|Founded||Founded in 1964 in or near Englewood|
— c. 1978
2000 or later;
|Colors||Black and Blue|
|Primary ethnicities||African American|
|Symbols||Winged Heart, Devil Horns, and Devil Tail|
A special big thanks to TheGhostInTheMachine for all your help!
In order to tell the story of the largest mob in Chicago’s history I must intertwine both the history of the Gangsters and the history of the Disciples to bring about the correct understand. The Gangster Disciples are said to be at least 40,000 strong in numbers and continue to grow with members as young as pre-teen and members as old as in their 70s. The Gangster Disciple nation has a hell of a legacy of expansion, power and dominance. The Gangster Disciples have grown beyond just being a gang and are about Growth and Development. Growth and Development is something positive that turns Gangster Disciple members into productive members of society and helps men of all ages better themselves and become successful. Not all Gangster Disciples get involved in criminal activity and many retire and leave the criminal life and become productive members of Growth and Development.
The history of the Gangster Disciple nation has roots that come from civil rights issues and dealing with problems that plagued their communities. It became time to fight back. From the rough parts of Hyde Park to the impoverished and blighted community of Englewood Gangsters and Disciples were born and would evolve to show the world true power in numbers and organization.
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.
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 created excellent recruiting opportunities. By 1961 the Devil’s Disciples were the most powerful gang in Englewood and the Italian greaser gangs were fighting that 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.
Now that we began the story with the creation of the Disciples now let’s look into the formation of the “Gangsters.” This took place in Englewood in the year 1964, more specifically at 68th and Green. A group of thirty young black youths got together at this intersection as they hung out in Larry Hoover’s home and watched outside the window as gangsters and pimps hung out in the parking lot of The Guys and Gal’s night Club that used to exist at that intersection. These boys wanted to be just like these pimps and gangsters, and they were living on the border of Ranger and Disciple territory. Larry Hoover was inspired to be a leader of gangsters and began dressing himself very well to fit the role. Eventually these boys created their own club called the “Supreme Gangsters” which was Larry Hoover’s idea for the club name. Larry Hoover himself was not the first official leader but more of a behind the scenes type leader. Hoover teamed up with street hustler Andrew “Dee Dee” Howard and Ike “King Ike” Taylor and made King Ike his right-hand man. The Supreme Gangsters wore the color black and their symbols were a heart with wings and a round crown with a sword going through it. The Supreme Gangsters saluted each other with a clenched fist as their hand sign.
Upon inception the Supreme Gangsters were immediately at war with Blackstone Rangers and Egyptian Cobras but had no hard feelings against Disciples. Supreme Gangsters were the newer organization in Englewood, and this made them the target of Blackstone Rangers that wanted to flush them out right away, but the Gangsters fought the Rangers viciously. The Supreme Gangsters were hustlers and were about getting money early in their history before Disciples and Rangers were as much about it.
In the year 1965, the leader of the Supreme Gangsters was no longer in charge and Larry Hoover stepped up to be the official leader of the Supreme Gangsters instead of being a behind the scenes leader. After Larry Hoover took over the Supreme Gangsters began to grow in Englewood and became a major force to be reckoned with as Rangers struggled in battles with them.
The Devil’s Disciples were the largest gang on the southside 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. The Supreme Gangsters were up and coming and even began recruiting older members that were even above high school age. Larry Hoover was becoming increasingly recognized, respected and feared by many. He was only 13 years old when he started the Supreme Gangsters and by the age of 14, he was in charge of older guys.
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 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 the 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.
Now that there were the powerful Black Disciple and Black Peace Stone alliances at war with each other the much smaller Supreme Gangsters, Larry Hoover now felt the need to create his own countermeasure against the Black P Stones. He adopted the same belief as the Disciples in keeping out of media outlets and having a code of silence, hence, why the new Gangster nation alliance flew under the radar when it started in 1966 and through the rest of the 60s. The Gangsters absorbed several black gangs that all hated Stones and didn’t want to be Disciples from as far south as 71st Street. All organizations that joined the Gangster nation adopted the last name of “Gangster” to show allegiance. One thing people tend to get twisted is that the Supreme Gangsters were known as the “High Supreme Gangsters,” in reality the High Supreme Gangsters were just a branch of Supreme Gangsters from 71st Street. Another branch on 71st was the Imperial Gangsters, once again another name that gets confused as a Supreme Gangster official title.
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. There are many sources on the internet that can go into great detail about all the legit things the Black Disciple Nation and the Black Gangster Disciple nation did back in the 1960s that is very easy to find; therefore, I do not need to go into extended details about it but there was some positivity that came out of all of this. 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 month of September in the year 1967, Ike Taylor moved to the intersection of Gladys and Keeler in the K-Town section of Chicago’s West Side in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. When he arrived, he began spreading the word of the Gangster nation to these young west side youths that were mainly familiar with Vice Lords and Egyptian Cobras. King Ike recruited many youths in this area and established the very first Supreme Gangster branch in history. Ike appointed Robert “Red” Lawson to be his Sergeant of Arms and this was the birth of the Gangster Disciples on the west side of Chicago and it all started in 1967.
The west side Supreme Gangsters gained quick popularity especially after they absorbed the “Black Pimps” and the “Jive 5” gangs by the 1970s. The Black Pimps were especially large in the West Garfield Park area, so this became a colossal move for the Gangsters turning them out. This gave the Gangsters a major momentum boost and they soon colonized the Henry Horner projects located in the Near West Side neighborhood putting the Gangsters on the map in two west side neighborhoods. There really weren’t any Disciples or Stones on the west side so this was prime opportunity, the only major rival to deal with was the Vice Lords.
In the early 1970s Ike Taylor was convicted of attempted murder and other charges after the shooting of Albert Harris. In the court case of People vs. Taylor on December 24, 1974, Albert Harris was walking home from a friend’s house and was down the street from where he lived. Harris stopped walking when he heard the clicking sound of a gun, he turned and claimed he saw Ike Taylor standing there holding a pistol. Harris said that Ike said, “It ain’t nothing but a Gangster Thing.” Harris then saw another man holding a shotgun in a doorway, then Henry Hearan joined Taylor holding a pistol and Ronald Lawson on the other side of Taylor holding a shotgun. Harris then claimed that Taylor said, “You’re busted,” then shot Harris in the throat. The man with the shotgun in the doorway fired next and shot Harris in his right side. A fifth shooter suddenly showed up and shot Harris again with a 12-gauge shotgun in the face. Harris then turned to see Taylor, Hearan and Lawson standing side by side with flashing sparks coming from their guns. Harris dropped to the ground to crawl away but then a sixth shooter appeared with a 12 gauge and shot Harris yet again. Harris managed to flee under a car as the men continued to open fire on the car as Harris could hear all the pellets striking the vehicle that terrified him so much that cried out for his mother to save him. His mother heard the frenzy of gun fire and her son cry out then rushed to the scene as the men fled. Harris was blinded, was left with a difficulty speaking, lost six teeth and was left with scars all over but survived the attack. According to court documents Lawson was acquitted of the crime and the other three men not named were never found. Ike Taylor and Henry Hearan were convicted and both men protested their innocence. Ike Taylor was able to get the aggravated battery charges removed but the attempted murder charge stuck (source from People Vs. Taylor App.3d 396 1974). In later years Ike Taylor would become a positive leader and positive advocate for the Growth and Development concepts of the Gangster Disciples.
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 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.
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.
In 1968, not only did the Gangsters open up on the west side of the city they extended themselves further south outside of Englewood. The Hyde Park stronghold was closed down for the Disciples as now that area become upper class income families and all East Side Disciples and Falcon Disciples moved to Englewood. Gangsters were now just primarily in Englewood and some west side turf until Gangsters began colonizing south of 68th Street all the way down to 95th Street in the Roseland neighborhood. The Roseland chapter of Gangsters became known as the “Outlaw Gangsters” and “U-S” was the founder of this branch, this is what started the Wild 100s Gangster Disciples that we know today.
In January of 1969, Larry Hoover was highly recognized by David Barksdale and Jeff Fort because the Gangsters had risen to become the third largest outfit on the south side of the city. Both Jeff and David wanted to absorb the Gangsters into their nations but Larry Hoover looked to Jeff Fort and the Stones first. Now this is where history gets tricky and has caused many disputes on the streets for many years on if Larry Hoover and the Gangsters became Stones. Some will tell you he was a Stone and others will say no way. The truth lies somewhere in the middle; however, I will say this right now before we go into details, Larry Hoover was never a Stone and I’ll explain it all right now.
In January of 1969 Larry Hoover went to Jeff Fort for a peaceful meeting to discuss an alliance. The two leaders agreed on just having an alliance that had no official title, it was simply a truce between Gangsters and Stones and not a merger in any which way. This alliance was not the same as the Black Disciple type alliance, or Gangster nation type alliance or like the Black P Stone type alliance, this was an alliance that kept Gangsters and Stones separate but would still be governed by Jeff Fort and Larry Hoover supposedly as equals. Larry came up with the idea for him to rule this alliance alongside Jeff, but Jeff ended up declining this in the long run because in Jeff’s mind nobody is his equal. The peace between them lasted close to a half year but ended up going sour as Larry was seeing more and more how Jeff would not let him rule alongside him as an equal. Jeff also came up with the idea for a complete merger of Gangster and Stone concept that he wanted to call the “Gangster Stones,” but Larry Hoover rejected the idea especially since Jeff wouldn’t let him rule as equals. This and a shooting in May of 1969 when the Stones shot at Supreme Gangsters near Larry Hoover’s home were events that brought an end to this alliance. Here are the details of that shooting that pushed things over the edge between Stones and Gangsters.
On May 7, 1969 two Supreme Gangsters Gregory Sanders and Ronald Vandergrift were shot at by Black P Stones at the corner of 69th and Halsted in the Englewood neighborhood. At the intersection of 69thand Green at address 817 West 69th Street (old shrimp shop no longer there) between 1:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Ronald Vandergrift came across Lonnie King and Charlie “Stone” Smith who were two members of the Double Six Kings which was a Black P Stone gang. Vandergrift knew Lonnie King so he began walking and talking with him as they walked toward 69th and Halsted. Lonnie started telling Ronald that he did not belong around there and to stop coming around that neighborhood because Ronald was a Supreme Gangster. Lonnie had no idea about the Gangster and BPS alliance and somehow Ronald could not convince him of it. Charlie “Stone” Smith then came around the corner and joined Lonnie in telling Ronald he did not belong around there and to keep his Gangsters out. Charlie was ruthless about it and only said it one time then yanked out his revolver and shot at Ronald two times striking him once in the groin area in his inner left thigh. After Ronald was shot, he ran to the other side of the street, Felix Murry and Gregory Sanders were nearby (both Supreme Gangsters too) and fled the scene too. Ronald did not get far because of his wound and fell between two cars. Felix Murry then came to help Ronald and as the two men took off, King and Smith kept shooting at them and grazed Murry. The two men ran two blocks away to the corner of 68th and Green and that is where they met up with Charles Hoover at the family home of Larry Hoover. The two were then taken to the hospital and were treated for their wounds. The hospital called the Police about the fact they were shot but both men declined pressing any charges or naming their assailants according to court documents. On May 9th at about 4 p.m. Charles Hoover was at the corner of 68th and Halsted and saw the shooters Lonnie King and Charlie Smith. King and Smith told Hoover they were sorry and that they did not know Hoover and the Supreme Gangsters were allies. On May 11th Vandergrift, King, Murry, Smith, Charles Hoover and some others attended a “reconciliation meeting” at the Black P Stone headquarters where the shooting was declared an accident due to the fact that the shooters did not know Supreme Gangsters were now allies according to court documents. Black P Stone Ranger chiefs were the judges in this meeting. In June 1969 Ronald Vandergrift was picked up by CPD for jumping bail, Marijuana possession and two charges of aggravated battery according to court documents. Vandergrift made a deal with CPD and decided to testify all about the shooting and now press charges in exchange for leniency for his crimes. He also came to this decision because by then the Supreme Gangsters had now went back to war with the Stones and were now merged with the Disciples (People v. Smith, ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT FIRST DISTRICT (2ND DIVISION)). This opened up a court case of People v. Smith on October 9, 1973 which was a joint indictment of Steven Smith for an aggravated battery charge and was also being indicted on murder charges from June 2, 1969. He was 20 years old at the time and the leader of the Double Six Kings.
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.
Now as far as the Gangster Stone thing is concerned. There was a group of Gangsters that didn’t agree with a merging alliance with the Disciples because of their great dissatisfaction toward the Disciples. This group thought Jeff Fort’s original idea to combine Gangster and Stone concepts together was a great idea and when Larry Hoover severed his relationship with Jeff Fort this group of Gangsters was not happy to say the least and became more upset when the B.G.D.N was assembled. This group refused to link up with the Disciples and even went renegade against the Gangsters and vacated the south side entirely perhaps with only some members remaining in Roseland on 104th Street. These Gangsters pledged allegiance to Jeff Fort as a leader among them emerged called “Mooseman.” Mooseman became highly respected by Jeff Fort and took these Gangsters into the BPSN making them into the “Gangster Stone” branch. Moose man then took these Gangsters to the Henry Horner housing projects where there was already Supreme Gangsters over there and opened up the Gangster Stones at the 105 Lake Street building. Larry Hoover and the Supreme Gangsters had nothing to do with this move and this was not tied in any which way to the Gangster nation. The Gangster Stones just took Gangster concepts especially the concept of making money and took it to the Henry Horners while putting Jeff Fort’s BPSN on the map for the first and only time on the west side of Chicago.
In June of 1969 right after the BGDN was assembled, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and BGDs all got together to form a coalition known as the “Lords 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 against 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 producing like it should and by October of 1973 the LSD coalition disbanded.
Since 1968, 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 swiftly 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.
In the year 1970, the west side Supreme Gangsters advanced into the West Humboldt Park area battled the newly arrived Mad Black Souls in a vicious gang war. I don’t know how long the Supreme Gangster lasted in this area but it is known that the Gangster Disciples never have had established territory in Humboldt Park so I believe this conquest was either failed or they absorbed into the Black Gangsters/New Breeds by 1981.
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. Not only that, the Disciples didn’t seek out this money it was kinda forced on them as equal payment to them to not favor Stones. Disciples weren’t big with talking to the media and stayed out of the spotlight unlike the Stones, so perhaps this helped their case and kept them less of a target of the government.
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.
After Barksdale’s passing in 1974, he was dearly missed especially by the Gangster gangs allied with the B.G.D.N. Some of the Disciples were not as mournful as they began doing their own thing and not following B.G.D.N laws. These Disciples had always held a grudge from 1968 when Gangsters and Disciples were at war. These Disciple groups also violated the rules because they lost respect for B.G.D.N and also acted independently, sometimes Gangsters and Disciples would erupt on each other in certain parts of the city. There was no chief there to make sure the alliance stayed in tact on the streets now that David was dead, and Larry was locked up. The Disciples didn’t even have a leader at all anywhere and became wild in many areas. These wilder groups of Disciples, that were also bitter about 1968, decided to no longer honor B.G.D.N which caused some violence between Gangsters and Disciples.
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.
During all these wars Larry Hoover always tried to look for ways to end violence between all the gangs. His overall grand vision was for there to be peace among the nations and if there needed to war, he wanted it controlled exactly like how the Italian Mafia controls their gang wars. Larry never liked messy wars and uncontrolled bloodshed, nor did he even agree with prison rape. In later years Larry was very much outspoken against prison rape and attempted to forbid this behavior. As I had said Larry only saw violence as needed when completely necessary and wanted it controlled.
Larry 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.
Right after Larry assembled the Folk and People alliances, he was then out of Statesville prison and sent to Pontiac prison in Pontiac Illinois (Source: (Tyson 1996; Journey of Chicago’s Ultimate Street Tough). When Larry got to this prison, he saw how poorly prisoners were treated by prison staff. The prison was overcrowded, and this resulted in squalid conditions. Larry Hoover organized the “Brothers of the Struggle” movement that involved high ranking Black Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black Souls, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and Mickey Cobras. These 17 inmates raised up a rebellion on July 22, 1978 to overthrow the prison and bring mass destruction. In the wake of the intense violence 3 correctional officers were stabbed to death. When the 17 men were out on trial, they were found not guilty. During his trials that went on until 1981 he was in segregation away from other inmates initially.
In the year 1978, Don Smoke and Jr. Hope brought the Black Gangster Disciples to the Cabrini Green projects. The story on this began in 1978 when these men met up with Larry Hoover in Statesville. After this Smoke got out of prison and brought BGD to Cabrini Green and introduced Disciples to BGD. From the start Smoke and Little John were bringing a larger drug trade to these projects beginning in 1978. In Cabrini Green there were just Disciples as usual and were kind of cut off from all the drama that unfolded in the past two years. While Smoke was in with Larry, Larry asked if Smoke would become BGD and side with the Gangsters, Smoke agreed and joined BGD. Smoke then got in contact with Little John who was on the streets of Cabrini and now got word that Cabrini Green Disciples would become BGD. This would absorb up the Black Deuces and the B.L.A.C.K.S. This is the whole story of how the Gangster Disciples took over the majority of Cabrini Green, it all started in 1978.
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).
After this incident in Statesville in 1981 a divide was finalized and made official for the streets as Black Disciples Mickey “Bull” Johnson, Jerome “Shorty” Freeman were released from prison. Jerome Freeman was appointed the new Chief of the entire Black Disciples organization bestowed upon him by Dirk Acklin in 1978. Mickey “Bull” Johnson went to the streets to ensure all young BGDs not in the network with Larry Hoover understood that they were now Black Disciples and had nothing to do with the B.G.D.N. The B.G.D.N alliance was finally tossed away for good and the split was completely finalized on the streets.
In the same year of 1981, Black Gangster Disciples were released as well that assured the split was finalized for the BGD side of things. Basically, there was a big toss up in 1981 between B.G.D.N gangs to side with either Gangsters or Disciples and sections had to turn in their decision to be with the Gangsters or the Disciples. Either follow Larry Hoover or follow Jerome Freeman.
Robert “Cold Black” Dordies was released from prison in 1981 and was appointed by Larry Hoover to come to the Stateway Gardens projects and the Robert Taylor projects and flip many B.G.D.N members into BGD members as the Gangsters took over the area of Pershing Road and 43rd Street in the Robert Taylors and the majority of the Stateways. At the same time Mickey “Bull” Johnson brought flipped the rest of the B.G.D.N into the Black Disciples in the Robert Taylors and Stateway Gardens. The Del Vikings were the dominant gang in both sets of projects until most of them flipped to Black Disciples while some others flipped the BGD.
The Black Gangster Disciples were now very strong in the public housing buildings and there were over 400 members in Cabrini Green alone in 1981. This was also the year the lucrative Gangster Disciple and Black Disciple drug operations began in Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor and Stateway Gardens that would become legendary in later years.
Also in the year 1981, Larry Hoover began to draw the BGDs into politics as he established bylaws for BGDs not to harm prison guards or any prison staff unless ordered to do so. In 1982, he stepped up his organization as he established “Brothers of the Struggle” as official and this time only for BGDs. He sent out memos to top leaders geared toward bettering the organization and encouraging members to refine themselves.
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 1986, the El Rukns faced indictment that caused some harm to their organization. After this happened the BGDs experienced a major boost in numbers and now outnumbered El Rukns/Black P Stones in the city. This even involved the BGDs even becoming the new dominating force over the drug trade after the Stones ran it for nearly 20 years. This was also the year that Jr. Hope was running all the street operations for the BGDs.
In March of 1987, Larry Hoover was seen as becoming reformed especially after his 1981 policy about not harming prison staff. This all granted him a transfer to Vienna Correctional Center in Vienna Illinois which is a minimum security prison. It was in this prison where Larry Hoover now conducted business easier since security was much lower.
After Larry Hoover was transferred to a minimum security facility all hell broke loose in Statesville and in Pontiac Prison as now Larry was no longer around to smooth things over. At Pontiac prison members of the BGDs conspired to murder Superintendent Robert Taylor for the purpose of avenging mistreatment against BGD members by prison staff. These BGDs wanted revenge for the death of Billy “Zodiac” Jones and Kirk Williams who both died while choking on cocaine they were trying to conceal. When BGD Harry Martin was apprehended and charged for the murder he claimed Larry Hoover gave him the order to kill this prison staff member. Upon investigation it was proven Larry had no ties to this, however, the damage was done because Martin gave up lots of other information about how the BGDs were ran and how they govern and this led to other investigations. At the time this was happening Larry Hoover was actually working on a positive program he created that was aimed at steering the BGDs further away from being a criminal organization. He created “Better Growth and Development” and declared BGD stood for those words. Better Growth And Development concepts were to help GDs better themselves and to help better their community instead of fueling the problems that existed in their neighborhoods. It was also a way for BGDs to become legitimately successful and become productive men and women of society. Better Growth and Development was not official and was not even released to the public at this time.
In the year 1988, Michael G took over leadership of all street operations of the Black Gangster Disciples.
In the year 1989, the drug trade became increasingly competitive in the Englewood neighborhood between BGDs and BDs and this resulted in a string of violent shootings between these gangs that year that left some bad feelings between BGDs and BDs in Englewood it was also foreshadowing what was to become in later years, for now this clash was squashed later in the year.
In the year 1990, Cold Black was running the BGDs but only for a short time in that year. This was also the year that Better Growth and Development was finally shared for the first time among trusted BGD heads. It was not made public or official yet.
In the summer of 1991, BGDs gunned down Mickey Bull. After that happened the Black Disciples got revenge on August 7, 1991 by gunning down multiple members of the BGDs in Englewood. After this shooting a group of BGDs from 66th Street started calling themselves “Gangster Disciples” dropping the “B” or “Black” out of their name. This was the beginning of BGDs transitioning the being just knows as GDs.
As this violent between BGDs and BDs ensued in 1991, Larry Hoover was trying to demonstrate to many of his members the “Growth and Development” ways. The name was slightly changed leaving out the “Better” part that was part of the original 1987 plan, this was another step toward “GD” becoming the new ways, however, Growth and Development had nothing to do with the name change or the violence it was purely coincidental because the initials of Growth and Development were “GD” and that certain section on 66th was calling themselves “GDs.”
Between 1991 to 1993, the wars between BGDs and BDs was so severe that members of each gang couldn’t hardly walk around the neighborhood without getting shot at by each other. It was almost like you couldn’t even move a muscle. During this time more and more Englewood BGDs began to call themselves “GDs” and more were dropping the “B.”
In 1993, the BDs and BGDs reached some peace but it only lasted a year or two then war became permanent. This was also the year that Growth and Development became official and was publicly released. This was also the year that BGDs officially became “Gangster Disciples.” Some members still used BGD until 1994 including Gator that went before the White House in January of 1994 and spoke about “Better Growth and Development.”
By 1993, the Gangsters Disciples were trying a new political move known as “21st Century V.O.T.E” which was an attempt to get Gangster Disciple members into politics. To the public it was meant to help rehab neighborhoods and bring about positive change but critics and law enforcement saw it as a way to help expand Gangster Disciple illegal operations. At that same time in 1993 Larry Hoover was trying to get out of prison and was up for parole. Over 10,000 members of the Gangsters Disciples gathered at a large picnic in Kankakee Illinois where Larry Hoover gave a speech (not live) to all the GDs there. He further expanded on “Growth And Development” which was the new term Larry Hoover wanted to use to replace the Gangsters Disciples term. As I said before, Growth And Development concepts were to help GDs better themselves and to help better their community instead of fueling the problems that existed in their neighborhoods. Afterward there was a flood of letters to Governor Jim Ryan pleading with him to allow the parole of Larry Hoover; however, Larry Hoover was denied parole. Things only got worse in 1995 when the Chicago Police launched “Operation Headache” which took down 39 high ranking members of the Gangsters Disciples including Larry Hoover and Andrew Howard who had been on parole since 1992. Larry Hoover was brought up on several drug conspiracy charges that dated all the way back to 1970 which was the time when the GDs started to operate a major drug cartel mostly of Cocaine and Heroin. Hoover and several of his top Generals and Lieutenants were being arraigned on charges of supplying small time dealers, extorting money and running their own drug cartel that was worth millions of dollars. By the end of the trials in 1997 Larry Hoover was transferred to United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado which is a super maximum security prison, which effectively cut off over 95% of Hoover’s communication with the outside world.
During the 1990s recruitment of Hispanics and whites exploded mainly in the suburbs as the Gangster Disciples appeared to be a mixed race organization out the burbs but in the city it was still a vast majority black organization besides some territory in the Uptown area and some other north side areas.
Starting in the late 1980s and escalating in the early 1990s, the Gangster Disciples were operating highly sophisticated crack cocaine operations in the Robert Taylor Homes, Cabrini Green high rise and low rises, Dearborn mid-rises and the Stateway Gardens. The GDs ran the majority of the buildings within these public housing complexes and began a $100,000,000 a year crack cocaine operation just in Cabrini Green alone. Soldiers in the organization worked around the clock 24 hours a day serving crack cocaine as they worked in shifts. The GDs ran public housing project buildings with an iron fist as they had armed security that even patted down residents as they came home, GDs also imposed a curfew on residents after hours so they could control the drug trade more efficiently during peak hours which was later at nights. Rules were very strict, especially in Cabrini Green where Gangsters were ordered to meet in the courtyard each night to do exercises just like in the military. There was no tolerance for disobeying any rules and refusing to work your shifts or members were severely beaten or even killed for refusing to do security. GDs were heavily armed in the public housing projects with automatic weapons as they patrolled the project hallways. The drug sales in the public housing developments gave the Gangster Disciples a massive boost in the overall growth and developing of their organization. The GDs took advantage of the City and CHAs lack of interest in the public housing high rises. There were young kids living in the projects poor and struggling in life, the GDs recruited them and turned them into soldiers that were paid and fed while no one else cared. Drug addicts had already taken over the projects since the 1960s, the GDs were there to feed their need and all this was neglected by the city, it makes you wonder who really is the bad guy, the city and police neglected these developments and the GDs came in to a place no one cared about.
Before the demolition of the Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor Homes housing projects in the 1990s and 2000s, the GDs were pulling in well over $100 million dollars in drug profits on a yearly basis in these buildings (for more details see my Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor histories). The organization eventually swelled to over 35,000 members.
The Gangster Disciple history is more than just drugs and killing, there is also an activism side of this organization that has been rooted deep since the 1960s. For many years the Gangster Disciples have preached to young Disciples to keep their lives in order and to live as good men to their families and their community. Many of the older members that once were convicted of murders and other serious crimes have become outspoken about true leadership and developing young black men into productive members of society. This could be anything from just being a working man that takes part in Gangster Disciple politics up to being an active member of the crime family within the Gangster Disciples that does not take part in destroying his community and instead works to protect the neighborhood. The BOS message is still strong today in the hearts of many, but sadly many younger members have lost that message and don’t even know who Larry Hoover is.
Please send in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s pics!