The year of 1966 approached us like a fiery storm as our nation was now engulfed in a scary war with a nation far from home many of us knew little about. On January 12, 1966 President Lyndon Johnson stated, “The U.S. should stay in Vietnam until communist aggression there is ended.” By April 29th there were now 250,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam and on June 29 U.S. military forces bombed Hanoi and Haiphong showing our nation this war was far from over. Many people in our great nation were upset about this new war and took to the streets in protest on March 26, 1966 then on May 15, 1966 thousands of anti-war protestors picketed the White House with a rally at the Washington Monument. These events all sparked the beginning of the rebellious hippie sub-culture across the nation and all over the world as people began to speak out against war and the establishment.
The anti-war and hippie sub-culture gave rise to civil rights movements as Martin Luther King attempted to lead a peaceful march through Chicago’s discriminatory south side on August 5th as he was met with a hail of rocks thrown by an angry white mob. Soon after this, riots exploded all over the U.S. that even hit home here in Chicago area as rioting ripped through the south suburb of Harvey. By October of this fateful year Bobby Seale and Huey P founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland California. Speaking of human rights; in the well-renowned Miranda v. Arizona Supreme court case the Miranda rights were given birth…you now have the right to remain silent!
More shocking events swept our nation as John Lennon of the Beatles proclaimed, “We are more popular than Jesus now,” causing massive controversy from conservative America. In the hot Summer months of July and August Richard Speck murdered eight student nurses in a Chicago university dormitory and sniper Charles Whitman perched himself on top of the University of Texas main tower picking off 13 people.
In other 1966 news, Lunar Orbiter 1 became the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit another world in outer space. The World Trade Center towers in New York City were opened for the first time. The Doors Rock N’ Roll group released their debut self-titled album and of course we cannot forget that the Chicago Bulls were officially brought into the NBA on January 16, 1966.
1966 sure was a fruitful year and became a key year that molded our nation for generations to come. In the midst of all these milestone events Chicago was having their own changes, off the record and on the streets. Some of this was influenced by nation events and others of it was driven by city changes and controversies. For this piece on 1966 we will delve deep into those big street events that molded Chicago’s underworld forever. Over time in my research I have traced so much important gang history to this year as another pivotal year for Chicago street gang development.
Evictions, evictions and more evictions
In 1963, the Hispanic community and many other ethnic groups living in Little Italy protested the soon to be construction of the new University of Illinois at Chicago campus as people did not want to be evicted from their homes to make way for land clearance; they also did not want their neighborhood to drastically change. This community already endured the massive super highway construction for almost fifteen years. The battle was lost by the end of 1963 and the wrecking ball soon showed up as the people of the Near West Side’s Little Italy filled the relocation offices looking for a new home. By 1964 much of the evictions were complete and the campus was fully under construction; however, it wasn’t the end. In 1965 more evictions were soon coming and by 1966 those evictions were in full effect displacing many more Near West Siders to make way for even more buildings.
On the other side of the city in Lincoln Park the controversial urban renewal programs were gaining major success at the expense of the Puerto Rican community that had just settled there in 1959 after being displaced from the Old Town evictions when the luxurious Carl Sandburg condominiums were being built. Now the Puerto Rican people needed to move once again beginning in 1962-1964 and now another wave of evictions in 1966 slammed the community once again. Once again, Puerto Rican gangs that had been created in the 1960s in Lincoln Park to defend their right to settle here in the earlier 60s would now have to migrate to new terrain and face new battles on new streets much to the distress of their members and to the gangs already existing in the neighborhoods they would settle in.
The chaos caused by the evictions
Just as our nation was heating up with civil rights issues and rioting across the country, Chicago was bracing for more forced migration of Hispanic people. Once again Mexican and Puerto Rican people were uprooted from their Near West Side and Lincoln Park homes and now needed to scramble to find housing in the Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, East Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, East Village, Noble Square, Bucktown, Pilsen, Little Village and Marshall Square. These neighborhoods were mostly white and already were not taking kindly to the early 60’s settlement of Hispanic people. Gang conflicts broke out in these areas in the earlier 1960s which brought about the manifestation of some well-known organizations like the Latin Kings and now increased forces of gangs already started in the 1950s in these areas like Latin Counts, Ambrose, Gaylords, PVPs, Chi-West and C-Notes. Now there were new gangs migrating to these areas of the city. There were also youths not in gangs in their old neighborhood that would now find themselves pressured to join the gangs in their new surroundings.
As the migration increased in Wicker Park, East Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, Bucktown, East Village and Noble Square racial tensions ran hot and among these issues police brutality and mistreatment of Puerto Rican people would of course increase. Puerto Rican people were tired of facing housing discrimination, religious discrimination, employment discrimination and of course police discrimination. All these factors were not reported in mass media or anywhere until the fateful Puerto Rican parades in mid-June of 1966. During an altercation police got jumpy and shot Arcelis Cruz in the leg as they allowed a police dog to attack another man’s leg. This sparked a massive riot known as the Division Street Riots that tore all through West Town all the way through Humboldt Park. Puerto Rican people were fed up and this one incident pushed this violent reaction even though the Puerto Rican people had endured much worse treatment before this incident, this was the one that would overboil the pot. Young Lords and Latin King gang members took to the streets rioting alongside civilian rioters as stores were destroyed, cars were overturned, and police were attacked with rocks. In the aftermath the Young Lords turned a new cheek and became and activist group instead of a street gang as they drew a truce with the Latin Kings.
Rioting on the west side, Harvey and the peaceful marches on the south side and Cicero
During the hot summer of 1966 many black west siders were fed up with racial discrimination especially brought on by police. It was a fact that police on the west side were especially brutal to black residents and were quick to crack heads as was outlined in the book “A Nation of Lords.” Fueled by riots in earlier months around the country Chicago west siders now embarked on their own riot that the Conservative Vice Lords tried hard to squash and had great success. Later in the summer Martin Luther King attempted a peaceful march on the south side protesting the unfair practices of keeping black families from moving into south side communities, he was met by a hellfire of stones thrown at him and his fellow protestors. Days later a riot broke out in suburban Harvey due to black residents fed up with discriminatory practices from trying to settle the community. For this riot the Blackstone Rangers (Black P Stones) took a major part in this demonstration. In suburban Cicero, a black teen was murdered just for being on those streets which sparked outrage, but the rage was turned into positive energy as Martin Luther King and others marched in protest in the suburb. The peaceful protestors were of course met with violence and ridicule.
Black and brown unite
Race riots swept the city as both black and Puerto Rican people sought the same justice on common ground. According to the Southern Illinoisian newspaper from July 18, 1966 black and Puerto Rican gangs came together against the common enemy “the white man.” Black and Puerto Rican youths were cutting their hands and shaking calling this a blood unity according to the article. It wasn’t just the gangs coming together, black and Puerto Rican civil rights groups were coming together to sway politics, but the most influential unity for the underworld on the streets was black and Puerto Rican gangs coming together.
Nations of brown Stones and brown Disciples is born
During the summer of 66’ amidst the black and brown unity going on, a few entities were born that became a part of Chicago’s permanent gang culture spawning from the East Humboldt Park neighborhood. Many Puerto Rican youths loved to play baseball and frolic in the beautiful Humboldt Park that separated East Humboldt Park from West Humboldt Park. This park was highly coveted by both Hispanic and white youths but many white youths felt it was only their park. From the white youth’s perspective they had lived in this community for a longer period of time and felt the changes were threatening and a downright culture shock causing a very violent reaction. Even though gangs like Chi-West, Gaylords, C-Notes and P.V.Ps did not reside in East Humboldt Park they still patrolled the California Avenue corridor on the eastern edge of the park looking for trouble. Many from the Puerto Rican community expressed great dismay about being attacked in the park especially by Lemoyne and California. Harrison Gents that had just moved to this intersection two years prior used to help the youths as they bravely fought the Gaylords and other white gangs but apparently it wasn’t enough for this key intersection.
As the Blackstone Rangers were seeking to flip several Chicago black street gangs all over the south side and in the Cabrini Green projects to join their nation of Stones/Rangers they happened across the Puerto Rican youths of East Humboldt Park at Lemoyne and California. A unity was created just similar to what was reported by the Southern Illinoisian newspaper on July 18 of black youths affiliated with the Blackstone Rangers and Puerto Rican youths of Lemoyne and California coming together. A new organization was given birth that would have strong ties to the Rangers. This organization became the Puerto Rican Stones. Although the Puerto Rican Stones did not have a long-standing hold on East Humboldt Park they went on to be a very strong force to be reckoned with in Lakeview and Albany Park as they had many down and fearsome warriors in their ranks. Eventually their legacy would pass to the Future Stones then to the Familia Stones. The Familia Stones are seemingly a permanent fixture in the Chicago gang landscape, here to stay for eternity possibly.
In a very similar instance in the same neighborhood in the same year the opposing force of south side black street gangs the Disciple nation came to East Humboldt Park as well. The Disciples were doing the same thing as the Rangers on the south side and in Cabrini Green, consolidate many black gangs to join their forces. Just like the Rangers they happened upon Puerto Rican and some white youths of Rockwell and Potomac in July of that fateful year. A relation was created, and these Puerto Rican youths would adopt the Disciple name and developed permanent ties to the Black Disciple nation calling themselves the Latin Disciples. The Latin Disciples would eventually become the Maniac Latin Disciples we know today and would morph to becoming one of the top five largest Chicago street gangs and located in the majority of the states in our great nation. The Maniacs are now here to stay for eternity, and it all began in this fateful summer of 1966.
Rangers and Disciples go from gang to nation
Before the fateful summer of 66,’ before the Latin Disciples and Puerto Rican Stones were created, the powerful Blackstone Rangers and Devil’s Disciples that ruled the south side streets sought to gain more unity from allies and enemies on the streets. These two powerful organizations felt they could only make the best impact on the streets where the city and government had failed. The black south side was left in poverty, drowning in unemployment, desertion and redlining. Businesses in these neighborhoods were owned by owners from the outside that often gauged local consumers. Biased and many times racist police officers patrolled these streets treating many residents unfairly as they were shaken down, harassed beaten and sometimes killed by law enforcement. The Rangers and Disciples felt they were the best fit to fight against the powers of oppression and neglect. The gangs were best suited to assure the community was not being ripped off. Rangers and Disciples wanted to govern all other street gangs as many of them were rogue and disorganized or not strong enough to make an impact. The decision then was made to approach all these other gangs and convince them to join a powerful alliance that would essentially incorporate these gangs under each of the two nations. This is comparable to owning your own franchised restaurant like a Mcdonalds. It has the Mcdonalds brand name and all Mcdonalds products that is controlled by the Mcdonalds corporation, however, it is the owners own store. That is exactly what it meant to join the Ranger or Disciple nation, being part of an incorporation. Several gangs were approached and offered incorporation to be Rangers or Disciples or even the Gangsters of Englewood.
In later years all these gangs that aligned with the Ranger, Gangsters or Disciple nations became part of the Black Gangster Disciple organization, Black Disciples and Black P Stone overall gangs. It started as an Enfranchisement and turned into a permanent fixture in the organization and it all began in 1966.
The spirit of change comes to west side and goes more “Conservative”
In the year 1964, Vice Lord leadership had become sickened by all the chaos and destruction on the streets of North Lawndale. As these men got older they became wiser and now sought to change much of the activity Vice Lords were involved in. Instead of robbing, stealing and killing out of anger and frustration they redirected that focus on being mentors and father figures on these streets as they became “Conservative.” By 1966 the now Conservative Vice Lords had put down a powerful riot on the west side just by talking to young men and steering frustrations in a different direction.
During this fateful year the CVLs showed their change as older CVLs pooled their money together to purchase a club house and a pool hall showing they were heading in the right direction. This would eventually lead to the establishment of CVL Inc and the new face of the Vice Lords.
The great Hispanic migration continues
Mexican people had been settling in Chicago since the first world war as they arrived seeking work that was easily obtained after thousands of young white men went to fight for our country, a privilege not allowed for people of color at that time. The best way a Hispanic or black man could serve this country during the first war was to come work in the war industry or to take on any job left vacant by servicemen. This kept our economy going strong making us a bigger threat to the Axis power enemies.
Even though Mexican workers were a valuable commodity and very welcomed during the war and the uncertain 1920s, the Hispanic presence was now rejected by the 1930s as our nation’s economy collapsed. Many Mexican migrants left voluntarily because this economy sucked and it was best to just go back home to their families. For many other Mexican migrants work was steady in this country despite the bad economy, afterall, the depression only effected one out of four Americans, which is staggering but not the majority. It didn’t matter if a Mexican man had found a good living here in the states for the past decade or more it was time for deportation because more jobs were needed for American born citizens. Mexican migrants were ejected from their homes and their employment was terminated as they were forced to go back to their native country. It didn’t even matter if they had now settled, become married and now had children, the whole family needed to go, unless of course he married a white woman. Within no time this city was plucked of a Hispanic population and turned into just a white a black city.
During these stale years of the 1930s there was little to no Mexican migration to Chicago and only a small spark of a Puerto Rican migration of native New Yorker Puerto Ricans came to this city. Just as our country used the Mexican people to fulfill our economy during the first world war and the roaring 20s the Mexican people were about to be used again for the second world war being issued temporary visas to once again fulfill our economic needs of our nation so we had the strength to fight the empires of Japan, Italy and Germany. For many migrant workers this was perfect. Some workers came here for a few years and sent money home to their families, but for many others they wanted to make a permanent home here, mainly for those that migrated with their whole families. During the first war and in the 20s many Mexican migrants came and went and were mostly adult men but this wave of the second war was different as more families were crossing the border. A simple request to come work in the states until the war was over wouldn’t suffice this time. The Mexican people were represented better and allowed to stay in this country when the war ended.
The second wave of Mexican people in Chicago settled in the same areas as the first wave; (at least what few were left) South Chicago, Back of the Yards and the Near West Side. Now there were some new settlement along 18th Street in Pilsen during the war. Hispanics were still a very small population in these four neighborhoods and often faced discrimination especially after the war.
The discrimination Mexican people faced was inhibiting but the Puerto Rican people that arrived in Old Town on the Near North Side in the downtown Loop was perhaps worse due to the fact that Puerto Rico was viewed as a hostile nation following the war. Our military intervention in Puerto Rico was not appreciated by all Puerto Rican people and some had anti-American sentiments which was something that was overblown as a threat to the American people. When the Puerto Rican people arrived in Old Town they often couldn’t move about the neighborhood without being harassed and tormented in the late 1940s so the men created a gang called La Hacha Viega (Old Hatchet) just to get by and protect their community. La Hacha Vieja was spread all over the city in small pockets and was the first real Hispanic gang this city had ever had.
In the early 1950s another wave of Puerto Rican people arrived in Chicago but this wave settled in the Near West Side community near where black and Mexican people had been living or settled recently. Within just a year or two after arriving in the United States construction resumed on the Dan Ryan and Kennedy Expressways by 1954 and this required more buildings to come down especially for the Circle interchange construction. A wave of evictions hit the community hard in 1948 and 1949 and now here came another round for 1954 and 1955; however, I do not believe this round was as severe but it dragged out the rest of the decade as people of all races from the community needed to pack up and leave. This was in the midst of a major housing crisis so some Hispanic people needed to colonize uncharted territory because there was no room in Old Town and the Loop. Puerto Rican people often had to settle on the south side in neighborhoods like Woodlawn or Englewood as others explored more of the west side in East Garfield Park.
Little by little since 1955, Puerto Rican people settled in Wicker Park, East Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, East Village, Noble Square, Uptown, Lakeview and Lincoln Park but these populations never even amounted to a mere 1% during the 1950s.
In the year 1959, the Puerto Rican residents of Old Town were given sad news that they would have to leave their first Chicago homes because big business wanted to put in the elegant Carl Sandburg condominiums and the residents had to leave immediately. Some scattered around Humboldt Park and West Town but those areas were still too unaffordable for most families so their prime new choice was Lincoln Park. Once again, the same hate and discrimination was felt in these new surroundings leading the youth the start a new group in the image of La Hacha Viega as the Young Lords were given birth. The founder of the Young Lord’s father was a La Hacha Viega and taught him much. In 1960 more Puerto Rican gangs were born on the streets of Lincoln Park including the legendary Villa Lobos. Soon Armitage Avenue was ripe with Puerto Rican gangs.
In 1959, the highway construction on the Near West Side took another turn and pushed out more families as the Hispanic families fled to Pilsen for the most part and more Puerto Rican families relocated to the West Town neighborhoods and West Humboldt Park. Alongside this 1959-1960 push legendary gangs like the Imperials (founded the Latin Kings) and Ambrose landed in new surroundings and prevailed over time.
The next big push of a Hispanic migration wave hit in the year 1962 as Hispanic families in the Near West Side were once again given bad news that much of Little Italy was going to be bulldozed making way for the new University of Illinois at Chicago campus. Most families chose to ride it out and wait until they were on the verge of being forced out but some were proactive and packed their bags quickly once they got the sad news and made their way very bravely into white neighborhoods like Wicker Park, East Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, East Village, Noble Square, Pilsen, Back of the Yards, South Chicago and now Little Village. During the same year the Lincoln Park urban renewal projects also began pushing out Puerto Rican families bringing them to the same neighborhoods. As this happened gangs that had already formed in Lincoln Park were now on the streets of West Town and West Humboldt Park feverishly battling very tough white greaser clubs like Gaylords, C-Notes, P.V.Ps and Chi-West. On the streets of Little Village the Marshall Boulevard Kings or MarKings were the Mexican club to join that bravely battled white greaser clubs like the Gaylords.
The emptying of the Hispanic community on the Near West Side and Lincoln Park continued from 1962-1964 as more evictions were dished out and more buildings were demolished until it got to the point where South Chicago, Pilsen, Little Village, Wicker Park, East Village, Noble Square, East Humboldt Park and West Humboldt Park now had significant Hispanic populations.
One final push from the UIC construction and Lincoln Park renewals came in the year 1966 which ended up being a very significant migration; however, it isn’t as documented or recognized but it changed the Chicago gang landscape forever and brought about some of the most legendary groups in Chicago history.
During this 1966 push some Puerto Rican people landed on the south side at the intersection of Garfield Boulevard (55th Street) and Halsted Street in the Back of the Yards community while another congested pocket landed in the Pilsen neighborhood at 18th and Damen. Both of these areas were majority white at the time while earlier Mexican settlement surrounded these two areas as well. On 55th and Halsted the area bordered Englewood which was an almost all black community by 1966 and full of Devil’s Disciples and Blackstone Rangers. Black and white youths both harassed the Puerto Rican and Mexican community in this area causing the youth to stand up to it with their own group called the Village Sharks. In 1966 a new group would arrive from Lincoln Park called the Emerald Knights to join the Sharks in the fight for the neighborhood. In later years these two groups would come together as Puerto Ricans and Mexicans called the Latin Souls.
At 18th and Damen the legendary Villa Lobos arrived from Lincoln Park and became a long time fixture in Pilsen and this was how they quickly converted into a Mexican gang.
One Nation goes on a conquest
As more Hispanic people arrived in West Town and Humboldt Park more gangs migrated to the area as more started up from scratch. Most of the gangs had already manifested in between 1962-1964 like the Imperials that became the Latin Kings in 1964. By 1966 the powerful Latin Kings were fed up with disorganized gangs roaming the streets not doing their job well enough to protect the Hispanic community. The Latin Kings then decided to mandate that these gangs needed to flip to Latin Kings or be destroyed. Some clubs became Latin Kings by 1966 while others refused. Those that refused would soon feel the fury of a massive army of men and women coming down on them as the Latin Kings destroyed one small gang after another until there was next to nothing else left. The groups that remained chose to ally with the Latin Kings under certain guidelines for the most part or were just outside Latin King borders like the legendary Spanish Lords of Bucktown. Bucktown was largely unsettled by Latin Kings because Puerto Rican people were just moving into that area in 1966; therefore, the Spanish Lords staked their claim while still being allies with the Latin Kings. The Spanish Lords were officially founded in 1966 while the Latin King army only grew larger by tenfold.
Hispanic people come to Marshall Square and nations follow
When Mexican people landed in the South Lawndale community area they mainly settled west from California Ave to Cicero Ave. Traveling east from California Ave to Western Ave in a little area technically known as Marshall Square was still a very white area of South Lawndale that didn’t really get settled by Hispanic people between 1962-1966. Now in 1966 this area began to experience a mixture of Mexican and Puerto Rican settlement.
Surprisingly some Mexican people began settling in Marshall Square from 18th Street, however, I do not know why this migration happened. These families settled around Cullerton down to 24th Street for the most part and two significant gangs followed from 18th Street. The legendary Satan Disciples settled on 24th Street and Washtenaw and the Morgan Deuces settled at Cullerton and Washtenaw and these two gangs hated each other before this settlement and now that they were closer than ever in proximity; war ensued. Not too far away at 21st and California came the Artistics which was another Hispanic group hailing from the Near West Side community brought here by some final UIC construction. The Artistics would soon clash with the Satan Disciples but befriended the Deuces.
Over time the Artistics would befriend a younger gang in later years called the Kents who were at heavy odds with Satan Disciples too. Then around the same time a group of Puerto Rican Stones moved in with their family members on 21st Street to join their Artistic family members. The three gangs came together by the 1980s to become known as the Artistic Stone Kents, later shortened to Stone Kents which became a long standing force in Marshall Square that battled Two Two Boys and Satan Disciple well into the 1990s.
The Morgan Deuces would eventually start a younger group called the Cullerton Deuces by 1980 and absorbed into the Cullerton Deuces making them a hell of a force on these streets. To this day the Cullerton Deuces still have a presence on these streets.
The Satan Disciples still have a permanent 24th Street fixture in this community as they conquered all the way to California Avenue.
Because of the new gangs that arrived in Marshall Square in 1966 new gangs formed in Little Village to fight against them like the Ridgeway Lords and Sin City Boys. The Ridgeway Lords had a deep rivalry against the Deuces as did the Sin City Boys.
All this began in 1966.