like outsider gangs roving through their streets and it was known that white gangs from nearby Gage Park, Brighton Park, Bridgeport and West Englewood would contest with gangs from the Back of the Yards and this began the earliest hatreds the Saints organization would have for outsiders showing gang affiliation in their neighborhood.  Even though the Saints were headquartered at 45th and Wood from the start they have always been in control of the area of 43rd to 47th and from Ashland to Damen.  One of their biggest enemies in the older days was the Ravens from 47th and Honore due to the fact the ravens were a mere two blocks away.  I don’t know if this was their oldest or biggest rival but it is one of their old rivals.

The Saints also had religious beliefs as whenever they would pass a church they would do the sign of the cross which indicated the original members may have had a strong Catholic faith.  Doing the sign of the cross became a tradition of the Saints for generations to come.

Rumors have always surfaced that the Saints began in the early 1960s but what I can say is that is not totally accurate.  Something did start up in the year 1960 but it wasn’t the creation of the organization from day one it was instead the beginning a new generation of Saints or possibly the beginning of the Junior Saints.  According to a 1997 article from the Chicago Tribune people in the neighborhood claimed they remember the Saints starting in the early 1960s and they were just young kids getting into some trouble “Throwing rocks” as the article quoted.  The article claimed the Saints were the offspring of Polish workers that worked in the stock yards and the little stores along Ashland Avenue.  In the article a Sue Malone who said she is a long time resident of the neighborhood and a manager of the Back of the Yards Journal said “They started out as a bunch of kids standing on the corner acting tough.”  I found this comical to say the least because many times residents in the community are rather out of touch with the main nucleus of the gang and make assumptions based upon the activities of the lessor known or possibly lessor respected members.  The Tribune article seemed to only publish or track the stories of residents that had more negative opinions of the Saints which is very much common with the media as they spin narratives of negativity usually following a recent shooting.  The real facts are that the Saints were very respected in their neighborhood by most residents as the Saints protected this area for generations and kept outsiders away, but some people will always have negative perceptions of gangs.

The newer generation that began in 1960 brought in more Hispanic members than before as more Hispanic people were moving into the neighborhood.  Now the newer Saints would begin clashing with the Burger King Boys that begin in the mid-1960s.  It was this newer generation of Saints that established a close relationship with the Spanish Chancellors of Bridgeport that formed in 1960 which was a Mexican gang from 27th and Normal.  The Chancellors were one of the few allies the Saints would ever have, another was the Latin Counts from 18th Street.  The Saints really had no allies with other gangs in the Back of the Yards in these early years until the 1990s because of how territorial, dominant and how protective they have always been of their neighborhood and inviting other gangs into their territory can many times bring trouble in later months or later years.  The Saints had a smart approach in this aspect because it is true that most alliances throughout history that gangs have with one another always goes sour as time passes and territory is lost and wars are costly.  This is also why Saints are often pinned as a very violent and anti-social organization because of the level of violence used against enemies but Saints know that inviting outside gangs to settle peacefully almost always ends up in the other gang eventually taking advantage after territory in voluntarily surrendered to allies.

The first major gang to successfully settle in the Back of the Yards were the Latin Kings that settled at 51st and Ada in the year 1972.  When this branch began the Saints were furious about the arrival of the Latin Kings and war ensued immediately.  The Latin Kings would then became the worst enemy of the Saints in history as the feud would go on for decades to come.  In the same year 1972 the Latin Souls moved north in the neighborhood from near 55th Street (Garfield Boulevard) to 49th Street and a location at 51st and Ada by the Latin Kings.  Even though the Latin Souls were born in the Back of the Yards community too they were treated as outsiders by the Saints and a very violent gang war erupted between the two gangs.  Latin Kings, Latin Souls and Saints all have a three way war stemming from this 1972 settlement as Puerto Rican and Mexican families migrated off 55th further north in the neighborhood.

In the year 1976 three brothers Hondo, Tootsee and Bull moved to the South Chicago neighborhood at 87th and Houston starting the first branch of Saints outside of the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  Saints would end up at odds with Latin Kings in this area and Spanish Kings.

In the year 1977, the Saints faced a new challenge to the neighborhood that came alongside increased Mexican migration.  Until this point in time Back of the Yards was vast majority white especially north of 51st Street but starting in the late 1970s more Mexican families began moving further north.  The Saints experienced more recruitment from newly arrived Mexican families which brought about the induction of some of the most respected Saints to ever join their ranks.  The down side to new families moving in was the arrival of outside gangs.  In the year 1977 the Two Six organization from Little Village established the younger branch of Two Six that were a full fledged gang.  The Ayala brothers created the Tiny Two Sixs as they colonized several communities in Chicago.  A group of Two Sixs then arrived on 47th Street and established a major chapter which angered the Saints and began a war.  At the same time the Satan Disciples established themselves at 51st and Wood and would later invite allies the Two Two Boys to live at the same corner.  Both Satan Disciples and Two Two Boys became sworn enemies of the Saints as well.  The Bishops were a gang that was strongly allied with the Latin Counts; however, the Saints didn’t honor this relationship and didn’t welcome the Saints when they settled at 51st and Winchester in the late 1970s and war began between Saints and Bishops but the relationship between Saints and Counts was never soured because of this.

In the year 1980, the Saints had a tough decision when members became incarcerated whether to join the People or Folk alliance in the correctional system by the year 1980. In 1980 all gangs in the correctional facility now needed to align with either side of they wouldn’t survive.  The Saints decided to join the Folk alliance which was very hard to decide because some of their worst enemies were Folks like Latin Souls, Satan Disciples, Two Six and Two Two Boys.  Two Two Boys and Latin Souls joined Folks the same year.  The Saints for sure were not joining People alongside their worst enemy the Latin Kings; therefore, they chose Folks.  The decision turned out to be a good one for the Saints as they got in real tight with the Latin Folks in the prison system and gained respect from them as well.  The Saints honored the Latin Folks by becoming known as the Latin Saints whole behind bars and they adopted the pitchfork as a symbols while locked up.  Some old school Saint members that were incarcerated have pitchforks tattooed on them.  Once a Saint got out of prison he was no longer Folks or a Latin Saint.  The name Latin Saints and the Folk alliance never made it to the streets throughout Saint history and wars with Folks continued viciously.

Most people on the streets familiarize the Saints with being part of the People alliance and this was a slow process over time that became tough to maintain on the streets through the years.  It began during the holidays of 1986 when two Saints who were brought into one of the Illinois prisons cliqued up with Latin Kings and joined the People alliance.  By this time many of the Saints that were attached to the Folk alliance in the early 80s had been released which began to deplete Folk influence within the Saints causing this part of history to be largely forgotten.

The branch of Saints from South Chicago rebranded themselves in 1981 as the Saint Spanish Gangster Disciples as they allied with Gangster Disciples and had influence from Maniac Latin Disciples.  By 1983 the Saint Spanish Gangster Disciples became the Spanish Gangster Disciples they are known as today as they separated from the Saints.

The Saints would often have conflicts with some of the many party crews in the neighborhoods.  The biggest enemy party crew was the 48th Street Boys from 48th and Laflin mainly because the 48th Street Boys acted like a gang causing many shootings back and forth between them.  In the year 1985 the 48th Street Boys came into contact with La Raza from the Pilsen neighborhood and all the 48th Street boys flipped to La Raza, thus, creating the 48th Street La Raza group that became a major rival of the Saints for years to come.

In 1989, Green Eyes from the Saints, while incarcerated came in contact with the Lord Gino, the leader of the Latin Kings and basically began the Saints’ influence into joining People in the prison system.

By the year 1990, the Saints were hanging out with Latin Kings in the streets and the Saints Joined the People alliance on the streets in 1990.

 

 

in 1994 the Latin Kings shot up a member of the Saints and killed him and the Saints were more than willing to go to war.  After this happened the Saints more or less returned to their renegade philosophy and were never big on the People alliance on the streets after the early 90s.

In the early and mid-1990s many small crews started up in the Back of The Yards that wanted to prove themselves as a down crew and were willing to fight anyone to achieve that title.  These crews were the Latin Taste, Turbo Boys, Knight Riders, D Boys (actually formed in the early 1980s), Paulina Boys, Honore Boys and the Wood Boys.  The Saints admired these new and upcoming crews and if they were down enough they would convince them to join, before you knew it the Saints absorbed the Latin Taste, Turbo Boys, Knight Riders, D Boys and Paulina Boys.

The Paulina Boys proved to be an excellent investment for the Saints as they proved to be down ass Saints too.  The Paulina Boys’ faction ventured into the Brighton Park neighborhood and opened territory at 42nd Place and Albany. The Saints also opened up a few more satellite chapters in Gage Park on 38th Street between Wood and Honore.  The Saints would also open one up at 63rd and Kostner in the West Lawn neighborhood.  Another satellite location was in the Bridgeport neighborhood at Archer Ave and Lock.  This new turf ended up bringing the Saints more trouble due to heavy police focus on them because they had a city wide reputation of being violent.  There was also a brief internal conflict between the Paulina Boys and the rest of the gang, but that was ended after a very short time.  The Paulinas were overzealous and wanted to expand further, but overall leadership saw that there was no potential in the satellite locations and shut them all down by the end of the 1990s.

 

Please send in old school pics.   1960s or 1970s pics will be especially appreciated!

Questions:

 

  1. Who were other early rivals besides the Ravens?
  2. What was the time line of leaders up to the year 2000?
  3. What year did Archer and Lock open?  What year did it close and why?
  4. What year did 42nd and Albany open?  What year it close and why?
  5. What year did 38th open?  What year did it close and why?
  6. What year did 63rd and Kostner open?  What year did close and why?