|Founded||Founded in 1958 by David Barksdale, Richard Strong, Dirk Acklin, and Prince Old Timer in or near Englewood Hyde Park|
2000 or later;
|Colors||Black, Red, and Blue|
|Color usage||Black 1958-1969; Black and blue 1969-21st century; Black, blue and red - present|
|Primary ethnicities||African American|
Included is the story of Mickey Bull and the conquest of the Robert Taylor Homes
The Black Disciple history is indeed a fascinating history and a great story of how young pre-teen boys got together and formed an organization that would help fight against the civil rights injustices and wild gangs around them.
We will start the story back in the year 1958 to the impoverished northern half of the Hyde Park neighborhood, the impoverished southern Kenwood area and in Englewood. In Hyde Park and Kenwood wealthier white greaser youths were bullying several black youths. Hyde Park had always enforced restrictive racial covenants in the earlier times but in the late 40s it was deemed unconstitutional; therefore, black families began to move into the older northern section of the Hyde Park neighborhood. By the later 50s blacks were moving into this area and southern Kenwood at a higher rate as this area became more affordable. In Englewood, black families began moving in at a very high rate in this neighborhood causing many Italian families and Italian greasers resentment and soon bullying ensued. There were also white and black gangs from outside of Englewood, Hyde Park and Kenwood that invaded and bullied these youths.
Some of the bullied youths from Kenwood, Hyde Park and Englewood got together as friends and decided to create a club that would fight against all these enemies they had. These boys were only 11-13 years old in age and they all sat down to figure out the name of this new organization. They decided to flip through the holy bible to get ideas and that’s when it dawned on them to use the name “Disciple” in their title. The boys then added on the prefix “Devil’s” to give the name an intimidating edge to it. After that was decided the Disciples were simultaneously at 49th and Dorchester in Kenwood, 53rd and Kimbark in Hyde Park and scattered throughout Englewood between 56th Street down to 67th Street.
Some founding members were Richard “Champ” Strong, David Barksdale, Mingo Shread, Prince Old Timer, Kilroy, Leonard Longstreet, Night Walker and various others. The Disciples had no central leader in their earliest days, and they kept their business out of the press. The Disciples established headquarters at the Hyde Park intersection of 53rd and Kimbark which became their very first stronghold. The Disciples created the symbols of the star of David, pitch fork and devil’s tail with devil horns when they formed in 1958.
The first arch enemy of the Disciple was the “Rebels” which was a white gang of greasers in Englewood, West Englewood and Gage Park. There were over 2,000 Rebels and they were very racist toward blacks. Disciples also fought with other black gangs in Englewood like the Egyptian Cobras that moved to the neighborhood from the west side of Chicago in 1958. Disciples also fought with the Blackstone Raiders that had settled along Garfield Boulevard, the Raiders would eventually become the Blackstone Rangers then eventually Black P Stones.
In the year 1959 Disciples made their first expansion move as they settled in the western part of the Woodlawn community west of Woodlawn Avenue as they took over about 2/3 of the Woodlawn neighborhood. The other 1/3 was all Blackstone Ranger territory who became arch rivals along with more Egyptian Cobras that had settled there as well.
In the year 1960 the Disciples decided it was time for a central leader, this is when Richard Strong was elected as the Chief of the Disciples. It was in this same year that Disciples opened up territory in the South Shore community as the first black families were moving into that are and faced discrimination. South Shore had a long history of racial discrimination toward black and Jewish people and when the first blacks arrived in 1960 the mistreatment soon unveiled. The Blackstone Rangers arrived in the community that same year fighting for the same cause but both gangs ended up mainly fighting each other.
As the years of 1958 to 1961 went by the Disciples became especially powerful in northern Englewood as white flight ran its course and more black families moved in which created excellent recruiting opportunities. By 1961 the Devil’s Disciples were the most powerful gang in Englewood and the Italian greaser gangs were fighting a losing war against the Disciples.
In the year 1961, 14-year-old David Barksdale took over leadership of the Devil’s Disciples and he directly oversaw the Englewood branch of the Disciples. Barksdale appointed Mingo as President of the Disciples in Hyde Park and Kenwood that became known as “East Side Disciples.” Barksdale set to work absorbing several other small gangs on the south side turning them into Disciple gangs. These gangs would still retain their original name, but all groups would all have the last name of “Disciple.” All other branches of Disciples outside of Englewood had their own President.
The Hyde Park/Kenwood chapter was at its peak around when Barksdale took over as they had members from 43rd down to 53rd between the two neighborhoods but starting in 1960 the University of Chicago backed a program to renovate southern Kenwood and northern Hyde Park by clearing out slum buildings and renovating some the older and salvageable homes. This action would increase the value of these neighborhoods and push impoverished black families out causing most of these families to move to Englewood. As the families began moving in the early 60s the Disciples grew stronger in Englewood and gradually a new headquarters was set up at 63rd and Normal in the year 1963 because many homes were razed at 53rd and Kimbark in Hyde Park and the Kimbark Shopping Plaza was built over half of Disciple headquarters.
In the same year that David Barksdale took over power of the Disciples Richard Strong and his family moved into the Cabrini Green public housing projects that was mostly ran by various small gangs and Egyptian Cobras. Strong developed quite a following in no time and recruited several black youths into the Devil’s Disciples, this is the story of how Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples first landed in Cabrini Green.
The Devil’s Disciples were the largest gang on the south side by 1965 and before, even after the Black Stone Rangers started, Rangers were not as large. The Rangers only appeared larger because they were more outspoken to media outlets.
On the date of January 6, 1966, the Disciples perceived the Rangers as a threat due to their aggressive recruitment measures. In order to counteract this threat David Barksdale had the idea to create a unity among several gangs on the south side that mutually hated the Rangers. This was to be a coalition that would absorb these gangs under one “Disciple” nation. This new coalition would become known as the “Black Disciple nation.” The coalition expanded Disciple boundaries beyond the Englewood, Hyde Park, South Shore Woodlawn and Kenwood area and put them in further south side neighborhoods like Greater Grand Crossing, Woodlawn, Washington Park as they absorbed up several small black gangs in all these communities causing Disciple numbers to grow into the thousands. Every gang that absorbed into the Black Disciple nation adopted the last name of “Disciple” added onto their name. This spreading of this nation did not gain much notoriety due to Disciples keeping their activity low key, therefore, you don’t read much about it in the history books. What you will read all about is how the rival Black Peace Stone nation spread all over the place after that nation was created in May of 1966 to counteract the Black Disciple nation, again it was because Stones were more outspoken to media outlets.
With this great expansion and the recruitment of several gangs into the Disciple nation came settlement in a part of Chicago the Disciples normally were not found. Disciples turned out some small gangs on the west side of Chicago primarily in the Near West Side community in and near the Henry Horner projects area and the Medical District section and possibly in the North Lawndale area. I don’t know exactly where the Disciples were at this time in 1966 but it was described to me as “pockets” of Disciples scattered around the west side. It was also said they had an “L” shaped territory out west in the 60s but I don’t know where. These sections of Disciples were not very significant but worth mentioning because this was the beginning of BD settlement out west which we will expand upon later in this piece.
In 1966, the Black Disciple nation became heavily active in the community opening fund raisers, legitimate businesses, enforcing school policies to keep kids in school. Maybe some of that money went to illegal activities but a great deal of it went into helping the community. David Barksdale used his power for some good as can be seen. The Disciples were also tied to civil rights groups and fought against civil rights injustices. In that summer of 1966 Disciples even tried a peace treaty with the Rangers, this didn’t last but at least there was a large attempt.
In the year 1967, The Woodlawn Organization was awarded over $927,000 to be handed out to the Blackstone Rangers and the Black Disciples to operate job training centers for neighborhood youths in Woodlawn. All Disciples and Rangers involved were paid a salary to be instructors of this program despite the lack of training. Disciples received about $360,000 of this money for the program. In these programs there were both Disciple and Ranger instructors and students in these classrooms and sometimes gang fights and shootings happened in the classes.
Black P Stones and Disciples squashed their war in May of 1968 and it lasted for days until May 8th. David Barksdale was out in the area of 65th and Ellis in the Woodlawn area when Detectives showed up to talk to him. Barksdale told the cops that the Ellis Rebel Stones, the only Stone group in west Woodlawn, was out to kill him. He did a test and led the cops to the end of an alley and sure enough the Stones opened fire and shot at David, the Stones were then arrested but this also ended the peace treaty (Source: People Vs. McChristian) (The Almighty Black P. Stone Nation, Moore, Williams).
In the year 1968 war began between the Black Disciples and Gangster nation. Larry Hoover became the target for assassination attempts. He was shot on two occasions then on September 4th, 1968 a third attempt was made on him. On this day Englewood was on high alert as Disciples, Gangsters and Stones were packing guns and ready to shoot each other. At Parker High School members of the Supreme Gangsters and Disciples were especially ready to get into drama against each other. Baron Disciple member James Highsmith and Disciple co-founder Leonard Longstreet entered Parker High School even though they weren’t students. The two spotted Larry Hoover standing outside of the principle’s office and Highsmith walked past him with a smile as Longstreet shouted out “Burn him,” Highsmith pulled out a .32 pistol and shot Larry Hoover and two others nearby. No one was killed but Highsmith was convicted of the shooting and sentenced to one to five years (from source A Report on Chicago Crime by the Chicago Crime Commission).
During that fall season of 1968 the guns were blazing all over the south side as Disciples, Gangsters and Stones were at each other’s throats as bodies were dropping. This led to a temporary truce between the three organizations that didn’t last long but it was an attempt to curtail the several acts of violence on the south side.
During this same year of 1968, Jeff Fort and the Black P Stones were raking in thousands of dollars in government grant money after projecting the public appearance as a community youth group in need of funding to help poverty. The money went to a lot of good and actually helped open legitimate businesses that helped young blacks but on the other side of it some of the money was used for illegal activities and this caught the attention of the F.B.I that began investigations. The same groups that granted money to the Stones also gave money to the Disciples as well. The Disciples did not stick their necks out as much for the money and more or less received the money as a default because the gang apologists and liberal groups wanted to give money to the rivals of the Stones too. When Stones were questioned about who their worst rival is, they pointed to the Disciples and that prompted these groups to line the pockets of the Black Disciples as well, many of times without Disciples even asking for the money. Disciples used a lot of this money for good just like the Stones as they opened legit businesses and created programs to help black youths on the south side just like how the Vice Lords and Stones were doing; just like Vice Lords and Stones, the Disciples fell under F.B.I investigation for mismanaging those funds for illegal activities such as buying drugs and guns. The Disciples’ involvement with mismanaging these funds was not much in the newspaper because of their lower profile activities and the Disciples didn’t trust white people and the social case workers, they practically had no choice by 1968 to deal with them after the money was practically forced on them.
By the year 1968, The Robert Taylor Homes public housing projects were ran by gangs like the Cobra Stones (Mickey Cobras). Fourteen-year-old Black Disciple Vanguard (Heavy hitter enforcer) Michael “Mickey Bull” Johnson moved into the Robert Taylor Homes in 1966 and became one of the first Disciples in these projects at the age of 12. Johnson led a conquest to take over a large piece of the buildings between 49th and State down to 53rd and State in the Grand Boulevard and Washington Park neighborhoods in 1968. His conquest against the Cobra Stones was a success and Mickey Bull put the Disciples in the Robert Taylor Homes for the first time in history, he then became the leader of all BD operations in those buildings.
In June of 1969, Larry Hoover had completely had enough of the Stones and conferenced with rival David Barksdale instead. David Barksdale wanted the same type of plan that Jeff Fort wanted which was to absorb Gangsters and Disciples together as “Black Gangster Disciples,” however, David’s plan would offer Larry to rule alongside David as Barksdale as both men would become “Kings.” Although this was a merger of concepts it was not a combination into one gang, it was still an alliance but a closer conceptual alliance than what Stones had with the Gangsters. Larry accepted this offer because him and David would have equal say so in how the alliance operated. This was a much more attractive deal for Larry Hoover, and he accepted this offer, and this brought about the birth of the “Black Gangster Disciple nation” name. Prince Old Timer was appointed the Prince of the Disciples while “Tennesee” the Prince of the Gangsters. Again, this was still just an alliance, but it was a combined concept alliance unlike the one between the Stones and the Gangsters. All Disciple gangs and Gangster gangs were all Black Gangster Disciples. Many Disciples objected to this and only wanted to see this as a looser alliance just like how the Stones and Gangsters had it, but the majority ruled, and this was to remain a combined concepts alliance with separate ruling.
In June of 1969, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and BGDs all got together to form a coalition known as the “Lord Stones and Disciples” or LSD. This was a unity of the gangs so they could march on the government and demand equal rights, better jobs and all the oppression and poverty in their neighborhoods. This coalition effectively slowed down gang violence between these three organizations even after CVL INC went defunct in the fall of 1970. For the rest of 1969 the LSD coalition really set aside a lot of gang wars as they marched on City Hall, Universities and everywhere, until finally in January of 1970 they achieved some success in bringing about “The Chicago Plan” which was “An agreement to implement the employment of minorities in Chicago’s construction industry” (Chicago Building Trades Council, 1970). The final agreement lists 3,000 jobs or training positions in four categories. But a Coalition spokesman claimed that the actual final agreement called for 1,000 jobs in each category (Chicago Defender, January 13, 1970)” (Panagopoulos, The Role Of Gangs In The Construction Of UIC). It was soon discovered in the early 1970s that the Chicago Plan was failing about not producing like it should and by October of 1973 the LSD coalition disbanded.
At some point in the later 1960s, Disciples settled in many further south side neighborhoods all the way down to Riverdale and Morgan Park. Disciples also settled in south suburban communities like Chicago Heights, Robbins, Ford Heights, Harvey, Markham, Dixmoor and Phoenix.
Since 1966, David Barksdale had been working with leaders of the Black P Stones on several failed peace treaties. By June of 1970, another weak peace treaty was in effect but this was broken on June 7, 1970 when David Barksdale was shot in his side at a bar at 848 West 69th Street (69th and Peoria) in the Englewood neighborhood. The shooters were Black P Stones. Larry Hoover was there with Barksdale when the shooting started and acted quickly after Barksdale was shot by quickly getting Barksdale into his car. Hoover then raced to St. Bernard’s Hospital In Englewood and was accredited with saving David Barksdale’s life after Barksdale suffering an M-14 bullet wound in his side that passed into his kidneys causing terrible damage.
Before the 1970s, Cabrini Green was run by various different gangs with a good number of Egyptian Cobras and Black Disciples running some of the buildings or parts of buildings. In the early 1970s a bid for domination of these projects began and first caught wind in the news when two officers were shot dead by snipers on the rooftops of the project buildings. There was an existing war between Black Deuces and Egyptian Cobras that prompted police to investigate, this is how serious this war was becoming. In 1971, Richard Strong, the Cabrini Green Disciple founder, started a group called the B.L.A.C.K.S which was a civil rights group that aimed to help the people of Cabrini Green facing injustices. Eventually the B.L.A.C.K.S and the Deuces would merge together then eventually merge into the Black Disciples. The war ran its course and by about 1972 the Disciples and Cobras dominated these buildings.
In the early 1970s, investigations into street gangs using government funding for illegal activities came to a close as they now had evidence to convict high ranking gang members from the Black P Stones. In 1971 top leaders of the Black P Stones were officially charged and by 1972 Jeff Fort was sentenced to 4 years in prison. The investigations didn’t stop with the Stones though, investigators went after the Vice Lords and shut down their legit businesses then they aimed their cross heirs at the Black Gangster Disciples. Authorities ended up getting Mingo to testify before the grand jury against his own organization, however, no charges were brought upon the Disciples, but government funding was cut off. Stones and Vice Lords had members testify against their own gangs too in these proceedings and caused Vice Lords and Stones to face prison time, but Mingo’s testimony failed to convict anyone, instead Mingo was severely beaten on the streets by the Disciples for snitching on his own kind. The same exact money that convicted the Stones somehow didn’t get the Disciples convicted even though both groups were technically mismanaging funds. It seemed like the government just had it out for the Stones more.
A harsh conviction did come down on the Disciples in 1973 though when on February 26, 1973 Larry Hoover ordered the death of William “Pooky” Young, a 19-year-old drug dealer in the neighborhood that stole drugs and money from the BGDs. Larry Hoover then ordered Andrew Howard to kill him and it all happened at 68th and Union in the Englewood neighborhood in an alley, Young was shot 6 times in the head. On March 16 both men were arrested and charged with the murder. By November 5, 1973 Hoover and Howard were sentenced to 150 to 200 years in prison in Statesville Correctional Facility in Crest Hill Illinois.
As Larry Hoover was now sitting in prison while David Barksdale was the main face for the B.G.D.N in the streets David also started to become very ill. In 1974, David Barksdale began to suffer serious health problems as his kidneys were slowly shutting down. The 1970 assassination attempt by the Black P Stones may not have initially killed him but in the long run it brought an agonizing fate that led to his death on September 2nd 1974. The fond memory would live on of King David as a positive leader that truly worked to better lives for Disciples. David Barksdale was no drug dealer, he was no killer, or at least not on record he was no killer, he was barely even a criminal. He was the King of the Disciples but when you look at his old rap sheet you really couldn’t tell. David wasn’t full of money and power like Jeff Fort and he didn’t even make money like Larry did. On record he was a small-time hustler that committed petty crimes and he had no real felonies on his record. Here is a list of crimes on record recorded on David Barksdale from a list I got from the NGCRC website written by George W. Knox.
The rap sheet begins with the arrest of David Jones, 5 May 65, for Criminal Trespass to Vehicle (dismissed by Judge Comerford). On 13 July 65 the arrest is for “resisting”, and again 28 July 65 “Resist. & Disorderly G.B.”. The case also went to Judge Comerford.
* The first twist on the real name begins on 2 December 65, “David L. Barksdale” with investigation for aggravated battery.
* The next alias (Davis Jones) comes on 31 Dec 66 for Strong Arm robbery. His gives a home address of 8407 S. Morgan.
*Arrested as Davis L. Barksdale 14 Feb 67 for investigation of Burglary, released without charge, and listed as living at 522 W. 64th St.
* Arrested then again on 26 April 67 as Donise Barksdale for assault and resisting, it was non-suited. Address given: 6452 S. Union.
* An entry on 10 Aug 67 for David L. Barksdale (6452 S. Union) indicates “Appl. Chicago Urban Oppt.”, which presumably means an anti-gang program or gang-treatment program.
* David Barksdale was arrested on 13 Sept 67 for possession of marijuana, but it was a case dismissed by Judge Wendt.
* George Walker was an alias used in the arrest on 13 Oct 67 for disorderly conduct; but again the charge was non-suited (Judge Wendt again).
* David L. Barksdale on 1 Feb 68 was arrested for resisting and disorderly conduct (Xparte $25, Judge Cerda).
* On 7 April 68 David Barksdale was arrested for curfew, but again the case was dismissed (Judge Lee).
* On 28 May 68 David L. Barksdale was arrested for aggravated assault, battery and criminal damage to property, but also dismissed (Judge Cerda).
* On 8 June 68 David Barksdale was arrested for disorderly conduct (Xparte $25 & NC, Judge Zelezinski).
* David D. Barksdale arrested 27 June 68 for mob action. Again on 3 July 68 for Agg. battery.
* Arrested 24 July 68 for warrants on the two prior arrests, receives 6 months in the “House of Corrections” (i.e., today known as Cook County Jail) by Judge Zelezinski.
* On 3 August 68 charged with criminal damage to property, but on 3 Nov 68 it is dismissed (Judge Zelezinski). Similarly, 4 August 68 charged with resisting arrest and disorderly, again dismissed (Judge Zelezinski).
* Arrested 7 Mar 69 for a battery warrant, dismissed (Judge Zelezinski). On 4 Sept 69 again for “mob action”, again dismissed (S.O.L., Judge Genesen). Arrested 14 August 69 for unlawful use of weapon, and defacing I.D., dismissed (Judge Mooney).
* Arrested 15 January 70 for intimidation, dismissed (S.O.L., Judge Hechinger).
* David Lee Barksdale arrested for resisting arrest on 7 May 70, discharged on 10 Mar 71 (Judge Genesen). Arrested 4 Sept 70 for mob action, held to the grand jury (Judge Dunne). He is indicted for Mob Action by the Grand Jury. Verdict: not guilty (Judge Aspen).
* On 9 Jan 71 arrested for defacing firearms and discharging a weapon, gets 6 months in the county jail (Judge Dunne).
* Next record entry is 12 Jan 71, for traffic court. Arrested 26 January 71 for armed robbery conspiracy, dismissed by Judge Murphy. A 21 June 71 entry for traffic court. A blank entry for 11 July 1972 in the 6th district (CB No. 3586047).
* On 18 Jan 74 John David Barksdale arrested for gambling (dice), dismissed by Judge Neal.
* Last entry, 13 Feb 74 for possession of marijuana and fictitious license plates (3 days in jail, and $100 fine, Judge Murphy).
(2004: National Gang Crime Research Center, Knox)
As you can see from this rap sheet, he was no kingpin and was more focused on the activist side of Disciple operations. Barksdale was very much feared and some even said just looking at him sent shivers up your spine. Barksdale did have a hard side but he was also generous to those disadvantaged. He would go to the Bryn Mawr School at 74th and Chappel in the South Shore neighborhood and he would stacks on $1 bills to the children in the school yard in the early 1970s.
After Barksdale’s passing in 1974, he was dearly missed especially by the Gangster gangs allied with the B.G.D.N. Most of the Disciples were also very mournful and wanted to continue growing a closer unity with the Gangsters but there was a large group of Disciples that didn’t agree with growing closer to the Gangsters and perhaps interpreted David’s teachings differently. This group held grudges from the 1968 war and now that David passed they began to fracture away from B.G.D.N laws and went on their own. Gangsters and most Disciples that still followed B.G.D.N were furious and conflict began between B.G.D and this group of Disciples.
In the Robert Taylor Homes Mickey Bull was advancing in rank as a top Vanguard and was still running the buildings between 49th Street and 53rd Street, especially the 5 white buildings at 51st and State and the red buildings on 49th. He was put in prison in 1973 for manslaughter charges then was released in 1975. Now by the summer of 1976 he had enough power to order deeds he needed to be done. In July 1976, Todd White had stopped in the Robert Taylors by the 4844 S. State Street building. White was not known around there and was wearing fancy clothes and drove a nice car. Mickey Bull and Thaddis Terrell saw the man and saw an opportunity to rob White. Mickey Bull approached White while Terrell walked up and put a pistol to White’s temple and told him to give them all his money. White said he had no money and Bull searched him and found nothing. Bull then grabbed the man by his necktie and dragged him across the street. White gave a wise crack saying “I told you I didn’t have any money.” Then he twisted away and started to run. Bull was enraged because the man not only got physical and started running but also because of his wise crack, but Bull did not have to shoot White instead he told Terrell to do it, Terrell then fired one shot right through White’s chest, Mickey then said “Pop him again…..make sure he’s dead.” After the incident both Terrell and Johnson were charged with murder. Even though Bull was still on parole for the 1973 manslaughter he was only given 5 years for the murder and was back on in Robert Taylor by 1977 (Chicago Tribune, December 3, 1986).
By the year 1976, Larry Hoover wanted to reach a resolution to absolve this two-year disorganization between Disciples and Gangsters and to carry on the legacy that David Barksdale had left, all of the Gangster groups agreed with Larry. Larry had earned a lot of respect from the majority of the Disciples and they were on board as well with a resolve to make the B.G.D.N more than just an alliance, it would be a complete merger into one nation and the idea would bring about organization and complete unity, however, some Disciples were dissatisfied with this idea, many of which were the same Disciples that fractured away from the B.G.D.N after David’s death. The new B.G.D nation did become official that year and the majority of Disciples became “Black Gangster Disciples” alongside the Gangsters and Larry Hoover but the rest of the Disciples led by Dirk “Don Dirk” Acklin split away entirely and brought back the name “Black Disciples,” this time it meant one organization and not an alliance. As soon as Dirk Acklin organized the Black Disciples an immediate civil war began between BDs and BGDs that brought blood shed on the streets. In the prison system BGDs and BDs were at each other’s throats with no resolve and there was basically chaos everywhere. Although there was a split on the streets there wasn’t as much clarification on the difference between BGD and BD but in prison it was very clear.
Mickey Bull was incarcerated again in the late 1970s. Before Bull went into prison he managed to convince several members of the Mickey Cobras from a 49th and State Street Robert Taylor building to become Black Disciples. These Mickey Cobras were known as the “Fidel Castro Mickey Cobras.” The building that was taken was the 4844 building.
Larry Hoover showed his absolute power in Statesville prison on April of 1978 when he got together with members of the Black Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black Souls, Vice Lords, El Rukns (Black P Stones), Mickey Cobras and organized a work stoppage strike against foul food that was being served to inmates making them sick. During this strike Larry Hoover also got together with leaders of several rival and allied organizations from all over the city in this prison. Now that they showed unity by assembling this work stoppage the unity was taken further or perhaps it was arranged while creating the stoppage in the first place, regardless of when exactly it happened the creation of the Folk and People alliances happened in April of 1978 stemming from this work stoppage protest. This organizing led to another big sit down with members of allied and enemy nations to discuss how to control the gang wars in the prison system. He proposed two rival coalitions that all major gangs would follow that could be controlled by negotiations between the leaders of each of these coalitions just like how the Italian Mafia organizes their gang wars between families. For Larry’s own organization and his own allies, he assembled the “Folk” alliance which united Black Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Ashland Vikings, Ambrose, Two Six, Satan Disciples, Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Eagles, Simon City Royals and Insane Popes to have complete peace among each other and work together. His rivals agreed to this and assembled their own coalition called the “People” alliance. The People alliance was assembled by the El Rukns, Vice Lords and Latin Kings as they allied with Latin Counts, Bishops, Mickey Cobras, Four Corner Hustlers, Insane Unknowns, Spanish Lords and Puerto Rican Stones. This became a very effective coalition in the prison system and drastically reduced violence between BGDs and BDs.
Around this time when Folk and People was beginning the scattered settlement of BDs on the west side of Chicago finally came into fruition when they settled in the Henry Horner projects. Gangs had always been active in the Horners but never took over power and created much significant action until the late 70s and this is when BDs become one of the Henry Horner powers. The BDs largest west side territory was in the same neighborhood in the Medical District/ Tri-Taylor area in an area bounded by Monroe Street on the north, Congress Parkway on the south, Damen Avenue on the east and Western Avenue on the west. Despite Folk and People alliances BDs clicked up with Traveling Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers in the Austin neighborhood in later years. I am not sure exactly when BDs settled in Austin or North Lawndale at 13th and St. Louis (Nose D Mob) or at Fulton and Avers (Insane Deuce BDs). BDs have rooted themselves heavily in their west side territory and it came into strength beginning in the late 70s. The Blue Fin BDs settled at Central Avenue and Division Street in the Austin neighborhood in the 2000s decade.
There was a pretty solid peace between BGD and BDs from late 1978 until late 1979 until a flare up happened in Statesville but got patched up only to return a year later. In late 1980 another flare up began again and heightened on January 29, 1981 when an incident happened at Statesville.
In Statesville prison unit B, Black Disciple gang member George Baily resided in this unit along with members of the Black Gangster Disciples. Baily was allowed a privileged duty known as “cellhouse help” which allowed inmates to roam freely in the cell block without cuffs or escort by guards according to court documents. Black Gangster Disciple leader Earnest “Smokey” Wilson disapproved of Black Disciples being cellhouse helpers and declared that all BDs should either resign from this position or flip to becoming BGDs. Wilson even held a meeting in that unit for BGDs and BDs to attend in order to lay out the rules, three BDs including Baily were in attendance and two of those three BDs resigned from that position and listened to Wilson according to court documents, but Baily would not drop the position. The BDs did not like this rule that Wilson imposed and for two weeks straight they chanted “B.D. Power” every night around 8 P.M. according to court documents. Wilson then had a meeting with Dirk Acklin, who as I stated earlier was a BD founder and leader, to express Wilson’s dissatisfaction of this revolt from the BDs, but apparently it got nowhere so Wilson picked a fist fight with Baily which got Wilson thrown in segregation, and on January 29th he was returned back to his unit and met with fellow BGDs to plot the murder of Baily. The BGDs obtained an aluminum bat which ended up in the hands of Fred “Bobo” Collins. Later on that day Collins struck Baily in the head with the bat repeatedly which caused Baily to be hospitalized, and on February 5, 1981, Baily died according to court documents (People vs. Harris, 1988).
In the year 1981, Mickey Bull was released from prison and was given a new rank as “Bishop” which was a very high position. Jerome Freeman was also released that same year and Dirk Acklin placed Freeman in charge of the Black Disciples on the streets. Mickey Johnson was like a prophet that informed all the Disciples that were not following B.G.D laws that they were now part of the Black Disciple nation that was created five years earlier in prison, now the split was official on the streets and the B.G.D.N alliance was defunct as now there were two separate organizations that were only tied loosely by the Folk alliance. Mickey also taught BDs about the Folk alliance. and all the bylaws associated with it, he was also pivotal in getting the word out to Hispanic and white gangs about the Folk alliance
Mickey also taught BDs the new hand sign which was the “Gates” or the three fingers, this was the new hand sign.
Gangsters also got released from prison that same year and began flipping members from the old B.G.D.N into BGDs which included many groups of Disciples. Mickey Johnson made sure not all of the Stateway Gardens became BGD and even convinced most of the Del Vikings to flip to BDs making the BDs have a strong presence in the Stateway Gardens, this is the story of how BDs got into the Stateway Gardens.
In the year 1982, Mickey bull and the BDs took over the long standing Mickey Cobra buildings near 45th and State. This was the 4555 and 4525 buildings which the Cobras held since 1962. This left the Mickey Cobras with only “The Hole” which was three buildings from 53rd and State down the 54th and State. Mickey Bull had successfully pushed the MCs south of 53rd Street.
In 1982, the wars between BGDs and BDs almost came to an end after Dirk Acklin was released from prison and disapproved of how powerful Jerome Freeman had become. Dirk then created his own group of Black Disciples to go against Freeman’s called the Asiatic Apostles and a civil war began within the BDs. As a result of this war relations between BGDs and BDs smoothed over as these two BD factions were focused and removing each other until Dirk Acklin’s BDs went back to the rest of the BDs in 1983 or 1984.
In the year 1984, Mickey Bull was promoted again to the rank of “Minister” which gave him his own “Dynasty.” Being a Minister was a very high rank that usually no one receives in the organization. Having a dynasty means you control on entire area of the city. Mickey’s dynasty was the entire south side of Chicago, anywhere from Bronzeville down to the wild 100s was controlled by Mickey. His main territory that he directly supervised daily was the Robert Taylor Homes. He held BD meetings in front of the 4950 building. Bull himself stayed at the 5041 S. Federal St in apartment 1505 with Brenda Wear. He ran that building and all the buildings around (Chicago Tribune, December 3, 1986).
In the early 1980s and mid-1980s relations between BDs and BGDs was at its best point, especially now that Folk nation rules and regulations reached the streets, now both gangs would often team up against rivals like Vice Lords, Black P Stones and Mickey Cobras. The Crack Cocaine epidemic of the late 1980s caused relations between the two gangs to completely break down, mainly because of the Crack trade in the Englewood neighborhood. Beginning in the year 1987, fierce competition and intense gang wars erupted in the high rise public housing projects city-wide. Gangs began muscling in on these buildings and began setting up their own security as they walked through the hallways armed with automatic weapons and shotguns as they patted down residents and imposed curfews, the competition was fierce. They even controlled the elevators in the projects and would jump down the shafts and hitch rides up and down.
The Englewood neighborhood is Chicago’s most violent and most impoverished neighborhood and just like the high rise housing projects, the Englewood community became a hotbed for Crack Cocaine users which made distribution a large money making commodity. The BDs had a long rooted history in the Englewood community as the largest piece of their story started on these streets and they felt ownership of this neighborhood. Black P Stones and Mickey Cobras were never welcomed by BDs in this neighborhood, but now the BDs biggest allies the Black Gangster Disciples were muscling in on too many BD drug spots because BGDs felt they were entitled due to being the larger organization and sitting at the top of the Folk Nation alliance. BDs felt disrespected from their BGD brethren. By 1989 the tempers began to flare. Jerome Freeman ended up back in prison with a 28 year sentence for felony drug charges in 1989 and soon after all hell was about to break loose on the streets of Englewood. This was the beginning of severe conflict between BDs and BGDs.
In the hot summer of 1991, some GDs were ready for war with the BDs but Mickey Bull was holding relations tight between the two organizations and this was a threat to GDs that did not want to be controlled this way. Bull was not expecting GDs to come after him because there was no full fledged war yet, he was also untouchable and many BDs and GDs feared and respected him. Mickey was mild mannered and charming but he would also have no tolerance for those that crossed him. When he walked the streets he had a special whistle that BDs knew. When Mickey whistled it meant he was summoning some soldiers for business. It didn’t matter what you were doing; if you were laying in bed with the flu, if you were laying in bed with your girl, if you were taking a shit, it didn’t matter, you had to stop everything and rush outside to Mickey when he whistled. He had this kind of power and enemies could not touch because he could see it coming, but in August of 1991, he never expected GDs to come at him and that is what happened, members of the Gangster Disciples shot him dead on the streets which caused an immediate violent backlash from the BDs that became legendary. Payback had to be harsh for this and on August the 7th Englewood was a war zone.
By August of 1991, during one of the hottest and driest summers in Chicago history the feuding between GDs and BDs was taken to a new level because of the death of Mickey Bull. On August 7, 1991 the Black Disciples murdered three members of the Gangsters Disciples in cold blood on that hot August Wednesday night. The murders were done out of a taxi cab, yes a taxi cab the BDs actually shot them from a taxi cab which is one of the craziest ways a gang could do a hit on someone ever. The problems all started that day at 66th and Peoria at the apartments at 6556 S. Peoria st (now torn down) when “Tojo” a Black Disciple came pulling up in the afternoon and taunted three Gangsters Disciples members by throwing up the BD gang sign. One of the GDs Kevin Gibbs threw up a sign and shouted “BDK” and Tojo said “GDK,” then someone inside the building shot at Tojo and he started to drive off by stopped real quick to say he would be back later. Later that night at 11:00 P.M. the Gangsters Disciples were back out there selling drugs on that corner when a red and white taxi cab drove up with a red Lebaron. Both vehicles then stopped and one of the windows on the taxi cab rolled down and a barrel of a gun appeared as the shooting suddenly started. All three Gangsters Disciples were shot but two of them survived while the other died. A little while later at 618 West 71st Street out in front of a submarine sandwich shop (71st and Lowe, now a vacant lot, buildings torn down since then) another shooting happened in which three Gangsters Disciples were shot again, two of them ended up dying at that corner. The taxi cab was apparently stolen to be used in this shooting perhaps as a diversion, after all who would expect a taxi to pull up and start shooting at you? After this shooting there was no love anymore between GDs and BDs it was all out war that would never quit. The BDs even changed their hand sign from throwing up the forks to throwing up the “Tres” or “The Gates” by using three straight fingers.
Between 1991 and 1994, the southside of Chicago was in a state of intense warfare between GDs and BDs. Gang members from both gangs basically said you couldn’t go anywhere during that time. It was not until 1994 when Marvell Thompson stepped in after he was cleared on a murder charge that the violence between GDs and BDs settled down for a while.
As the 1990s progressed more and more Gangsters Disciple gang members flipped to Black Disciples. In the earlier days there was no point on flipping from GD to BD because both gangs were allied against Black P Stones, Mickey Cobras and Vice Lord factions. But now there was an alternative to being a GD and still remaining Folks while you went up against your old enemies under the People nation, not only that many GDs had a secret animosity toward their own gang and knew flipping would not help because GDs and BDs were mostly tight. Now that the war was in permanent swing, disgruntled GDs could flip to BD and several all ties to GD, unless of course they went to the joint.
In January 1996, Gangster Disciple Governor Chuck “Big Chuck” Dorsey was shot and killed on the streets. After this happened the GDs and BDs had a meeting at 38th and Cottage Grove in the Bronzeville area. GDs and BDs were allies at 38th and Ellis and all around the Ida B. Wells and Madden Park projects area. The death of Chuck could have brought more war in these section and at the “Low End” located at 46th and Evans (5th Ward) in Grand Boulevard. At the meeting Rimrod threw down the pitchfork to disrespect GDs but there was no violence. Instead of violence many GDs flipped to BDs at the Low End and in the projects making BD numbers stronger. Rimrod was killed shortly after the meeting along with other high ranking BDs but the BDs had grown stronger at these locations.
These new members were young and eager like Robert Sandifer “Yummy.” Yummy was a young 11 year old fresh new recruit to the BDs in 1994. Yummy was a kid that used to steal cars and break into houses since he was 8 years old. Law enforcement could not put him in juvenile detention because he was too young and he could not go to anymore foster homes because he was too violent. In August 1994 the Black Disciples had him kill some rivals. Yummy blasted a 9mm pistol into a crowd of kids and accidentally killed young 14 year old Shavon Dean. The murder brought a lot of public outcry and attention to the Black Disciples. The BDs feared that this young of a member would snitch if he were caught by the police. Yummy’s 14 and 16 year old brothers lured him to a viaduct underpass, had him get on his knees then pumped two bullets in the back of his head. The two brothers were then convicted of the murder and a lot of attention ended up on the Black Disciples over this issue for a few years to come despite the BDs attempt to cover it up.
The BDs grew incredibly in the 1990s and 2000s decade as they climbed up to becoming one of the top 10 largest gangs in Chicagoland with members in other states and scattered all over the suburbs. Violent gang wars erupted in the Robert Taylor and Stateway Gardens projects as gun fire echoed day and night mainly between BDs and GDs. Both gang exercised majority control of both public housing high complexes and other gangs had a very small piece of these buildings; therefore, the BDs and GDs were each other’s biggest competition in these projects. The BDs showed their muscle against the larger enemy and showed relentless pursuit of violence against their foes which gained them a massive reputation, causing many starry eyes young black youths to want to join the gang as they grew to over 6,000 members.
In 1991, the Black Disciples took over the 16 story high rise Randolph Tower housing authority complex located in the Washington Park neighborhood which was located at 6217 S. Calumet Avenue (63rd and Calumet). This large building the BDs nicknamed “The Castle” where they set up a complex $45,000 a day to as much as $300,000 a day Crack Cocaine and heroin operation in this tower. The Tower was run by Marvel Thompson and residents and anyone were searched at the front door by armed BD guards with automatic weapons and shotguns. This operation was incredibly complex as money from drug profits was even laundered and invested into an Atlanta nightclub, apartment buildings and even into the rap label M.O.B. Black Disciple snipers were posted on the roof of the buildings equipped with high powered and complex sniper rifles while they wore night vision goggles at night so they could spot enemy gang members and pick them off. The building was not friendly to police officers, and Chicago police stayed away especially after one incident where an undercover officer entered the building, and as he was patted down a bullet proof vest was discovered, as he tried to run a BD pulled out his pistol and shot the officer in the back, but the officer survived. The BDs even became so bold that they hijacked the WCFL 104.7 radio frequency that was a frequency owned by a Christian radio station in the suburb of Morris, once you arrived in Chicago city limits the frequency was playing gangster rap music that was described by the Chicago Tribune article I got all this info from as having lots of foul language. The frequency owners were shocked when they drove to Midway Airport and the music suddenly took over. The frequency was also said to be used to communicate with The Tower to alert the gang of any possible threats coming (Chicago tribune David Heinzmann and Todd Lighty, May 14, 2004). In 2004 a massive raid by the police swept through this complex as several members were arrested, in the aftermath it was decided the best way to stop the dealings at this complex was to tear the complex down and in 2004 the buildings were razed. The Tower was the largest drug operation the Black Disciples had ever ran but the gang would continue to grow and open new ventures regardless.
In the 2000s decade as the Robert Taylor buildings were being torn down the BDs expanded and were eventually running territory from 43rd down to 49th and State. This brought the BDs a lot of extra profits before the buildings all came down by 2006. The BDs also took over the 5th Ward and New Town from the GDs in the 2000s.
The BDs would continue to expand and they opened up the Burnside neighborhood, South Deering neighborhood, Riverdale neighborhood (and Altgeld Gardens Projects), Washington Park neighborhood, Calumet Heights neighborhood, South Shore neighborhood, Roseland neighborhood, Pullman neighborhood, West Pullman neighborhood, Morgan Park neighborhood, Washington Heights neighborhood. The BDs also opened up in several Chicago land suburbs and in other states. The organization has grown to over 6,000 members. In 2005 Jerome “Shorty” Freeman was released from prison after being put away for 16 years. In 2011 Shorty died of health issues at the age of 60.
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