Death of the disco era 1979-1980: A new recession and a new racial and gang migration shift.
Death of the disco era 1979-1980: A new recession and a new racial and gang migration shift.

Death of the disco era 1979-1980: A new recession and a new racial and gang migration shift.

As disco music popularity began to downshift by the very end of the 1970s and we welcomed a new decade that would become the legendary 1980s the city of Chicago gang culture would experience another major change that would bring milestone gang settlements that would shape our city and suburbs permanently.

By the end of this marvelous 1970s-decade block busting and redlining tactics had been fully identified then made officially illegal on the books; however, this certainly did not stop these tactics but instead made lenders, real estate companies and property investors more elusive and savvier to such technical new laws enacted in the 1970s.  Further evidence of these continued practices happened during these 1979-1980 years that took advantage of a crumbling manufacturing economy.  Although I have no specific evidence to clearly prove these same practices continued, I can certainly speculate and for sure declare here in this piece that something happened during these years after talking to so many people and gang members during these 1979-1980 years I was able to piece together another sudden and ill-planned migration shift that brought about the formation of new gang elements.  Whether this all was caused by the same tactics as earlier in time, one thing for sure something very ill-planned happened and once again the people in the affected communities paid the price dearly for the sake of someone else’s profits.

1979: the invasion from the west.

During the early and mid-1950s years the west side Chicago neighborhoods of Near West Side and North Lawndale spawned the earliest African American super gangs in the city’s history.  The west side became the first home to power asserted in large numbers type of gangs.  The downfall to these early groups like Imperial Chaplains, Clovers and Egyptian Cobras was a lack of organization.  During the late 1950s south side African American gangs outpaced the west side with the formation of more organized black street gangs in the late 50s until the Vice Lords became the largest super gang of the west by 1959.

By the mid-1970s law enforcement had swept through the upper ranks of Chicago’s hardest gangs as many street leaders were put in prison.  Law enforcement assumed once they took down leadership that these gangs would begin to disappear, instead the incarcerated gang leaders learned to manage the street gangs from behind bars.  Law enforcement would soon learn that locking up the original leaders would not eliminate the gangs, instead this would often allow younger leaders to take the reins and some of these leaders were partaking in drug trafficking.  Many gangs became lured into the drug trade in the 1970s as the streets became more dangerous without the original leadership of the gangs.  In the neighborhoods on the west side and much of the south side black street gangs had toned down the violence significantly during these later 70s years while drug trafficking was increasing.

It was during these years that the long-time leader of the Black P Stones Jeff Fort was released from prison in 1976.  By 1977, Jeff Fort had fully created the EL Rukns organization which was a group that often-practiced strong Muslim beliefs. The EL Rukns would also be known as one of the more violent and domineering groups in Chicago gang history.  EL Rukns viciously defended their communities and their drug turfs through violent force.  EL Rukns were not your neighborhood street corner gang with young kids holding pistols, instead they were a group of older former Black P Stones that were handpicked by Jeff Fort and were some of the city’s coldest killers.  Jeff Fort now denounced his membership in the Black P Stones as the EL Rukns parted from the Black P Stones.  This was by no means a hostile event even though Jeff Fort declared the Black P Stones defunct and no longer validated their existence.  Even though this declaration was handed down on the streets the hundreds of Black P Stones city-wide would claim otherwise.  The Stones would not be as powerful as they once were in the late 70s and all through the 1980s, but they still were one of the larger street gangs in the city.

For two years Jeff Fort and the EL Rukns tolerated the Black P Stones and were even unified in the People alliance.  The People alliance re-established much of the Black P Stone validation in 1978 but the EL Rukns and Stones were still two separate groups.

In 1979, Jeff Fort had now become upset with the very existence of the Stones once police were knocking on his door about crimes that were actually committed by the Stones.  When EL Rukns would want any kind of action completed on the streets in their name the credit would often go to the Stones as the Stones were the larger gang.  Jeff Fort now saw the Stones as a threat and now took his separation to another level with the Stones in 1979 when he declared sanctions against any member of the Black P Stones that declared membership.  These sanctions were often to become violent, and many groups of Black P Stones feared these sanctions especially in neighborhoods the EL Rukns had a strong presence in like South Shore, Woodlawn, Grand Boulevard, Oakland, Kenwood and Roseland.  These Stones made the difficult decision to call upon their partners in the west from neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park and perhaps Austin and West Humboldt Park.  In these neighborhoods Vice Lord gangs and Four Corner Hustlers were powerful.  The deal was to allow these organizations to come to the south side and settle in EL Rukn dominated communities allowing these Stones to avoid flipping to groups like the Mickey Cobras or Black Gangster Disciples.  After these Stones would flip, they were no longer targets of EL Rukn sanctions.  This was to be a temporary arrangement as these former Stones were to return to the Black P Stones but instead, after a short time, these former Stones would not flip back even after the sanctions were lifted which caused violence between the Stones against Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers.

These sanction years brought west side gangs to now claim south side territory.  The south side now had Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Unknown Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Cicero Insane Vice Lords and Insane Vice Lords.

This was not part of a migration wave or had anything to do with redlining or block busting efforts as this was a call for assistance to the largest west side gangs to salvage what remained of the Black P Stones that were affected in communities under EL Rukn control.  This was a milestone settlement as these west side organizations settled over a dozen south side neighborhoods in 1979.

South Shore – South Shore now housed one of the most organized and well-established gang elements where senior leadership of these largest south side black street gangs owned homes in this community.  This was also one of the main hubs of the EL Rukns organization where they owned several hideouts. When the sanctions were handed down in 1979 Four Corner Hustlers, Imperial Insane Vice Lords and Insane Vice Lords were the west side organizations to move here in 1979.  Insane Vice Lords were first to leave these streets then Imperial Insane Vice Lords would depart some years later, but Four Corner Hustlers remained a permanent force on these streets into present day.

Riverdale Altgeld Gardens – The west side connection landed in the Wild 100s into the Riverdale neighborhood and would prove to be strong beginning in 1979 and well through the 80s, 90s and 2000s leaving a permanent presence in these projects and on the streets of Riverdale near the projects.  West side-based gangs had become competition for longer term south side gangs like Black P Stones, Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples. Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords, Renegade Vice Lords and Traveling Vice Lords landed in these buildings in 1979 to flip soon to be sanctioned Black P Stones.  Conservative Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers would especially become a permanent presence in the Altgeld Gardens.

Roseland – At the hub of the Wild 100s, on the streets of Roseland, came the Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords and Traveling Vice Lords.  These west side groups came in hungry, ready to make money as they flipped the sanctioned Black P Stone groups in 1979.  These three west side groups would flourish in this community and would become a permanent fixture on this community as Four Corner Hustlers and Conservative Vice Lords would establish and maintain sizeable sections in the heart of the Wild 100s.  Since 1979 these west side-based gangs have always been a force to be reckoned with.

Grand Boulevard – This Bronzeville neighborhood was one of the sites of the earliest Chicago black street gangs that began in 1919 during the race riots.  By the late 1950s the Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) became the first super gang to take over these streets.  By the 1970s the Robert Taylor projects in the Grand Boulevard section was ruled by Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples as Mickey Cobras shrunk to a smaller force and most moved below the 51st Street neighborhood border into the Washington Park neighborhood into the Robert Taylor buildings known as “The Hole.”  When it came to running the streets of Grand Boulevard the Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and Black P Stones split these streets.  The EL Rukns arrived in the late 1970s and took control of much of these streets.  When the sanctions were handed down in 1979 the Black P Stones in the Washington Park projects flipped to Conservative Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords putting Vice Lords on the map in Bronzeville.  Along Prairie Avenue the Insane Vice Lords established themselves turning out to be a crazy and violent group that was well-known in the neighborhood in the 1980s until they went extinct in the 1990s. After the Washington Park projects were closed and removed in the 2000s Conservative Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords left this neighborhood but made a major impression for a few decades that hasn’t been forgotten.

Douglas – Douglas was no stranger to black street gangs as this was another neighborhood that housed black street gangs since the 1919 race riots.  During the 1960s Douglas’ major gang would be the Del Vikings until the Black Gangster Disciples took over the public housing projects of the Stateway Gardens, Dearborn projects and Prairie Courts projects starting in the later 1960s.  When the 1979 sanctions were handed down, I am not sure if there was much influence in this community from the Black P Stones that would invite west side gangs for assistance or if the west side just landed here as they pleased.  It seems more like the west side just landed here by force and took over a piece of this community as I have not heard of a Black P Stone presence that ever graced these streets.  The Mafia Insane Vice Lords were this west side force to take a sizeable chunk of Douglas that has become a permanent part of these Bronzeville streets.  The Mafia Insane Vice Lords were an organization definitely ruthless and fearless enough to just move onto these streets and take over between 41st to 43rd, Wabash to Calumet.

Kenwood – During the later 1960s the Black P Stones had established themselves in the Kenwood community.  When the EL Rukns were created by the later 70s Kenwood became a neighborhood of interest for the EL Rukns, thus, making these streets no longer safe for most Black P Stones.  The Conservative Vice Lords were called upon during the 1979 sanctions and flipped Stones on 47th Street. This would establish a permanent Conservative Vice Lord section, but the Black P Stones would not go extinct but would always remain in lower numbers into more recent decades.  I am not positive if Stones still exist in Kenwood but CVLs do.

Fuller Park – Fuller Park is the motherland of the Mickey Cobras, formerly known as Egyptian Cobras and Cobrastones.  Mickey Cobras go back to 1958 when they were founded here on Princeton Street.  I am not sure if Black P Stones ever settled here but I have never heard of a Fuller Park Black P Stone section here so I do not believe the Conservative Vice Lords arrived here to flip Black P Stones during the sanctions but one thing for sure the CVLs came in here strong and set up a permanent and very strong section on the Fuller Park streets that Mickey Cobras could not keep out.  Even though the Cobras were the only gang and the strongest gang in Fuller Park they simply did not ever claim all the streets of this community so CVLs just seem to have come in and take where the Cobras didn’t touch, almost like land up for grabs.

Washington Heights – In the year 1964, what constituted the majority white population of this community exited in hurried fashion after thousands of white Washington Heights residents fell for block busting efforts; however, the arriving black middle class would quickly band together to stop redlining and complete economic devastation.  Despite all these efforts the arrival of Chicago’s top black street gangs the Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones would still call Washington Heights home since 1964.  Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples have always been a major presence since 1964 and are still the dominating groups in present years.  The EL Rukns did not have much to do with Washington Heights, but the sanctions still brought some Stones to flip to Conservative Vice Lords, Cicero Insane Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords in 1979.  Mafia Insane Vice Lords would not be much success and would fade out of the community while Cicero Insane Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords would remain permanent forces on these streets.  The Washington Heights streets are the only Cicero Insane Vice Lord south side streets this group has held onto over the decades and is perhaps one of the only CIVL turfs left in the entire city.  Conservative Vice Lords still remain influential with a piece of sizeable turf through the decades.

Garfield Ridge LeClaire Courts projects – In the almost all-white area of the Midway Airport area sat a decades long public housing project for black Chicagoans since the early 1950s.  The LeClaire Courts were pinned against the walls dividing the projects from the Cicero Avenue Interstate 55 exit ramp tucked further away from the main part of the Garfield Ridge community.  For three decades these projects had almost zero gang activity and very low crime.  It was not until 1979 that the projects first experienced gang activity after Black P Stones, Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords moved in.  The arrival of the three west side gangs was not a result of the EL Rukn sanctions as this part of the city on the far southwest side was free of EL Rukn interests.  The sudden gang activity was mainly older west side gang members moving from the west side to raise families in the projects without the intention of gang banging.  These were older Vice Lords and Fours that were semi-retiring from gang life and did little recruiting in these projects until the later 1980s.  Black P Stones arrived that were likely moving out of sanctioned territories or perhaps they were also coming to these projects for a form of semi-retirement.  Whatever the reason was these four organizations lived in complete peace between the years 1979-1987 as the crime rate in the projects remained untouched and these gangs were hardly known to exist in the neighborhood as only the local Insane Popes knew of them and joined the People alliance alongside Conservative Vice Lords in 1981.  This was the beginning of the Conservative Vice Lords in the further southwest side of Chicago as it began in 1979.

Greater Grand Crossing – Since 1959, Greater Grand Crossing has been the home to some of Chicago’s powerhouse gangs as Devil’s Disciples (Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples) and Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) arrived on these streets early in their organization’s histories.  The Black P Stones would also set foot on these streets for the first time in 1960 very shortly after they first took formation.  These streets were some of the first satellite locations in all three of these groups’ histories.  Greater Grand Crossing became almost as coveted streets as South Shore for the largest black gangs in Chicago but on an increased level of violence and poverty over South Shore.  By the late 1970s EL Rukns had interests on these streets and the sanctions were very much felt on these streets which welcomed the Conservative Vice Lords to flip many Black P Stones; however, the Stones remained strong and defied the sanctions.  The flipping of former Stones to CVLs was supposed to be driven by the sanctions but it ended being for the sake of a new fondness for the new mob in town.  CVLs of Greater Grand Crossing became dedicated and down to defend their territory which is why this 1979 group still exists in present years and will perhaps remain here forever.

Chatham – As the white flight exodus heated up in 1964 the Chatham community turned from majority white to majority black within the year. Chicago’s largest black street gangs the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) and Black P Stones arrived for the first time and made this community their home through the decades.  By the late 70s EL Rukns had no territory or interest in Chatham making this area to be ripe with Stones.  When the sanctions were handed down in 1979 the Chatham Stones were seemingly unfazed; however, many members still became lured by the Four Corner Hustlers and Conservative Vice Lords that arrived alongside the calls to the west to assist with the EL Rukn sanctions.  Not many Stones flipped to CVLs and Fours but enough to establish these west side-based mobs for decades to come as these groups are still permanent fixtures in Chatham.

West Englewood – Since 1964 when black migration began in full force on the West Englewood streets the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples) were here on these streets controlling most of these streets.  The Black P Stones arrived a little later but also became major permanent fixtures on these streets.  By the late 70s the EL Rukns would not have any territory in this community as both Englewood and West Englewood were not friendly to EL Rukns.  Because of the lack of EL Rukns in the area there was no need to flip Stones into west side mobs, but Conservative Vice Lords were still introduced on these streets anyway in 1979 as now the west side mobs were allowed on the south side and the CVLs wanted much of this part of the city.  CVLs came in strong opening sizeable turf then became permanent fixtures on these streets for decades to come and will likely be here forever.

South Chicago and South Deering: South Works layoffs, the Mexican migration wave from the north and the sanctions arrive on new lands.

Since the year 1960, South Chicago had experienced mostly South Chicago made street gang activity.  This gang activity was often not threatening to the community and was often accepted by much of the neighborhood.  South Chicago in these earlier years was a rather safe community with low levels of violence.  Although majority white, this was also a mixed-race community as African Americans had lived on these streets since the 1900s decade and the first of South Chicago’s Mexican community would arrive during the 1910s decade.  During the 1960s and 1970s gangs like Royal Knights, Saints (of 87th Street), Bishops (not connected to 18th Street Bishops), Green Bay Gang, Spanish Kings, Bush Nation, Turks, Stomp Lords, Dirty Dozen, Tyrants and the 92nd Street gang ruled these streets.  In the year 1968, black and Hispanic migration took another increase that likely caused racial conflicts as even police were brutal toward Hispanic and black youths.  A white flight wave was to blame for this new influx; however, many steel workers now had the ability to travel by expressway to come to work every day while they lived in the suburbs.  South Chicago always had many blighted buildings and was often ideal for many impoverished unskilled steel workers as they mainly reside in the eastern, northern and southern parts of the community while the middle-class whites still dominated the west side of the community closest to the white South Deering neighborhood.  South Chicago would survive a devastating white flight pattern during the Bicentennial era but once South Works Steel announced major layoffs a panicked white flight wave soon took off in high volume.  For Chicago real estate it was easy pickings as these homeowners were already eager to sell their homes in a rush because some workers were already laid off and unemployed while others feared their day would be soon and sure enough the rest of the workers suffered lay off in 1980.  In the case of South Chicago, block busting tactics were not to blame for a white flight pattern, instead the blame could mostly be put on the collapse of the local economy. South Chicago soon became an employment desert as it was rather isolated on the far southeast side of the city.  All around the deeper south side one industry after another was closing their doors or dealing out mass layoffs.  South Chicago now became an easy target for redlining as neighborhood issues sold themselves due to the layoffs.  Property values tumbled greatly during this 1979-1980 era which would allow impoverished families to move to South Chicago.  This was also a time when black and Hispanic working classes and middle classes were able to afford to buy their own homes as home prices were much more affordable.

Between the years 1979 and 1980 South Chicago went from having whites as the largest race in South Chicago to becoming the smallest percentage as black and Hispanic populations were now in the majority. Racial issues were no longer an issue in South Chicago, but poverty now was an issue as drug trafficking, prostitution and other crime elements became a newer issue in the community. Police presence sorely needed to protect the community was now scaled back in this now redlined community.  In the black community hardened elements of larger black street gangs at last arrived on these streets in 1979 as a small group of Black P Stones were now joined by many other Black P Stone groups, some EL Rukn activity and Black Gangster Disciples now called these streets home as they amassed in large numbers to deal with much of the criminal activity in the community.  South Chicago was in very close vicinity with the South Shore community as these communities were divided by 79th Street.  The EL Rukn sanctions were a big topic on these streets which brought a west side influence on these streets in 1979 as Four Corner Hustlers, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords and Renegade Vice Lords became major power houses in this community while Black P Stones and Black Gangster Disciples remained very powerful as well.  Except for the Renegade Vice Lords, these black street gangs would survive the decades and become large permanent fixtures to South Chicago that started in 1979 for the most part.

Among the Hispanic migration wave to South Chicago in 1979-1980 came members of gangs from other parts of the city but only two groups would stand out in 1979, the Latin Kings and Ambrose.  Some members of Ambrose moved in from 18th Street in Pilsen but had no intentions of establishing Ambrose at 86th and Baltimore but instead started an all-new gang called the Very Mellow People.  These Ambrose seemed to get in the spirit of South Chicago’s customized gangs and now wanted their own group.  The Latin Kings did not technically live and settle in South Chicago in 1979 but did hang out on 79th Street often associating with South Chicago youths.  These Latin Kings lived on 78th Street which is technically in the South Shore community.  This group did not  even make the year out as by 1980 they were no longer heard of; however, when some of these members were released from prison in 1981, they returned to 89th Street in South Chicago and established the 89th Street Latin Kings that would explode into a giant on these streets by the mid-1980s.  This was the beginning of the founding story of Latin Kings on the far southeast side of Chicago between South Chicago, South Deering and the East Side.

By 1979, long-time South Chicago built gangs began facing extinction as newly arrived Hispanic youths attached themselves mainly to the Bush Nation or joined the newly formed South Chicago-made Young Bloods gang.  The Latin Dragons were another newly formed South Chicago-made gang but were perhaps the toughest Hispanic South Chicago mob now on these streets in 1979.  The Bush Nation would eventually die out in the mid-80s while Young Bloods would only survive the 1980s, but the Latin Dragons still live on in South Chicago into present day and their group began in this fateful year of 1979.

The South Deering community was slightly different than South Chicago as this community had always been a fully white neighborhood until 1979.  Many families relied on income provided by Crane Manufacturing.  In 1979, just like South Works nearby, Crane Manufacturing started dealing out several layoffs devastating many South Deering families.  The final layoff wave came in 1980 as Crane closed their doors for good leaving a deserted industrial area in the middle of South Deering.  White flight would soon become rapid and devastating during these 1979-1980 years just like South Chicago and just like South Chicago redlining set in as this area also became an employment desert.  Just like South Chicago the Black Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords packed themselves into the Trumbull Park housing projects as black migration filled these buildings.  Low-income Hispanic families also packed into these same buildings as the King Cobras gang still ruled a portion of these buildings since the early 1970s.  King Cobras and Black Gangster Disciples found common ground as both considered Conservative Vice Lords enemies.  These CVLs moved directly from the west side of the city as it appears there was some moving of public housing residents from the west side to the south side.  These were not CVLs brought here by the sanctions of 79 because EL Rukns had no interest in South Deering nor were there any Black P Stones in the community.  The Black Gangster Disciples became the most powerful South Deering gang as for generations they have scooped up most black youths interested in joining a gang.  Spanish Vice Lords and King Cobras would eventually fade out of the area in the 2000s as would CVLs but Black Gangster Disciples, now known as Gangster Disciples, would last for decades into present day.

1979: A disturbance in the north.

Since 1962, the north side streets of Chicago from Humboldt Park to the coast had experienced racial change, severe conflict due to block busting drives, land grabs and real estate/racial steering that drove white flight migration waves that devasted much of these streets into heavily gang controlled zones located in now high crime areas.  Neighborhoods like Logan Square, Uptown, Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Rogers Park, Humboldt Park area and Albany Park underwent heavy change and now bred some of Chicago’s hardest gang culture.  By the end of the 1970s these streets had become increasingly violent as conflicts flared up.

The Spanish Cobras – The Insane Spanish Cobras of East Humboldt Park became heavily active and began heavy recruitment during these 1979-1980 years now becoming one of Chicago’s larger gangs.  Spanish Cobras had now pushed their way into the Logan Square neighborhood for the first time in 1979 flaring up their wars with rival gangs especially with Latin Kings.  In the motherland of the Spanish Cobras in East Humboldt Park, Spanish Cobras and Maniac Latin Disciples had now teamed up as allies both attached to the Folk alliance to band together and wage war on the Latin Kings along Maplewood Street in 1979.  Cobras and Disciples were also dealing drugs alongside each other making record profits operating drive-up drug trafficking business.  These East Humboldt Park originals would now outnumber Latin Kings as 1979 was the final year for the Maplewood Street Latin Kings.  Spanish Cobras were busy in the 1979 year as their graffiti and stories of their violence was now all over Chicago newspapers as a violent war with the Insane Unknowns in Wicker Park sparked major media coverage for months as the two gangs fought it out viciously in the streets as one murder after another was reported.  The leader of the Spanish Cobras Richard Medina was slain in 1979 while the leader of the Insane Unknowns “Tank” was deported to Puerto Rico.  It was also in 1979 that the Spanish Cobras now extended their “Insane” beliefs upon their closest allies the Ashland Vikings, Orquestra Albany, Harrison Gents and Insane Dragons to be part of the Insane family headed by the Spanish Cobras.  The Insane alliance would further enhance the power of the Spanish Cobras.  Maniac Latin Disciples extended their “Maniac” beliefs onto their allies the Latin Jivers, Latin Lovers, Milwaukee Kings and Latin Stylers to join the Maniac family.  The “Almighty” family was more loosely assembled by the Imperial Gangster, Latin Eagles, Simon City Royals and Insane Popes (north side) in 1979.  1979 was the birth of strong north side alliances in the midst of this new violence.  1979 was the year the Spanish Cobras greatly increased their notoriety.

Uptown – In the far north side community of Uptown gang had heavily developed since 1962 and since 1964 the Harrison Gents and Latin Kings called these streets home.  Despite Latin Kings and Harrison Gents being engaged in violent gang wars for the last 15 years in other parts of the city, in Uptown, the Harrison Gents and Latin Kings were best friends on the streets as they met at Ainslie and Winthrop on the Latin King side of the intersection.  In the year 1979 this 15-year friendship was violently snatched away as both gangs spun into a violent war with one another in 1979.  The Harrison Gents first were not chosen to be Folks because of the Uptown alliance with the Latin Kings but when this war began the Harrison Gents would join the Folks in 1981.

Montclair – By the later 1970s many white hardened gang bangers had now started families and were now looking toward semi-retirement.  After many years of busting the heads of those considered as “undesirables” in their original neighborhoods it was time to give up the fight and move to an area that was unaffected by racial transitioning and gang migration.  Many white gangs chose the further northwest side of the city in an area nicknamed “white wonderland.”  1979 was the year Montclair was first touched with Chicago street gangs from elsewhere in the city. The notorious Gaylords and C-Notes opened territory near Sayre Park which was the park that divided Montclair from the war-torn Austin neighborhood.  Luckily, both of these gangs were unified under the UFO alliance allowing them to team up on Austin gangs like the Latin Brothers and Latin Stylers.  It just so happened that gangs were arriving in the northern part of Austin that same year north of North Avenue and frustrated white youths of Montclair called upon the C-Notes and Gaylords to assist with gangs from Austin trying to invade the park.  It was a perfect match for these Gaylords and C-Notes because they so-happened to be looking for a place to retire anyway.  Gaylords and C-Notes would soon learn these Austin gangsters were just as hardened as they were and not just some punk kids; therefore, Sayre Park white gangs struggled with using excessive violence and absorbing excessive violence from the Austin gangs until the 2000s decade when Gaylords mostly withdrew from the area.  C-Notes were only here a few years into the 80s.

West Ridge – The quiet mostly crime free far north side neighborhood of West Ridge was an ideal Chicago neighborhood that almost had a suburban touch to it due to low crime.  As far as I know this community was even free of gangs well into the 1970s.  This middle-class and working-class community became the home to many immigrant groups by the mid-1970s, before that time this was one of the largest Jewish communities in Chicago following World War II.  This mid-70s change is what brought about the permanent change to the West Ridge community as East Indian and Arabs moved into the neighborhood in the mid-70s and created India Town along Devon Avenue.  This racial transition was rough on many Arab and Indian youths as they arrived in this all-white community.  More conflicts would brew as more of the Jewish population headed for the suburbs in the late 70s in West Ridge as Hispanic and African American Chicagoans migrated here in 1979.

African Americans mainly lived in the northeast of the community closest to the Rogers Park neighborhood.  The Rogers Park community had already been settled by African Americans in the north off Howard Street.  This settlement now moved further west into the West Ridge neighborhood.  The Black P Stones had built themselves up on Howard Street in Rogers Park for at least a few years now, now these Stones extended into the West Ridge community.  Newly arrived black youths would join the Stones for protection especially since there were racial tensions.  These Stones would end up becoming a permanent part of the West Ridge community since 1979.

The Hispanic population was moving more in the west and southwest of the community.  Migrating gangs like Latin Kings and Maniac Latin Disciples moved into this community to start families then would end up recruiting in the neighborhood to at first address racial conflict.  In the Arab community the Latin Kings and Insane Popes (north side) befriended Arab youths dealing with racial conflicts.  The Assyrian Eagles were a branch of Latin Kings that was almost all Arab.  The Insane Popes mainly were brought in to simply recruit any youths fed up with Latin Kings and Black P Stones.  The Insane Popes were still mostly white and often consisted of youths that had lived here their whole lives.

The Simon City Royals arrived here in 1979 to become long term residents at Lunt and Campbell.  The Royals perhaps recruited the most long-term white youths ready to join a gang and go against Latin Kings and Black P Stones.  This section of the Royals was not exclusively white but were the largest mostly white gang in the neighborhood.  Many of the Royals were not happy with how this neighborhood was changing with now crime and gang activity.

The Latin Kings and Black P Stones would remain in the neighborhood as a permanent part of these streets as both mobs have sizeable territory.  The Four Corner Hustlers would later join in the 1990s but other than that it has been all Kings and Stones since 1979.

1979:  The invasion to the west.

From 1967 to 1979, African American families moved into the southern and central parts of the Austin community.  In the late 1960s block busting predatorial rest estate companies worked to change this neighborhood by spreading fear until central and south Austin had already been transformed into urban ghettos that were heavily redlined by lending institutions by the mid-70s.  The remainder of the white Austin community sat north of North Avenue heading north to the terminus of the neighborhood border with Belmont-Cragin, another almost all-white neighborhood.  In the year 1979 the Gaylords began to feel it was time to protect the northwest from changing.  Gaylords already had a stronghold in Hermosa and Belmont-Cragin but now they would re-enforce the west by settling in Sayre Park in the Montclair community and in the Austin neighborhood right along North Avenue.  These Gaylords were sometimes accompanied by allies the Taylor Jousters, but the Jousters were in very small numbers, so it was up to these North Avenue Gaylords to stop foreign elements and the extension of the black ghetto south of North Avenue crossing North Ave.  As far as I know these Gaylords didn’t really clash with Vice Lord or Four Corner Hustler groups nearby. Gaylords mainly fought against an arriving Hispanic migration wave as the earliest days of white flight came to this part of Austin in 1979.  This part of Austin was known to have safer streets than the rest of Austin. Hispanic Chicagoans moving from Pilsen and Logan Square found this area to be ideal and affordable.  Alongside this Hispanic migration came the Latin Brothers from Pilsen.  An instant and violent gang war erupted between Gaylords and Latin Brothers even after each gang had joined the People alliance in 1981, Austin was the exception where these People allies battled each other like they would to Folk allied gangs.  The only Folk allied gang to move to Austin in 1979 was the Latin Stylers from Logan Square.  Latin Stylers would fight every other gang along North Avenue except for Vice Lord groups and Four Corner Hustlers.  Black gangs like Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers were peaceful and got along with Latin Brothers and really had no desire for conflict with Gaylords and Latin Stylers.  Besides the issues between Gaylords and Latin Brothers the People nation groups were all at peace in this northern part of Austin.  By the early 2000s this North Avenue legendary gang force was completely moved out by 2002 as was the rest of the white and Hispanic community.  The northern part of North Avenue now had become an almost all-black community since 2002 as Conservative Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers moved onto these streets and have become a permanent part of North Austin but the legend of the 1979-2002 gangs of North Austin will not be forgotten.

1979: The settlement in the suburbs.

Cicero – As the war was heating up between the Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players against the Two Two Boys and Two Six gangs from the Little Village area, the Latin Kings would return to the suburb of Cicero since an earlier Latin King group’s departure in the early 70s.  These 1979 Latin Kings were a new group of Kings that allied with the Noble Knights.  The Noble Knights allowed them to operate in their area for a short period of time until the Spanish Harlem Latin Kings arrived in 1982 to become a permanent settlement of Cicero.  Cicero was a destined home for the Latin Kings since the first group arrived in 1964 to the early 70s, after this gap until 1979 there would be almost no gaps until the Spanish Harlem Kings arrived.

The arrival of the Jungle – In the year 1979, the suburb of Franklin Park would get an unexpected arrival of a Chicago street gang known as the Imperial Gangsters.  The Imperial Gangsters moved into an apartment complex in the suburb alongside a small wave of Hispanic migration that year.  The Imperial Gangsters were the first and permanent chapter of Chicago based gangs. This group was brought here to assist youths battling Latin Kings from the neighboring suburb of Maywood.  Imperial Gangsters battled many Maywood, Bellwood and Stone Park gangs since 1979 and developed a legendary reputation as their territory has been regarded as The Jungle.

The clash in Summit – The suburb nestled right off the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) along Harlem Avenue would soon be taken by storm in the year 1979.  Summit had begun to experience Hispanic migration to the suburb in 1979 and alongside this migration wave came the Latin Kings who would establish the Summit Latin Kings which would become a permanent part of the suburb.  Members of the Orquesta Albanies would also arrive in 1979 and settled right along the I-55 exit ramps.  Orquestra Albany was an enemy gang to the Latin Kings so the two gangs would clash in the quiet Cook County suburb.  The Albanian Gangsters formed shortly after near the expressway ramps and joined the Orquestra Albanies against the Latin Kings.  This clash went on for many years but only the Latin Kings would remain here permanently.

1980: Disco is dead, so is peace.

As a new decade ushered in, our way of life that we had been used to as Americans was about to change forever. The days of a man going to work every day at any of the various factories then bringing home a big enough paycheck to support a wife and kids in a nice brick home were now to come to an end.  The era of outsourcing and advancements in technology would now close several factories or cut down their work forces to a minimum staff that would now be taking on the work that three or four men once handled.  Layoffs and downsizing swept blue collar America as a recession now dug its claws deep into our wellbeing.  Unemployment lines grew long, wives now had to work for the first time in their lives while many Americans downsized their living situations to affordability.  Here in Chicago south siders especially felt the sting as the steel industry came to a grinding halt and frustrations soon set in.  Frustrations settled in on the streets as original gang members couldn’t help but notice that new recruits in the gangs were now displaying sociopathic behaviors.  A new breed of gangbanger was in its earliest days of hatching in 1980 consisting of dishonorable thugs that often appeared in the Chicago newspapers for committing heinous crimes.  Factions within gangs began to quarrel as renegade groups began to appear.  Although most gangs would remain mostly honorable throughout the 80s and into the 90s, 1980 was the starting year that would begin the formation of how gang mentality is presently.  The way of the gun was now on the rise as the 1980s began as many of these newer sociopathic type of gang members were quick with the trigger which would bring a newer trend of innocent lives being taken in the midst of messy drive-bys and uncontrolled walk up shootings.

1980: A change not so accepted in Pilsen.

Since World War II the Pilsen community has had Mexican families that have called this community home.  In the year 1959, Pilsen experienced its first migration wave as many Mexican Chicagoans left the Near West community relocating to the neighborhood just south of their borders settling mostly along the storied 18th Street.  Migrating gangs like Satan Disciples and Ambrose now were calling Pilsen their home as several start up gangs formed in this community in 1959 in response to this sudden migration such as Spartans, Rampants, Morgan Deuces and Villa Lobos.  The Latin Counts were the first Mexican gang in Pilsen and now by 1959 they now called themselves “Latin Counts,” instead of such names as the Texans and Sons of Mexico City.  These gangs formed because of social conflicts in the community, some of which was dealing with racism and unequal treatment while other reasons were bullying from neighborhood gangs.  These original members of these gangs knew what it was like to be driven to the gang life just for trying to make these streets home, but this did not mean this bullying type of behavior would end.

In the later 1970s, a new wave of Hispanic migration came to Pilsen that would escalate by 1980.  This wave of migration was not Hispanic Chicagoans from other Chicago neighborhoods coming to Pilsen, instead this was an immigration wave as many Hispanic laborers moved mostly from Mexico directly to the streets of Pilsen.  Many of these immigrants stood out because they did not speak good English, and many were very poor.  As two decades had passed now the youths of Pilsen were not even born during the time when the biggest Pilsen gangs were formed that once dealt with corrupt and brutal police, angry groups of whites and predatory criminal elements that moved alongside migration.  These youths had grown up used to residing among other Hispanic youths that had always called Pilsen their home.  When this new wave of immigrants arrived in Pilsen many long-time youths of Pilsen responded by being unfriendly toward this migration and many even bullied these immigrant youths.  Certain groups of gang members often would prey upon these immigrant youths by attacking them on the streets and taking the cash in their pockets while calling them “Brazers.”  The term “Brazer” comes from the Spanish translation of “Los Braceros” which is a slang for immigrant laborers known to carry cash in their pockets since many were paid in cash.  Youths classified as Brazers were often targeted for strong arm robbery and if these immigrants called the police the police were indifferent or cruel.  Many others feared being involved with the police for fears of deportation.  It would become too easy for gangs to prey on these youths until a group was formed to fight back that called themselves the Brazers accepting that slang to become their own.  The Brazers were assembled in 1975 and were known to be a tough gang in Pilsen as they viciously fought the Latin Counts and Latin Brothers that dwelled near the busy intersection of 18th and Ashland.  The bravado of the Brazers was not enough to lure in most immigrant youths or perhaps recruitment was too particular as the mighty forces of the Brazers had mostly left Pilsen in the year 1980 leaving immigrant youths with less options. The largest gangs in the community like Ambrose and Latin Counts were often the worst enemies of these migrant youths.

It was not until 1980 that migrant youths now found organizations that would become strong enough to protect them and stop this Brazer victimizing plaguing these streets.  Two groups had formed to protect migrant youths that were also recruiting youths fed up with Ambrose and Latin Counts.  The Party People organization was birthed on these streets in 1980 that became very friendly among migrant youths.  Some of the original Party People were migrants. This group came together in numbers which would encourage neighborhood gangs to avoid causing trouble with them.  Party People also offered diplomacy with neighborhood gangs when they first were formed as the main theme of the Party People was to live up to their name.  Membership in the Party People would mean not being involved in any violent situations.  La Raza formed in 1980 as another group friendly to Mexican migrants and original members were Mexican migrants.  This was another group that had diplomacy with neighborhood gangs as they mainly represented pride in their home country, they came from embracing the very thing that would get them bullied before they joined La Raza.

Both Party People and La Raza would join folks a year later, but this did not mean peace with Ambrose, it mainly meant peace with Satan Disciples and Two Six.  This was also the year both these groups would become gang banging groups after an original member from each group was killed by neighborhood gangs.  Party People and La Raza fought their enemies viciously for decades to come and are still part of Pilsen in present years.  Both gangs were birthed in the fateful year of 1980.

1980: A new disturbance in Belmont-Cragin.

For decades the Belmont-Cragin community would avoid wave after wave of migration waves, roving gangs and most of the city’s crime.  Although this was mostly a safe neighborhood this neighborhood was the hub of some of the toughest greaser gang activity in the city.  Chi-West had settled these streets in the earlier 1960s as one of the first gang migrations of a well-known Chicago gang.  In 1967 the notorious Gaylords street gang opened their first satellite chapter on these streets and became a major gang on these streets by 1969.  The Gaylords now ran these streets in multiple locations and sections in the neighborhood.  The Taylor Jousters moved here at the close of the 1970s coming in peace as allies.  The Jousters soon became a big group by 1980 making this a heavily protected neighborhood.  One factor the Gaylords and Jousters could not stop was white flight that now came to this neighborhood in 1980.  Hispanic families from other neighborhoods began moving to these streets in 1980 and the Gaylords were first surprised by the Spanish Cobras that moved in alongside this migration, even boldly claiming the coveted intersection of Armitage and Cicero Avenue that Chi-West once claimed.  When Gaylords and Spanish Cobras first encountered each other, the Cobras proposed peace and the Gaylords accepted.  This peace would not last, but the temporary peace allowed the Spanish Cobras to grow becoming well-established in the community and the Cicero Assassins section was created in 1980.  As white flight continued in the 1980s more Hispanic migration landed here and more Hispanic gangs arrived as they tangled with the hostile white gangs that often-wanted migration to stop.  Racial clashing was heavy in this community throughout the 1980s and into the first half of the 1990s until the Hispanic population became the majority.  Maniac Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Brothers, Latin Jivers and Milwaukee Kings all arrived in the 1980s.  All these gangs accept the Latin Brothers were allied to the Folk alliance and effectively teamed up on the Gaylords and Jousters until the Gaylords withdrew from the neighborhood.  By this time the Folks gangs were heavily at odds and still make up most present-day Belmont-Cragin gangs.  1980 is when it all started.

1980: The Folks have arrived in the Back of the Yards.

Chicago’s Back of the Yards community has one of the longest gang histories in the city that continues to have a gang element in present years and will perhaps always have gangs.  The Back of the Yards is known for housing some of Chicago’s most dangerous gang activity.  The Saints street gang is the oldest of the gangs with roots going back to 1949 and have been on these streets under the Saints name since 1959 becoming dominant in 1964. The neighborhood’s Latin Souls are an original Back of the Yards group that has roots going back to 1962 and under the Latin Soul’s name since at least 1971.  By the mid-1970s both these groups ruled the Back of the Yards as all the greaser gangs had now left the area.  The Latin Souls and Saints recruited among the Hispanic youths that had arrived over the years.

The Back of the Yards had one of the oldest Hispanic settlements in the city’s history as Hispanic people first migrated to Back of the Yards in the 1910s decade during the first world war.  The neighborhood remained majority white until the 1980s when white flight took off in higher volume.  White flight first began in the early 1960s in the area south of 51st Street to the Englewood/West Englewood border along 55th Street.  Black and Hispanic migration came to this area in the 1960s which is how Black P Stones and Latin Souls became established.  By the mid-1970s the area south of 51st Street became majority black and Hispanic but Latin Souls would not stick around and had completely migrated north of 51st by the mid-70s.  Back of the Yards soon became a battle zone between these two gangs but below 51st Street the Black P Stones and Mickey Cobras were deep involved in drug trafficking and had a strong Englewood connection.

In the year 1980, the street gang territory rapidly changed overnight as white flight suddenly spiked in this community.  These white flighters were replaced by Mexican families from Little Village and Pilsen.  The change was sudden and took the community by surprise.  Within the year 1980 the rest of the white families had now all left the area south of 51st Street.  The Bishops street gang from Pilsen moved in among Hispanic migration to this area as they absorbed the last of the Gaylords street gang.  The Latin Kings settled a few blocks away on 51st Street who were an arch enemy of the Saints and Latin Souls.  Bishops would also clash with Souls and Saints.  These Latin Kings migrated from the northern part of the city and became a major force in the Back of the Yards for some time.  On these streets below 51st Street the gangs were all attached to the People alliance and lived in peace until a brief war between Mickey Cobras and Black P Stones caused the removal of the Mickey Cobras in 1985.

Satan Disciples moved into the neighborhood alongside the Two Two Boys at 51st and Wood.  Both gangs were allied Folks and worked to establish themselves at this shared territory.  Saints, Latin Kings and Bishops objected to these two gangs and war instantly erupted.  Two Six arrived right outside of Saint territory at 47th Street which brought bloody war.  Two Six, Two Two Boys, Satan Disciples and Latin Souls came together as allies within the Folk alliance.  These gangs had peace among each other for most of the decade until Two Two Boys and Satan Disciples began war with Two Six in 1986.  For nearly seven years the Folk alliance was very tight in the Back of the Yards.  It was because of this alliance that the Latin Souls joined the Folks as did older incarcerated Saints that became known as “Latin Saints.”  On the streets Saints deeply hated the Folks and were sworn Folk killers.  The Saints also hated the People alliance and their gangs like Bishops and Latin Kings.  The Saints refused to claim a star and considered every one of these gangs as invaders.  Since the Saints began in 1959, they were known to be unfriendly toward migrating gangs and even gangs that began on these streets like the Latin Souls.  The Saints did not need be with an alliance and this was proven throughout the 1980s.  The Saints would only identify as People alliance during the early 1990s years until war erupted with Latin Kings and Party Players again.  The Party Players were a Back Yards made gang from the late 70s and like the Saints, the Party Players refused to be attached to Folk or People until 1990 when they joined People.

The Party Players were not technically a gang by 1980 but were an example of a party crew that was perhaps the toughest party crew in the neighborhood.  Another party crew that gained attention was the City Knights that formed in 1980 when the Back of the Yards was suddenly invaded by new gangs.  The City Knights got along with the Folks, especially the Satan Disciples.  City Knights mainly clashed with Party Players as these were the toughest party crews in the neighborhood.  Not only was 1980 a big year for new gangs to be introduced to the Yards, it was also the year that several party crews popped up all over the neighborhood but mainly in the area north of 51st Street.  Party crews like the 48th Street Boys, D-Boys, Latin Taste, Latin Touch Boys and the Night Crew seemingly popped up overnight.  Some of these crews were quite tough but tried to avoid gang life while others embraced gang activity like the 48th Street Boys that were known to use guns and were another example of a tough party crew.  Gangs like the Saints would give party crews a hard time.  Saints still viewed these groups as undesirables and often looked for any excuse to go to war with these groups.  Groups like Party Players, City Knights and 48th Street Boys did not exercise much fear in the presence of the Saints.  These three party crews were notorious for turning into full-fledged gangs and being active on these streets a long time. Party Players were the first to become a full gang in 1982 and have never left these streets.  The 48th Street Boys were the next to turn gang, but they joined the La Raza street gang from Pilsen in order to make that happen.  La Raza came here in 1985 to turn out the 48th Street Boys and now La Raza has become a permanent resident of the Back of the Yards becoming the Saints newer archrival.  The City Knights would not become a full gang until the later 80s in about 1988 when they turned gang under the guidance of the Satan Disciples who made them “Insane Gangsters” and brought them into Folks.  The City Knights remained on these streets for several years until the 2010s.

Bishops and Two Two Boys would eventually leave this community as Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords would move in but the rest of the gangs that arrived here in 1980 and before would become permanent residents on these streets.  The Back of the Yards was always troubled and loaded with gang activity; however, these streets had not seen incredible homicidal violence until 1980 when a sudden and poorly planned migration wave shocked these streets and the youth reacted violently as scores of gang colors flew on these streets and the guns came out.

1980: Chicago gang explosion in the suburbs.

Prior to the year 1980, the Chicago area suburbs, except for Cicero and some south suburbs, was an escape from gang life as many Chicagoans retreated here to escape the crime and noise of the city.  These suburbs were filled with white flighters some who had fled the city as early as the 1950s.  By 1980, older suburban houses and apartments were now more affordable as many suburbanites that achieved upward mobility now sought larger and newer homes.  Many suburbs all around the Chicago metro area now offered more affordable housing and a form of racial steering began in a new 1980 drive to push out higher income white residents from certain towns and replace them with lower income black and Hispanic families from the city.  Many of these suburbs were not completely changed racially, instead designated apartment complexes and town house subdivisions now allowed section 8 vouchers for lower income families.  Chicago street gangs would migrate among these families and move into the same apartment complexes and town homes other black and Hispanic families were moving into.  This was a shock to suburbanites that thought they would always be far away from hardened Chicago street gangs.  In affluent communities this was especially shocking.  Law enforcement in these suburbs in the early 1980s was not equipped to handle gangs and often lacked a gang unit or even knowledge of gangs.

Cook County suburbs 1980 – Chicago based gangs first found the Cook County suburbs to be ideal in the year 1964 when Latin Kings moved into Cicero while Black P Stones, Gangster Disciples and possibly Conservative Vice Lords moved to south suburbs like Robbins, Harvey, Ford Heights, Chicago Heights, Dixmoor, Phoenix and Markham. In the later 1970s Chicago gangs moved into some other various Cook County suburbs like Maywood, Norwood Park, Elmwood Park, Franklin Park and Melrose Park but other than these scattered settlements the suburbs were still a place where a family would not have to worry about Chicago gang activity on their blocks until 1980.

Cicero and Berwyn were hit especially hard in the year 1980 with violent gang conflict after Imperial Gangsters, Two Six and Two Two Boys moved to Cicero alongside a Mexican migration wave of former Little Village Mexican families.  The guns were blazing as these Folk alliance gangs went against the Cicero native People alliance gangs the Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players.  Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players now guarded the neighboring Berwyn suburb.  Latin Kings became influential in Berwyn beginning in 1980 while Latin Kings would not fully develop in Cicero until 1982.  These Cook County suburbs were swept the hardest with 1980 Chicago gangs and these communities became much more violent than any previous years.  The Latin Kings would become permanent on the streets of Cicero and Berwyn.  Two Six and Two Two Boys would become permanent in Cicero as this 1980 year made these gangs a long-time part of Berwyn and Cicero.

The suburb of Maywood would be introduced to Chicago based gangs in the later 1970s which brought Chicago gangs to the western suburbs for the first time.  In 1979 a slew of black street gangs settled on the streets of Maywood and now in the year 1980 they had become fully active.  These same gangs spread to the neighboring suburb of Bellwood in 1980 as now white flight was rapidly growing in Bellwood as black Chicagoans began to heavily migrate to the suburb in 1980.  Latin Kings and Maniac Latin Disciples came to Bellwood to protect the interests of the Hispanic families that had moved to Bellwood and faced racial conflict.  Gangster Disciples, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, Black P Stones, Conservative Vice Lords and Traveling Vice Lords moved to these Bellwood streets to protect the interests of the black community in 1980.  These gangs would soon violently clash as hard-core gang members soon populated much of this community.  These groups have become permanent parts of Bellwood and it all began in 1980.

In the late 1970s the Cook County suburb of Evanston fell on hard times on the west side and southwest sides of the neighborhood that relied on employment with Evanston’s manufacturing companies that were now closing.  The recently unemployed became too poor to support the local shopping in this part of Evanston and the shopping street along Chicago Street now had many closed down businesses.  The white residents from this part of town began to move out of the area to seek jobs elsewhere while they were replaced by African American migrating Chicagoans from the south side of Chicago.  This is how Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples moved into Evanston in 1980 as these two Chicago gangs moved into the west side and southwest side along an African American migration wave.  These two gangs would soon engage in violent gang wars on these streets.  These two mobs would remain permanent parts of Evanston ever since the sudden migration wave of 1980.

Kane County – The suburbs of Aurora, Elgin and Carpentersville are quite far away from the city of Chicago sitting about 40 miles away from Chicago city limits. Kane County was very well-known to be far from Chicago but built up enough land to house city-like suburbs like Aurora.  Aurora, Elgin and Carpentersville had gang activity since the 1950s but did not have any Chicago based gang activity.  For the most part these suburbs were a way for former Chicagoan to escape into the corn fields far from that life.  During the Bicentennial years a few Chicago gang members from the same neighborhood in the city that were attached to the Latin Kings and Insane Deuces settled in the Aurora suburb and conducted drug trafficking secretly in the suburb.  In the year 1980 both gangs began recruitment following the arrival of the Maniac Latin Disciples that had arrived alongside a Hispanic migration wave.  Aurora’s east side became older and less desirable as a white flight wave hit the east side.  Several black families moved into the public housing projects in Aurora in 1980.  The Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords and Imperial Insane Vice Lords arrived in the projects to protect black youths from hostile actions toward Aurora black youths but soon these gangs would war with each other and the Hispanic gangs.  Aurora crime increased in the early 1980s, but gang activity was not deadly during these years.  In 1984 Aurora gangs became violent as several shooting began becoming reported.  Aurora’s Chicago based gangs that had arrived in 1980 and prior would become permanently part of these suburbs even into present years.

Elgin was another rougher Kane County suburb that had greaser gang activity going back to the earlier 1950s.  By the late 1960s the suburb experienced issues with poverty and heroin trafficking as crime slowly rose during the 1970s.  This suburb was a fertile breeding ground for Chicago based gangs and once a wave of Hispanic and black migration touched these streets in 1980 it became the tipping point.  Maniac Latin Disciples and Latin Kings arrived here in 1980 alongside a migration wave of Hispanic Chicagoans looking for new opportunities in the suburb.  MLDs and Latin Kings soon connected with the local drug pipeline and introduced a connection with the Mexican drug cartels this greatly established these gangs into this community permanently.  It is also possible Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords arrived in this suburb in 1980 as well.  1980 made Chicago gangs a permanent part of the suburb of Elgin.

In the year 1982, Carpentersville police identified that Chicago based street gangs had now arrived in this quiet suburb.  The suburb had been on hard times since 1977 when Star Manufacturing closed leaving many Carpentersville residents jobless.  This became the backbone for a white flight wave in the late 70s that had progressed significantly by 1980.  The hardest hit areas of Carpentersville with white flight were the Fox View apartments, the townhouses on Berkshire Circle and Morningside Lane and in a subdivision of homes that has Native American street names.  These areas would eventually experience Latin Kings, Ambrose, Maniac Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Cobras and Gangster Disciples.  As white flight swept these areas mostly Hispanic families moved into these areas and Hispanic youths had a variety of gangs to join if needed.  For the black youths only the Gangster Disciples arrived to recruit mostly black youths.  The Gangster Disciples are known to be especially influential in the Fox View apartments.  1980 was the year Chicago based gangs arrived in this suburb.  The Latin Kings and Maniac Latin Disciples for sure arrived in 1980 but I am not sure exactly when the others arrived, but it may have been 1980.

Lake County – The Lake County suburban area sits just south of the Wisconsin/Illinois state line.  Because of its distance from the city, one would think Chicago street gangs would never reach that far north but there were socio economic and racial issues that made portions of this county breeding grounds for hardened Chicago gang activity.  Much of these factors that made this county ideal for this gang settlement often were centered around poverty.  Some of the best features about Lake County is the proximity to Lake Michigan where many Chicagoans Park their boats along the lake front.  In the summer one can spend hours at the shoreline.  Lake County also houses Six Flags Amusement Park in the suburb or Gurnee and the suburb is loaded with Gurnee Mills shopping centers.  Many suburbs in this county are affluent and much of this county was built on upper middle-class money; however, much of it was also built upon the backs of blue-collar workers and farmers.  Many of the blue-collar areas had aged over the decades and lost equity for many of these simple homes.  Three suburbs would become hot beds for Chicago gangs: North Chicago, Zion and Waukegan as these suburbs struggled the most with racism and/or extreme poverty.

Waukegan is considered the county seat of Lake County and is the largest city in the county and the tenth largest city in all of Illinois.  Many Lake County residents call Waukegan home including a few generations of Chicago’s hardened gang culture.  Waukegan has had a long history of racial conflicts between blacks and whites that goes back at least early in the 20th century when blacks attempted to settle in this community due to the large variety of manufacturing facilities near the suburb that employed so many thousands of Lake County blue collars.  Much of Waukegan heavily objected to this migration to the point where a violent racial riot erupted in the suburb in 1920 after mobs of whites angrily attacked blacks.  In the after math, it was decided to allow blacks to only live in the older south side of the community among the more ran down houses and shacks.  In the 1950s and 1960s more black and Puerto Rican families moved into the south side.  These families had low income, this area would become blighted and neglected by the city.  Beginning in the early 1960s most of the houses and apartments on the south side were cleared away for public housing projects.  By the later 1970s most of the manufacturing plants had closed due to the impending recession as much manufacturing all over the county was either moving overseas or had succumb to technology.  White flight soon began in 1978 along with black flight as many middle-class black families began to leave the area.  These families were replaced by single income families below the poverty line.  In 1978 black youths in the projects formed Waukegan made gangs like the Kingsmen.  These gangs would not last especially in 1980 when Black P Stones, Gangster Disciples, and Conservative Vice Lords arrived in the projects.  These Chicago based gangs took over the projects instantly and still have a presence in these buildings in present years, their legacy would begin in 1980.  As white flight spread to other parts of Waukegan Hispanic Chicagoan families moved into the suburb as Chicago based Hispanic gangs followed.  Orquestra Albany, Latin Kings, Latin Lovers, Maniac Latin Disciples and Insane Unknowns arrived in the suburb in 1980.  The original purposes of the Chicago gangs were to deal with racial issues but within no time the gangs turned on each other carrying out rivalries from the city.  Waukegan was another Chicago suburb to experience the first major wave of Chicago gangs to the suburbs.

In the suburb of North Chicago, many of the manufacturing plants were directly on North Chicago soil.  North Chicago manufacturing plants like Washburn and Moen not only employed many North Chicago residents, these plants also employed a large amount of the entire county.  North Chicago’s other major source of employment came from the United States Navy’s Great Lakes Training Station that was opened in 1911 and many businesses opened near the base to support the Sailers.  African American families found this area desirable around the time of the first world war but were pretty much forced to reside on the older west side of town that had dilapidated structures.  These black families lived in deep poverty and were further away from the manufacturing than the white community in the east.  Beginning in the mid-50s following the opening of more manufacturing plants, more African American families moved into the west and now spread into the northwest entire sector of town.  This is when conditions worsened in this impoverished area.  This area lacked plumbing, had blighted homes and was littered with trash as the city completely neglected this area of town.  It took just two years for the city to realize their neglect and begin plans for a public housing project to be built over the blighted buildings and shacks.  The land was cleared out by 1960 and the Marion Jones public housing project was the city’s solution to fix their mistake.  By the year 1980, as Chicago based gangs swept Lake County for the first time, the Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords arrived in the Marion Jones projects and gang violence erupted between them.  Both groups still reside in the community in present years.  Eventually Hispanic gangs like Latin Kings, Insane Unknowns and Satan Disciples moved into the more eastern part of the community when white flight began sweeping the suburb.  North Chicago would first house Chicago street gangs in 1980.

Zion would have a rather bizarre and interesting beginning of its history as the town was once called Zion City.  The city was first controlled by an extreme religious leader by the name of John Alexander Dowie that forbid many things from alcohol to oysters, doctors, politicians and tan colored shoes.  After John Alexander Dowie’s passing in 1907 the town remained dull with no real growth and no real industry.  Many earlier Zion residents worked at various manufacturing plants in nearby suburbs like North Chicago.  Many of these families were on a tighter budget and preferred living in Zion because housing was cheap.  African American families moved into Zion in the 1950s as Zion was affordable for lower income African American families.  Since the community was based on lower incomes and affordable housing for white, black and Hispanic families it was decided in the early 60s to build the Hebron Housing projects that were located on Hebron Street.  The projects were mixed race; however, racial lines were drawn as soon as the projects were complete in 1964. Whites were on one side while blacks and Hispanics were on the other.  If any families wanted to live on the other side, it was heavily frowned upon, and trouble might brew.  The projects were mostly peaceful during their first fifteen years of existence until the layoffs began at the manufacturing companies in the county.  White flight soon swept the projects on the white side which now allowed black and Hispanic people to move into those buildings and by 1980 the whites had left completely.  Alongside this migration wave many African American Chicagoans moved into these buildings in the late 70s and early 80s and in the year 1980 Chicago black street gangs first arrived.  Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Black P Stones and Black Gangsters arrived in the projects in 1980.  This caused gang clashes and heavy gang activity.  In later years more white flight spread all over the suburb as black and Hispanic families would take their place. More street gangs from the city arrived but the oldest element would be the Hebron projects Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones, Conservative Vice Lords and Black Gangsters (New Breeds) in 1980.

Du Page County – In all the area suburbs nearest to the city, Du Page County was the most affluent housing the most wealthy and upper middle-classes in the immediate Chicagoland area.  Expensive suburbs like Oak Brook, Naperville, Hinsdale, Burr Ridge and Clarendon Hills sit within the borders or Du Page County.  This county was previously thought to be untouchable by city crime and Chicago street gangs but in 1980 Du Page County would become infiltrated.  Scattered settlement of gang members occurred across the county and even landed in suburbs like Addison as early as 1980 but full settlement of gangs would only hit two suburbs in 1980, but this was considered alarming at the time.

In the suburb of Bensenville gang activity was nothing new to the village.  Since 1952, Bensenville had gangs formed in the village that were sometimes petty criminals.  Bensenville housed many lower income families that lived in townhomes and apartments, and this was fertile soil for hardened street gangs.  The Village would not become infiltrated with Chicago street gangs until the year 1980.  In the year 1980, white flight swept this community in the area of York Street and Irving Park Road allowing more Hispanic families to move into the village to join Hispanic families already in the suburb since as early as the 1950s.  This new wave of Hispanic migration brought in lower income Hispanic families in a sudden rush of migration.  Chicago street gangs tagged alongside this migration wave and began recruiting in the suburb in 1980.  Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Harrison Gents, Imperial Gangsters and Latin Kings moved into the suburb in 1980 and began long standing legacies until this area of Bensenville was completely removed. Bensenville has always been considered the first Du Page County suburb to become fully infiltrated by Chicago gangs since 1980.

The suburb of Woodridge sits at the southern base of Du Page County near Will County. Woodridge became notorious for housing lower income families in apartment complexes in the southern part of the community. Beginning in 1973 Timber Creek, Waterbury and Emerald Courts were all constructed in this suburb to house impoverished mostly African American families from Chicago.  Eventually Chicago based street gangs arrived in these apartment complexes in 1980.  Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones migrated alongside these families to these apartments and began recruiting.  The gangs clashed viciously in these apartments and violent crimes began being tied to these gangs by 1982.  Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones have remained permanent residents of these apartments since 1980 and may perhaps remain here.

Will County – A large portion of Will County is rural and residing in this county had become an ideal escape from Chicago living for generations of suburbanites.  Will County offers a large suburban settlement combined with a rural feel to it.  The larger and more developed communities would develop in the north, closest to Du Page and Cook County borders.  Will County would be one of the last counties one would think would be chosen by Chicago street gangs, but the county was taken by surprise when Chicago gangs were first identified in 1982; however, it is a fact the gangs arrived in 1980.

The suburb of Bolingbrook sits at the most northern part of Will County bordering Du Page County suburbs like Naperville and Woodridge.  Just like Woodridge Bolingbrook became a suburb that would establish affordable townhomes and houses in the late 60s.  Affordable apartment complexes began construction in the early 70s and were mostly complete by the mid-70s.  Just like neighboring Woodridge these apartments and townhomes often housed lower income black and Hispanic families from Chicago.  By the year 1980 Chicago street gangs infiltrated Bolingbrook moving in alongside lower income impoverished families.  The Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones moved into the village just like in Woodridge.  Conservative Vice Lords also arrived in 1980 that also recruited among black youths in the village.  CVLs and Gangster Disciples also recruited Hispanic and white youths. The Latin Kings arrived perhaps first in 1980 and recruited heavily among Hispanic youths but would also become a hit among white youths that had lived in the village their whole lives.  As the 1980s would progress and peaking by the 1990s Bolingbrook gangs were often from a harder element as this larger village would experience some intense gang activity from Chicago that started in 1980.

Joliet is a city with a deep history that goes back far back in the 19th Century.  By the 1850s the village had already become a city.  Joliet was ripe with industrial jobs that employed thousands of Joliet and Will County residents.  Joliet even had a significant African American population since the first world war that were happily employed by the many manufacturing plants.  Joliet was a happier suburb and a great escape from Chicago.  Even the public housing projects on the city’s east side were safe and functional places to live since the 1950s for the many black families that had migrated here in the 1950s and 1960s.  Joliet was safe and ideal until the late 1970s when manufacturing closures brought economic devastation to the east side.  Several families moved out of the city as much lower income African American and Hispanic families moved into the village and the projects.  As poverty settled into the east side so did Chicago street gangs.  The Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords moved into the projects and the area around the projects alongside migrating black families.  Latin Kings and Two Six gangs arrived in the growing Hispanic community in 1980.  The gangs were not recognized until 1982 but were for sure in existence in Joliet starting in 1980.  Joliet houses some of the hardest gang activity in the state of Illinois.  Two Six, Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords are the oldest and largest gangs in the Joliet dating back to 1980 when all four groups settled here simultaneously.

In the impoverished rural part of Lockport Township known as Fairmont and nicknamed “The Hill” a portion of the city of Joliet crime and gang activity would soon breed in this rural area beginning in 1980.  This area was on hard times since its inception as original Fairmont residents opted for simple and isolated living without amenities towns and cities cherish like garbage pickup.  This area was sometimes ideal for impoverished families, but many would become overwhelmed by the cost of obtaining amenities manually for services like trash pickup which resulted in many residents resorting to trash dumping on the streets and in the most rural and wooded parts.  Once the Joliet manufacturing plants closed in the late 70s residents of Fairmont became increasingly impoverished and many white residents moved out.  Black families had been living in this area since the 1940s but were confined to the area that bordered Joliet the most which was south of Oak Street.  By the late 70s black and Hispanic migration moved north of Oak Street as well.  Since the streets of Fairmont south of Oak Street were so impoverished and under patrolled by Will County Sheriffs by the late 1970s Chicago based gangs like Conservative Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples moved onto these rural streets in 1980 as this area became a rural ghetto.  Drug trafficking and crime began to run rampant in this rural area by the early 80s and would become at its worst in the 1990s.

The suburb or Romeoville has perhaps the oldest Will County settlement of Chicago street gangs as a prominent Latin King gang member moved into the village in 1979 and befriended many Romeoville youths.  In the year 1980 recruitment of Romeoville youths began as Latin Kings were here to address some racial issues against Hispanic residents.  The Latin Kings were the only Chicago gang in the village for years until the very late 1980s.  Latin Kings have always been a part of Romeoville and perhaps always will since 1980.  Romeoville Latin Kings survived clashes with gangs in the village like Gangster Disciples, Two Six, Latin Counts, gentrification and heavy police activity.  Romeoville has other permanent groups like Two Six and Gangster Disciples, but the Latin Kings are the oldest and one of the first Will County Chicago gang elements.

What can be learned?

The best takeaway from the 1979 to 1980 years is when employment that so many families rely upon, suddenly closes causes a devastating shock to the communities affected.  As families lose their jobs but maintain the means and the savings to move out of a township or a city, they leave behind a community area that has now lost value.  This becomes prime opportunity for real estate to racially steer eager black and Hispanic Chicagoans trying to escape city violence; however, the suburbs they move into becomes an employment desert just like the city, but worse since public transit is much scarcer.  These suburbs became unable to handle large migrations of lower income classes causing villages or Chicago communities to neglect certain areas where racial migration happened to land.  With sudden disorganized and ill planned migration comes discriminations, anger and a rise in crime.  This is not the fault of the people that move to these villages, this is the fault of overzealous real estate and the fault of the closing of industries that support so many Americans.  Do not blame each other for such sudden changes blame those in power that allowed this to happen and most importantly, BLAME GREED!