Systematic racism and the creation of super gangs
Systematic racism and the creation of super gangs

Systematic racism and the creation of super gangs

Over the course of the past nearly three years I have been posting multiple articles. Some of which, I have taken a closer analysis at certain time periods in Chicago where significant migration and social changes have clearly coincided with the early creation and development of Chicago’s most notorious street gangs.  I have shown when and how certain notoriously dangerous neighborhoods had devolved from middle-class paradises to urban ghettos.  My research on this topic began on the ground level by just simply having conversations with the people that survived these mean streets during Chicago’s most golden years for street gangs.  I have had conversations with founder, co-founders, former leaders, big timers and/or their closest relatives and friends for the purpose of just trying to understand how and when each gang developed.  Along the way, I couldn’t help but to stumble across patterns for the formation of Chicago’s most notorious gangs as many street gangs formed within the same years as their enemy or allied counterparts within a small three mile or less radius in certain Chicago neighborhoods.  I then compared these dates with documented migration patterns of white, African American and Hispanic people in and out of the city and around the city.

On the present-day streets of Chicago one can search on the internet and across social media circuits and find social media videos, photos and discussions of gangs representing major territories across the city.  One can find discussions, pictures and videos of the notorious Latin Kings of 24th and Marshall Boulevard, the Two Sixs of the legendary 38th and Albany territory of perhaps the Traveling Vice Lords of California and Flournoy or the Gangster Disciples of 63rd and Normal.  These are examples of large territories where generation after generation of gang members come and go and lay strong claims to these coveted territories.  Many of the strongest territories of Chicago’s gangs are not even the original territories of the gang but have become larger than their original territories which can lead many to ask why their forces had built so solidly in originally satellite chapters.  I have culminated my discussions with the people of the streets with racial strife as the usual clash was between white and black or white and brown and in some lessor cases of black versus brown.  Racial clashing and acts of racism have become increasingly highlighted and well publicized in modern society as our society can learn from past and present mistakes so we may evolve into more of a fair society; however, many times we become lost and distracted by emotional appeals that are often accusatory of a certain group of people.  When it comes to the white flight debate, we often see one sided argument that appeal at the emotional level accusing one race or another of wrongdoing.  Heated discussions can be found littered across the world wide web blaming the behaviors of certain cultures as a cause of urban decline and the apathetic destruction of black and Hispanic communities in Chicago that were formerly white communities.

As I have searched among Facebook groups dedicated to Chicago history, I often would find historic photos of significant buildings and many elderly Chicagoans will post their personal photos of their great relatives or their personal childhoods containing an old black and white photograph of a bungalow or split-level style homes with their relatives smiling wide alongside siblings and parents.  The comments then begin starting off with praises accompanied by likes and heart reactions. As the post unfolds and the comments flow in about these old photographs from old Garfield Park, Englewood or Auburn-Greham the comments eventually turn progressively ugly as comments speaking of the current state of said neighborhood lead to an indirect accusation that the later generation of residents changed said neighborhood into an urban ghetto.  Racial bickering soon ensues as one side of the comment’s hints that the people of color that moved into these communities destroyed their own surroundings while another side of the comments points the finger at the many white families that hurriedly escaped these communities long ago.  I shake my head as I read these comments thinking about how wrong both sides of the argument are while also understanding how right each side of the argument is as well.  The truth is there is no winner here and neither group of people caused this unfortunate declination of Chicago’s most impoverished and most dangerous communities.  I am here to mediate such arguments by showing you the cause was much more economic and monetary over personal vendettas and prejudices.

Several publications have been released over the course of time delving deep into the white flight phenomenon and what drove such a drastic change.  The true cause is often of heated debate and much of this pattern was undocumented and spoken little of by our older generations.  What I can bring to this overall argument is an analysis on this topic from the street level tied in with published works.  I have been told firsthand accounts of brief yet significant racial clashes that built the original roots of Chicago’s largest and most dangerous gangs.  I have learned of honor, respect and protection of communities or sections of communities at the hands of men and women with strong morale in alpha positions of respect.  This was the honorable backbone of Chicago’s most notorious gangs as these young men and women tried to make sense of and defend against a haphazard, sudden and confusing sudden change of a neighborhood culture alongside a sudden financial drain.  The people of Chicago’s past were had by a force well above the streets, a force driven toward profit through city and institutional planning.  This is beyond the working-class, low-income class and middle-class black, white and Hispanic Chicagoans that are often the center of this heated debate.  We need to begin looking at this as a victimization of black, white and Hispanic Chicagoans and not shoulder such a burden on these people seeking to raise families and seek the American dream.  This piece is a follow up culmination to the following articles from this website that I have written over the past three years:

1958

1964

1966

The Bicentennial Era: The mid-1970s, new streets of change

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

1990: The great southwest settlement.

 

Early Chicago history of a devaluation of a race of people.

As one reads book after book or article after article discussing white flight and redlining practices one might wonder how is it that black Chicagoans became attached to such low value and have often been classified by so many as a financial drain and considered a burden upon Chicago streets.  One might ask why many white Chicagoans were driven to such fear of disinvestment and high crime that made many white families move away from African Americans.  The origin can often be found in early Chicago history when the first white communities changed from majority white to majority black in the early 20th century.  This earliest migration patterns set the standard for later migration waves which foreshadowed consequences that will come to be if higher volumes of people of color move into any said communities.  Early 20th century Chicagoans witnessed the declination of the Near West Side, Bronzeville and Washington Park and soon a valuation was placed upon black Chicagoans that was so low it could only be attached to negative change.  In the year 1915, this was phenomenon first officially recognized as the earliest black migration waves were actively changing Bronzeville and Washington Park.  The legal restrictive racial covenants were sworn into law in 1915 that identified a perceived problem of racial migration now allowing the people of the community to set the standards for what classification of human beings can live in their boundaries.  This primitive law allowed the people to weed out people of certain colors and religions to live in their communities that was backed by the courts.  This would even allow the people of the community to throw these laws at landlords, forcing them to not rent to people of a certain color or religion.

As many of us know, our city was first settled by a man with deep African roots in the later 18th century.  In recent decades we give much credit to Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable but not enough credit to the earliest black Chicagoans that helped build this city in the 1830s and 1840s.  The earliest black settlers settled mainly in the Near West Side community in the area around Lake Street on Chicago’s west side.  These families sought employment with the I&M Canal construction that became the backbone of early trade and construction to build this city.  Hundreds of black southerners that lacked education originating from the deepest forms of poverty migrated to Chicago, often escaping slavery, to work in the growing Chicago industries.  As we know the southern United States was notorious for denying slaves or freed men equal education, housing and developmental opportunities. These disadvantaged families raised their children to live as they did because they knew no better but how to survive day by day without a secure future.  This is the concept of burnt generations.  During these times most of the European population of Chicago was also undereducated and impoverished; therefore, there was less racial conflict as whites and blacks mostly lived among each other.  This is often why most of the black population was not turned in to southern authorities seeking escaped slaves.  Black Chicagoans Began migrating to the Near South Side community as early as 1840 as a small black community developed in the 1840s in the present-day Motor Row area, these African Americans lived among whites.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the southern neighboring community of Douglas was now opened back to the public following the closing of Camp Douglas, land was once again for sale, this time for cheaper rates than in the 1850s as now working classes and lower income classes could afford property in the Douglas community especially on the western part of these streets near and along State Street and Federal Street.  Scores of impoverished Irish Chicagoans purchased this land and built several working man’s cottages.  Black families from the nearby Near South Side ventured into these borders below 26th Street and made their purchases in Douglas.  This was the earliest significant settlement of Douglas (Bronzeville) and black Chicagoans and black southerners were some the original settlers of Douglas giving them rights to Douglas which would complicate any future restrictive covenant attempts this community would face in later decades.  Black Chicagoans and southerners also were part of the first settlement of the Grand Boulevard neighborhood south of Pershing Boulevard which gave black Chicagoans the rights to these lands as well.  Bronzeville became an original home to black Chicagoans which would also become the part of Chicago many would model the functionality of black Chicagoans after.

As the first major black migration came to Chicago during the later 1910s years, Bronzeville would soon become packed with many more migrating southern blacks, most of whom were uneducated and poor.  Earlier generations of blacks that had moved to Bronzeville often were higher educated and many were wealthy or middle class. Even previously impoverished black southerners were now more skilled and paid better wages from experience at the Union stock yards and at the rail yards near Federal Street.  These newly arrived families were viewed as a burden as they were severely impoverished and not used to urban living.  Many of these families lacked knowledge of good Housekeeping and many of their cottages were often blighted.  Many mostly white landlords purchased converted houses and apartment buildings along State Street and Federal Street and rented slum properties to desperate migrating families as these slumlords promised lower rent than elsewhere; however, the rent was still too high for the conditions these buildings were in.  Despite the rip-off rent prices and the terrible conditions these buildings were all these black southern families could afford.  This was the creation of the infamous “black belt” that existed along State Street and Federal Street from the southern base of the Near South side down to 63rd Street in the Washington Park community.

Bronzeville was a struggling area of the city; however, it was also a functioning black community from the 1910s until the 1950s as many wealthier and middle-class black families supported this community at this time.  By the beginning of the 1920s decade the rest of the white community had left Bronzeville, but Bronzeville would sustain well; however, much of Chicago was off put by the poverty in the black belt and made decisions that they wanted covenants enforced in their communities to keep such poverty out of their borders.  By this time in history white families were experiencing more upward mobility as time passed despite the woes of the depression era.  The depression era was tough on Bronzeville as disadvantages of the common worker were often felt more by black workers as they were often the first to be laid off, last to be hired and several unskilled worker positions were eliminated permanently during the depression.  The only time black workers would experience equality was when they worked at any various black owned businesses in Bronzeville.  These black owned businesses, tourism and the support of the Policy racket is what kept Bronzeville afloat during these hard times, but Bronzeville surely struggled.  The struggles would worsen after the second world war when the Policy racket was strong armed away by the Chicago Outfit Italian gangsters in the 1950s.  By the late-1950s, Bronzeville had become more impoverished which prompted black flight of the black middle-classes and upper classes.

Beginning in the 1890s, the first signs of white flight patterns were seen in the south side Chicago community of Washington Park.  The Washington Park community was mainly a German and Irish community prior to the 1890s as it was settled by lower income Irish and German workers that were employed by the Union Stock Yards or it was the home of wealthy Chicago elites that resided along Grand Boulevard (Martin Luther King Drive).  I do not know what caused whites to begin moving out of Washington Park in the 1890s, but a percentage left the area as black and Jewish families moved in.  Many Washington Park residents were upset with the arrival of blacks and Jews but this was a time before the covenants so there was no legal recourse to keep blacks and Jews out so many white Washington Park residents in the 1900s and 1910s left the community moving into the South Shore neighborhood which was a neighborhood known to not be accepting of blacks and Jews in their community.  The Jews began leaving the community alongside the Irish and Germans in the 1910s and 1920s.  During the 1920s decade the Washington Park community shifted from being majority white to majority black, the last of the whites would leave in the early 1930s.  Washington Park was unique from Grand Boulevard and Douglas as it was originally settled only by whites in the 1860s and 1870s and was a white neighborhood that completely converted to a black community over the course of 30 years.  The black community became well-established in this community before the covenants of 1915; therefore, the covenants could not be enforced in this community like in Bronzeville.

By the depression years the Washington Park community had become a completely black community and became one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago.  Once elegant mansions were subdivided into kitchenette blighted apartments.  Washington Park was dissimilar to Bronzeville as Washington Park did not have a long history of black settlement and black investment.  Washington Park was built upon a white economy with white owned businesses and once the white population vacated the community Washington Park’s economy collapsed.  Washington Park now became the symbol of what happens when a Chicago community changes from white to black, this was now a motivator for Chicago communities to enforce racial covenants.  White communities would mostly sustain from large migration waves until the late 1950s.  This was also a glowing example of how the city allowed neighborhoods to completely collapse as soon as they transitioned from white to black, this was the earliest example.

A superhighway changes the world.

In the year 1948 a superhighway system was approved that would mostly be dug in the Near West Side community during its earliest years of construction.  This would mean evictions were to be passed out widely especially in the Maxwell Street Market area and in the neighborhood’s northern sector.  Both areas of the Near West Side housed much of the African American population from the neighborhood.  These evictions took place all year until ceasing in 1949 when the wrecking ball arrived to remove what was considered “slum buildings.”   These buildings were indeed old in age and often dilapidated, but these buildings housed many families that could only afford to live in these dwellings and had grown attached to their living situation.  This brought about a small black migration wave of the late 40s as many of these black families moved to the south side in the Bronzeville area or they moved to the East Garfield Park community.

Many black families from the Near West Side also dotted the Englewood, Woodlawn, Greater Grand Crossing and Roseland communities during these late 40s years which caught the attention of real estate and lending institutions.  Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing were white communities that housed impoverished white residents that lived in kitchenette apartments in deteriorating buildings making these communities breeding grounds for a sudden change.  Realtors had begun assisting with this new migration wave steering black families to some of the poorest white areas of the city.  In the 1930s, Lending institutions had been viewing these communities as potentially on the verge of economic collapse and were prepared to draw the red lines on the map along the boundaries of these communities.  Realty companies now viewed these white neighborhoods as ideal for impoverished black and Hispanic families because they knew once they helped move in some families the rest of the population would object.  These families that object would surely turn to the same real estate companies looking for an escape which would create heavy business and record profits.  The earliest Dan Ryan work was the sudden push that originally put many black and Hispanic families to suddenly scramble for housing and take a risk by moving into all white communities.  These families were now subject to taunting, assault, ridicule and police mistreatment in their new surroundings.  The cruelest would come in later years when white flight patterns would begin.

During the early 1950s years the superhighway project that tore up the Near West Side was put on hold.  In 1954, Near West Side evictions were again handed out to many Near West Siders mainly near the Maxwell Street Market area as new construction was to begin on the Circle Interchange area.  Between the years 1954 and 1955 many mostly black families were evicted as many moved to East Garfield Park, North Lawndale and other parts of the Near West Side.  As many families were pushed around the Near West Side a new wave of gang activity began as Near West Side gangs like Taylor Street Dukes, Egyptian Cobras and Ambrose formed during these years, Ambrose still exists today.  This new gang activity was more intense than previous years and was fought along racial lines.  The Clovers street gang and Imperial Chaplins became the most powerful black street gangs in the city by the mid-50s as they dominated the Near West Side and the North Lawndale community by 1955.  North Lawndale became a majority black community in the year 1955 as the mostly Jewish population began to leave because of the construction.  The Jewish families of North Lawndale were not upset by blacks and had lived among middle-class blacks since 1942 but with this new wave of construction North Lawndale Jews were no longer happy with their surroundings and left.  This community was another economically fragile community since the 1920s because it was a renter’s community as many families came and went leaving no permanent investment. Once the construction made this area undesirable by 1954 the Jewish exodus would prove to be crippling to this community.  Many middle-class black families also moved out of this community for the same reasons as the Jews which created an immediate financial drain on this community as most of the tax paying base of the community was gone by Christmas of 1955.  North Lawndale rapidly collapsed into a blighted economically depressed urban ghetto.  North Lawndale was of key interest to realty and lenders as it was known to be a renter’s paradise and by the mid-50s lenders had their red markers in hand to draw that red line on the neighborhood map.  North Lawndale was officially redlined which immediately halted anymore startup businesses and suffocated business owners already conducting business in this area.  Several commercial businesses closed their doors as main vein streets became the sight of shuttered businesses attached to blighted buildings.

Some of the most crooked Chicago landlords like Moe M. Forman, Al Berland, Joseph Berke, Lou Wolf, and Gilbert Balin bought most of the rental property in North Lawndale immediately charging higher rent than the value of their properties; however, desperate impoverished black families rented from these slumlords because it was still the lowest rent prices around.  Real estate was quick to act on North Lawndale as this was easy money assisting already eager Jewish families to move to the far north side or the suburbs.  These families would not need to wait to sell property as they were mostly renters making for a rapid exodus indeed.  Block busting tactics were not necessary for North Lawndale as the issue white residents had, was with construction, but real estate agencies could now see how quickly a neighborhood could be flipped.  North Lawndale would now become a new model for how to flip an entire community for profit.  East Garfield Park became more of a target for block busting as migration in and out of this community was still slow during the earlier half of the 1950s.

North Lawndale had now become blighted, impoverished and dangerous.  When black street gangs first arrived on these streets in 1955, they were often more violent than they were in their old surroundings in the Near West Side.  Black street gangs now turned to using weapons to attack each other and gang conflict was intense.  North Lawndale also became a high crime community by 1955 as police now pulled back patrols due to lower tax revenues paid by the impoverished black community.  Of course, impoverished blacks had a difficult time paying taxes now that North Lawndale was an employment desert.  Since so many businesses shut down by 1955, jobs became scarce in the area and surrounding communities.

One important fact I would like to clarify is that North Lawndale was not a typical white flight community.  The mostly Jewish community was very accepting of black residents since the early 40s and the main reasons for the Jewish exodus was because of the undesirable construction and because of upward mobility into home ownership.  This proves that a white flight pattern is not always tied to prejudicial reasoning.

By 1955, it was now a known phenomenon that when communities are subject to sudden and rapid migration change, they are subject to redlining and extreme disinvestment.  This should have been a warning to protect Chicago’s communities but instead this issue was ignored and even encouraged by big business and politics.  It was at this point that East Garfield Park could have possibly been saved by easing racial transition and supporting racial harmony while quelling disinvestment and forbidding redlining but there was still a superhighway to be built and now the targeted areas for the rest of the roads were being mapped through mostly black communities.

There was still a highway to be built and in 1958 the construction crews once again returned to the Near West Side.  Much of the highway planning was stalling to establish definite plans for the routing of the highway in the rest of the city, primarily the south side.  Mayor Richard J Daly heavily objected to the original plan of routing the expressway through the Bridgeport community which was his childhood home.  The routing was to be moved east and into the Bronzeville and Fuller Park area cutting through Englewood, Washington Park and down into northern Roseland and east Morgan Park, all majority black communities except for Englewood that was still deemed an impoverished mostly white community with many “slum buildings” to remove.  The heart of these two highways was connected by the Circle Interchange in the Near West Side and the Dan Ryan expressway alone was to cut through the Maxwell Street Market area removing more of the black community.

Since the early 1950s, a California researcher developed break through research that car pollution could be linked to health problems.  Over time excessive automobile pollution would be linked to asthma, cardiovascular disease and declining lung function.  By the later 1950s it was more known that constant exposure to highway pollution could cause health issues or discomfort; however, plans were still underway to build this new highway system in 1958 regardless of the harmful effects on the residents that lived nearest to the expressway.  It has become a known fact that automobile pollution can reach hundreds of yards from an expressway 100-500 meters from the expressway.  This would mean this pollution was closest to the impoverished black communities.  These residents in impoverished neighborhoods often lacked the health care to address health issues created by this pollution.  Living next to or beneath expressways would only be ideal for short term living; however, families from these impoverished areas lacked the income to move out of these dwellings near expressways and often suffered long-term health issues and early mortality.

Rapid evictions were given to many mostly Hispanic and black Chicagoans in 1958 as the wrecking ball was right at the doorstep of these targeted buildings.  This construction effected thousands of mostly impoverished Chicago residents that would now have to face moving into neighborhoods they were not welcomed.  This would create the most powerful and most notorious Chicago street gangs in history that would become worldwide mafias that were spread to every major U.S. city with even international branches.

Fuller Park, Washington Park and Near West Side residents often arrived in Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, northern Hyde Park and northern Roseland as soon as the 1958 highway construction began.  Hyde Park and Englewood would experience severe racial clashing in 1958 as soon as the first black families arrived during this year long intense migration wave.  Real estate and government agencies steered these newly displaced families to economically crumbling communities like Greater Grand Crossing and Englewood.  Although these were majority white communities, they were some of the poorest white neighborhoods in the city and a sudden migration wave would be crippling to an already crumbling economy.  The examples of Woodlawn and North Lawndale would be ignored as Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing would be next.  Real estate agencies would heavily profit from this sudden wave as block busting was often still not necessary as this city-driven construction project had already pushed several people of color out of the path of the mighty expressways.

Greater Grand Crossing, 1958: Ever since the Great Depression era of the 1930s the Greater Grand Crossing community has struggled economically as this once simple Chicago community failed to survive the depression era.  This was when slum lords began purchasing apartment buildings while moving in impoverished Chicagoans including impoverished African Americans.  By the year 1950, many of the apartments were razed and replaced by the Park Manor public housing projects that housed mostly African Americans.  Black home ownership was established in the community in the 1930s, but this settlement was not as much protested as the arrival of more impoverished blacks living in tenement apartments and the Park Manor projects.  Many whites of Greater Grand Crossing were outraged with the arrival of impoverished blacks and began protesting or even becoming violent on occasions.  Much of this story was not told by media outlets which is why information is scarce about this civil unrest.

The unrest would grow by the early 1950s as black migration began increasing at a steady pace and this is when predatory real estate block busting agents swooped in and knocked on one white homeowner’s doors after another preaching that this community was going to become an extension of the black belt.  In reality, the racial transition was slower, and this community had many homeowners which is usually an effective deflection for block busting.  Since this community was located just below the black belt and the community suffered some deterioration it became an easy sell for block busters to convince several white residents to pack up and leave in a rush.

In 1958, when the Dan Ryan expressway began full construction, it became an easier sell than ever for block busters to bring change to this community.  Several impoverished African American families displaced by the construction were in heavy need of housing and since the Chicago Housing Authority already had close tabs on this community because of Park Manor it became easy to recommend black settlement in Greater Grand Crossing; however, devastating white flight would be a negative consequence.  Middle-class black homeowners became very interested in this community expecting to buy a home at a low price while having access to the lending required to upkeep their properties; however, once the lending institutions noted the poverty and lower-income classes they drew their red lines around this community and now black home-owners were unable to obtain the loans they needed to pay for upkeep and to even maintain their mortgage payments.  This is when several houses fell into severe blight and the families living in them became impoverished and were eventually evicted by the same banks that redlined the community.  Many houses were bought and converted into apartments by slum lords that charged higher rent than the worth of the apartments and allowed these properties to deteriorate.  Several businesses pulled out of Greater Grand Crossing in the 1950s and 1960s as many other potential business owners were not granted the lending needed to open businesses.  This caused many shuttered businesses along the main strips of the community and created a jobless desert for job seeking African Americans.  The surrounding communities were just as hard-up making employment not available for miles.

It would become no surprise that some of the most notorious black street gangs would arrive in this community very early in each gang’s genesis.  Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples) and Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) would arrive on these streets by 1959 to fulfill guardianship duties the police now had vacated due to low tax revenues and a loss of interest in containing crime.  Gangs acted as the police in this community as now prostitution, drugs and violent crime became rampant in this now vulnerable under patrolled community.  Soon the gangs added to the crime as many groups of the gang were often mis-guided and rivalry between gangs also distracted these organizations from their original purposes.

Greater Grand Crossing never recovered from the block busting and Dan Ryan devastation and remains one of the more violent and impoverished neighborhoods presently.  The Disciples remain here now known as the Gangster Disciples and are powerful influences on these streets.  The GDs are a giant in this community and much can be accredited to the Dan Ryan and block busting that brought this community to its knees which created a need from young black gangsters.  The Cobras have since vacated this community in the 1960s, but the Black P Stones would replace them and become powerful on these streets as well.

Englewood 1958: In early history, Englewood was an ideal place to call home for Chicago middle-classes.  Cook County Normal School that opened in 1869 became the initial driving force that brought many middle-classes to this community.  In the 19th century up through the 1920s Englewood was an escape for Chicago’s middle-class to get away from issues with poorer or bustling neighborhoods.  Englewood residents even worked out an arrangement for African Americans to reside near the Ogden Park area if they remained exclusively in that vicinity starting in 1885.  Englewood was an ideal place to live in the earliest years until the Great Depression era of the 1930s changed that status greatly.  Englewood did not fare well during the depression as many residents found themselves unemployed or underemployed and local industries and businesses closed.  This was Just in time for the neighborhood to need renovations to public properties and commercial buildings.  Normal College closed in 1932 which devasted this local economy that heavily relied on the university.  The renovations would not happen, instead residents were seeking to leave this community behind making way for slum lords to purchase houses and apartment buildings to subdivide into tenements.  Many of Chicago’s impoverished, mostly whites, found this community ideal due to the many apartments and now subdivided houses.  Many parts of Englewood were becoming like one big poor house.  Despite the desperation of the community, blacks were still not very welcomed and were often shunned or violently pushed out.  This community also enforced strict racial covenants to keep as many blacks out of Englewood as possible.  Most of the community was still middle-class and the main ethnic groups had now become Italian and Irish.  The middle-class kept Englewood sustaining to a certain level and much of the middle-class was some of the biggest objectors to blacks moving heavily into this community.  These covenants worked as Englewood would only become 2% black by the 1940 census.

During the 1940s decade most of our country was pulling out of the Great Depression years but in Englewood Chicago, the depression was still very real in the 40s as this was one of Chicago’s increasingly redlined communities.  Some neighborhoods in Chicago struggled during the depression but if they overcame the 1940s, the neighborhood was a success, if not, redlining and disinvestment were soon to follow especially following the second world war.  This is when block busting practices began in Englewood, mostly following the second world war.  The intensity of the block busting would escalate in the late 40s after the Supreme Court ruled restrictive covenants to be unconstitutional.  This historic ruling was necessary and an important victory for civil rights in America, but some would take advantage of this important move, namely real estate and politics which is the cause of nobody in Englewood winning whether you are speaking about the white families that lived here long ago or for the migrating African American families, both sides were played.  This was somewhat detected in November of 1949 now that the black population of Englewood had risen to 11% as of the 1950 census.

In November of 1949, a vicious rumor traveled among the white community in Englewood that a Jewish United Packing Workers of America activist, at address 5643 S. Peoria St, named Aaron Bindman was holding a meeting of Jews and blacks to co-conspire a black and Jew takeover of Englewood.  This was fueled by the fact that several black shop stewards were showing up at the house.  Neighbors reacted by spreading a vicious rumor based upon their paranoia.  This led to an angry mob of hundreds of whites showing up outside the house screaming racial slurs.  The mob soon got out of control as up to 10,000 white rioters showed up.  The police did little to stop this riot, in fact, they encouraged it to continue because everyone was sick of these early days of block busting and neighborhood changes and on this November 8, 1949, day the frustrations finally boiled over.  Mayor Kennelly was put on the spot about it, but he refused to make statements and many scandals actually said he concealed this riot and a few other race riots of the late 40s from much media attention.  If you don’t believe that accusation about Kennelley, just ask yourself, why the wasn’t this ever big news and it is hard to find much documentation?  It was swept under the rug for the most part only earning small articles in the news which is beyond silly when there is a riot involving several thousand people!  For those of you out there on the side of social and racial justice might be quick to be outraged at the white rioters and the police in November of 1949 but please understand the bigger fault lies in higher powers and greed.  If it wasn’t for aggressive block busting practices that rapidly pushed people from their homes and pushed others into homes they were unknowingly not welcomed in, there would have been no riot.  If you are only outraged at the rioters, you may need to expand your mind and look at this from a larger perspective and understand a seeking of profit is the main culprit for the collapse of Englewood’s well-being.

Despite the riot of 1949, the block busting continued even after the UPWA attempted to expose Mayor Kennelly and exploitative practices by banks and real estate.  The 1950s became a transitionary period for Englewood as more white flight grew and more commercial businesses became shuttered.  Many middle-class white families and newly arrived middle-class black families struggled to keep up with renovations and neighborhood investment as banks redlined this community increasingly as the decade unfolded.  Urban blight set in as this community was devolving into one of the most economically impaired communities in Chicago.

The final push for Englewood happened in the year 1958 when the Dan Ryan construction pushed several south side and west side African Americans into the borders of Englewood.  This was a sudden mass influx that was made to happen as several tenement landlords had now purchased most of the vacant houses and bought all the apartments.  These landlords were some of greediest of landlords one could think of as they offered rock bottom rent costs that came with a catch.  The catch was these properties were some of the most deteriorated and unsafe properties one could think of.  Although the rents paid were lower than rent in other impoverished Chicago neighborhoods the rent was still too high to pay considering the conditions of these properties.  The residents moving in were so poor they were afraid to complain as they feared renovations would raise the rent cost when, in reality, they were being ripped off and overcharged and deserved renovations without rent increase but to these many poor and uneducated tenants they did not know how to fight such legal battles.  Much of the white middle-class of Englewood and even much of the black middle-class became disgusted with such properties and the tenants that lived in them and chose to pack up and leave.  Once their properties were turned over to real estate block busters the real estate companies tricked more black middle-classes into buying these homes for an inflated rate or selling these properties to slumlords.  Before long there were almost no jobs in Englewood and the banks severely suffocated this community causing unbelievable poverty.

For a very short time, only in the year 1958, there was a racial clash between mostly Italian greaser type gangs and groups of young black males.  These greasers were the sons of often angry white families that were upset with the neighborhood change and the youth set out to serve their form of social justice through gang banging.  To be fair these families witnessed their community crumble with deterioration and crime as they knew no better but to blame the black families that arrived.  Most of the racial clashing between adult blacks and adult whites was passive aggressive and involved second class treatment and discrimination but at the youth level the clashing was violent and heated.  According to former Chicago police detective Frank Pape, who was interviewed for the Chicago Tribune, he explained how when he was transferred to Englewood in the 1950s, he remembers the original Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) when they first started in Englewood battling with a white gang (no name mentioned but probably Sons of Italy) and how they wanted to mediate their demands through him.  This clashing was backed up by “old heads” I spoke to that were original Gangster Disciples that verified there was a racial clash with whites, and this was the main reason for the formation of the Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) and Devil’s Disciples (Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples) back in 1958.  We can then see this coincides with the Dan Ryan Expressway construction of 1958.  I was told by the old heads that when this all began in 1958 Englewood was still mostly white but by the year end it was majority black, and Cobras and Disciples started clashing with each other much worse than with white gangs.  This is an old racial conflict that is long lost but is the roots of Mickey Cobra, Black Disciples and Gangster Disciple history.  You can almost say the Cobras and Disciples were Dan Ryan and block busting-built gangs.  If it wasn’t for these practices, it would be possible the GDs and BDs would not exist and possibly the Cobras would have fizzled out long ago.  As you can see gentrification and block busting creates gangs and Englewood is the best example in Chicago history.

East Garfield Park 1958: The East Garfield Park neighborhood is probably one of the simplest neighborhoods in Chicago history as it was never to become of great significance in its early history.  Starting in 1869, when the community was first settled, developers struggled to put together effective plans to commercialize or urbanize this community.  It remained a rural desert until 1905, which is a significantly long time.  Even when the construction began in the early 20th century, development came up short as so much land was left vacant.  This made East Garfield Park a simple place to live as developers still scrambled to keep up the development drive that they continued to fail to resolve.  During this era, the first black families migrated to the Fifth City area.  These families were middle-class and had prestigious professions and were well-educated.  Besides the Near West Side, the west side of Chicago forbade blacks but since East Garfield Park was underdeveloped and less desirable with lots of vacant lands, these black families would be free of covenants especially since they were not impoverished.

In the 1920s-decade, East Garfield Park experienced the greatest decade in neighborhood history as this was the era of prosperity when the developers built great apartment buildings and several homes along with some commercialization. This development attracted Italians and Russian Jews to the neighborhood as the population began to grow; however, this development was not strong enough to withhold the integrity of the neighborhood once the dark 1930s Great Depression years arrived.  Since this neighborhood was still underdeveloped and only had a developing economy it became easy for this nationwide economic downturn to destroy the little that was built in this community.  During these hard times many residents immediately gave up on East Garfield Park and moved out of this community as the Jews moved to the more northern suburbs and the Italians mostly went to West Town.  This is when predatory slumlords swooped in and purchased several apartment buildings and houses and subdivided these buildings further into kitchenettes as they rented to the impoverished families that arrived.  Although these landlords charged some of the cheapest rent costs in the city, they still charged much more than the value of the properties they rented, and their negligence showed as these buildings became blighted.  When banks began redlining certain Chicago communities in the 1930s and 1940s the red markers were at the ready to be drawn around the boundaries of East Garfield Park.  This made this community a prime target for disinvestment and block busting.

During the 1940s decade there was some hope for East Garfield Park after the Madison Street shopping district was put in West Garfield Park which brought in a weak economy to East Garfield Park as the shopping strip mainly helped West Garfield Park.  I am not aware of any covenants in East Garfield Park, but I believe they were in existence because the black population was kept very low until the 1950 census indicated a black population of 17%.  In 1930 the black population was lower than 10% which shows a sudden peak event.  It is a fact that a Jewish exodus out of the south side and west sides of Chicago began in the year 1948 which is the same year restrictive racial covenants were struck down in the supreme court.  This was the year that racial migration intensified in East Garfield Park which says to me that covenants likely stunted a black population growth until the late 40s.  East Garfield Park was not only ideal for black middle-classes, it was also ideal for black lower income classes as previously impoverished whites were moving out of the tenement apartments now that they experienced upward mobility following the war.  This is when these landlords moved in black and Puerto Rican families while raising the rent higher and becoming increasingly neglectful to their properties.  During the 1930s, many of the white families were savvy to such practices and often fought landlords and complained about rent costs that didn’t match the quality of the living conditions.  Less educated black families from the southern states or from the south side were less savvy to these legal ramifications and/or were too afraid of eviction.  Although their rent costs were unfair given the conditions it was still some the few affordable properties that they could afford, and they didn’t want to cause a scene.  Not only this but black tenants were often evicted faster and not treated fairly in court; therefore, they felt it was a losing battle in a white controlled community and white controlled justice system.  Because of this, these slumlords preferred black and Hispanic tenants.

During most of the 1950s the racial change of East Garfield Park was slow and steady, this transition was not only steady, crime and gang activity did not follow this migration wave.  East Garfield Park had poverty in the 50s but not high crime, it was just a somewhat blighted community where black and white middle-classes lived among impoverished whites and blacks.

As soon as Dan Ryan construction began again in 1958, white flight immediately accelerated as block busting realty used the construction to their advantage as they hit the streets of this neighborhood spreading fear.  The white flight increased greatly but still was at a steadier pace until the community became over 90% black by the mid-1960s.  Beginning in the year 1960, migrating gangs like the Vice Lords moved into East Garfield Park as crime now came to these streets in the early 60s.  Slumlords now owned many of the buildings and continued to subdivide houses into apartments.  These properties were neglected as many tenants had become overcharged for deteriorated properties.  This community became heavily redlined by the early 60s which was one of the biggest driving forces behind the increase of white flight following the Dan Ryan expressway construction.  The heavy gang activity was just one of the results of the redlining and block busting of East Garfield Park.

West Garfield Park 1958: West Garfield Park was a typical white middle-class community on the west side of Chicago.  This community was an example of a community that bounced back after the Great Depression years which brought this community into its golden years of the 1940s.  An entire commercial development along the Madison Street strip brought prosperity to this struggling community and pulled West Garfield Park out of a depression.  The upward mobility of Some West Garfield Park residents caused some to move into neighborhoods and suburbs further from the inner-city.  This unexpected flight allowed African American families to move into these now available homes.  This brought fears to some middle-class whites in the community that this neighborhood would experience racial change, and many began to fear for the equity in their homes.  This fear become unfounded as black migration remained slow and insignificant during most of the 50s.  The one consequence of this fear was the scaling back of neighborhood renovations as investment became cautious.  This only allowed this community to gain negative attention by banks and real estate agencies as a community on the verge of collapse.  Real estate agencies would get their chance to change this community for profit in 1958 when the Dan Ryan construction pushed several impoverished black families into West Garfield Park as many whites were convinced to leave immediately.  This community had its own justice team that pushed back on block busting, encouraged racial harmony, and pushed to retain the values of homes.  These groups had success for five years deflecting much of the Dan Ryan driven change to the west side. By 1963, these groups lost their support from the city, and this is when white flight would run its course.  An increase in crime in the community beginning in 1963 also drove more white flight.  Now banks began harsher redlining practices and businesses along Madison Street began to close.  As soon as the latest white flight wave swept this community slumlords were able to purchase many houses and convert them into apartments that would become neglected for maintenance.  By 1964, migrating gangs arrived in this community like Vice Lord groups which was the beginning of West Garfield Park black gang activity.  By the year 1965, the rest of the white community left West Garfield Park and after the riot along Madison Street many white-owned commercial businesses closed out of fears their businesses would be attacked.

The mid-60s was the beginning of deep poverty, urban blight, high crime and hardened gang activity on these West Garfield Park streets that has origins to 1958 when this neighborhood was forced into change by banks and real estate.  The streets became the founding place of the Four Corner Hustlers gang.

South Shore 1958: There was a time in history where Chicago’s South Shore community was an escape from poverty-stricken Chicagoans.  Irish, Swedish, Germans and Jews were the first to settle this community in the late 19th century and early 20th century as this community was molding into a middle-class community.  During the 1910s and 1920s white flight from the Washington Park community brought more whites to South Shore as they were escaping African American poverty as Washington Park was changing racially becoming the first Chicago community to convert from all-white to all-black.  Many of these former Washington Park residents viewed moving to South Shore as an escape from black poverty and once they settled South Shore restrictive racial covenants were put in place to prevent South Shore from becoming like Washington Park.  South Shore was often known to be hostile toward the idea of racial migration and blacks were even forbidden from certain businesses such as the South Shore Country Club as an example.

South Shore appeared to be untouchable to black migration until 1958 when the Dan Ryan Expressway construction would change South Shore forever.  When the construction began in 1958 and several African American families were displaced, some families began to move to South Shore settling in mostly the many apartment buildings South Shore had to offer.  In many cases several black middle-classes were now able to afford South Shore now that the expressway construction caused a drop in home prices due to fears of racial change that mainly effected the surrounding communities.

Once the first black families settled in 1958, it became easy for block busting real estate to change these streets through panic peddling.  It became almost too easy because real estate agents could easily show white residents how a possible takeover was underway especially since South Shore was so close to the black belt.  Many South Shore residents already harbored grudges toward the black community so angry departure was easy to arise for real estate agencies.  This departure allowed black migration to increase throughout the 1960s, but the migration was relatively slow as most South Shore residents did not believe in white flight and wanted to hold their neighborhood and were prepared to fight racial battles if needed.  Racial clashing was not well publicized and perhaps was very brief.  The Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples) and Egyptian Cobras (Mickey Cobras) arrived in 1959 to deal with racial conflict and they did battle with some the meanest white gangs of South Shore, but this was short lived, and the focus shifted to wars between Disciples and Cobras and when the Black P Stones arrived in 1960, much of the racial conflict was already almost not existent.

The South Shore Disciple, Stone and Cobra factions would prove to be forces to reckon with as these were some of the toughest Disciples, Stones and Cobras in the city, this allowed these three groups to become very well-established in South Shore all the way up to present years.

Crime would gradually increase during the 1960s in South Shore that was often blamed on the black community; however, the crime was usually the result of criminals attaching themselves alongside black migration because these crooks often knew racially changing neighborhoods were subject to less police protection.  Banks gradually increased redlining practices as the 60s unfolded which further drained equity out of homeowners; however, both black and white South Shore homeowners fought heavily against these practices which is another reason South Shore’s decline was very gradual.

South Shore would become the sight of a neighborhood with one of the highest amounts of black homeowners in the city and many of these residents were put off by high crime and gang activity.  There was a lot of function and positivity to South Shore, but it could not be denied that there was also an issue with high crime and some of the hardest gang activity in the city. High ranking and older gang members found South Shore to be ideal as the 60s unfolded as many of these gang members could now afford to purchase houses in the community which is also how South Shore had become very coveted streets for the Black P Stones, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples and Mickey Cobras.

By the 1970s-decade, black flight began out of South Shore as these black middle-classes had now grown tired of the high crime and the gangs.  This brought about more divided homes into apartments owned by slumlords that attracted poverty stricken black families.  As the average income level dropped in South Shore, less taxes were paid, naturally, then police patrols were cut back allowing more crime as South Shore evolved into one of the higher crime communities of Chicago.  The change of South Shore traces back to 1958 when Dan Ryan construction paired with aggressive block busting was the beginning of the decline of South Shore.  Extreme poverty and high crime are what brought very large factions of the Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black P Stones, Mickey Cobras and Four Corner Hustlers to deal with these violent streets and many times these organizations served as protectors of the black community here until too many numbers and rogue factions would soon add to the crime.

Hyde Park 1958: Ever since the 19th century, the prestigious Hyde Park community had fought racial battles as this community attempted racial covenants dating back to the 19th century, before covenants were sworn into law in 1915. Hyde Park was a close neighbor to racially changing neighborhoods of the 1890s and 1900s decades like Washington Park, Grand Boulevard and Douglas.  This close vicinity to black poverty did not sit well with the upper classes of the almost all-white Hyde Park community.  Chicago State University became the center of this prestige as this expensive college was only for the upper income classes to afford.  This university had strict requirements for tuition as students needed to not only came from high income families, but these students also needed top grades.  Many of these well-off students lived on campus on the streets surrounding the university and parents of these students did not want their young adult children to be close to black poverty.  This brought about several racial clashes for decades to come as blacks were often forbidden from crossing neighborhood borders into Hyde Park.

During the housing crisis of the post second world war era, many black families could not move to the Bronzeville area as housing became very limited, this caused many more blacks to venture to Hyde Park desperately seeking housing.  In the northern section of Hyde Park, north of 55th Street, there were some old hotels that became neglected during the Great Depression and were converted into kitchenettes.  Slumlords ran these buildings as transient hotels and apartments for the poor.  These buildings were heavily disputed through the 1930s and 1940s.  During this period white flight was increasing in the neighboring Kenwood community while Woodlawn to the south was becoming blighted.  Many Hyde Park residents of northern Hyde Park became fed up with poverty near them and began to depart from the area north of 55th Street which was the older section of the community.  The removal of restrictive covenants in 1948 allowed black families to move into northern Hyde Park as these homes were now affordable for black middle classes.  Slumlords found northern Hyde Park to be favorable by the later 40s because there was an abundance of old mansions that could be converted into tenement apartments for the poor. Slumlords could now move these impoverished black families in and force them to live in squalid conditions while reaping large profits.

Racial clashing, although mostly unreported intensified as more of northern Hyde Park transitioned from a white area to a black community.  The racial transition remained gradual for the first ten years until the Dan Ryan Expressway construction forced more rapid change in 1958 as more desperately poor black families flocked here needing quick housing, this is when both block busting real estate agencies and slumlords took to the northern streets of Hyde Park as one white family after another rapidly departed selling their homes for a loss as realty and slumlords were the ones who reaped heavy profits.  Real estate would sell to slumlords at a higher price, but slumlords would more than make up their losses by charging cheap rent but rent that was too high for the conditions of the properties.  Black homeowners also bought from these real estate companies and did not turn any profits, in fact, they lost equity in these homes especially after this area became redlined in the late 50s and early 60s.  What made it worse was their losses were paramount after Hyde Park fought back and rapidly increased taxes on the properties bankrupting many black middle-classes.

As racial clashing reached its peak by 1958, a black street gang was formed on the streets of Englewood and northern Hyde Park known as the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples).  The Devil’s Disciples fought racial battles against angry groups of whites in Englewood and Hyde Park.  The racial conflicts in Englewood were short lived but in northern Hyde Park the battles went on into the early 60s. Disciples mainly clashed with black gangs from surrounding communities but on these streets, they often clashed with white groups.  The Disciples were in such demand to protect black youths of northern Hyde Park that it was decided the headquarters of the Disciples would be at 53rd and Kimbark.  The Devil’s Disciples battles for Hyde Park is long forgotten in history because in 1963 the Hyde Park community won their battle against poverty and tore down half of 53rd and Kimbark to replaced it with the Kimbark Shopping Center that still exists today.  Property values of northern Hyde Park were so inflated by 1963 that no impoverished black families could afford to live here, and slumlord owned properties were seized for violating Hyde Park created building codes then razed.

It is important to understand that Hyde Park and 53rd and Kimbark is a major part of Gangster Disciple and Black Disciple history because of the 1958 Dan Ryan Expressway push and the racial conflict in the community.

Chatham 1958:  There was once a time that the Chatham community on Chicago’s south side was an ideal place for middle-class families to live.  This was a time when Irish, Swedish, Hungarian and Italian families built this community from a working-class muddy area into a thriving middle-class community.  The best years of Chatham were the 1940s when the Chatham Park subdivision construction brought a shopping strip along Cottage Grove Avenue.

When restrictive covenants were lifted in 1948, African American middle-class families were immediately interested in home ownership in Chatham and these families successfully obtained houses in this white neighborhood.  The Chatham approach to these new black families was positive as community leaders were smart enough to view eased racial transitioning as something positive and to be embraced. This could have been the beginning of a white and black middle-class utopia that could have created a model environment not only for Chicago but for the whole country.  Chatham started off in the 1950s as an ideal way Chicagoans should live.  Community leaders chased out block busters and fought pending redlining from banks while retaining equity of public and private properties of Chatham.  If this would have been allowed to continue Chatham would have likely either evolved into a racially equal community or a highly functioning mostly black community but 1958 would ruin all this harmony.

The housing panic triggered by the south side construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway pushed many desperate impoverished black families to be rehomed very quickly which served as prime opportunity for block busting realty to take advantage of this situation.  For the past decade block busting agencies had been creeping around these streets looking for a big opportunity but were met with heavy resistance from neighborhood groups; however, they would have some success during the decade convincing some gullible white families to depart quickly.  Once the Dan Ryan push happened in 1958 it became simple to convince less gullible white families to vacate because racial and economic change was happening all around Chatham rapidly.  Many middle-class black families mostly from Bronzeville were able to take advantage of these home price drops which was a positive, but the sudden rush of impoverished blacks caused not only more panicked white flight it allowed banks to draw those red lines around these borders.

For decades the black middle-class has fought to retain values in this community and had successfully prevented urban blight; however, crime could not be stopped, and high poverty could not be stopped either.  Many businesses, mostly white-owned, became shuttered in the 1960s which began a permanent financial drain on this community. The struggle to prevent a total collapse of Chatham has been a long and hard-fought battle for the black-middle class for decades and much of this has become challenged by black flight.

Rockwell Gardens projects 1958: Much of the large black migration of 1958 was not planned out by the city and many families were left in the hands of block busting real estate following several south side and west side tenement building removal in the path of the expressway.  The planning for rehoming so many of Chicago’s black poor was almost non-existent as it was never much priority for the welfare of these affected families.  The city did have some planning and the building of the Rockwell Gardens was one of these weak plans.

The same year the Dan Ryan construction began in 1958 the city simultaneously began building the Rockwell Gardens public housing projects in the city’s Near West Side community.  These would become high rise warehouses for some of the city’s poorest black residents as they were tucked away high in these towers.  These buildings were built with simple construction and were given a nice set of gardens which was not much of an incentive to supersede simple construction of the towers.

For twenty years these buildings were decently maintained and rather low on crime but by the late 70s these became buildings of death and blight as maintenance programs left the buildings as violence and gangs took over.  Much of the crime and violence arrived once police protection waned in the area as residents were left to fend for themselves against hardened gangs and strung-out drug addicts that now ruled these buildings.  This was an insult to residents that were originally displaced by another government driven highway project in 1958 and these residents deserved to be treated with dignity even twenty years later.  The city found an easy solution to pushing people from their homes but did not follow through on taking care of these residents until the buildings were demolished in the mid-2000s, instead these residents suffered over twenty-five years of extreme blight, poverty, danger and filth all thanks to the Dan Ryan project of 1958.

Harrison Courts projects 1958: The great Dan Ryan construction push of 1958 brought in another public housing project to the city’s west side.  The Harrison Courts was built in the exact year of 1958 in hasty response to the Dan Ryan Expressway driven tear down of so many homes and buildings in 1958.  These projects were decent for at least two decades until the city generally began neglecting all public housing buildings and soon these buildings became crime ridden as drug trafficking became rampant.  The buildings were renovated in recent years and still stand but what should not be forgotten is the fact that the city pushed people here in 1958 and a nightmare legacy would eventually begin in these buildings of pain.

Pilsen 1958: As the Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressway construction ripped through the Near West Side community much of the Mexican community that had resided there since both world wars, was now facing displacement by 1958.  Many of these Mexican families chose to move not far from their homes as for some reason they chose Pilsen as their ideal new place to live.  I am not sure why these families did not choose South Chicago or Back of the Yards, which were other small Mexican enclaves, but for some reason Pilsen was chosen and a marvelous history was made as one of our most celebrated Mexican communities was first born.

As Mexican people felt the sting of the Dan Ryan push, they soon found a new home on 18th Street and began to face racial strife as much of Pilsen was not happy with this sudden migration wave that was rapid and intense.  The racial clashing, from my understanding, was rather minor compared to the struggles of neighborhoods that were transitioning from white to black but there still was conflict, which is the same conflict that brought about the earliest origins of the Almighty Insane Latin Counts organization.  Now in 1958, another piece of Latin Count origins would begin when Mexican migrating youths would arrive in 1958 and deal with some of the earliest and short-lived racial clashing between whites and Hispanics. The Sons of Mexico City street gang was formed that joined forces with the only other Mexican gang on these streets known as the Texans.  These groups dealt with the long forgotten racial strife and issues with police brutality against Mexican Americans in the late 50s.

The racial strife would soon change by the very beginning of 1959 when migrating Mexican street gangs from the Near West Side like Ambrose would arrive on these streets driven by the Dan Ryan changes.  The Dan Ryan plowed right through close to Ambrose original territory and once they arrived in Pilsen it was like fireworks were set off as Ambrose and the Latin Counts exploded into a violent gang war that would plague to streets of Pilsen and the Heart of Chicago for decades.

After the Texans and the Sons of Mexico City joined forces in 1959 as the Latin Counts, Pilsen made Mexican street gangs popped up all over this community as a long list developed of Pilsen’s most notorious gangs like: Spartans, Satan Disciples, Rampants, Ambrose, Latin Counts, Villa Lobos and the Morgan Deuces.  This rushed migration wave driven by the highway construction ushered in some of the city’s hardest gang activity ever seen because this rapid change to Pilsen caused a migrating gang clash that was colossal.  This conflict started with some stabbings then evolved eventually into several shootings as many lives were lost on these infamous streets.  This was another consequence of pushing several people into communities rapidly that are not prepared to receive them.

Bridgeport 1958: Bridgeport is indeed one of the first gangland neighborhoods in Chicago history.  Gangs in Bridgeport go back in time as far as the 1840s and maybe a little sooner.  Irish gangs once roamed these streets living among severe urban poverty.  These gangsters would eventually rise to power and capture city jobs from anything to common patrolman police officers all the way up to becoming Mayors, like Mayor Richard J. Daley as an example.  Eventually Polish and Italian people settled Bridgeport heavily near the turn of the 20th century and became just as prideful of this community as the earlier Irish counterparts.

Bridgeport was a protected community as politicians close to the Daley family or the Daley family themselves made sure Bridgeport always had an edge over other south side communities.  Richard J. Daley wielded so much power he effectively steered the Dan Ryan Expressway out of Bridgeport and moved the plans into Bronzeville to protect his childhood home.  Moves like this continued to show Chicagoans that Bridgeport was corrupt and safely guarded from many of the city’s woes.

Bridgeport developed greaser type gangs by the 1950s that were some of the most violent and hardened white gangs in Chicago for the era, as these gangs often made the newspaper for crimes usually unheard of for greasers like drug distribution and murder.  Bridgeport had quite a reputation and the only gangs that could often hang tough in a fight against these Bridgeport greasers were Back of the Yards and Canaryville gangs who were just as ferocious.

In the year 1958, when the Dan Ryan Expressway construction tore up the south side of the city, Mayor Richard J. Daley did anything he could to protect Bridgeport from extreme change, but for whatever reason he could not control Chicago public housing plans or perhaps he made a deal with them.  The Bridgeport projects between 31st Street to 32nd Street between Halsted and Morgan Street were constructed during the second world war to be housing mainly for impoverished Italian, Polish and Irish Chicagoans that had suffered the repercussions of the Great Depression era.  As the later 40s and earlier 1950s unfolded more and more of this housing was not in use as white families were in less need of public housing.  By the late 50s black and Hispanic people were in desperate need of housing and had nowhere else to go and now the Chicago Housing Authority needed to place these families in the Bridgeport projects now that the Dan Ryan displaced so many people.  It was then in 1958 Bridgeport would experience a migration of people of color for the first time.  This migration brought in Mexican, black and Puerto Rican people to the Bridgeport homes but most of all Puerto Rican people.  Many Bridgeport natives were infuriated with this move and at the youth level there was violence as Bridgeport gangs often attacked Hispanic and black youths.  Many newly arrived Hispanics and blacks were treated as second class citizen.  This further salted Bridgeport’s reputation as a racist community; however, this was also a sudden racial change that no one expected and, furthermore, there were no programs in place to properly racially integrate this new migration. This means some of the toughest Puerto Ricans in the projects needed to take matters into their own hands.

When it comes to the question of who can take on Bridgeport gangs of the 50s, the answer lies with the Insane Spanish Cobra nation.  That’s right, the Insane Spanish Cobras formed in the year 1958 under a different name before becoming the “Spanish Cobras” in 1960 right here in Bridgeport in the projects.  The youths of Bridgeport were brutal to say the least so this new Puerto Rican group needed to be just as brutal to survive and stick up for the Puerto Rican community of Bridgeport.  These guys were as tough as nails and even recruited Mexican youths in 1960 when Mexican people began to migrate to Bridgeport.  These guys eventually moved out of the projects and into the East Humboldt Park community teaching young Humboldt Park Puerto Rican youths how to be down and become some mean gangsters.  These teachings would later evolve into the Insane Spanish Cobra Nation we know very well today with sections all over the northern part of the city and in many suburbs and even other states.  Their origin all starts in Bridgeport thanks to the Dan Ryan forced migration of people of color into hostile white communities. the Spanish Cobras are another Dan Ryan built gang.

1958: Just the beginning: What we can learn from 1958 is that the history of our most notorious Chicago street gangs and our most dangerous and impoverished communities in Chicago can be traced directly to a major block busting drive that coincided with the final construction of one of Chicago’s most celebrated expressway systems.  Gangster Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Mickey Cobras, Black Disciples, and Latin Counts are some of Chicago’s oldest and most powerful street gangs with chapters all over the United States.  West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, Englewood, South Shore, Greater Grand Crossing, and Chatham are some of some of the most dangerous and blighted communities in the United States and their foundation of how they became so problematic traces back to the year 1958 when the Dan Ryan directly affected the peace and prosperity of these communities.  These communities already needed great assistance from the city by funding neighborhood groups concerned with block busting and redlining tactics.  Instead, this assistance was deemed unnecessary and now one can see the dire and often deadly consequences.  Another sad truth is Chicago would not learn from this fateful year instead it became a model for later block busting and redlining, in fact, those practices grew in intensity after 1958, 1958 was just the first milestone period.

1962-1967: The University of Illinois at Chicago, black flight, urban renewal and super gangs.

Once the Dan Ryan Expressway was nearing completion by 1960, the migration of black and Hispanic Chicagoans seemed to slow at the beginning of the 1960s.  In the aftermath of this major migration shift Chicagoans now could read the federal census numbers of 1960 and were shocked at how several formerly all-white neighborhoods now had become majority black.  Chicagoans now would read news articles about crime and violence is these communities that they once knew friends and family that lived in those communities.  Now, Chicagoans became more guarded about their own communities as they now feared their neighborhoods would be next to experience this change.  On many of evenings Chicagoans would converse with their neighbors while sharing beers and grilled meals discussing the politics surrounding racial issues that fueled migration patterns.  Many developed hateful and bigoted attitudes as it became clear that the greed behind block busting and redlining had destroyed race relations and now fostered paranoia and socio-economic disasters.  The most disturbing aspect about this damage was the continuous racial blaming that has affected several generations up to present day as whites blame blacks and blacks blame whites for this economic devastation.  The late 50s migration explosion was only the beginning and it taught both the greedy and the people of Chicago that with a speedy effort entire communities could be bankrupted and changed within months.

University of Illinois at Chicago Congress Circle campus: Beginning in the year 1936, a long-fought battle began for the next fifteen years for an undergraduate University of Illinois campus to be in Chicago.  This fight was led by no other than Richard J Daley who was, at the time, a State Representative.  During Daley’s time as a State Senator in the 1940s, he brought opportunity to mostly returning World War II veterans to obtain college education at a temporary Navy Pier campus in 1946 before transferring to the University of Illinois.  The campus functioned like a junior college serving as a preparation college campus.  In 1951 Daley at last succeeded in convincing state senate to approve of a full-fledged undergraduate university located in Chicago.  Once Daley became Mayor of Chicago in 1955, he pressured the University of Illinois to approve of an upgrade for the new Chicago campus to be a full-fledged four-year university, the next challenge would be choosing a location.

By the year 1961, Richard Daley had chosen the location for the new campus in the Near West Side community.  The Near West Side had already experienced major change after highway construction, now Near West Side residents would again need to embrace themselves for more forced change.  The Little Italy area was chosen for the new campus in and around the Harrison Street and Halsted Street area.  Once this was announced there was immediate protest led by Florence Scala as this plan was another way to remove the impoverished out of the Near West Side and it would close several Italian businesses and force over 800 Chicago homes to be removed which would displace 5,000 Chicagoans in Little Italy.  (Fact source Wikipedia.org).  Most of these Chicagoans were Italian, Mexican and Puerto Rican.  Another fact was that this Little Italy location also had a strong gang population as this was the original motherland of the Almighty Ambrose street gang.  The Ambrose gang had already migrated out of this area by 1961 but several other gangs still walked these streets, most of which would have small significance, but some had strong influence and were some of the toughest Little Italy gangs.  Many of these gang members now needed to seek new homes once the construction would begin, allowing them to spread their influence into other communities just as Ambrose did because of the Dan Ryan construction.  Some of the gangs picked up picket signs and joined protestors, especially black gangs like the Egyptian Cobras as some of the black community was affected by this new construction in the Maxwell Street Market area.

This construction not only effected the Little Italy area, it also caused buildings all over the Near West Side to close, anything from commercial businesses to tenement apartments for the impoverished.  The displacement was not just in the path of the university.  More land was in demand for private developers that wanted to open student off campus housing or commercial businesses that would cater to students.  This would even cause evictions as far west as the Medical District and Tri-Taylor.  These evictions would continue after UIC construction was completed in the mid-60s as late as 1967.  Even as protestors were fighting for this construction to not begin, buildings were already being razed or vacated in preparation for the construction which would begin in 1962.  Italians of Little Italy were pushed to the suburbs or to West Town.  Mexican residents in Little Italy were pushed to Little Village and Uptown. Puerto Rican people of Little Italy were pushed to live in West Humboldt Park, Uptown, East Village, East Humboldt Park and Wicker Park.  In 1966 another wave of evictions from this community happened outside of the UIC area of the Near West Side which pushed more Puerto Rican and Mexican people into the Marshall Square community.

By 1963, the protesting group against Mayor Daley and the city was struck down by the courts and it was finalized that this construction was legal and would immediately begin, by 1964 the wrecking balls had arrived.  Many Mexican and Puerto Rican gangs were displaced between 1962 and 1964 that would come together and evolve into the Almighty Latin Kings once they were forced to live in white communities.  Many other Mexican and Puerto Rican gangs were started during these UIC years by former Near West Side youths struggling to get by in the white communities they now were forced to live in.

Lincoln Park: When the first Puerto Rican immigration wave swept Chicago in the late 1940s, most of these Puerto Rican families settled in the Near North Side community in the Old Town section.  This was the lands that the Carl Sandburg Condominiums now stand since 1960.  In the year 1959, Puerto Rican residents were evicted from their homes and apartments from this area and forced to migrate.  The best choice and most affordable, was an aging section of west Lincoln Park that had become neglected as was much of Armitage Avenue.  This is when landlords purchased this property for cheap and these properties became ideal for migrating Puerto Ricans and some blacks that were forced to migrate from Old Town or the Near West Side.

As soon as native Lincoln Park residents began experiencing this migration there was a largely undocumented racial conflict especially at the youth level.  Racial violence and racial mistreatment plagued this community as many Puerto Rican youths formed street gangs to battle against hostile white gangs that represented the upset Lincoln Park residents that were opposed to this racial migration.  These are the streets that the Young Sinners, Young Lords and Paragons were birthed.  The Young Lords were the most notorious and most violent Puerto Rican gang that formed in 1959 right after Puerto Rican settlement began in Lincoln Park.

Because of racial issues the streets of Lincoln Park were highly populated with Puerto Rican gangs mostly from Armitage Avenue by the early 60s.  While these gangs were fighting wars on the streets, native Lincoln Park residents were fighting a war behind closed doors at community meetings discussing how to improve the neighborhood and increase the value while pushing back against block busting and redlining.  Many of these residents opposed the migration of Puerto Rican people but it was illegal for them to bring about evictions based on race.  This would turn into a war of finances as the Lincoln Park natives pushed landlords to invest in expensive building renewal which were codes too expensive to keep up with.  This brought landlords to sell their properties and new landlords would charge much higher rent.  This practice began in 1962 and would continue into the 1970s, the biggest push happening between 1962 and 1964.

Several Puerto Rican families would once again have to move to a new community and once again they would land in white neighborhoods.  Once again, these families had to absorb being treated as second class citizens in their new communities.  This is why Puerto Rican gangs would not only migrate alongside these families they would also become active on the newly settled streets of West Humboldt Park, Uptown, Wicker Park, East Village and East Humboldt Park. Many of these gangs would absorb into the Almighty Latin Kings as this migration move was also partially responsible for the creation of the Latin Kings, resulting from mistreatment of Puerto Rican youths.

West Humboldt Park 1962-1967-Since the mid-1970s West Humboldt Park has been an approximately half African American and half Hispanic community.  The white population of this community has remained at only a few percent since the mid-70s.  There once was a time when this community was Italian and Jewish.  During the Dan Ryan migration wave of the late 50s the neighboring East Garfield Park community had become a majority black neighborhood and much of these black families lived in poverty. By 1960 East Garfield Park became a higher crime community with migratory gang activity as gangs like the Vice Lords moved into the community.  The crime and blight just south of Ferdinand Parkway/Franklin Boulevard scared about 1% of the West Humboldt Park white community that resided near this border up to Chicago Avenue.  This is when landlords began renting apartments to black and Puerto Rican families, many of whom were average income.  Block busting had not swept this community during the 1958-1962 years but being in close proximity to the high crime of East Garfield Park began to make some white families uncertain about their future in the Chicago Avenue area of West Humboldt Park and chose to move out.

The white flight panic would arrive in the year 1962 in the Chicago Avenue area of West Humboldt Park when block busters arrived north of the East Garfield Park border to scare white families from Ferdinand/Franklin to Chicago Avenue and from Pulaski Street to Sacramento Avenue.  This white flight pattern happened rapidly in 1962 as block busters moved in middle-class Puerto Rican families as homeowners and low-income Puerto Rican families settled in the apartments for rather cheap rent rates.  This area became ideal for redlining but homeowners north of Chicago Avenue resisted block busting practices and maintained the value of the community north of Chicago Avenue.  Chicago Avenue now became a racial war zone as white gangs battled migrating Puerto Rican gangs.  Many of the migrating Puerto Rican families were from Lincoln Park and from the University of Illinois at Chicago area that were forced from their Little Italy homes. Among these newly arrived Puerto Ricans came the Imperials street gang from the UIC area.  The Imperials were the toughest of the Puerto Rican gangs of West Humboldt Park and by 1964 had claimed the area of Ohio Street and Kedzie Street.  This group was among the main founding group of the Latin Kings that were partially created on these streets in 1964.  The Latin Kings became necessary for Puerto Rican youths of Humboldt Park that were constantly harassed and victimized by police and white gangs.  The Lincoln Park and UIC evictions brought gangs to West Humboldt Park and some of this early gang activity would become permanent.  The Latin Kings are still the most powerful street gang in West Humboldt Park presently.

In 1966-1967 a second major migration wave swept West Humboldt Park as Puerto Rican people moved out of the Chicago Avenue area and migrated just west of the Humboldt Park actual park.  The Latin Kings would follow in 1967 and establish their new headquarters at Beach Avenue and Spaulding Avenue which is still a headquarters and major section of Latin Kings presently.  African American migration arrived in the Chicago Avenue area in 1967 after the Puerto Rican population left.  By this time the entire white population had left the Chicago Avenue area.  The white population remained steady in the northwestern part of West Humboldt Park until the mid-70s.  Migrating white gangs arrived in the late 60s and early 70s in the northwestern part that fought racial battles against Puerto Rican Latin Kings in the east.  African Americans were expected to remain confined south of Chicago Avenue and Puerto Rican youths enforced this Chicago Avenue border as many racial battles were fought between blacks and Puerto Ricans starting in the late 60s.  This brought in migrating black street gangs like the Supreme Gangsters and Mad Black Souls.  The Supreme Gangsters either never left this community or a new group would arrive by the mid-70s, in either case, the Supreme Gangsters would consistently remain a permanent part of West Humboldt Park as they eventually became the Gangster Disciples that are still on these same streets presently.

Block busters aggressively worked West Humboldt Park between 1962 and 1967 as this community had already become majority Hispanic and black by the end of the 1960s.  The devastation caused by block busting ushered in violent conflicting migratory gangs, some of which would make this community a permanent home.

Wicker Park 1962-1964-Before 1962 Wicker Park was a less likely neighborhood to experience white flight and Puerto Rican migration; however, Puerto Rican middle-class families had been slowly settling in the community for about a decade. This settlement was not protested and most of these families blended in with the white community.  Even some original members of the most well-known white street gangs like C-Notes, Gaylords and P.V.Ps were Puerto Rican as these gang members were part of old migration that was accepted by the rest of the community.  The new migration wave that ran rampant between 1962 and 1964 was frowned upon as scores of impoverished Puerto Ricans settled in Wicker Park after being hastily evicted from Lincoln Park and Little Italy.  The newly arrived Puerto Rican youths of Wicker Park were to soon face off against the toughest white gangs in Chicago as one of those gangs, the P.V.Ps, was right in Wicker Park.  Puerto Rican youths encountered C-Notes and Gaylords in high school.  The racial clashes became the most intense by 1964 as Wicker Park was close to being a majority Hispanic community.  Block busters had their way with Wicker Park as they easily were about to call out the small Hispanic population and made it seem paramount which drove this migration wave to begin in 1962.  Migrating Puerto Rican gangs from Lincoln Park and the Near West Side now claimed these streets as their own but would often not be able to battle the white gangs.  The Imperials arrived in this community from Little Italy after UIC construction pushed these gang members out, this is when they found an apartment building at Leavitt and Schiller right across from Sabin Elementary School.  The founding member and leader of the Imperials moved into this building and the Imperials were now the toughest Puerto Rican gang in Wicker Park.

In the year 1964, a Puerto Rican gang called the Skulls moved into Wicker Park at Leavitt and Schiller after unsuccessfully battling the Gaylords street gang in the East Village and Noble Square area.  Imperials and Skulls came together to create the Almighty Latin Kings and history was made.  The Latin Kings would become the most powerful Hispanic street gang in Chicago, and it all started on these streets in the aftermath of block busting practices and forced evictions brought on by UIC construction and Lincoln Park urban renewal.

Beginning in 1993, Wicker Park buildings were rapidly purchased by several yuppie types that began renovating the community.  Property companies also took advantage of this land grab as the properties were blighted and cheap.  This period of three decades of disinvestment helped line the pockets of developers who could now buy cheap land and flip it for high rents.  These practices caused rapid gentrification in the 1990s until the community was unrecognizable by the year 2000.  Many Puerto Rican families were evicted during these 1990s years.  Some of the Puerto Ricans forced to leave were originally forced to move to this area thirty years prior and now had to leave their homes they finally established and worked hard to keep for three decades and now were asked to pay high rent or leave.

East Village/Noble Square 1962-1964-The mostly Polish communities of East Village and Noble Square had always housed several impoverished Polish families since the late 19th century.  Beginning in 1962, impoverished Puerto Rican and middle-class Puerto Ricans would join the Polish mainly in the area near Ashland Avenue which served as the border between the two neighborhoods.  These lands were heavily patrolled by the mostly Polish and Italian Gaylords street gang which was one of the toughest and meanest white gangs in the city.  Block busters did their work in this area, although the white population would not disappear almost completely until the early 1980s. The largest Puerto Rican migration wave began in 1962 and escalated and perhaps peaked by 1964.  These were the years when Puerto Rican gangs settled these streets. These gangs were mostly displaced by the UIC construction and Lincoln Park renewal projects, now they found themselves in the path of the mighty Gaylords from the south side of Chicago Avenue.  The Gaylords did as they pleased and roamed all over West Town often finding hangouts in East Village and Noble Square.

The Gaylords, C-Notes and P.V.Ps especially opposed the Ashland Avenue Puerto Rican migration as this was the settlement closest to their back yards.  The Gaylords, P.V.Ps and C-Notes represented the native residents of these communities that were upset that there was now a strong possibility their communities would change racially.  During this change in this community the gang rivalry between white gangs and Puerto Rican gangs caused the Latin Kings to obtain immediate power in 1964, many of whom were part of the Skulls gang and the Imperials gang.  The Skulls were a Eckhardt Park gang that left in 1964 after fighting brutal battles with the Gaylords.  Skulls moved to Wicker Park to start the Latin Kings with the Imperials and a Latin King group advanced upon Ashland and Cortez area becoming the most dominant Hispanic gang in the East Village/Noble Square area.  The Imperials migrated from the UIC area and were displaced by that construction.  As for the origin of the Skulls I am not certain, but I believe they formed in Noble Square in 1962 but they were still youths that had migrated from other communities they were displaced from.

The Harrison Gents arrived along Ashland Avenue and immediately contested the Latin Kings.  The Harrison Gents were a Puerto Rican and black gang from the UIC area and members were likely displaced by UIC construction or perhaps by simply moving close to family members along Ashland Avenue.  The Harrison Gents of Ashland Avenue and Beach Street were another dominating Hispanic gang in the Ashland Avenue area.  These two groups were just about the only Hispanic gangs to survive these streets until the Ashland Vikings arrived in the late 60s and all three gangs dominated these communities for decades.  The Gaylords and P.V.Ps left this area in the later part of the 1970s but the Latin Kings, Harrison Gents and Ashland Vikings would remain here permanently.

These communities became heavily gentrified quite quickly in the 2000s decade until it became unrecognizable.  Many Puerto Rican families faced eviction or were unable to renew their leases as the rent cost heavily rose in the 2000s and 2010s.

East Humboldt Park 1962-1964– Just like West Humboldt Park, the East Humboldt Park community east of the park and technically in West Town, would become settled by displaced Puerto Rican impoverished families and middle-class Puerto Ricans in 1962.  Puerto Rican gangs migrated to these streets from Lincoln Park and the UIC area.  At the time this area and West Humboldt Park were considered the same community, therefore, block busting and some disinvestment arrived on these streets as well as white flight that was encouraged strongly by real estate.  Renting and owning property became cheap in these early 60s years as white gangs quickly moved out of the area except for the toughest white gang, the Jokers, who still controlled much of these streets.  When the Latin Kings moved in to protect Puerto Rican youths in 1964 a gang war began with the Jokers and the Latin Kings would outlive the Jokers.

East Humboldt Park became a tough community by in the 1960s until it was gentrified beginning in the 2000s decade.  The white community left this neighborhood by the mid-70s, and this community became an impoverished area and received almost the same disinvestment as West Humboldt Park.  In the 2000s wealthy yuppie types purchased lots of property in this community and by the 2010s decade this became a gentrified community, and the gangs left the area.  Puerto Rican people were originally pushed into this neighborhood after facing eviction in the UIC area and Lincoln Park and were once again mostly forced out by high prices for rent by the 2000s.

Uptown 1964 – The Uptown community on Chicago’s far north side perhaps has one of the most interesting histories in Chicago.  The community started out as a bustling community loaded with entertainment down Broadway Avenue in the early 20th century.  This community almost completely collapsed during the Great Depression years and were perhaps the most devasted community during these 1930s years.  Soon after these economical disasters much of the city’s poor moved to this community for the cheap rents often rented out by slumlords.  All types of people of all races and backgrounds moved to Uptown during the depression.  When the depression ended Uptown never recovered in the 1940s and became increasingly blighted and still was a large home to the impoverished.  By the 1950s southern Appalachian migrants and American Indians became the largest groups in this community and this is when Uptown was nicknamed “Hill Billy Heaven.”  Despite being an impoverished and blighted community by the 1950s Uptown was low crime and rather harmless.  Neighborhood toughs walked the streets resembling greaser gangs, but no dangerous gang activity was present until the 1960s.

Beginning in 1962, Puerto Ricans from the UIC and Lincoln Park area began moving into this community.  Many Puerto Rican youths would have encounters with southern Appalachian gangs and some Puerto Rican youths formed gangs to battle these groups.  African Americans began to arrive in 1962 and southern Appalachian gangs targeted many black youths, I am not sure if black youths formed any gangs to fight back.  By 1964, this migration had peaked in intensity as racial conflict increased.  The Latin Kings and Harrison Gents gangs arrived from the UIC area and recruited many Hispanic, black and white youths ready to battle Appalachian gangs.

I am not sure how intense the gang rivalry was during the 1964-1969 years, but it would become intense and violent by 1969.  Black migration was rather small during most of the 1960s which is why southern Appalachians were not concerned much with this migration.  Racial conflicts were mainly blended with gang activity. It would not be until 1969, when the racial conflicts heated up that blended heavily with gang activity.  In 1969, black migration increased greatly from the south side and west side of Chicago causing southern Appalachians unrest as a racial riot happened at Senn High School.  The Conservative Vice Lords arrived alongside black migration from the west side after black youths struggling with racial conflict called for them to settle the Sheridan Park and Clarendon Park area and this is when CVLs became a permanent organization on these streets.  The Black P Stones moved into the northern part of the community in Sheridan recruiting black youths that often clashed with the Thorndale Jag Offs from Edgewater.  The Stones would remain on these streets permanently since 1969.  The Black Gangster Disciples arrived in 1969 to protect many black youths that had settled in the Uptown Square area by Lawrence and Winthrop.  The Black Gangster Disciples, now known as the Gangster Disciples, became a permanent part of Uptown.  The Gaylords street gang was summoned to Uptown in 1969 to recruit in the Sunnyside and Magnolia and the Dover and Lawrence area.  The Gaylords mainly recruited white youths and American Indian youths.  The Gaylords became a large gang, and many were impoverished white youths.  The southern Appalachian youths began congregating at an apartment complex at Montrose and Malden and formed the Uptown Rebels who were the dominating gang for the white Appalachian youths.  Gaylords and Uptown Rebels were allies against Latin Kings, Harrison Gents and Black Gangster Disciples.

Uptown also suffered block busting as realty targeted the middle-class using migration and rise in gang activity and crime as tool to convince these mostly white families to leave.  Many black and Hispanic middle-class homeowners moved into these homes but the community had become increasingly disinvested in the 1970s and 1980s, so these middle-class black and Hispanic families struggled.

Beginning as far back as the late 1980s Uptown began being purchased by developers and yuppies as this community began to undergo gentrification.  This gentrification would increase in the late 1990s as evictions and pricing the impoverished out of this community became rampant.  The community became unrecognizable by the early 2000s as gentrification ran its course and blight was erased from these streets.  This cleanup came at the expense of pushing many mostly black and Hispanic residents from their homes for the sake of profits.  Many of the original yuppie families would move out and make large profits on the sale of their homes, town houses and condos.  Many of these properties were once the homes of struggling impoverished white, black and Hispanic families.

Little Village 1962-1967– Little Village was a Polish, German and Czech community for decades and was home to the mostly middle-class before the 1960s.  This was an all-American type of neighborhood that was typical 1950s middle-class besides having one of the roughest gang elements in the city.  Starting in 1950 the Outlaws Motorcycle gang and the Gaylords of Little Village dominated these streets in the 1950s and early 60s.  For many years the Little Village community housed Harrison High School that had bussed in black and Hispanic youths for decades but other than that this was a white community.

In the year 1962, Little Village would be in an uproar once Mexican migration from the UIC area descended upon these streets.  Some of Little Village was welcoming of their new Mexican neighbors while others were not so friendly.  The Gaylords and Outlaws of Little Village were not welcoming of this migration wave and racial clashing ensued.  Many of the smaller white gangs took in Mexican youths and were from the more welcoming Little Village natives while Gaylords and Outlaws were among those that did not welcome this change.

A group called the “Mar Kings” or “Marshall Boulevard Kings” formed in this community in 1962 as the first all-Mexican street gang in Little Village.  The Marshall Kings allied with mixed race gangs in the community and battled Outlaws and Gaylords.  Marshall Kings and their allies fought well against rivals like the Gaylords, and this gained recognition from the Latin Kings when they first formed in 1964.  Many of the Mexican youths from Little Village were from the UIC area as the Latin Kings from the Humboldt Park area were originally from the UIC area so these youths knew these Latin Kings already that came to visit in 1964.  The Marshall Kings also had territory in the Near West Side area just south of the UIC area.  This is how the Marshall Kings joined the Latin Kings in 1964 as did most of the populace of the mixed-race gangs, both white and brown.  This brought the establishment of the “Boulevards Latin Kings” from 24th and Marshall Boulevard.  This became one of the most notorious Latin King sections in history and became the south side operations’ headquarters.  This became one of the hardest Latin King sections in the city.  This group fought the Gaylords and Outlaws head on until Gaylords left the community and Outlaws became an adult biker club removed from gangbanging.

Little Village would slowly be taken by block busting and disinvestment as the 1960s unfolded and by the 1970s Little Village became impoverished and had become considered the most violent and dangerous Hispanic communities in Chicago.  Police protection became minimal and predatory upon citizens leaving the gangs to establish their own form of order.

In the later 60s by 1966-1967 another UIC area wave of migration came to Little Village which triggered more gang rivalry as migrating gangs arrived in Little Village and in nearby Marshall Square.  Eventually a group called the Two Sixs formed in the 1970s and dominated the neighborhood alongside archrivals the Latin Kings by the later 1980s until present years.

The results of forced migration and eviction from the UIC area proved to be devastating and permanent for Little Village.  Racial clashing caused the creation of the Marshall Kings that would become part of the formation of the Latin King nation.  If it wasn’t for block busting and forced evictions from the UIC area Little Village would have never become impoverished and violent and the gangs would have never formed here.

Marshall Square 1966-1967– In the year 1966, the Marshall Square community area of South Lawndale began to experience larger migration of Puerto Rican and Mexican people from the UIC area and Pilsen.  Many Mexican middle-class families migrated here to escape gang violence of Pilsen, while Puerto Rican families from the UIC area were pushed toward this area after UIC student housing developments caused their eviction.  The Artistics street gang moved in from the UIC area while the Satan Disciples and Morgan Deuces migrated from the Pilsen area.  This would bring an immediate gang clash as these gangs would also clash with Little Village gangs like Latin Kings and Ridgeway Lords.

Real estate agencies found this area ideal for block busting efforts as Marshall Square slipped into poverty similar to Little Village.  White flight was steady in the 1970s and 1980s and by the 1990s most of the white population had left. Marshall Square was home to many Puerto Rican and Mexican middle-classes that often retained some of the value of the community, but these streets were plagued with heavy gang violence that still is large in present years.

Bronzeville: By the mid-1960s years the Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor projects began to experience high crime, deterioration, drug addiction and gang activity.  This often became undesirable to be around for much of the black middle-class of Bronzeville.  This began a black flight pattern of the black middle-class from Bronzeville to further south side white neighborhoods.  When these Bronzeville black middle-class families settled in further south side neighborhoods around 1964, it caused many white families in the further south side to fear their neighborhood was changing and block busting realty companies would view this as a gateway to change the neighborhoods these black middle-class families just settled in.

Washington Heights 1963-1965– The black middle-class community of Washington Heights is perhaps one of the most coveted black middle-class Chicago communities in city history.  This is a community that comes together on issues and residents will often engage in community watch.  This has by no means been an easy process over the decades for the black middle-class as they have battled block busting, disinvestment attempts and high crime.  The reason for such attempts at crime, disinvestment and a block busting past has roots going back to old black busting tactics that once rapidly changed this neighborhood causing this community to always struggle to avoid being transformed into an urban ghetto.

During the 1930s depression years, Washington Heights was a desired community for the Irish, German and Swedish Chicagoans who were fed up with the deterioration and economic plight of south side neighborhoods like Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing that were seemingly collapsing during the depression years.  This made Washington Heights an ideal community to raise a family.

When restrictive covenants were lifted in the late 40s African American middle-class families began to desire occupying homes in this community. These families often hailed from Bronzeville and Hyde Park as these communities underwent changes.  Chicago public housing became undesirable to the black middle-class of Bronzeville along with an increase in poverty by the 1950s.  Hyde Park became too expensive for even the most affluent black middle-classes, therefore, they needed to depart.  Now that covenants were lifted, thanks to the Supreme Court, black middle-class families were seeking communities that were organized, clean, safe and most importantly were willing to accept them in their borders.  Washington Heights was accepting but only under the condition that blacks had to live more in the east bordering the Roseland community.  Between the years 1948-1963 black middle-class families moved in slowly after whites left in exchange for suburban living.  During these years there was not racial strife, violence, or any disinvestment.  Black and white lived side by side and worked together to keep building this community.  This was a major advantage because it kept property values high which priced out the impoverished which was agreeable for both white and black residents.  Residents also kept a close watch on block busters and pushed them out of the neighborhood during these years.  Washington Heights even fought through the rough late 50s years when the Dan Ryan Expressway construction triggered hordes of block busters looking to change neighborhoods for profit as thousands of displaced impoverished needed homes quickly.

It was not until the year 1963 that Washington Heights began to lose the battle against block busting.  In a seemingly concerted effort, realty companies mapped out the deeper south side of Chicago and targeted conjoined neighborhoods in a mass block busting effort.  Soon block busters were walking the streets of Washington Heights freely, spewing out falsehoods that this community was soon to turn all black and full of impoverished black criminals that were going to destroy the neighborhood.  Preventing block busting is a nearly impossible task that takes lots of dedication, finances and constant watch to prevent such practices.  Even though Washington Heights had a strong barrier against gentrification that great barrier was broken in the 1963-1965 years as the white population rapidly fled this community as the impoverished moved into apartments and landlords bought buildings, townhomes, condos and even homes to subdivide and moved in the poor.

Washington Park dramatically changed during the 1963-1965 years and rapidly became a vast majority black community.  In the middle of this rapid transition the black middle-class fought hard to prevent more block busting and stop bank redlining and to an extent they achieved success, but the block busting could not be stopped.  Another issue that swelled by 1964 was racial strife that previously did not happen in past years. Many of Washington Height’s native white residents were furious about this racial change and often took matters into their own hands by treating the newly arrived black families as second-class citizens.  This is what ushered in the arrival of major black street gangs like Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) and Black P Stones.  These gangs originally came here to protect the black community from victimization in a now hostile environment as they posted in areas like Brainerd Park to fight against angry white groups. This fight for social justice was very short lived as the white community had completely departed by 1965.  Stones and Disciples instead turned on each other fighting vicious gang wars and adding to the crime in the community.  There were just too many groups of Stones and Disciples for leaders to control and it all went out of control.

Ever since these 1963-1965 years Washington Heights has continued to struggle with high crime and violent gang activity.  Washington Heights is not one of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago but still is considered one of the higher crime neighborhoods in the city.  These issues stem back to the original block busting efforts that led to some levels of disinvestment and faulty police protection ever since these damaging 1963-1965 years.  Almighty Black P Stones and the Gangster Disciples still call Washington Heights home and are still deep in numbers and will perhaps never leave.  Before blaming these organizations for the crime, please consider this block busting history that was the cause of the plight before the gangs even arrived.  Just remember the Stones and Disciples came here to stop much of the crime and police the community as the police were scaling back their protection in this racially changing community.  This is decades of damage done by greed.

Auburn-Gresham 1964 – For many decades the white flight and disinvestment of Auburn-Gresham has been rarely spoken about in professional publications.  There is not much information and stories out there in published pieces about this community and how it changed, or at least, I am not aware of any.  Every so often, as I browse social media, mainly Facebook, I notice some elderly former residents, or their children/grandchildren will post an old black and white photo of a smiling white family or white children aglow playing cheerfully in the streets.  The photo is usually identified with a street name and address.  The likes and “heart” reacts flow in followed by the opening delightful comments from older people shoring stories of their old stomping ground when they were young children.  It always starts out pleasant but then comments get a little darker when some people comment, “what happened?” or “such a shame what happened to this neighborhood.”  Then comes the debate along with passive aggressive racism followed by arguments.  Some will comment that the later residents (referring to African Americans) destroyed the community.  I will see bickering between mainly white posters, liberals against some hard lined conservative whites.  Many bitter ones will passive aggressively blame blacks for the devastation of this community while some liberal minded ones will oppose them and will accuse them of vile ignorance and bigotry.  No one will directly say in exact words that the black community destroyed this community, but most people are intelligent enough to figure out what they mean when they post their bitter comments.  Then comments will eventually come in blaming the whites for white flight, then bickering will ensue.  After the smoke clears and the comments slow to a stop, the debate does not find a resolve, everyone just tires themselves out and the debate ends.  It becomes easy to side with one opinion in this matter but to truly understand what really happened in Auburn-Gresham requires not only an open mind but to pay attention to who the real culprit is.

During the 1910s decade, Italian, German, French, Polish and Swedish Chicagoans that experienced upward mobility became fed up with the hardened Bridgeport, Back of the Yards and Englewood communities they lived in.  Back of the Yards and Bridgeport were dangerous communities in the 19th century and early 20th century and were gangbanging hoods you didn’t want to stay in for long.  Englewood wasn’t bad in the 1910s, it was just…rather…shabby and would only worsen with the Great Depression era.  Auburn-Gresham was new in the 1910s and there was so much development potential for these families that now experienced upward mobility.  The main buildup of this community happened in the 1920s as flighting families flocked to this ideal community for a taste of the better life, living that middle-class American dream.  During the Great Depression years of the 1930s this rock-solid community tackled the most depressive era in American history and in the end, the 1940s and 1950s saw the Auburn-Gresham golden years as this was one of the most ideal middle-class communities on the south side of Chicago.   This community was so strong that the 1958 Dan Ryan block busting on the upper south side didn’t faze this community and only made it stronger as black Chicagoans made their way into this community during these late 50s years.  The citizens of Auburn-Gresham prevented a loss of value of the community and mostly welcomed black middle-class neighbors for a smooth and steady transition that was well on its way to making Auburn-Gresham into a harmonious mixed-race community.  The Organization of Southwest Communities (OSC) were the outspoken ones teaching racial tolerance while fending off block busters and put redlining far out of practice in Auburn-Gresham.  Commercial and residential structures were well-maintained which enhanced value of this community during the late 50s and early 60s which prevented block busters and other predatory practices.

The beginning of the downfall came in the year 1964 when block busting efforts increased as realty companies mapped out a large piece of the south side simultaneously between 1963-1965.   This attack plan was too strong for even a tough-to-crack community like Auburn-Gresham because the fact is Auburn-Gresham had a vulnerability.  By 1964, neighboring Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing had succumbed to severe deterioration, poverty and high crime.  It only became natural that some of this crime drifted into the Auburn-Gresham community.  As many of us in the Chicago area know, crime waves come and go many of times and that very well may have ended up being the case with this wave of petty crimes.  Block busters were in their glory once they got word of this petty crime along with residents’ complaints of increased noise pollution, traffic and lack of parking.  It took a small amount of effort, and the people of Auburn-Gresham were sold on the claim this community was going to change.  A small and possibly temporary crime wave was made paramount, and the white flight drive was given fuel as one family after another fell for this tactic, and many more left their homes quickly to escape a threat of high crime and disinvestment.  The nightmare scenario painted by block busters now became a reality very quickly as the petty crime wave turned into break-ins, muggings and pursue snatching.  Police patrols scaled back now that this community was redlined and considered more of a tax drain.  This even triggered black flight, as the black middle-class that had been here for years now found the new crime and poverty unbearable.  Now that values fell, greedy landlords could purchase property and run these properties like a slum house.  The urban blight battle was pretty much the only battle won over the decades.

The question then becomes who is right in this situation?  Are the people that claim the black migration wave destroyed the community correct?  Or are those that claim white flighters destroyed this community is correct?  The true answer is neither side is right and neither side is wrong.  The fact is the block busting wave allowed a rapid departure of those that could have the financial means to keep this community stable.  The fact is that impoverished black residents were brought here by the same block busters that convinced whites to leave.  A wave of criminals did arrive, but many blame a race of people for attracting it, but the community lost tax revenue, and this allowed the city to justify less police protection.  Police, at times, would not patrol as well sometimes based on bigoted views.  This is why both sides of the argument are correct.  One side is correct that once a mass of people of a certain race arrived socio-economic issues began but where they are wrong is implicating that African Americans wanted this community to become impoverished and dangerous to suite their needs.  The other side is correct that many white flighters left for bigoted and small-minded reasons; however, what they are wrong about is failing to identify that this was driven by panic peddling brought on by real estate and banks and most of these white flighters just wanted to protect their equity and did not want to be a victim of crimes, crimes driven by a lack of law enforcement protection.  A law enforcement scale down caused by a loss of tax revenue which swayed city decisions to not spend tax dollars on patrols in this community.  A lack of law enforcement due to men and women in law enforcement taught to believe this was all caused by African Americans.  What happened in Auburn-Gresham is a shame and this shame needs to be taken away from the thousands of black residents that made a new life here and needs to be taken away from the white flighters just trying to make the best living for their families.  This is an institutional cause that was deliberately engineered for profit.

Calumet Heights 1964– Calumet Heights was once an ideal community for the south side middle-class and upper classes, mainly consisting of doctors, who also called these streets home before the 1960s.  During the Dan Ryan Expressway migration wave of the late 50s, lower income classes could not be able to afford to live in this community; therefore, Calumet Heights avoided this migration wave.

In the early 60s, longtime residents began to leave Calumet Heights for the purpose of starting a new life in the suburbs, but this was not white flight, it was just favorability for the suburbs.  When these residents moved away black middle-class families leaving the Hyde Park and Bronzeville areas moved in.  Although there was not much objection from the white community when the first middle-class black families arrived it would still become fuel for block busting realty companies that would make this migration seem paramount; however, Calumet Heights put up much resistance to block busting.

Issues began in this community in 1964 when block busting at last penetrated this community during a major south side block busting campaign in the 1963-1965 years.  It still was difficult to move black lower income classes in as residents fought hard to retain the value of this community and the newly arriving black-middle class and black upper classes spent much effort to retain the value. Some levels of disinvestment and racial strife would still occur beginning in about 1964, this is when the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) gang arrived to especially deal with issues of crime entering this community.

In the following decades Calumet Heights would continue to struggle with levels of poverty and disinvestment but the black middle-class continues to fight for the value of this community into present day.  The Gangster Disciples are strong in this community and will perhaps remain here forever.  The Gangster Disciple presence can serve as a permanent reminder of how damaging block busting can be as the need for the Disciples may have never happened if block busting and disinvestment had never arrived in any way, shape, or form.  Calumet Heights continues to struggle with higher-than-average crime since the 1970s as another stark reminder of the damages of block busting and disinvestment.

Roseland 1963-1965 – Roseland was once a community that south siders proudly called home.  Since the early 20th century both white and black working-class and middle-class built and maintained this community.  Racial boundaries were drawn on the 95th Street area, however, this was a mostly agreed upon arrangement which allowed blacks and white to live in harmony.  The value of Roseland remained strong which allowed this community to survive early block busting efforts caused by the Dan Ryan Expressway construction of the late 50s.  By the 1960 census Roseland was a 23% black community but racial strife was rather low as these early black families were mostly accepted by the majority white community.

I have read many social media posts and comments on posts from former residents that lived in Roseland in the 1960s and 1970s recalling fond memories of growing up in this community while recalling a safe neighborhood. These claims were made during the racial transition period where this community moved from being majority white to majority black.  Although these years were fond years for many of Roseland there still was a racial conflict and issues with crime.  During the 1964 south side block busting push Roseland was targeted by block busters as an ideal neighborhood to change.  Although most residents were very happy with their surroundings, as I have seen evidence of in social media, block busters could still find their way to scare the white community of Roseland as they easily pointed out that the 95th Street area black population was growing and soon crime and poverty would take over.  Although these claims were unfounded and false, these issues would come true but not naturally, this was a created effort to bring Roseland to poverty and crime.  Block busters had the power to change communities and once they targeted any community, they would have success.  During the 1964 south side block busting drive, these real estate agents already knew Roseland residents had a history of fear of a black takeover as was shown during the late 40s when Roseland residents resorted to violent protest of the Fernwood public housing project.  There was so much potential with Roseland to reap major profits especially since this is one of the larger sized communities in Chicago.  There were so many homes and apartments to flip and so many commission dollars to be made.  The happiness of this community was not enough to stop the change but would only slow the change to stretch over the course of roughly ten years.

When block busters began blitzing these streets hard in 1963 the 95th Street area had become highly populated with poverty stricken black Chicagoans in the opening stages of this white flight block busting pattern.  Criminal elements followed the black community especially since police patrols became lessor in this area.  Adult drug dealers moved into this area, many of which were shunned by the black community but some black youths in the area were so impoverished they often worked as couriers for these dealers.  In the year 1964, the Black P Stones and Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) arrived in the 95th Street area to deal with issues with drug traffickers and the crime that followed this new sudden migration wave.  Stones and Disciples would arrive to sort out the early damage caused by the earliest stages of disinvestment, block busting and lack of police patrols.  Police in Roseland were known for being brutal toward black youths from the mid-60s through the mid-70s as these police often sided with groups aiming to push out black migration in the Roseland, Pullman and Burnside areas.  Much of the reason for the earliest Disciples and Stones was to deal with harsh police treatment.

During the 1963-1975 years Roseland struggled with racial strife, poverty, crime and racial change.  Disinvestment set in as both black and white middle-classes struggled to maintain Roseland’s value but by the late 70s the efforts became a losing battle and Roseland would become full of high crime, gang activity, and urban blight.  Roseland is an example of how even when black and white comes together to fight side by side greed will always win in the long run.  Two more major block busting drives in the later 70s pushed out the last of the white community and much of the black middle-class left alongside them as both white flight and black flight plagued this community in the 1970s.  Roseland perhaps would have been a perfect community for city intervention to help push back block busting and disinvestment, but the city just allowed Roseland to fall into a depression.  The damage is left here permanently as this became nicknamed the “Wild 100s.”

West Englewood 1964-1966– When it comes to the mention of “Englewood” both the Englewood community and the West Englewood community are often lumped together to just describe issues in “Englewood” as a whole. The main reason for both communities being regarded simply as “Englewood” in general has much to do with the fact that both communities have nearly mirroring issues with crime, blight and gang activity.  Often when one views the lists of most dangerous Chicago neighborhoods Englewood and West Englewood both make top five and top ten lists for the most dangerous Chicago communities.  There was a time when West Englewood was much more distinguished from Englewood especially when Englewood was racially transitioning in the 1950s.

In the earliest years of West Englewood, the Irish and Germans became the main groups that called these streets home.  The main factor that brought the settlement of this community was the opening of the Union Stock Yards in 1865.  This was also the time that neighboring Englewood was experiencing larger settlement, and this West Englewood area was considered part of Englewood.  When the Great Chicago fire pushed many Chicagoans to settle this area, they built a middle-class subdivision they named “West Englewood” and the name was born; however, until annexation into Chicago in 1889 this was still part of Englewood, West Englewood was simply a subdivision.  During this period the first black community came to west Englewood settling in the Ogden Park area in 1885.  The West Englewood community accepted this settlement because it was only twenty-six African Americans and because this migrating group agreed they would only stay in the 63rd and Loomis area at Ogden Park.  This was also allowed because this area around Ogden Park was originally an underground railroad stop during the slavery days.  This gave black Chicagoans a right to these lands earlier in history.

During the 1920s West Englewood boomed as housing developments and commercial development grew this community into a highly functioning mostly Italian community.  West Englewood now surpassed Englewood’s development.  A portion of Englewood’s community was always impoverished but West Englewood was almost exclusively the home to middle-class homeowners. During the 1930s neighboring Englewood was becoming blighted and increasingly impoverished but West Englewood would continue to flourish and survived the Great Depression.  This made West Englewood residents take more pride in their community than their Englewood neighbors by the end of the second world war.

During the 1950s-decade steady African American migration came to Englewood but was discouraged by West Englewood as many West Englewood white residents had strong racial views of how West Englewood should be.  There were several white power groups in this neighborhood and white greaser gangs roamed these streets battling mostly with other white gangs from neighboring communities.  These West Englewood white gangs and groups were tough and sometimes dangerous as gang violence in West Englewood became an issue in the 1950s, these white greasers even used guns during gang conflict.  When the Dan Ryan migration began in 1958 Englewood became a majority black community by the end of the year as white flight was devastatingly rapid.  West Englewood did not allow block busting efforts during the late 50s and this community was not touched by impoverished African Americans, only black middle-classes could afford to live in this community.  The Ogden Park African American settlement had grown gradually during the 1940s and 1950s and was 12% of the population by the 1960 census.

By the year 1964, West Englewood had become targeted by block busting real estate and the invasion began of these crooked agents walked these streets, soliciting door to door, spreading panic.  They knew many in this community were concerned with African American migration as tales of disinvestment and crime were told to many white families.  West Englewood was not won over by block busting as quickly as Englewood.  Block Busting would become a long process that took more than a decade to complete.  At the beginning of this transition in 1964, the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples) were called upon by migrating impoverished black youths to protect the black community which began a long and permanent legend of the West Englewood Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples.  Disciples battled white gangs heavily in the mid-60s as these mostly Italian white gangs were battling against black migration and black gangs.  The Black P Stones would arrive by 1966 and battled white gangs even more as they also battled the Disciples as their arch enemy.  Many predatory landlords purchased the cheap homes that were suddenly sold by white flighters and converted them into apartments for impoverished African Americans.  This aroused anger in the community and racial conflict would at times be intense in the late 60s.

From the mid-60s to the mid-70s the violent racial battles would continue until the rest of the white community had left by the late 70s.  West Englewood would become slowly disinvested and blighted during these years which weakened the financial strength of this community.  By the late 70s this community became completely redlined and became just as impoverished as Englewood.  The damages of block busting may have been slow, but it became permanent.  Racial conflict, caused by block busting, brought the Disciples to this community and would make them permanent residents on these streets.

Dixmoor, Harvey, Phoenix, Chicago Heights, Markham, Robbins, Ford Heights 1964 – When it comes to block busting efforts, the sale point was convincing white families to leave white Chicago neighborhoods while simultaneously convincing middle-class and impoverished African Americans to move into those same white communities.  In the end, the white family would usually settle in the suburbs paying dearly with a loss of home equity.  When it came to the south suburbs of Chicago block busting took on a different form as the convincing was for whites to leave their suburban homes and move to other suburbs.  There was a gateway to a south suburban block busting event, and it was the fact that African Americans already resided in the suburbs of Phoenix, Dixmoor, Harvey, Markham and Chicago Heights.  The suburb of East Chicago Heights (Ford Heights) served as an example of how white flight could be triggered. During the 1940s 76% of the white community left this village and the rest left in the early 50s.  Ford Heights had completely become a black community by the 1960 census.  This village was already a struggling village but once the white community left this community became increasingly disinvested and blighted.  I am uncertain if block busting was the culprit in the 1940s, but I believe it was not, it only appears upward mobility of the former white residents following the Great Depression caused this flight.  Ford Heights still could serve as an example of how a south suburban neighborhood could be changed.

Block busters soon invaded the south suburbs by 1963 and began easily convincing many white, middle-class homeowners to sell their homes quickly in Chicago Heights, Markham, Harvey, Dixmoor and Phoenix.  As this convincing was working, banks immediately took notice that these communities were becoming increasingly black and then began the redlining of these suburbs.  This sparked a racial war, mainly at the youth level as white gangs targeted recently migrated black youths.  Most of the African American migrants were from neighborhoods like Hyde Park and Bronzeville looking to escape the ghettos.  This communities were hyped by block busters as ideal communities; however, just being in the suburbs was enough of a selling point.  It would take no time for black middle-class families to feel the burn of having just settled in a community being heavily disinvested quickly.  Many of these middle-class black families went into debt after being denied fair bank loans and left to high interest predatory lenders.  Many homes became shuttered for decades throughout the years.  Suburbs like Chicago Heights and Harvey fell into blight.

During the earliest years of major African American settlement in these south suburban communities many black youths faced violence at the hands of white gangs and racist white groups.  This caused the black youths to call upon the assistance of the Black P Stones and likely the Devil’s Disciples (Gangster Disciples) in 1964 which began a permanent legacy of Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones in Ford Heights, Chicago Heights, Phoenix, Dixmoor, Harvey, Robbins and Markham.  The Gin Bottle riot in August of 1964 was the tipping point for the arrival of Stones and Disciples.  Racial strife would continue in these communities until the mid-70s.  By the mid-70s most of the white population had departed as block busting ran its course leaving these communities financially devastated.

1964: Institutional Profits once earned created permanent gangs: What can be learned about the early to mid-60s block busting efforts are when profit is sought by creating disadvantage there can be permanent dangerous results that have caused ghettos and violent communities to be created.  The act of using fear to encourage flight of one mass of people while using manipulation to convince another mass of people to migrate for staggering profits is indeed an immoral and predatory act.  Devastating results were already seen and well-known during the Dan Ryan construction years. Lessons should have been learned but instead this only served as a model for how to replicate the same process.  This 1964 block busting event permanently created most of Chicago’s ghettos, this helped create some of Chicago’s major gangs like the Latin Kings while it helped the success and spread of existing gangs like Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Black P Stones, Vice Lords, Latin Kings and Satan Disciples.  This 1962-1967 block busting event was nothing short of an event that shaped Chicago’s top street gangs because these organizations were called upon.  These gangs were called upon to assist black and Hispanic youths violently being attacked and harassed by angry white groups and this was a gateway for these gangs to stay permanently. Most of the top ten and top twenty lists of the most dangerous Chicago communities were communities that were flipped by this 1960s block busting event.

1975-1980: The great block busting push of the 1970s.

In the late 50s and 1960s much of the migration of African American and Hispanic people into white neighborhoods was attributed much to the University of Illinois at Chicago construction, the construction of the Dan Ryan and Kennedy Expressways, Hyde Park neighborhood renewal and Lincoln Park neighborhood renewal.  Another big push I have identified happened in the second half of the 1970s into the early 80s peaking in the 1975-1976 and 1979-1980 years.  During these later 70s years block busting and any forms of forced migration patterns did not create major gangs but instead helped the major gangs expand further into Chicago neighborhoods previously untouched by gangs.  This molded these neighborhoods into hotly contested gangland which has become permanent gang territory.

Beginning in the year 1968, laws were enacted that attempted to outlaw block busting tactics starting with the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which acted against block busting.  In 1971 several ordinances were passed that also attempted to stop this practice.  These actions seemed to have ceased the severe devastation inflicted on Chicago neighborhoods for the most part, but it did not stop these practices entirely.  There was already a racial divide forged by earlier block busting practices and now Chicagoans often preferred to live in communities where their race was the majority.  Real estate companies now just needed to determine the race of their clients and simply steer them into areas where the client’s race was a majority.  The earliest block busting efforts had destroyed racial relations so severely Chicagoans now developed racially negative attitudes toward each other prompting racial groups to avoid living with other races.  Even with the passing of the Fair Housing Act the neighborhoods of Austin, West Pullman, Pullman and Morgan Park underwent a major transition from white to black in the late 60s which brought a great burden for the black middle-class that had moved to these communities. In current years West Pullman and Austin are very often considered the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago.  Austin especially has been regarded as the “Heroin Superhighway.”  A portion of West Pullman is so blighted and impoverished that residents have been highly vulnerable to poisoning from pollution from nearby closed factories.  These block busting events happened just after the Fair Housing Act was passed.  After the 1971 ordinances major new block busting events seemed to cease.

Another major migration wave was triggered in the later 70s but the way this pattern happened appears to mostly be the work of manufacturing closures and a recession.  The beginning of section 8 housing and some block busting type events were also responsible for racial change and white flight in certain areas of the city in the 1970s.  During this era of 1975-1980 the following neighborhoods either completely changed or partially changed significantly: South Chicago, Lincoln Square, West Humboldt Park, Marquette Park, Rogers Park, West Ridge, Lincoln Park, Brighton Park, Hermosa, Southern West Town, Albany Park, South Deering, Belmont-Cragin, Back of the Yards.  Changes also came to the following suburbs during these years: Cicero, Berwyn, Maywood, Bellwood, Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Summit, Elgin, Carpentersville, Aurora, Bensenville, North Chicago, Zion, Waukegan, and Woodridge.  This is a long list of Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs that suddenly underwent a racial change, and this resulted in the need for gangs that were originally established outside of these newly settled areas.  As I have researched Chicago gangs, I once again heard stories of racial clashing in these later 70s that was often quite brief and quickly converted into migrating gang clashes that became devastating and violent.  Most of these racial changes were not absolute and in many of these areas a large white population would remain for many years which shows evidence these events were either not driven by defined block busting events or the block busting events were careful and gradual in order to accusations of illegal practices.  Levels of disinvestment would follow, and police patrols lessoned or became predatory in these communities.

Much of the cause of this migration pattern was related to employment loss and the collapse of the largest manufacturing districts in Chicago.  It is known that South Deering, South Chicago, Zion, Waukegan, North Chicago, Maywood, Bellwood, Brighton Park, Joliet, Elgin, Aurora, and Carpentersville experienced change due to the closure of the manufacturing districts in those communities. Job loss caused property values to drop in these communities triggering white flight for fear of a loss of home equity.  It is often a fact that communities with employment sources within their borders retain more value.  The loss of manufacturing in the mid-70s through the early 80s was known to be one of the biggest greed triggered events in American history as much employment moved overseas for cheaper labor.  This move bankrupted the U.S. as so many families that once thrived off one income manufacturing jobs now had to accept lower paying jobs.  Women in many households now needed to join the workforce to try to make up as much of the lost income as possible.

Another likely cause of this new migration pattern was an escape from crime and disinvestment from neighboring block busted communities which appears to be the case of the white flight patterns in the Marquette Park, Back of the Yards, Hermosa, Albany Park, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, Southern West Town, Cicero, and Melrose Park neighborhoods.  Block busting damage did not only affect the harmony of neighborhoods directly impacted, it also threatens the harmony of neighborhoods that share borders.  After block busting converted some communities to the most dangerous and blighted communities in Chicago, living next door to these communities was viewed as a constant threat to the residents of neighboring communities.  Residents in neighboring communities to block busted areas also feared a loss in home equity and these communities often needed to work harder to maintain the value of their community which.  This became exhausting prompting many residents to not want to fight these long and exhausting battles, the best option was to leave the area.

Another likely cause of this 70s migration pattern was simply moving near other family members and word of mouth.  Another cause could be the launch of section 8 housing that was enacted nationwide in the year 1974. This could be the case of how Rogers Park, West Ridge, Franklin Park, Bensenville, Berwyn and Marquette Park experienced changes.  In these areas block busting efforts were known to either be ended or non-existent and manufacturing closures were not present in these communities in this era.  Regardless of the reason for the new migration patterns there was still a failure to properly and safely racially integrate these communities which brought gang conflict between migrating gangs.

Although I do not have much exact evidence for the cause of these migration patterns, I have heard several stories from people that lived these 1970s streets as these individuals bore witness to these changes and were able to tell me exact years the gang factions arrived in these communities.  What became startling is multiple people from the same area kept giving me the same dates.  When I would then look at sources like Encyclopedia of Chicago, I would notice the mention of the mid or late 70s for the beginning of racial changes in these same neighborhoods.  It became more than a coincidence that these gang factions started at the same time as new racial migration patterns.  I also learned of racial conflicts that cannot be found in newspapers, books or anywhere else, this is information I received from the people of the streets who were mostly not interviewed by any previous sources.  I have also studied Facebook group posts of chatter that pertained to dates mentioned and I often interacted with these individuals. I asked them what years a certain new gang faction developed, and I found startling patterns that were hard to ignore.  The mentions of the years 1975, 1976, 1979 and 1980 became all too common and were centered in certain neighborhoods. Even more astounding was learning from multiple gangs all from the same area that they all had the same arrival years in the same neighborhoods, this became more than coincidental.  I often base my facts about gangs from eyewitness testimony, not court documents, articles, newspapers or law enforcement in order to obtain more accuracy.  It is also a fact that block busting events and migration patterns were never closely followed by researchers and changes happened often quietly especially once block busting and redlining was officially outlawed in 1968.  The best way I can show you as the reader that conflict was triggered in these communities during this period is to break down each area just as I did regarding the 1958 and 1964-1966 major block busting events in Chicago.

The 1975 migrations in the north: Suddenly in the year 1975, it appears there was a simultaneous migration of African Americans and Hispanic people on the more northern part of Chicago. These neighborhoods were known to be majority white for decades.  These were unlikely communities to experience impoverished black and Hispanic migration patterns but somehow it was triggered in southern West Town, Rogers Park, Lincoln Square, Albany Park and Lincoln Park.  As I learned about Chicago’s major gangs, I did extensive research into big time factions of certain gangs like the Insane Unknowns of Ashland and Wrightwood, the Simon City Royals of Fullerton and Southport, the Latin Kings of Lawrence and Kedzie or the Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples of Howard Street.  I was then shocked to discover the Gaylords, Simon City Royals, Latin Kings, Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples, as examples, all simultaneously sprung up in these communities in the exact year of 1975.  I also did not understand how the gritty and storied Gaylords of Grand Avenue and Ogden Avenue suddenly packed up and left the area in 1975 while suddenly Maniac Latin Disciples and Satan Disciples moved into the area.  I thought to myself, how would a south side outfit like the Satan Disciples suddenly land in West Town when during that period they had no other sections even on the south side, now they are suddenly in West Town in 1975.  I became puzzled and fascinated.  With the assistance of my usual generalized sources of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia of Chicago I read about migration changes happening in these areas in the 70s and more so in the mid-70s.  I then began to piece it together and could correlate gang faction formation with migration patterns.  As I continued to interview with former gang members, I started to detect yet another racial clash.  In the Edgewater community (back then was part of Uptown) a member of the Latin Kings was slain by Thorndale Jag Off leaders in the mid-70s.  Two Simon City Royal leaders were killed in 1975 by Latin Kings.  Insane Unknowns and Simon City Royals were now at war in Lincoln Park after the 1976 shooting death of an Insane Unknown leader.  Testimony of Grand and Ogden Ave area Gaylords confirmed every member left the area by 1975.  It all then made even more sense to me that there was a pattern of severe gang violence in these areas during the bi-centennial years that has not been forgotten. This is when I knew there was a deadly shift in migratory patterns of a group of people not welcomed into another community.  The question then becomes why did this migration pattern happen so fast and without warning?  It became more than coincidental that these areas were settled simultaneously by many black and Hispanic families and migrating gangs showed up at the same time.

Many testimonials from white gang members that walked these streets in the mid-70s have told stories of dealing with hostile Hispanic and African American gangs that had migrated from other parts of the city.  When speaking with former Hispanic and African American gang members many have told stories of hostile white gangs in the neighborhood attacking them before they obtained membership in the ranks of a migrating gang they later joined.  The Latin Kings became the biggest influence in these communities as this was the most common migrating gang that mostly Hispanic youths became attached to.  The Gaylords and Simon City Royals became the more popular groups for white youths as these organized outfits often absorbed small white gangs from these communities.  Gaylords and Simon City Royals often came to the defense of white youths that would become bullied by groups of Hispanic and black youths.  Gangs like Latin Kings and Gangster Disciples would sometimes target groups of white youths which is a phenomenon not so known.  Even the prevalence of white gangs attacking black and Hispanic youths was hardly news as well as this racial clash became largely undocumented unfortunately.  Obtaining this information could only come from the streets themselves, but one factor that I found reassuring was that both sides of the gang conflict agreed with how these racial clashes unfolded.  These racial clashes were often very short lived but so intense that neighborhood youths developed strong loyalty to these organizations which became the driving force in keeping these factions alive for generations to come.  Early acts of bravado and justifiable neighborhood defense captured the respect of the youth of these communities into permanence.

The migrating factors of the mid-70s in Rogers Park, Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park and Albany Park do not appear to have the same factors for migration but it does appear people were steered into these areas simultaneously, but I have found no exact evidence of panic peddling or block busting in these areas.  It simply appears long time white residents simultaneously began losing interest in these areas which was especially the case with Albany Park, which was a community that was suffering decline and deterioration.  In the case of the Rogers Park and Lincoln Square migrations, there might be a section 8 voucher program that became active in the mid-70s in the many apartment buildings.  It is a fact that the section 8 voucher program began in 1974 and it is often known that the Juneway Terrace, Jonquil apartments and multiple apartments along Howard Street in Rogers Park have been accepting section 8 for a long time and likely since the mid-70s.  Section 8 programs will often work with landlords that own apartment buildings.  In Rogers Park one of the largest Latin King sections was the intersection of Ashland Avenue and Columbia Avenue which has apartment buildings nearby.  In the Toughy Avenue and Ridge Boulevard area there are apartment buildings in this area in abundance which is also a major Latin King settlement.  Then again, Simon City Royals were heavily installed in the Clark Street and Farwell Avenue area which also has a large apartment complex nearby; therefore, making a statement that Latin Kings are exclusively apartment dwellers while Royals are from single family homes is unfounded; however, each apartment building does not always accept section 8 while others do.  The honoring of section 8 vouchers of impoverished Chicagoans is just a possible driving force behind this migration wave.  The section 8 voucher program would possibly only serve as a minor factor.  It appears the main factor would just simply be a steered effort to push this sudden migration; however, I am not positive what organizational effort would have driven this steering.  A triggering factor for the white flight aspect may have been based on the rising crime in the Uptown area which borders Rogers Park and Lincoln Square.  In the Albany Park community rising crime arrived in this area that was not driven by crime from nearby communities.

Regardless of the direct cause of this migration pattern, it is still an issue that such a migration pattern was handled improperly by the city by not funding programs to assist the ease of such a transition.  Eventually the racial issues were calmed; however, the gangs that formerly represented each racial group continued to have deep rivalries long after initial racial issues. Perhaps if there was no racial clashing in these earliest years, the gangs would have never migrated to these streets to begin with.

Mid-70s migration of the west:  Racial clashing became legendary in the West Humboldt Park and Hermosa communities on Chicago’s west side.  The racial conflict of West Humboldt Park was unanimously agreed to have existed by both the former white community and the later black and Hispanic community.  Racial migration to West Humboldt Park began in the late 50s and escalated by 1962-1968 as white flight became rampant in the southern area of the community and in the eastern part of the community.  A major gang force was well-established by 1968 consisting of Latin Kings and some African American street gangs.  The first racial clash of the mid-60s was white against Hispanics then by the later 60s the conflict shifted to Hispanics against blacks centered around the Chicago Avenue corridor.  Racial conflicts between Hispanics and whites would continue in the northern part of the community. As the later 60s unfolded, more white youths developed strong conflict with the Latin Kings.  This led to the formation of new factions of migrating white gangs like Gaylords, Simon City Royals and P.V.Ps.  These gangs attempted to take on the toughest Latin Kings section in the city but by the mid-70s these gang members departed alongside the last wave of white flight out of West Humboldt Park.  This last migration wave was brief and by 1976 the rest of the white population had left the community as this neighborhood now became African American and Hispanic.

This 1976 flight happened in the northwest quadrant of the neighborhood which was the part of the Humboldt Park area that bordered the Hermosa community.  Hispanic migration was rapid in this area that had previously sustained racial change through the 1960s and through the earlier 70s.  I am not positive if block busting events occurred in the mid-70s in this community, but I suspect there was some of that activity especially since this community was previously block busted in the 1960s.  These West Humboldt Park whites were resilient after the earlier 60s changes and even did not scare after the panic-peddling drive of 1966-1967 following the Division Street riot.  This new migration wave came in suddenly and strong which is not a common pattern for long-time residents who generally lose interest in their community.  This was a sudden spike of the whole northwest quadrant of the community, and it occurred in neighboring Hermosa as well.  The Hermosa partial racial change of the mid-70s brought in the Imperial Gangsters street gang brought to defend recently arrive Hispanic youths that had experienced conflict with the local Gaylords and Freaks gangs.  Hermosa had previously been an area for white power type of gangs that deeply opposed the migration of Hispanic or African American people and especially the black or Hispanic gangs. These gangs were often reflective of the beliefs of many Hermosa residents that were mainly concerned with a rise in crime and the loss of home equity.

The Hermosa and West Humboldt Park areas were perfect areas for staging panic peddling; however, new laws prohibited such practices.  It has been said that block busting continued after these laws and codes were enacted but it became harder to identify.  Efforts would continue to stop these practices but much of that effort would become more reflective by the 1980s.  This migration event occurred when laws and codes curtailing block busting were in their infancy when these laws were not as strong.  The Hermosa community experienced mild racial change in the mid-70s and seemed to lull by the late 70s until it would resume by the mid-80s.  For West Humboldt Park high crime and gang activity already had become common by 1974 but this was not new.  For some reason a second white flight pattern occurred between 1974-1976.  By the year 1976 the migration pattern and white flight had run their courses and West Humboldt Park had fell into economic decline as many families now lived below the poverty line.  Once white residents left the area of Kinzie to Central Park Ave and Bloomingdale Trail to Chicago Avenue African American and Hispanic residents moved into these homes.  Many black and Hispanic middle-classes came to this community with hopes of a brighter future but soon found out this community was targeted for redlining.  This began a long fight, that still occurs currently, of the black and Hispanic middle-class struggling to maintain the value of this community by pushing back redlining practices.  These efforts have had a degree of success preventing this community from urban blight and slum lords.

Even if there were no direct block busting patterns in West Humboldt Park in the mid-70s, block busting could still take much blame for the mid-70s white flight pattern because this community was already damaged by 1960s block busting practices that had caused the creation of gangs like the Latin Kings.  This created a community of poverty and high crime that went from fiction to reality in an engineered plan.  A list of gangs migrated into West Humboldt Park simultaneously in the year 1976 like: Insane Unknowns, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Unknown Vice Lords, Imperial Gangsters, and Mafia Insane Vice Lords.  This was a migration of ten gangs which was an astounding number of gangs to arrive in the same year.  When I spoke to former members that were in the Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Insane Unknowns they all pointed to the exact year of 1976 as their startup year in West Humboldt Park.  Gang members of these groups came from West Town and Logan Square then started a new chapter of these gangs in the northwest area.  The Unknown Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and a new wave of Black Gangster Disciples moved into the black community south of Chicago Avenue.  The black community now lived west of Pulaski Road and north of Chicago Avenue up to Division Street, Vice Lord groups and Black Gangster Disciples would also move into this area that had just been vacated by the white community in the mid-70s.

A major racial conflict worsened in the mid-70s between Hispanic and black youths that especially took place around Chicago Avenue and Pulaski Road and all up Pulaski to Division and all along Division Street.  West Humboldt Park had become a frustrated and impoverished community full of severe gang violence as this community was now filled with at least ten different street gangs.  The damages caused by block busting became detrimental not only in the 1960s but also in the 1970s even if no new cases of block busting occurred in the mid-70s.  The burden fell on the middle-class black and Hispanic community and as the new few decades arrived more and more middle classes gave up the fight and left the area especially by the later 1980s.  West Humboldt Park became one of the more violent neighborhoods in Chicago.

Mid-70s migration to the south: By the mid-70s violent crime became a major issue in the Little Village and Pilsen areas of Chicago.  Many Hispanic middle-classes were looking to escape the violence. Older gang members began seeking better surroundings for their children in new communities.  Somehow, a coordination happened in the Brighton Park and Marquette Park areas.  Just like West Humboldt Park a major racial change happened almost overnight but it was supposedly not officially attributed to block busting; however, this is the same type of racial change that happened in previous years when block busting was legal.  It is difficult to not point to block busting efforts when such a sudden and drastic change swept these communities.

There was instant civil unrest in these communities in the mid-70s and the exploits of the neo-Nazi party in Marquette Park has been documented. A racial attack did happen in neighboring West Englewood when neo-Nazi invaded the community attacking many residents in 1975 or 1976.  The mid-70s was the time when block busting had completed its handy work and West Englewood was now 98% black by the 1980 census.  Many Marquette Park residents now began to fear for the future of the community and chose to vacate in a smaller but effective white flight pattern in the mid-70s.  Mostly Mexican middle-class families came to Marquette Park in 1977 escaping gang violence in their former communities.  Adult gang members arrived from the Two Six gang from the Little Village Hispanic migrating group while Ambrose emerged among the Pilsen migrating Hispanics.  Two Six and Ambrose became necessary to fight back against angry white groups mostly linked to neo-Nazi groups.  I am not sure how long this clash happened, but this is what brought the migration of Two and Ambrose, but it seems the conflict was short lived as both gangs focused on each other within a brief amount of time.  These two gangs would remain permanently in Marquette Park along 63rd Street and became some of the hardest factions of their gangs in the city.  Marquette Park whites were not fleeing from gangs like Ambrose and Two Six, they were fleeing from predicted crime and gang spillovers from West Englewood.  This migration wave seemed to stall out in the late 70s.

In the Brighton Park community, many white residents resented a Hispanic migration wave in the mid-70s and soon a major white gang called the South Side Heads formed to push back on Hispanic gangs and major racial change.  In the year 1977, Crane Manufacturing Company, the main economic source of many Brighton Park families closed its doors during the nationwide collapse of the manufacturing and steel industries.  This event did not seem to be the result of block busting but instead the sudden loss of an economic support for the people of this community.  Although many of the Brighton Park white families had lost their income, they often had enough savings and equity left in their homes to move to the suburbs to look for employment.  Hispanic families were then steered into Brighton Park at a rapid rate in the late 70s.  After this late 70s migration wave white flight slowed through the 1980s decade.  Racial conflicts were often intense, and the South Side Heads were one tough street gang for Hispanic youths to face off against.  This is when frustrated Hispanic youths formerly from Little Village called upon the aid of the Two Six gang to help them against the Heads.  The former Pilsen youths called upon the Satan Disciples to assist.  The Satan Disciples had been interested in Brighton Park since the late 1960s and now this economic devastation became prime opportunity for Satan Disciples to claim land in the area of California Street and Archer Avenue in 1977.  During the late 70s and earlier 80s Satan Disciples and Two Six worked together on and off to battle the Heads until relations between Disciples and Two Six broke down in the mid-80s.

Brighton Park has struggled with gang violence and elevated crime since the 1980s as the greed driven collapse of the steel industry caused damage to this community that has become permanent.  The closing of the steel business caused a rapid white flight burst accompanied by steering which caused a racial conflict that created permanent gang activity in this community that has become legendary.

1979-1980, the shift of Hispanic middle-class and a negative reaction

Since the 1910s-decade, Hispanic people have been migrating into Chicago area.  Since the 1910s the manufacturing industry employed thousands of Hispanic laborers which had given many Hispanic workers financial stability and brought many lower-income class Hispanics to the middle-class income levels.  Beginning in the 1950s a rise in Hispanic home ownership became prevalent as Chicago’s Hispanic population began moving away from impoverished neighborhoods like the Near West Side as an example.  Chicago was now dotted with middle-class Mexican and Puerto Rican families residing in various white neighborhoods that had white populations over 90%.

In the 1960s, many Hispanic families were displaced by major city projects like the expressway systems but many other middle-class Hispanic families simply experienced upward mobility and were able to afford their own homes in communities like Little Village, Marshall Square, West Town and Humboldt Park.  The Hispanic middle-class often gained versatility from discriminatory practices in these select communities while the lower income Hispanic population was often considered a threat to the mostly European cultures of these Chicago communities.  When section 8 programs were enacted mostly for African American and Hispanic families in the mid-70s a sharp racial change event occurred in various Chicago neighborhoods; however, I have not yet been able to determine the degree that these programs may or may not have driven a significant racial change to these communities like Marquette Park, Brighton Park, Rogers Park, Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square.  By the later 70s and early 1980s it seems clearer that Hispanic migration changes may have been significantly impacted by the section 8 voucher program.  It has been known black migration of lower income classes to the suburbs was section 8 driven.

Another factor for this late 70s/early 80s migration shift was caused by the collapse of the manufacturing districts that caused a panic-driven migration of white and Hispanic middle-classes out of the city or into new communities in Chicago.  This was perhaps the most devastating reason for a new migration pattern as it caused a middle-class drain to certain communities which brought redlining and disinvestment that would effectively lower the values of housing in neighborhoods most affected by this economic collapse.  This is when the impoverished population of these communities sharply grew as police protection became increasingly laxed. Violent street gangs from other communities were now able to move in.  These neighborhoods then rose to become some of the more violent communities in Chicago which became a cause for the flight of middle-class black and Hispanic families.

During the 1970s decade, our world experienced highs and lows in the manufacturing industry as jobs often came and went.  During the years of 1975-1979, manufacturing made a major come back as jobs in this industry became plentiful until the peak was reached in 1979 followed by a devastating sharp decrease in the manufacturing industry and by 1980 our nation fell into a nasty economic recession.  Much of the backbone of the manufacturing industry was the abundance of unskilled workers that lacked education and/or specialized training in transferrable skills.  For many European, African American and Hispanic families through the decades this became a tradition for the family generations to seek employment in the unskilled manufacturing divisions.  This labor was often simple, redundant and involved simple training.  High school educations were often not required for this work, and in many cases, no education was required.  These simple jobs and simple paychecks often provided for several households.  Many of these laborers resided in simple apartments and often lived in tenements owned by slumlords.  These workers lived on the edge and any slight disruption to their lifestyle would put them in severe financial devastation. The advantage these workers had was mobility to move about the manufacturing industry as they easily obtained jobs after certain companies would close their doors. This lifestyle was not stable, but it had a versatility that allowed these workers to continue employment as the manufacturing demand was still booming until the 1979 collapse.  These laborers often lacked the knowledge or interest in obtaining a higher education or pursuing training in the trades that would bring them to a skilled worker status.  This is often caused by these laborers being birthed into families that thrived on unskilled labor as it became a somewhat family tradition.  This often is the concept of burnt generations which is when a cycle of poverty and despair continues through the generations in families that often has roots to suffering a form of discrimination and a lack of education outlets during the era of the older generations of the family.  Children from these families are often guided by their family to choose similar career paths to their family members which makes it difficult to break this cycle. This issue becomes worsened when all generations of these families reside in impoverished, blighted and redlined communities.

Many unskilled workers would eventually obtain higher wages and even small managerial promotions allowing these families to become homeowners.  These families would also move into communities like Pilsen, Little Village, Marshall Square, Austin, Belmont-Cragin, West Ridge, South Chicago, Back of the Yards and into the suburbs.  This was a form of upward mobility as these families began saving money and lived just as their mostly white neighbors, often in harmony.  Most of the unskilled work force remained at the poverty line obtaining no further education or training.  Before the 1960s these middle-class unskilled workers lived alongside impoverished families in the same communities.  Beginning in the late 1950s, these families were often the first people of color to move into all-white neighborhoods.  The risk imposed to these moves would often be surprisingly smooth as these middle-class Hispanic and black families were often accepted into the community.  If any of the youths from these families decided to later join a street gang, they would join mostly white gangs that would later fight to conserve the old ways of the community and oppose large racial change.  These youths could not identify with later migrating groups of people of their same race and would rather support a mostly white community.  Their fight was not necessarily racial but instead against change and an opposition to mostly Hispanic and black gangs from outside of the community.  Many other of these Hispanic and black laborers that lived if these white communities had become skilled workers as they now obtained training and schooling for higher paying and more permanent jobs in manufacturing.  These workers even operated the growing numbers of robots that were replacing unskilled workers.  Some of these laborers even attended college and obtained higher education degrees from accredited universities.  These were a lot of the reasons early Hispanic and black families that had moved into white neighborhoods gained respect and acceptance.

One of the larger factors that drove the collapse of the manufacturing unskilled labor force was the pursuit of a higher education.  By 1979, a sudden demand in higher education drove up the price of higher education by a large percentage, this showed how popular a college education was becoming.  A college education would allow formerly unskilled workers to either become office workers or learn to operate heavy machinery and robots in manufacturing facilities. This would help these families survive the early 80s recession.  By 1979, many laborers in the unskilled group knew their jobs were in jeopardy and a decision would need to be made to obtain training and/or higher education or take a chance in an impending recession, sadly, several of these families chose to take a risk or lived in such struggling communities they were unable to obtain the education due to a lack of access to loans in redlined communities.  The unskilled workers that tended to get the higher education obtained the funding through their employer, if it was offered.

Beginning in the 1960s, the manufacturing industry began the development of robots that could perform the same amount of productivity as multiple unskilled workers.  Once these robots were brought into certain companies it became grounds to lay off several workers.  This practice was seen more prevalently in the early 1970s which was a factor in the early 70s small recession.  The demand for more labor outpaced the rise in robot use during the later 70s years but by 1979 the cost to obtain these robots dropped significantly and now these robots would sweep through the factories pushing thousands of unskilled workers into unemployment.  Since the cost of the machines could now be shown in facts and figures to be significantly less than paying the wages of multiple employees it made more sense to allow the machines to replace humans.  If any companies would wave this opportunity, they would become swallowed up by capitalistic competition.  It got to the point by the end of the 70s to choose to replace workers with technology or face closure and all employees would lose their jobs.  This is one of the ugliest sides of capitalism but is necessary for free enterprise.  The only way a worker could avoid being overtaken by this change was to upgrade their skills and learn to operate the very machines that replaced their co-workers, but this college tuition privilege was usually only offered by certain employers.  The companies that did not offer scholarships left this higher education pursuit in the hands of the worker who would find it near impossible to obtain the loans to fund the education while residing in redlined communities.  Although redlining was illegal by the late 70s there were always ways lenders could determine a declination on a loan application for those from these communities.

Another large factor that caused the loss of an unskilled workforce as we entered the 1980s was outsourcing.  By the end of the 1970s companies knew they had to save on labor costs in order to compete in free enterprise.  Some companies imposed layoffs while giving double or triple the work to hard working employees.  Other companies began to outsource their labor costs overseas, sometimes in exchange for producing a less quality product.  If the product was in such higher demand that a loss of quality in their products would either not be noticed or reluctantly accepted by the consumer. Outsourcing became a certain answer as they could invest more in marketing their products to offset the loss of consumer dissatisfaction from a decline of quality while the price remained intact or was raised.  During this period there was a lack of incentive offered for companies to keep their work force in the U.S. Many companies over the decades have used incentive programs to keep the labor local but during these harsh recession years programs were not as plentiful.  In the 1979-1980 years many Chicago manufacturing plants chose to close and move their labor force abroad which economically devasted the communities that housed these factories which is exactly when the gangs and crime arrived in these neighborhoods.  When these factories would close in the 1979-1980 years the skilled labor middle-class families in these communities had the ability to obtain new employment rather quickly in the suburbs or in more affluent Chicago neighborhoods where crime was low and gang activity was nearly non-existent.  These families could afford the higher mortgage payments or higher rents because of their savings and substantial wages.  The issue with this move is it drained the fragile economic harmony of the communities they had just left.  In the old communities they had left the remaining middle classes would usually reside exclusively in certain parts of the neighborhood looking out for that area only while the lower income classes would reside in the other parts that were often blighted.  This would often allow these middle-class families to fight against redlining within their areas of the community and work to keep crime and blight out of their area only.  This phenomenon has been seen over time in communities like South Chicago, South Deering, Back of the Yards and formerly in northern Austin as examples.  Because lending and tax dollar use often depends on location, the middle-class often has to flee the impoverished class to avoid the plagues of the lower income class like high crime and blight.

1979-1980 Mexican and African American migration around the city and suburbs

By the later 1970s, the white population had left the Pilsen community and Pilsen had become a middle-class and low-income class Hispanic community.  Crime had also become a major issue in Pilsen in the late 70s and early 80s prompting much of the Hispanic middle-class to move out of this community.  Hispanic migrants from abroad began to move in and replace these fleeing families and a rivalry developed mainly among the migrant youths and American born Hispanic youths.  This led to a gang conflict that brought about the creation of the Party People and the La Raza street gangs that had now established a permanent presence in this community in 1980.

Most of the Pilsen middle-class exodus arrived in the northern Austin and Belmont-Cragin community areas.  This is what brought the legacy of the Latin Brothers street gang to the Austin and Belmont-Cragin communities as these Latin Brothers moved into north Austin to protect the former Pilsen Mexican middle-class from hostile gangs like the Gaylords.  The Belmont-Cragin chapter of the Latin Brothers became permanent.

Some Pilsen middle-class and lower income class would move to the Back of the Yards area south of 51st Street which had become a growing African American settlement.  White flight became rampant in the later 70s in the Back of the Yards.  Among these former Pilsen Mexican families came the Bishops street gang that arrived to protect this Mexican community in the area of 53rd and Winchester in 1980.

Pilsen families were also settling in the South Chicago and South Deering communities on Chicago’s far southeast side.  The Latin Counts street gang followed this exodus and opened a major operation in the South Chicago, South Deering and East Side neighborhoods.  The Latin Counts arrived at the same time as African American gangs arriving alongside a African American migration wave to South Chicago and South Deering.  Members of multiple Vice Lord groups, Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples moved in alongside a section 8 installment in South Chicago and South Deering.  The city began honoring section 8 vouchers heavily in the Jeffrey Manor area of South Deering and the Chicago Housing Authority placed many African American families from the west side and south side into the Trumbull Park projects in South Deering.  The South Chicago neighborhood was abundant with small apartment buildings that worked with the Chicago Housing Authority and honored section 8 vouchers.  This was made possible because the buildings were cheap rent to begin with because of disinvestment in the community after Wisconsin Steel closed in 1979.  This was a rapid transition between the years 1979 and 1980 as the closure of South Works Steel and Wisconsin Steel proved to be economically devastating for the far southeast side.  Many workers from these communities were skilled workers that had great expertise in steel and were able to obtain new jobs in suburban communities.  This mostly white population along with a middle-class Hispanic and middle-class African American population vacated these communities rapidly.  Now that South Deering and South Chicago lacked a larger middle-class population it would fall into becoming some one of the more violent communities in Chicago.

The collapse of a local economy was reflective of a nationwide economic collapse. The culprit behind the socio-economic and high crime issues in the South Deering, South Chicago and East Side communities was the loss of the majority of the steel industry.  Unfortunately, this could not be prevented and was due to a nationwide economic issue.  The result brought a permanent gang settlement to the far southeast side.

In the Little Village and Marshall Square communities, Hispanic middle-class families became overwhelmed by the excessive gang violence and high crime in their community and now made the decision during the 1979-1980 years to pack up and move to majority white communities.  These families settled in the Back of the Yards and in the suburbs of Cicero, Berwyn, Joliet, Bolingbrook and Romeoville.  The Latin Kings street gang attached heavily to this migration wave and landed in the Cicero, Joliet, Bolingbrook, Berwyn and Romeoville suburbs in the year 1980. These Latin Kings came from the Little Village area.  The Two Six street gang from Little Village would also migrate to the Back of the Yards community in 1980.  Two Six also settled in the suburbs in Cicero and Joliet forming permanent chapters in the Back of the Yards and these suburbs that began in 1980.  Like the Latin Kings, Two Sixs arrived alongside a Hispanic middle-class migration wave.  The Satan Disciples from Marshall Square and the Two Two Boys from Marshall Square moved to 51st and Wood Streets in the Back of the Yards community in 1980 alongside migrating Hispanic families from Little Village.  Now that much of the white population left the area in the early 80s the Back of the Yards community had become disinvested as crime grew more rampant and dangerous.  The area south of 51st Street to 55th Street had become blighted as abandon buildings and vacant lots were now in abundance.  The Two Two Boys gang would migrate from the Marshall Square area alongside the middle-class Hispanic flight out of the Little Village general area.

By 1980 African Americans now lived in the area between 51st Street and 55th Street in the Back of the Yards as the Black P Stones settled this area permanently.  These Stones were from northern Englewood and now boldly crossed this sacred border to settle here permanently.

Much to blame for the further collapse of the Back of the Yards was accredited to the loss of the steel industry and manufacturing on the south side in 1979-1980.  This brought a disinvestment in the community as the white and Hispanic middle-class began to leave the community in the 1980s.  The Back of the Yards became high crime, disinvested and partially blighted.  The African American and Hispanic middle-class has tried for decades to prevent a total collapse but the struggle has been difficult.

Two Two Boys would also settle in the suburb of Cicero in the same year of 1980 and would soon dominate much of the suburb.  The suburb of Cicero now moved into a new era of gang violence and high crime.  The Back of the Yards and Cicero were known to have deadly gang activity for decades before the 80s arrived.  Racial conflicts brewed in the Cicero suburb during the early 80s years as local white gangs like the Twelfth Street Players and the Noble Knights represented a more conservative Cicero belief that Cicero should remain majority white.  Two Two Boys and Two Sixs assisted Newly arrived Hispanic youths dealing with issues from the Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players.  This brought an intense gang rivalry that Cicero had not seen before.  I am not exactly sure why a population of whites left Cicero in the early 80s, but the white flight would slow heavily until 1992.  The issues in Cicero may not have been able to be avoided as Noble Knights and Twelfth Street Players had already existed in Cicero for nearly a decade before Two Twos and Two Six arrived.  Many white youths joined the Two Sixs and Two Two Boys that were born and raised in Cicero but identified with migrating Hispanic youths.  These white youths eventually become attached to Hispanic gangs of Cicero like Imperial Gangsters, Latin Kings, Two Six and Two Two Boys.  White youths would then follow their Hispanic friends and join these gangs instead of joining local groups like Twelfth Street Players, Noble Knights and Park Boys.

Hispanic middle-classes from Little Village arrived in Will County between 1979 and 1980 as they settled in the Romeoville, Bolingbrook and Joliet communities.  Latin Kings and Two Six from Little Village arrived in Joliet in 1980 alongside this migration and assisted any Hispanic youths that had become victim of any racial clashes.  Within a very short period these gangs focused on conflicting with each other instead.  Latin Kings from Little Village also settled Romeoville and Bolingbrook often assisting Hispanic youths dealing with racial issues. A wave of African American middle-class migration came to Bolingbrook as did impoverished African American families that arrived in Woodridge and Bolingbrook with section 8 vouchers.  Both neighborhoods had an abundance of affordable apartment complexes ideal for the Housing Authority to provide apartments to these families.  Joliet provided many section 8 opportunities as these vouchers were honored for African Americans in several apartment buildings and the public housing projects in Joliet.  The Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords would arrive alongside much of this section 8 settlement battling racial conflicts with Hispanics and whites but would soon conflict with each other.

1979-1980 Puerto Rican and African American migration around the city and suburbs

By the year 1979, the middle-class in mostly Puerto Rican communities became increasingly concerned with growing gang violence and crime in the Logan Square, West Town and Humboldt Park areas.  These areas had become well-known for crime and gang violence that was a result of 1960s block busting consequences.  Now the middle-class that once came to these communities in the 1960s had now lost interest in investing in the community.  Just like the previous white flighters of earlier decades the Hispanic and African American middle-class feared their homes would lose equity and they now feared for the safety of their families.  Older gang members from these areas also became concerned with the future of their children and many of these older members did not feel a connection with younger gang members.  Some of the new generation of gang members were violent, disloyal and were hardened criminals even at young ages.  Control of these streets was becoming lost to original gang members and now these older members needed to be concerned with betrayal and the rise of RICO laws that sought to convict the leadership of the gangs even if they were not directly linked to younger generations. Law enforcement prosecuted leaders and original members too eagerly in this era.  Just like the Pilsen and Little Village older gang members, the original and older membership of the north side groups found a new life in new communities or in the suburbs.  Gangs like Latin Kings, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Harrison Gents, Insane Unknowns and Orquestra Albanies had grown to rule the Humboldt Park, Logan Square and West Town areas and now younger generations of these gangs were often wild, dangerous and unpredictable.  Although much of the Hispanic population of northern Chicago was Puerto Rican there were still several Mexican families in this equation. Just like Puerto Rican youth in these areas Mexican youths attached themselves to Puerto Rican gangs to obtain protection from hostile white gangs and other Hispanic gangs that had targeted them.  This is how the Puerto Rican gang exodus from the Logan Square, Humboldt Park and West Town areas affected the Mexican community moving from these same neighborhoods.

In the city

During the 1979-1980 years, the mostly Puerto Rican middle-class exodus out of Logan Square, Humbolt Park and West Town mostly made their way to the suburbs but a group stayed in the city limits and arrived in the West Ridge and Belmont-Cragin communities.  West Ridge was a mostly Jewish community with a significant German and Scandinavian population.  Beginning in 1975, Arab and East Indian migration came to West Ridge.  The Arab and East Indian population often got into cultural clashes with Jews and Germans which led to Arab youths banding together on the streets in the later 70s.  The German and Scandinavian population had been departing this community for decades and their former dwellings were occupied by Jews but by the mid-70s Jews began to lose interest in moving to this community and other long time Jews that had lived here for decades began to leave the area to join other Jewish families in the suburbs.  At first, Arab and East Indians took their place but by 1979 African American and Hispanic people began to take these dwellings.  This was not really a form of white flight but instead was just preference of the Jewish community to leave city life.  In most formerly Jewish communities like the Near West Side, East Garfield Park, South Shore, North Lawndale and West Humboldt Park Jewish enclaves had once left those communities and migrated to West Ridge, now they would leave West Ridge by the mid-70s.  I have not found any evidence of block busting or redlining but instead of a breakdown of cultural relations is much to blame for gang conflicts.

Puerto Rican, Mexican and Arab youths found common ground when they attached themselves to the Latin Kings in West Ridge when they first arrived in 1979.  Many of these youths would clash with gangs from nearby communities like Rogers Park, Uptown and Lincoln Square.  Boundaries between these neighborhoods were often blurred lines which allowed gangs to roam freely and victimize youths in neighboring communities.  This was often to story of the plight of Arab youths that were many times, the center of racial attacks especially since the Iran scandal was a hot issue in the world in 1979.  The Latin Kings accepted groups of Arab youths constantly on the defense against surrounding gangs and this is how the Assyrian Eagles Latin Kings group came to be.  The Maniac Latin Disciples came to West Ridge in support of mainly Hispanic youths but were not as large as Latin Kings.  Simon City Royals and Insane Popes arrived in support of many of the youths that had lived on these streets their whole lives and had become infuriated by cultural change in the neighborhood.  These youths mostly had conflict from gangs like the Latin Kings that moved from outside of the area.  In the northeastern part of West Ridge African American middle-classes settled in the area seeking better lives for their families as did lower income African American families that had moved mostly along Howard Street in apartments, many of these apartments allowed section 8 vouchers. Once black youths were walking the streets of West Ridge the Black P Stones organization that now ruled much of Howard Street in Rogers Park recruited these West Ridge black youths that found conflict with the Gangster Disciples of Howard Street.  Now that the Black P Stones arrived in 1979, they could protect the black community in West Ridge from any racially motivated attacks from enemy gangs but soon their focus would have to be on a rivalry with Gangster Disciples.  Latin Kings and Black P Stones made a permanent impact on these streets and remain here as permanent installments.

On the streets of Belmont-Cragin, the Gaylords, Taylor Jousters and P.V.P gangs ruled with an iron fist.  Hundreds of these gang members roamed the streets day and night and had strong interest in the preservation of this communities’ cultural identity.  This community was an early settlement zone of white greaser gang that became dominant in the 1950s and now those groups had evolved into the Gaylords, Jousters and P.V.Ps.  This was mostly unfriendly territory to Hispanic and African American families; however, Hispanic middle-classes still made the brave journey to this community.  Their efforts to fit with this community were thwarted by the sudden arrival of Hispanic street gangs by 1980.  Hispanic youths had a tough time with angry white youths and the gangs they were attached to.  The first to arrive was the Armitage and Cicero Spanish Cobras followed by a slew of Hispanic gangs like Latin Brothers, Milwaukee Kings, Maniac Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Jivers, Insane Dragons and Insane Unknowns.  Many Hispanic youths were badly bullied by Gaylords, Jousters and P.V.Ps and this is why so many Hispanic gangs moved here and built up large forces.  Within a matter of time the racial issues grew as now white youths that had previously not been involved in racial conflict found themselves victimized and bullied by Hispanic gangs which drove up the recruitment of Gaylords, Jousters and P.V.Ps.

There may have been some level of block busting in this community as many white families moved out quite rapidly in the 1980s; however, this racial change was gradual as the Hispanic population did not become a majority until the early or mid-1990s.  The main issue that brought such severe sociological issues stemmed from a very old hardened white gang element that immediately clashed with the Hispanic community combined with an overall breakdown of racial relations.  I do not know if these issues could have been avoided but likely not.

On the city’s far southwest side, near Midway Airport, a new wave of African American migration came to the Garfield Ridge community.  The Garfield Ridge community had a small black population that was usually confined to the LeClaire Courts projects located right near the Interstate 55 exit ramp near 44th and Cicero Avenue.  These projects were constructed in the early 50s and received negative reactions from the community nearby.  Much of this white community was angered by this arrival of lower income African Americans and many protested for the removal of the projects, however, the projects would remain.  As the decades passed these projects became accepted by the white community as these LeClaire Courts residents had proven they are law abiding and clean citizens which quashed stereotypes that lower income African Americans are dysfunctional.  During the 1950s through the 1970s decades the LeClaire Courts residents had high expectations of one another and grassroots community members-maintained cleanliness and had no tolerance for crime.  In the year 1979, the Chicago Housing Authority began moving west side and south side African Americans into these projects.  In the beginning these new residents fit in very well and become strong members of this community.  Older black gang members from the Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, Conservative Vice Lords and Black P Stones moved into these projects in 1979 but did not come here to cause trouble. These groups acted as peaceful residents in these projects.  It also helped that all these gangs were aligned under the People alliance.  These groups also reached out to the neighborhood Insane Popes gang and took them under the People alliance wing which further avoided gang conflict.  This harmony would last until the late 1980s when younger youths in the projects joined these gangs for ill will. These youths opened a drug trade in these buildings which would eventually bring high crime and drug issues to this small community.  This became one of the motivating factors to close the projects by 2011.

Lake County

As the white middle-class began to rapidly evacuate the Lake County area in the 1979-1980 years Hispanic and African American settlement quickly filled these vacancies as the black and Hispanic middle class moved into single family houses while the impoverished moved into section 8 approved apartments and public housing.  This was a very rapid change and much of the white community that remained in these communities became infuriated by this change, racial clashing ensued.  The bankrupting of the manufacturing district of the U.S. was felt heavily in Lake County and a slew of factories suddenly closed in 1979 which even laid off skilled workers.  This drove the white flight phenomenon and caused the Waukegan, Zion and North Chicago communities to suddenly become much more affordable after housing equity was lost due to the economic downturn.  The local economies were now in disarray and since this was sudden there was no time to stop further devastation.  All three of these Lake County communities had a storied past of racial conflict.  In the city of Waukegan, a legendary racial riot in 1920 made the news.  In North Chicago, the white community demanded the impoverished black community live in a mud filled slum on the west side of the community which was later converted into the Marion Jones public housing projects.  The city of Zion was originally built upon strict and rather bizarre religious fundamentalism that was unfriendly to the black community and these beliefs often withstood the test of time.  It would be no surprise racial conflict would arise when many African American families made the brave journey to these hostile suburbs.  During this transition Chicago street gangs become solidified in these communities by 1980.

Gangster Disciples and Conservative Vice Lords answered the calls of black youths struggling in these new surroundings and recruited heavily in all three suburbs.  The Black P Stones would recruit in Waukegan and Zion.  Much of the concentration of these black street gangs was established in the public housing areas like the Marion Jones projects in North Chicago, the Hebron projects in Zion and the Barwell Manor, Armory Terrace and Whispering Oaks, and Lakeside Tower projects of Waukegan.  The black middle-class often settled in the streets near the projects as these homes were often more affordable due to their vicinity to public housing.  Hispanic settlement arrived early in the 80s in Waukegan as Hispanic gangs like Insane Unknowns, Orquestra Albany, Latin Kings, Latin Lovers and Maniac Latin Disciples arrived to assist the racial struggle Hispanic youths felt. This racial conflict was short lived as gang conflict became the main issue.

Ever since 1980, the Lake County suburbs of North Chicago, Waukegan and Zion have struggled with gang conflict and crime.  These communities also struggle with poverty as the sudden loss of their original manufacturing district has caused permanent socio-economic issues in these communities.  The driving force that triggered these sociological issues seems to revolve around the collapse of an economic vein that was sorely needed.  The permanent gang, crime and poverty issues all root to this 1979-1980 economic collapse. This is a further lesson to not allow such collapses to happen or the results are devastating.  Even suburban communities can be disinvested and redlined, and Lake County is proof of that.

Cook County

The Cook County suburbs had been known to house Chicago gang activity since at least 1964 as Chicago based gangs made it into the south suburbs and the Cicero suburb in the 1960s.  The suburbs that were infiltrated during these years often suffered from socio-economic issues or had issues with strong suburban based gangs.  It would become less surprising when these suburbs were infiltrated by Chicago gangs.  Suburbs like Harvey, Markham, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Dixmoor and Phoenix became the targets of block busting practices as the racial harmony of these communities between blacks and whites broke down in the 1960s.  The suburb of Robbins was so deeply impoverished and lacked police, making these fertile breeding grounds for the Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones to establish permanent legacies here.  The suburb of Cicero was always rough and was the home to the Chicago Outfit then later some of the toughest white gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area that battled with the toughest Little Village gangs.  It would be no surprise that Little Village area gangs would infiltrate Cicero.

It became more shocking once Chicago street gangs found entry into the suburbs of Evanston, Summit and Franklin Park.  This was as shocking as when Latin Kings arrived in Melrose Park and Maywood in 1976 which were mostly white communities in the 70s.  Melrose Park and Maywood were often unfriendly to people of color.  Now it would be shocking when Imperial Gangsters had moved into Franklin Park in apartment complexes that now housed Hispanic middle-classes and lower income Hispanic families, brought to these buildings with section 8 vouchers.  The Imperial Gangsters likely migrated from the Logan Square area and recruited many Mexican and Puerto Rican youths that had felt victimized by Maywood Chicago gangs like the Latin Kings.  The Franklin Park Imperial Gangsters would name their territory “The Jungle” and would remain in Franklin Park permanently.  This Imperial Gangster permanent settlement stemmed from early bravado against the Maywood Latin Kings.  Much of this settlement was made possible by the collapse of the Maywood area manufacturing district as a significant group of whites left Franklin Park suddenly once the factories closed.  This brought economic devastation especially to Maywood.  Now equity in housing had dropped in some of Franklin Park.

By the end of the 1970s, the village of Summit had suffered the negative effects of the loss of manufacturing.  This event triggered a white flight pattern as skilled worker middle-class white families now began to leave this community as early as 1978.  Middle-class Hispanic families from Logan Square and Little Village area moved to Summit in the late 70s replacing the white families that left.  Racial clashing soon began in the late 70s which drove Hispanic youths to form their own gangs.  The Orquestra Albany gang moved in from Logan Square and officially started a chapter in this suburb which became part of the earliest examples of Chicago gangs in the suburbs.  In 1979, the Latin Kings gang arrived and recruited all the other Hispanic gangs to fight against white groups or Orquestra Albanies.  Middle-class African American families moved into the village in the late 70s for the first time.  Lower income African American families would also move into the apartments around 61st to 63rd and Harlem Avenue as these buildings often honored section 8 vouchers.  Members of the Conservative Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples and Black Souls moved into these apartments and now claimed territory.  The Latin Kings also claimed the 63rd and Harlem area and sometimes clashes would happen between black and Hispanic gangs.

Although there would be racial clashing in Summit in the 1980s, most of the clash was a gang clash but the original gang formations fought along racial lines.  The original cause of this white flight pattern was a loss in an economic lifeline from manufacturing, but soon threats of a loss of home equity drove more white middle-classes out of the community.

The suburb of Evanston’s southwest side suffered heavy economic devastation in 1979.  This working class and lower income class part of the suburb depended heavily on the local manufacturing.  Many of these residents were unskilled workers that lived on a tight budget.  When these companies laid off these workers this part of Evanston became devastated with poverty.  This caused the collapse of a commercial strip in this south west area which caused further job loss.  Amid this poverty many of the African American and white middle-class moved out of this part of Evanston rapidly between 1979 and 1980.  Apartments in the southwest and west area of Evanston began to offer section 8 vouchers by 1979 which brought in more poverty-stricken new residents.  Among this deepening poverty black street gangs from Chicago emerged as early as 1980 when Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples arrived from the south side of Chicago.  More African American gangs would move in during the early 1980s and a gang war zone was soon forged on these streets.  This gang culture would become permanent in Evanston and was rooted from a loss of manufacturing.

Kane County

Kane County is the fifth most populous county in Illinois.  This was made possible by the desire of Chicagoans flocking to suburbs located fifty or more miles from city limits.  This was an escape into the cornfields for many former Chicagoans since the 19th century.  In the process of settling this baren county three larger suburbs sprouted in these rural lands, two of which became small cities that once flourished with manufacturing and railroad operations.  The Burlington Roundhouse supported the Aurora economy while scores of manufacturing plants supported Elgin and Carpentersville.

By the 1950s, Kane County suburbs became ideal to many Chicagoans looking for an escape from the crime and bustle of the city.  By the late 1950s impoverished residents now resided in East Aurora and crime soon followed sometimes becoming severe.  The crime began to devalue the east side which triggered some white flight patterns.  The east side had a Hispanic population since the first world war and now the Hispanic population would gradually grow on the east side during the 1960s.  Despite the crime issues most long-time white residents did not yet leave the east side especially since many of these residents were Burlington employees.  In 1974, Burlington Roundhouse closed which depleted the Aurora railroad economy.  This triggered a white flight pattern out of the east side as many residents left the county entirely seeking work.  These families had the savings to make this move and obtained employment easily in other parts of the Chicago metropolitan area.  The mostly Hispanic residents that replaced them would often not have the savings to leave and by the late 70s the loss of manufacturing in Aurora would devastate these families.  As the loss of manufacturing swept Aurora in the late 70s white flight intensified on the east side until most of the east side had a Hispanic identity by 1980.  The east side became impoverished by 1980 which often drove Aurora youths to attach to Chicago streets gangs as they awakened in the year 1980.

In the year 1966, Elgin National Watch closed their doors permanently putting many Elgin residents out of business and this began a nightmarish scenario for Elgin that would remain for decades into present years.  By the late 60s a flight pattern began as long-time residents left the older part of town where the watch factory once stood.  Housing values began to drop significantly in this area making this area more affordable to impoverished residents from the Kane County area or from Chicago.  Crime began to fester in this area in the late 60s.  Elgin and Aurora each had issues with higher crime and rough areas by the end of the 60s and this issue would worsen by the early 70s.

In the early 1970s drug traffickers found the Elgin and Aurora communities ideal.  The main drug trafficking ring was headed by a Cuban exile group, now heroin and cocaine were widely distributed on Aurora’s east side and Elgin’s central area.  The drug trafficking was near downtown areas as drug dealers made profits from Aurora and Elgin night life.

Beginning in the year 1970, Kane County became a hub for lower income housing mostly for African American and Hispanic residents.  Multiple projects were built in this community and when the 1974 section 8 program was created Aurora had become welcoming of these vouchers, mainly on the east side.  Section 8 vouchers were also welcome in Carpentersville in the Fox View apartments.  This made these Kane County suburbs well-known by Chicagoans and a Chicago to Kane County connection began.  In the mid-1970s the first signs of Chicago street gangs arrived in Aurora when higher ranking Insane Deuces and Latin Kings moved into the east side.  At this time Aurora had suburban made gangs which dominated the east side, but the Insane Deuces and Latin King gang members were only interested in the drug trade.

In the year 1977, Star Manufacturing closed their doors which laid off many Carpentersville residents especially in the Fox View apartments, Meadowdale subdivision and the Morningside Town homes.  This triggered a white flight pattern in the late 70s and early 80s.  Many Hispanic and African American middle classes from the northern part of Chicago moved into this community.  As property values declined in these parts of the village impoverished Hispanic and African American families now settled in apartments and rented town homes.  This triggered a racial conflict for a brief time which ushered in Chicago street gangs to assist Hispanic and black youths struggling with racial issues.  As white flight grew in intensity in the early 80s the Chicago gangs were now clashing with each other which replaced a racial conflict.

In the year 1980, Chicago gang activity completely hatched in Kane County.  Insane Deuces, Latin Kings, Maniac Latin Disciples, Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords and Imperial Insane Vice Lords now became active in Aurora. Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Kings, Conservative Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples also arrived in Elgin in 1980. Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Kings and Gangster Disciples also settled Carpentersville in 1980.  I am not positive if these suburbs were completely connected between the gangs, but it is likely they were all connected to the Kane County drug trafficking.  By the mid-1980s gang crime became severe as multiple gang related murders were reported in Kane County as a legendary Chicago gang installation was created. This was a result of neglect in certain areas of these three suburbs.  What started as deterioration and less police protection turned into a collapse of local economies. Once poverty set in so did higher crime.  These suburbs became more interested in enhancing their upper middle-class areas during this era instead of investing in repair of more impoverished areas.  The upper middle classes were commuters to the city or distant suburbs as the many railroad lines provided plentiful public transit to mostly office workers from the upper middle class.  Since these areas of Kane County were left to decline a permanent Chicago street gang presence has existed since 1980.

Du Page County

When Chicago gang activity was first reported in the newspapers of the early 1980s in Du Page County, residents would read about this in the comfort of their affluent homes while believing their communities were immune to Chicago gang activity.  The roughest areas of Du Page County were in Bensenville in the Hamilton town house area and in Woodridge in the Waterbury Apartments, Timber Creek Apartments and Emerald Courts Apartments.  In Bensenville petty criminal groups and suburban made gangs dwelled in the suburb since at the least the early 50s.  Woodridge did not have any gang or racial clashes until 1974 when the section 8 voucher program became instantly attached to the Timber Creek Apartments that were built near Route 53 in an area somewhat isolated from the rest of the village.  A mostly African American population of former Chicagoans now had made an escape from the harsh south side and west sides of Chicago and began new lives in this affluent suburb.  In 1977, the section 8 voucher program extended when the Waterbury Apartments and Emerald Courts Apartments were constructed.  These apartments were also strategically placed near the village’s edge near Route 53 close to the suburb of Bolingbrook instead of nearer to Darien.  This appears strategic to build near a suburb with lower income like Bolingbrook.

It was not until the year 1980 when Chicago street gangs would awaken in both suburbs.  The Bensenville gang activity was identified by police in 1983 while the Woodridge gang activity was identified in 1982.  Many Hispanic middle-classes and lower income classes moved into the Green Street and Hamilton Town homes area in the late 70s and early 80s that mainly came from the Logan Square and West Town areas.  Chicago street gang members from the Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Kings, Imperial Gangsters and Harrison Gents moved into this community and in the year 1980 they began recruiting mostly Hispanic youths struggling with racial issues with groups of white youths.  White youths sometimes ventured to Hamilton Townhomes and spray-painted swastikas.  This racial issue of the early 1980s was replaced by gang rivalry as the Latin Kings battled with all the other Chicago based gangs but the Latin Kings outnumbered each group alone.  A loss of manufacturing in the Du Page County area was what started white flight out of the Hamilton town house area and now much of the area was left impoverished by the early 80s.  Property values dropped in this part of the village and the village seemed to be left to decline.  This decline happened for thirty years until a decision was made in the 2000s decade to close every business and vacate all homes and townhomes in this section of Bensenville creating a ghost town for several years.  In 2008 this area was razed to make way for an O’Hare Airport expansion.  This is often a practice around Du Page County to outprice the working class and lower income classes then demolish their homes.  The entire gang population was eradicated from the village with this maneuver at the expense of many Hispanic families that were displaced.  This was an injustice as the village originally left this area to its fate in the 1970s then reacted when this brought gangs to the community.  After over two decades of gang activity the village’s solution was to make many families homeless.

When the apartments in Woodridge were first constructed the areas were left with less police patrols and suffered neglect as buildings were often less maintained.  Crime soon brewed in these complexes in the 1970s and even drug trafficking became present.  Racial conflicts with middle-class white youths often made it difficult for black youths and the issues would worsen by 1980.  In the year 1980, Chicago street gangs arrived to aid black youths but that focus became on each other in the early 80s.  The Gangster Disciples, Black P Stones and Conservative Vice Lords arrived in these apartments in 1980 which was part of a Bolingbrook connection.  The Bolingbrook and Woodridge gang Chicago gang element originally arrived to address racial issues but soon turned to drug trafficking and violence against each other.  Since this area of Woodridge was often neglected by the village gangs grew into significant power in these apartment buildings as membership swelled into the hundreds.  The rest of Woodridge became disconnected with the happenings of these apartments, and this is when issues in these buildings worsened to their peak in the 1990s.  A Hispanic population would arrive by the 1990s which brought in the Latin Kings and Satan Disciples gangs that added to the gang conflicts.  In recent decades these apartment complexes have become safer and renovated, but this would not arrive until the gang issues had manifested severely.

1988-1990 Mexican migration to the southwest side and the rise of an empire of popes, crowns, devils and dice.

During the late 1980s into the 1990s, Mexican migration to the United States grew.  This growth happened in the city of Chicago.   Mexican migration to Chicago from Mexico occurred in multiple waves in Chicago history since the first world war.  Since the first world war, Mexican people have raised generation after generation on these streets and many of these families have blended in with the middle-class.  Since the late 1950s Chicago born and raised Mexican people have migrated around the city many times to escape high crime and poverty.  Mostly Hispanic communities have suffered redlining and disinvestment which led to high crime.  This made these conditions undesirable to the Hispanic middle-class.  These families often moved about the city escaping these neighborhoods but often fell into the trap of being steered into more communities that were on the verge of redlining.  This was the plight of the African American and Hispanic middle-class that has often gone underreported and understudied.  Most of the focus has been centered around white flight but little attention has been paid to Hispanic and black flight, often because many writers have agendas to cause a stir about white racism.  It is important to understand Hispanic and African American flight to further understand the long-term damages of block busting and redlining.  It is also important to prove that Hispanic and African Americans are not as tolerant of crime and blight as common myths claim.  Much of this myth was much of the driving force behind white flight as labels have been attached to Hispanic and African Americans as tolerant of high crime and in support of criminal activity.  What I have learned is the African American and Hispanic middle-class are usually less vocal about their flight as opposed to much of the white middle-class that tends to publicly object to negative community change.  In our society we tend to turn away from the issues of impoverished, blighted and high crime areas as much of the African American and Hispanic middle-class still remaining in these communities and fights continuous battles against crime and blight just like the white middle-class.  The Hispanic and African American middle-class objections do not get as much public exposure.

As a Mexican migrant wave came to the southwest side of Chicago circa 1990 a Hispanic flight pattern was running concurrently as mostly Little Village families were exiting rapidly and seeking refuge in the Midway area.  Suburbanization had grown in popularity by the late 80s for middle-class and working-class white families who could now afford the privilege to make such an escape.  Because of this grand exit property values in their former neighborhoods naturally dropped allowing more lower income families to afford to rent and purchase property in these more affluent south side neighborhoods.  This would now be a time of rapid racial change in the southwest area of Chicago.  During this transition racial tensions developed as white gangs from the southwest side often targeted freshly arrived Hispanic youths.  In other incidents groups of Hispanic youths would target white youths as well.  This racial clash would bring in a demand for gangs from outside the neighborhood to move into these communities and recruit.

Beginning in the year 1988, older gang members from Little Village began moving to Gage Park alongside the first Hispanic migration wave to Gage Park.  Hispanic gangs now clashed with white gangs native to the area.  This racial clash was brief and soon Hispanic gangs were focused on fighting each other a year or less later.  Hispanic gangs from Pilsen and Little Village made Gage Park a permanent home.

Beginning in 1988, rapid white flight began in Marquette Park especially in the eastern part of the community closer to Western Avenue.  Western Avenue was the border between West Englewood and Marquette Park.  Since the 1960s that Western Avenue border meant black street gangs from West Englewood were not allowed to cross this border.  When white flight began west of Western Avenue mostly African American middle-classes and lower income classes began renting and purchasing property in east Marquette Park.  This is when Marquette Park became heavily disinvested especially in this area between Rockwell Street and Western Avenue.  This area became blighted, and crime became high as this part of Marquette Park fell into deterioration.  Black street gangs moved into this area of Marquette Park in 1988.  White flight would also sweep the western part of Marquette Park but migrating Hispanic gangs would not move into this area, instead youths would join Ambrose or two Six gangs that were already well-established in this community.

Beginning in 1989 and progressing in 1990, the Hispanic migration wave arrived in Ashburn, Canaryville, Clearing, West Lawn, West Elsdon and Garfield Ridge.  Most of these communities were thought to be unchangeable; however, the lure of suburban settlement began to outweigh a permanent city life on the south side.  Many of these Chicagoans became increasingly discouraged by the overall increase in crime in the city of Chicago by the late 80s.  The crack cocaine epidemic was much of the driving force behind higher crime and now a major flood of white flight would take these neighborhoods by storm seemingly overnight.

Canaryville had a long history of housing Chicago street gangs since the 19th century.  White gangs were always abundant in this community until the later 1970s.  When this first white flight pattern came to Canaryville in 1990 racial clashing was immediate and this brought mostly Hispanic gangs to Canaryville.  A racial conflict blended with a gang conflict brought gang related violence to this community once again but this time with more deadly results.  This gang settlement would become permanent.

Chicago’s Ashburn community would begin slow racial change in the 1980s as many white families became seduced by the lure of the suburbs.  Some of this decision was driven by spill over crime from the neighboring Auburn-Gresham community.  This is when white and Hispanic gangs from outside of the neighborhood began establishing their organizations on these streets dating back to 1983.  In 1990, Hispanic gangs from Pilsen and Little Village moved into this neighborhood and a major Hispanic gang clash happened on these streets which replaced the racial conflict.  Ashburn became the home to a large Hispanic and African American middle-class population of Chicago homeowners.  This has kept much pride in this community; however, gang presence has remained strong over time and has become permanent.

Beginning in the late 1940s, the Midway communities of West Elsdon and West Lawn had a reputation of being communities unwelcoming to racial minorities.  This was first prevailed when a racial protest/riot erupted in the late 40s about the mostly African American Midway public housing project in West Elsdon.  Eventually the projects were closed and the West Lawn and West Elsdon communities became all-white neighborhoods once again.  These neighborhoods were thought to be unchangeable but in 1990, the suburbs were calling to these residents and a white flight pattern began.  Little Village Hispanic middle-classes and Mexican migrants found this area ideal for renting and property purchase.  Racial clashing ensued as groups of whites often targeted Hispanic youths.  This is when Little Village gangs moved into these two communities and soon established a permanent presence on these streets.

The Garfield Ridge community was another white neighborhood thought to be unchangeable as residents maintained strong pride in their community.  Many of these resident’s pride became replaced by a lure to the suburbs in the 1989-1990 period.  Many residents of Sleepy Hollow area began departure and Little Village area Hispanic families moved into this area and around the community.  Many Mexican migrant workers moved into this area as well.  Racial clashing would ensue in the beginning which brought in the need for Hispanic street gangs to offer protection for Hispanic youths, but these groups would soon battle one another instead.

Chicago’s Clearing community was another all-white community thought to be unchangeable.  This was the home to many Chicago police officers making it one of the safer neighborhoods in the city.  Residents lived a suburban type of lifestyle in a neighborhood that bordered Chicago’s south suburbs.  Even though this south side neighborhood offered a suburban feel many long-time residents wanted the full suburban experience by 1990 and they would heed the call to the suburbs creating a white flight pattern.  This community was now no longer attractive to migrating white groups but became ideal for middle-class former Little Village families and for Mexican migrants.  Hispanic people began quick settlement of Clearing and this brought a racial clash.  This racial conflict brought in Chicago gangs from Little Village, Cicero and from the Midway area.  This would evolve into an intense gang conflict.  Hispanic gangs would become a permanent part of Clearing.

Popes

Midway is the home of the south side Insane Popes organization since 1973.  The Popes began in the Archer Heights/Garfield Ridge area in July of 1973 and became a staple in the Midway area.  The mostly white Popes patrolled these streets day and night and swelled into the hundreds in membership for three decades.  In the year 1983 the Popes began an expansion campaign as they settled in racially changing south side communities like Brighton Park, Gage Park, Ashburn and McKinley Park helping mostly white youths take on some of the toughest mostly Hispanic gangs on the south side.  This brought the Popes incredible rivalry with the Satan Disciples and Two Six street gangs beginning in the late 70s.

In the year 1990 the power of the Insane Popes became exponential as the gang began reaching its peak of strength in the earlier half of the 1990s.  White youths in Clearing and Canaryville began to encounter hostile groups of Hispanic youths sometimes attached to Hispanic gangs.  The Insane Popes offered protection from this perceived threat even if no violence had previously occurred.  The Popes moved into the 63rd Street area and established a legendary section in Clearing.  The Canaryville area Popes would not be as strong of a group and would disband by the 2000s decade, but the Clearing area Popes would be dominant in the 1990s and 2000s.  After white flight ran its course by the beginning of the 2010s decade the Popes had left the 63rd Street area.  It became clear that the southwest Hispanic migration wave triggered the rise of the Insane Popes but then would bring an end to this reign after white flight became too heavy by the beginning of the 2010s.  The Popes still remain in their original Archer Heights/Garfield Ridge area but are not as powerful as they once were during their battles against the migrating Two Six and Satan Disciples forces in the southwest.

Crowns

Alongside Hispanic middle-class migration came older members of the Latin Kings also looking to begin a new life in a new community.  In the year 1988, Latin King members moved to the Gage Park community at the beginning of racial change in Gage Park as white families were rapidly moving out and many Hispanic families from Pilsen and Little Village moved in.  Gage Park had been ruled by white gangs like the South Side Heads and the Insane Popes for several years.  These groups represented the conservative aspect of the community which was to maintain the community culture that had been in in Gage Park for decades which happened to be a mostly white community.  The Two Six gang and the Ambrose gang began migrating from 63rd Street in Marquette Park to 59th Street in Gage Park.  Both gangs were advancing as far north as 55th Street in 1988 and this angered the Insane Popes and the Heads.  A racial and gang motivated clash happened in Gage Park in 1988 which took this neighborhood into a new level of violence.  Two Six and Ambrose were also at war with each other on these streets.  When the Latin Kings arrived that same year, the Kings bonded with many Hispanic and white youths and were not there to participate in any racially motivated disputes.  Latin Kings bonded with the South Side Heads and Popes.  The bond with the Popes was deeper as both gangs were allies under the People alliance.  Latin Kings earned lots of respect from Gage Park youths to the point where Popes and Heads began to flip to Latin Kings, with that, the racial war diminished.  Latin Kings alienated the Two Six and Ambrose gangs for five years and built themselves a large fighting force that became legendary on the Gage Park streets.  Latin Kings often became father figures and protectors of many Gage Park youths which further swelled their numbers by the beginning of the 1990s.  The Latin Kings would establish a permanent chapter in Gage Park which they nicknamed “Crown Town.”  The Crown Town Latin Kings would become one of the most legendary Latin King sections in the city.  This chapter was also known to be one of the more violent sections.

In the year 1990, white flight began out of the Garfield Ridge community as many middle-class Hispanic families moved in from the Little Village and Pilsen areas.  This was one of the main neighborhoods of the Insane Popes and when a group of Satan Disciples formed in the Sleepy Hallow area in the 1970s a gang war erupted.  When the Hispanic population grew in Garfield Ridge in the year 1990, the Latin Kings were welcomed by the Insane Popes.  The Latin Kings of Garfield Ridge would become the wave of the future in the 1990s becoming the notorious “Midway Latin Kings.” Insane Pope numbers would begin to decline by the later 1990s but the Latin Kings would only grow and even flip many former Popes.  The Midway Latin Kings would become a permanent chapter on these streets.  Latin Kings also battled back against racial issues the newly arriving Hispanic community faced in the early 90s during racial change but also bonded with white youths.  Latin Kings mostly offered peace with many groups of whites which pushed out many racial issues.  Latin Kings were allied with the Popes which also stopped racial clashing and now the clash would be Latin Kings against Satan Disciples.

The West Elsdon and West Lawn communities were once very tight communities, and many would think they were one in the same community.  When white flight began in 1990 in both communities a Hispanic migration wave would reach these communities.  This became the case with street gangs as gangs in one of these communities’ effected gangs in the other.  West Lawn and West Elsdon had been notoriously known for emphatically demanding their communities remain majority white.  A lure to the suburbs quashed much of this racial pride as mostly Hispanic middle-classes took over.  Racial conflict of the late 80s into 1990 brought in the need for Little Village and Pilsen street gangs to address this issue and often protection for Hispanic youths.  In 1990, the Two Sixs and Satan Disciples arrived in West Lawn while the Latin Kings took over West Elsdon.  The Latin Kings would comfortably take over these streets in 1990.  Two Six and Satan Disciples would have difficulty crossing east of Pulaski Road as Latin Kings were a force to be reckoned with.  The Latin Kings were strong protectors of the Hispanic youths but also heavily recruited white youths on these streets from Pulaski to Central Park Ave and from 55th to 59th.  The Latin Kings would make this a permanent chapter.

Devils

The Satan Disciples first touched the southwest streets in the later 1970s when they arrived in the Sleepy Hollow area of the Garfield Ridge community.  This group would battle the Insane Popes for over a decade with unfair odds as the Insane Popes were a much larger gang that even recruited Hispanic youths.  This left a small pool for the Satan Disciples to recruit from.  This created one of the toughest Satan Disciple groups in the city as this group would remain in Garfield Ridge permanently.

When Hispanic migrants and Hispanic middle-classes arrived in the Clearing community around 63rd Street there was a racial clash, and this was a gateway for a new group of Satan Disciples to form on the southwest side near Minuteman Park.  Satan Disciple gang members had been living in this community at least since the late 1980s.  Once racial clashing intensified, and Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players arrived as the Satan Disciples would hatch in Clearing.  These Disciples were a tough breed and made these streets their permanent home while most of their enemies would not last on these streets.

When Hispanic settlement began in the West Lawn and West Elsdon area in 1990, the Satan Disciples would boldly take the west side of Pulaski Road just one block from the West Elsdon Latin Kings.  59th and Pulaski became a war zone between Disciples, Two Six and Kings as all three gangs would prevail into permanence after historic bravado was shown by all three mobs.  Satan Disciples would keep gunning at their enemies for decades to come and would live these streets into present day.

When Hispanic migration first arrived in the Canaryville community in 1990, racial conflict quickly escalated mainly at the youth level.  Groups of white Canaryville toughs were difficult to overcome for many Hispanic youths but once the Satan Disciples arrived and taught these youths how to fight back, the popularity of the Satan Disciples swelled.  The Satan Disciples would only need to compete with the Insane Deuces on these streets. Insane Popes and Latin Kings would vanish from this area by the 2000s decade much accredited to the work of the Satan Disciples.  The Satan Disciples of Canaryville remain permanent into present years.

Dice

During the first expansion period of the Two Six legacy in the year 1977, Marquette Park was one of the first further south side settlements.  Within no time Two Six had a hardened section along 63rd Street as they boldly clashed with white gangs and Ambrose.  After over a decade of success Two Six opened territory along 59th Street in the Gage Park community once again boldly challenging white gangs and Ambrose during this 1988 settlement.  Two Six settled among the first Hispanic middle-class into Gage Park and became a successful section spreading up to 55th Street.  These Two Sixs were one tough group but made the decision to voluntarily withdraw from the community in 1993 as many members became Hispanic members of the Gangster Disciples.  These Two Sixs simply lost interest in the Gage Park area but were not run out of the area by rivals.  I do not know why they made this decision, but it would end this chapter forever but was not forgotten.

During the earliest years of Hispanic migration to the West Lawn community, the Two Sixs would arrive in those earliest years.  Two Sixs were original protectors of the Hispanic community in the early 90s but would end up in deep wars with Satan Disciples and Latin Kings.  59th and Pulaski would have legendary gang wars as all three of these gang’s territories met.  Two Six of West Lawn became a hardened section with many dedicated members.  This section would remain permanently on these streets.

When Hispanic migration came to the Clearing community on the southwest side there was much resistance to this change and soon mostly white youths began seeking the assistance of the Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players.  Both gangs were enemies the Two Sixs were familiar with and knew how to battle.  This is why the Two Sixs were summoned to guide mostly Hispanic youths into battle against Popes and Players.  Two Six had no allies on these streets and instead battled with fellow Folks the Satan Disciples.  These Two Sixs would outlast all but the Satan Disciples and would retain these streets permanently.

On the streets of the Ashburn community on the southwest side, a racial conflict had been brewing among the youth since the mid-1980s.  Insane Popes, La Raza and the Black P Stones arrived to represent each race in the community.  White youths boned with the Insane Popes, La Raza bonded with Hispanic youths and Black P Stones bonded with black youths.  The black and Hispanic population was small in the 1980s which allowed the Insane Popes to dominate the gang scene in this community.  In the year 1990, white flight went into overdrive as black and Hispanic Chicagoans quickly filled this void.  When this newest wave of Hispanic migration came to Ashburn in 1990 the Two Sixs would migrate alongside this wave and settled around 79th and Pulaski that was the home of La Raza.  A clash began between both gangs that would last over a decade long until La Raza left the area.  Two Six became the main representative for Hispanic youths in Ashburn and became the most powerful Hispanic gang as they battled La Raza, Ambrose and the Krazy Get down Boys in the 1990s and 2000s.  Two Six would prevail and maintain a strong section here despite no allies into present day.

The Damage of systematic racism and racism for profit.

Ever since the year 1916, direct and indirect systematic racism has been legal and practiced in the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago.  Before this period the population of racial minorities in the city of Chicago was too low for the general populace to be concerned about large groups of racial minorities concentrated in certain areas.  The restrictive covenants that were deemed enforceable in the eyes of the law as of 1916 may have only lasted until 1948 but the damages have had severe long-term effects. These laws opened a gateway to legally allowing further discriminatory practices that not only damaged minority groups but have also caused extensive damages to the overall middle-class of Chicago of all races of people.  This eventually led to the creation of street gangs, most prominently super gangs.  In our society we tend to blame gang founders and original members for the creation of an empire of drugs, murder, extortion and all out-neighborhood terrorism.  This blame has led to several false imprisonments and damaged reputations.  This has also led to the loss of gang leadership which has created disorganized and dangerous gang factions that have become uncontrollably violent.  This is damaging because it brings misguided suppression efforts at dealing with the true issues that cause the formation and growth of gangs.  In society, we tend to ignore the cause of gang creation, or we are misinformed, and this causes these violent factions to continue to exist and kill maliciously because we are not fixing the neighborhood problems where these gangs come from.  We are often subject to listen only to liberal and left-wing views or conservative, right-wing views of the issue which has further taken us away from a true resolve and understanding of gangs.  This most certainly steers us away from understanding the true culprits behind these neighborhoods that were designed to become ghettos.

One of my missions here is to show you as the reader another side to the gang life and the causes of gangs that news outlets and professional journals will not touch.  I am also here to marriage studies on systematic discrimination with the causes of gang creation.  I am here to show a direct causation between systematic racism and gangs.  I am not here to take sides; I am here as a neutral party.  I do not follow left wing or right-wing agendas because if I backed either of those sides, I would become biased.  These discriminatory practices not only created African American and Hispanic gangs they also caused the creation of white gangs.  These practices did not only damage the black and Hispanic communities; these practices also damaged the white community and ruined the lives of Chicagoans of all races.  I am not here to discount the plight of African American and Hispanic Chicagoans by being inclusive of the white community because it is common knowledge that African American and Hispanic oppression has been especially destructive for black and brown people.  My purpose of including the damages to the white community is to show that preconceived notions that a group of people (white people) are to blame for this damage is inaccurate, instead we need to look at this on a larger scale and see as systematic damage from those that benefit from the financial devastation of entire communities.  There is a larger picture in all this, and it is beyond everyday hard-working people.

If one is to browse social media, listen in on discussions of friends, family or acquaintances, the issue of racially changing communities will come up at times.  There are even published works that attempt to explain racially changing neighborhoods including books and speeches made by our former first lady Michelle Obama.  Some will claim white former residents are to blame for this change while others blame the migrating African American and Hispanic families for the decline of communities. Both sides of the argument are in large numbers, and this even divides researchers and authors about which side is correct.  This has always led me to believe there is truth between what both sides claim; therefore, I cannot side with either side of the argument as I believe each side is both right and wrong.

The first racially changed neighborhoods like Grand Boulevard, Douglas and Washington Park in the early part of the 20th century became the models of the effects of Chicago neighborhoods that change from majority white to majority black.  Grand Boulevard and Douglas established a prominent African American upper income class and middle-class that economically sustained these communities until the 1950s.  This was the result of early African American settlement in the late 1860s and early 1870s that allowed the black community rights to those lands and made these communities less vulnerable to redlining.  Washington Park was different because it was an established white community in the 19th century and when racial change happened there was not only objection to this migration, the economic lifeline was removed from this community causing deep poverty and blight.  This was the first racially changed neighborhood in Chicago history and when the results were seen by the public, Washington Park became a model of what happens when white neighborhoods change to black.

Once the Great Depression era passed and the second world war ended our great nation became an economic powerhouse as jobs went from scarce to plentiful.  This brought a major wave of African American migration to Chicago from the southern states in the later 40s and earlier 50s.  A portion of the older generation of black migrating families had achieved upward mobility by the end of the 40s and could afford to move out of the blighted impoverished areas of Bronzeville and the Near West Side.  This left more affordable housing for newly migrated southern black families in need of the cheapest possible housing in tenement apartments.  This was sustainable throughout most of the 1950s, but as African American migration increased through the decade the demand for affordable housing exceeded availability. The Chicago Housing Authority ramped up the construction of new public housing developments, but these efforts often could not sustain the high demand.  There was already a growing housing crisis by the late 50s and when the construction of the Dan Ryan Expressway removed several affordable housing buildings, this further worsened the housing crisis. This brought the initial demand for housing to be provided outside of the black community. This was not only the plight of impoverished African Americans but also the plight of African American middle-classes.  The African American Impoverished income class was just seeking any kind of housing they could afford while the African American middle-class was seeking new opportunities in economically stable communities.  The impoverished southern black migrants were basically homeless upon arrival in Chicago while the middle-class was residing in substandard living conditions and could now afford to live in more affluent communities.  When African American middle-classes departed the Bronzeville and Near West Side areas, their former dwellings were offered to lower income southern black migrants; however, the southern migration still exceeded the new vacancies.

In the year 1958, the largest block busting and redlining drive launched in Chicago took advantage of a desperate housing crisis and the end results created some of the most violent ghettos in the United States and led to the creation of Chicago’s largest and most dangerous gangs.  What I have learned in all my research is the original gang populace of any gang is a byproduct of the communities they formed in.  Contrary to popular belief, these gangs were not assembled by professional criminals or juvenile delinquents.  These gangs were formed by honorable youths that possessed the charisma to fill a societal void in changing communities or in devastated communities.  This is why I remain a strong advocate of a direct causation between sharp socioeconomic and racial changes and the formation of gangs, especially super gangs.

One of the best resolutions for prevention of impoverished neighborhoods is to allow the impoverished to spread out around the city and have more mobility to choose the communities they live in.  These families can then have better access to neighborhood amenities like good schools, safe streets, more access to higher education and better paying jobs.  If this was to happen, most of the communities they move into will continue to sustain due to sufficient tax dollars paid by the abundant higher income classes.  When communities experience a large rate of poverty, less taxes are paid by its citizens which depletes neighborhood amenities.  This includes more effective police patrols.  Under patrolled areas tended to have a brutal or corrupt police presence as corrupt police could find these communities easier to take advantage of.  If any communities in and around Chicago experience high rates of poverty, tax dollars paid by other communities would have to be allocated to impoverished areas which would almost never be permitted especially after amenities may decrease in higher tax paying communities which would cause incredible outrage from the more affluent communities tasked to pay taxes to another community.  This means the only solution to preventing impoverished communities is to maintain the correct level of income diversity by spreading the impoverished out around the metropolitan area.

When block busting real estate agencies began to target certain Chicago communities, it created a rapid tax drain for these communities as the delicate income diversities were shattered.  Many of these communities were simple west side and south side middle-class communities that required a certain income diversity to afford the amenities needed for the communities’ desired living.  When block busting agents quietly changed these communities, it took as little as a year for entire communities to change from functioning middle-class communities to dysfunctional ghettos.  Such practices should have been prevented before they started as block busting had been a practice since at least the 1930s but would not impact communities as heavily as they did in the late 1950s and 1960s.  This practice was legal and overlooked as it ran rampantly for over a decade changing to identity of a large portion of the west side and south side.  These practices brought crime and poverty to north side neighborhoods in the 1960s that had never been experienced in that entire region of the city prior to the early to mid-60s.

Banks began redlining practices in the wake of block busting events simply by denying lending opportunities to now racially changed neighborhoods.  This was a profitable practice for banks as they would steer away government extensions of credit to from communities of color.  Banks could then steer more focus for the determined government funding to more affluent communities which further enhanced the banks’ own wealth focusing exclusive efforts in higher income mostly white communities.  These extensions of credit would also be steered from struggling communities into the pockets of large businesses.  These extensions of credit through government funding to banks was a predetermined amount that would be decided for allocation based on the bank’s choice of a lending path.  This is how redlining bankrupted racially changed communities shortly after racial change had run its final course.  The banks could then justify asking for larger budgets to support larger businesses which earned them more profits from interest collected.  These communities became isolated not only from banks but from government assistance as well.  These communities housed thousands of unemployed or underemployed citizens that were all in a lower tax paying bracket causing Chicago and Cook County taxes to have less distribution to these communities which cut education, police presence, urban renewal and repair, and recreation.  These practices created the most impoverished and dangerous communities in Chicago.  The next time you find lists on the internet or in magazines of the top 10 most dangerous Chicago communities you can thank block busting and redlining practices for the dangerous conditions of those communities.  Neighborhoods listed like Englewood, West Englewood, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, South Shore, Woodlawn and others were once middle-class neighborhoods that were flipped into urban ghettos by block busters and have been mostly cut off from rehabilitation efforts into present years.

During these racially transitioning years several community groups came together in efforts to stop block busting efforts and redlining.  These groups had clear successes; however, they needed further financial and legal support from private and public groups, but their cause was not deemed worthy of support. These groups’ efforts became increasingly expensive to maintain and these groups dissolved as block busting and redlining was stronger opponents.  During these rapid racial changes racial clashes caused the formation of gangs of whites, blacks and Hispanics defending themselves in changing neighborhoods, fighting against hostile forces that threatened their way of life.  All three races battled in the 1950s into the 1990s combating further change.

Your opinion matters and it doesn’t matter.

One of the biggest issues with racially changing neighborhoods and the bankrupting of Chicago area communities is public opinion about the cause of the change.  Public opinion sways voting, focuses attention on issues, prioritizes issues and can generate prejudicial beliefs.  Afterall, public opinion was often the backbone of white flight and panic peddling.  The common blame game is often presented as one common opinion states a bigoted, narrow-minded mostly white middle-class was the deciding factor that put mostly African American or Hispanic citizens in a state of poverty.  Another opinion is exclusionary that blames racial minorities for displaying dysfunctional living and causing or allowing scores of criminal activities and should remain isolated from the rest of society.  Both opinions are vast and there is some truth in what each group states, but these two opinions are also horribly flawed and shift the focus away from the true cause.  This causes less focus on the continued need to repair this damage up to present day.  The best outcome these impoverished communities can obtain is complete gentrification that only causes homelessness for the impoverished.

The blame coming from the mostly conservative and often mostly white circles proclaims that when African American and Hispanic families arrived in these changed communities, they became criminals and lived in filthy and unkept conditions.  Claims of mischievous and menacing behavior often are shared by conservative groups.  These claims will go as far as claiming the arriving minority groups prefer to live in higher crime and urban blight prompting them to mold these once flourishing communities into a perceived ghetto paradise.  These accusations claim African American and Hispanic communities also prefer less police protection and that citizens use large amounts of illicit drugs and engage in or allow prostitution.  I have usually heard such beliefs from younger generations that did not actually reside in these parts of the city and instead their judgement is based upon the more current state of these neighborhoods.  These mostly bigoted beliefs often stem from older generations that once did reside in these communities and practiced white flight.  This information usually originates from the angriest and most resentful white flighters that were often some of the first families to engage in white flight in given neighborhoods.  Their concepts of what creates a mostly minority group ghetto is passed down to younger generations and are even shared with co-workers, friends and neighbors. These individuals are often law abiding and hard-working individuals that are known by those around them as trustworthy citizens; therefore, their bigoted concepts are honored by those around them, and their stories end up holding credibility.  This phenomenon is what causes misperception of the root cause of these neighborhood changes which can be a driving force behind voting against urban renewal and scholarship programs in disadvantaged areas of the city.  This perception alone can steer focus away from the plight of urban ghettos and ease pressure on government to act on allocating tax funding to provide repair to these struggling communities.  Those that share these beliefs use these stories as a justification to further isolate impoverished black and Hispanic communities further supporting redlining.

The other side of the argument about white flight is usually held by liberal/Democratic minded citizens that often take an accusatory stance against white flighters blaming them for the depletion of resources in changed communities. Their accusatory stances will go as far as claiming the white community came together in these changing neighborhoods and devised a perceived malicious plan to bankrupt these changing communities as they packed their bags and left.  Accusations of fear of African American and Hispanic individuals are often preached about along with claims of zero tolerance from white flighters for living among any population of any size of Hispanic and African American families.  This belief system places the responsibility on the former citizens of these communities that often leads to arguments in favor of a reparation to be paid by white flighters.  This belief system is not only rejected by the conservative and mostly white community, it becomes a reason for mostly white and mostly conservative voters to avoid the support of urban renewal programs because of these accusatory beliefs.  For me, growing up in a mostly white, blue-collar community I can personally attest that these rejected beliefs caused fury among mostly white conservative groups causing these beliefs to become counterproductive to a resolution.  I have also witnessed such angry reactions from these conservative groups to the point that they withdraw any understanding, empathy or support for the black community.

Both sides of the argument have truth while both sides are severely flawed in their beliefs which is driven by a severe lack of facts and understanding.  Both sides of the argument are too extreme and demand unreasonable solutions to racial relations and community reform.  The truth behind the cause of these changes lies in the middle of both sides of the argument and it is detrimental that both sides receive an educated stance on what the true cause is, and this will alleviate the burden held by both groups and can sway voting for the funding of favorable programs to assist these communities.  This is not an argument to vote Democrat and not an argument to support the Republican party either.  This is simply a call to sway public interest in neighborhood renewal in mostly African American and Hispanic communities that will cause both Democratic and Republican entities to add these programs to their list of accomplishments and whoever has the more favorable programs could perhaps receive more votes.  This does not need to be a red or blue issue it should be a human issue and should be honored by all political identities, but this would require public support. To move public support for urban renewal into the majority, accusatory beliefs must be lessoned from both sides of the argument to prevent bitter conflict between each group that will cause one group to rebel against the other.

To absolve much of these conflicting beliefs it is important to dissect the myths and honor facts.  Both sides of the argument need to be honored for the validity aspect of their beliefs while also criticized and/or corrected for the false and biased aspects of their beliefs.  We can explore the common beliefs of neighborhood racial change and debunk myth and honor fact.

Myth: African Americans and Hispanics are comfortable with high crime and less police presence.

Truth: The only truth in this statement is that high crime and police presence coincides with racial change in many mostly minority communities; however, the falsehood is when the blame is placed on the migrating African American and Hispanic people in the community.  The truth is these migrating families not only prefer a law-abiding existence they expect this treatment. When African Americans and Hispanics were first conned by block busting agencies, they were promised an existence in a lower crime and patrolled community.  When they arrived, they became inadvertently part of a tax drain to the community as block busting agencies molded these communities into lower tax paying communities that were now lacking a middle-class higher tax payor base.  This effectively defunds police presence that often only offers bitter police presence under high pressure to patrol these communities vigorously which is exhausting for individual police officers assigned to more territory.  This creates resentment by law enforcement and causes police patrol patterns to honor a “do as you can” mentality which causes these police departments to not make up for the lack of patrol zones.  African American and Hispanic families almost never complain about too much police presence, many grassroots groups from these communities have combatted against city hall for generations with heated complaints about less police presence.  The only opposition the black and Hispanic community makes for law enforcement is complaints against bitter, brutal police presence that often targets the law abiding or minor offending community.  Small crimes committed become paramount by crooked police presence while the same police presence may honor more severe crime groups by taking bribes.  The argument made by the impoverished community is in favor of more police presence and a cleaner police presence that will not act in a predatory manner against law abiding citizens and the youth.

Myth: African Americans and Hispanics prefer blighted conditions and dysfunction.

Truth: For generations, African American and Hispanic grass roots groups have battled against city hall and crooked landlords, fighting battles against urban blight while petitioning continuously for the buildup of commercial businesses in vacant lots or in abandon buildings.  Landlords that ran slum buildings were criticized by struggling community members to end greedy practices that allowed tenants to live in unkept properties.  These slumlords made hefty profits while charging rock bottom rent amounts.  Although the rent was some of the cheapest in the city the amount paid was still extremely high for the conditions these families lived in.  For example, if a slumlord makes no repairs and restoration on a property to the point where the rent is worth one hundred dollar a month or less, they are then ripping off their tenants by charging five hundred dollars a month in rent.   Even if the five hundred a month is the lowest rent to pay in Chicago it becomes a rip off due to lack of repairs and renovation.  To play fair, the landlord should be required to make enough repairs to make the rented property worth five hundred dollars a month.  There are laws against slumlords; however, without tax support and public support these laws become unenforced and not enough funding goes into enforcement.  These blighted areas are the fault of landlords not the fault of the renting citizens.  One can make the argument that even African American and Hispanic middle-class homeowners allow their properties to fall into blight in these same neighborhoods, but the causation is once again missed as these homes are blighted due to a lack of banks advancing needed credit to these families that will allow them to fund the renovations needed.  Once again, this is not a lifestyle choice but a forced way of living in redlined areas where banks have suffocated the advancement of credit.

Myth: All white flighters are racist and hateful people.

Truth: Although this statement has some truth because there was a population of white flighters that left out of spite, the majority were not actually bigoted and moved only because they were escaping crime and devaluation of their properties.  You as the reader need to place yourself in the shoes of these families no matter what your personal background is.  Would you want to remain in a community after you were informed by your realtor and your bank that your house had just lost value and was going to lose further value the longer you remained?  Would you like to stay in a community that now had high crime and had become unsafe for your children? If you are reading this and still say in your head that you stay just for social justice, I would have to doubt what you say because most everyone, white, black or brown wants what is best for their children.  Shop keepers closed their doors in these communities after experiencing robbery after robbery.  Elderly citizens left after being confronted with home invasions, purse snatching and strong-armed robbery.  These were crimes these citizens were not used to and were perpetrated by strangers that did not reside in these communities.  During the racial change tax drains and redlining took effect immediately and immediately reduced police presence which allowed these outside crime waves to invade these communities.  This is not the fault of the white flighters nor is the fault of migrating groups, this was a financial war launched on the poor under the guise of a racial war. This was one of the biggest tricks in history.

Myth: White flighters were terrified of people of color.

Truth: Although there is some truth in this statement because for generations white Chicagoans were taught that when a neighborhood changes racially it spells doom on the horizon.  This leads to a fear factor that was often a driving force behind white flight.  The flaw in this statement is accusing the entire population of white flighters of fearing people of color.  If one was to interview our senior citizen populace that were former white flighters you will often hear only stories of positive times in their former communities and many will claim they had black and Hispanic friends in their neighborhood. When asked why these white flighters left, they will often cite crime and deterioration as the cause and they never mention people of color.  What I had discovered from talking with these elders is they often told stories of making new friends with their new Hispanic and African American neighbors during the racial transition years and were saddened to move away from them, but they could no longer absorb the consequences of disinvestment and high crime and made the difficult decision to move away.  It is a fact that white, African American and Hispanic residents often came together during these racially changing years and complained together against poverty, crime and crooked landlords.  Most white flighters fought a battle alongside their neighbors to stop the negative change and stop crooked banks from redlining but when efforts were exhausted the higher income white families made the difficult decision to move away because they had the means to leave.  Making the accusation that all white flighters left without trying to help improve their changed communities is unfounded and a great falsehood because a large populace, if not most of the former white community had great pride and love for their communities and had hopes of fixing their surroundings alongside their new and old neighbors.  These former Chicagoans did anything they could to fix their area and gladly joined forces alongside impoverished and middle-class African Americans and Hispanics, this is a pride long forgotten and dismissed in arguments made by those in favor of holding white flighters accountable.

Myth: The minority groups moving into these communities are lazy and don’t want to work.

Truth: The truth aspect to this statement is very minimal as there was indeed citizens from impoverished areas that lacked motivation and training to carry out jobs.  This is the concept of burnt generations of families that lacked training and knowledge on how to obtain and maintain jobs.  Many impoverished residents often found it easier to live off government checks because those were stable, and jobs were not.  Especially in racially changing communities, jobs were rapidly disappearing as white flight took many businesses with them and an employment desert was created.  This led to protest from the black and Hispanic community that they were promised employment opportunities when they were steered into these communities and did not expect redlining to settle in.  Store owners left these neighborhoods not only because of crime but because of redlining and they would also be denied credit from the banks to maintain their store fronts which is unfavorable for any business owner.  The truth is the majority of the migrating black and Hispanic community chose to move to these neighborhoods often to seek employment and expected employment, this immediately defeats the myth that these migrating groups of Hispanic and African American people are lazy and not interested in employment.

Myth: White business owners devised a plot to financially bankrupt these communities by closing their businesses and leaving the area.

Truth: There is not any evidence or logic to such a plan for average citizens to come together and purposefully vacate a community just to hurt another racial group.  If one was to interview former business owners or the kin of former business owners from these communities, the largest reason cited for closing the business was crime.  As was stated earlier, a tax drain depletes police patrols which allows higher crime.  Redlining practices also effected businesses as these businesses, no matter, if they were minority owned or white owned, became a target of redlining.  This would cause businesses to deteriorate without access to a credit line needed for upkeep.  Although it would be socially honorable for a business to remain open in the face of high crime and redlining, it would not make economic sense for a business owner to continue to operate under these conditions.  To expect someone to uphold social contracts while enduring criminal attacks and deterioration is absurd and foolish.

Not a people problem, a systematic problem.

For decades, the issues surrounding white flight revolve around a debate that blames former and current citizens in these racially changed communities for the current state of these communities.  Rarely does the common citizen blame institutions and/or greed for such a collapse.  The job of pointing out that redlining and block busting drove these negative changes is usually only held by scholarly researchers.  Although their published pieces are read by the public many have issue interpreting these studies or there is a general lack of disinterest in the topic.  It becomes easier for average citizens to debate on which group of people is accountable for the destruction of neighborhoods like Englewood, West Englewood, Humboldt Park, Austin and several others.  These preconceived notions are not only harmful they are counterproductive to improving the lives of all Chicagoans and a prevention for stopping income inequality in communities.

One of the worst forms of this blaming is when public figures or published authors take one stance or another showing bias in favor of one of the arguments or another.  Most of these arguments usually come from the democratic side of the argument that accuses white flighters of the damage.  One of the more disturbing public arguments was held by our own former first lady Michelle Obama.  During the time when Michelle Obama was publishing her biographical works, she held interviews with media outlets expressing the plight she faced as a child growing up in Chicago’s South Shore community.  Michelle Obama was born and raised in South Shore since her birth in 1964.  Michelle Obama had personal accounts of witnessing South Shore racially change from a mostly white community to a mostly black community. Michelle Obama had shared how she noticed the change in the community when she delivered her personal account of changes in the second grade between the years 1971 and 1972.  “I wrote in my book how I skipped second grade.  We went into the second grade seeing the neighborhood start to decline and white people start to move out, which means resources were pulled from the school, meaning things changed in the way classrooms were run.  All of a sudden, it went from normal and structured to chaotic.”  “Even at my young age I knew something was wrong here, we’re not learning anymore.  This teacher in this classroom feels differently about us and it doesn’t feel good.”  This is valuable information as her testimony shows us not only how the change happened but also when it exactly happened.  The flaw to her statement was accusing her former teacher of no longer caring but she doesn’t have facts to back up that this teacher lost interest solely based on the neighborhood changes.  The change in the teacher’s attitude could have easily been a byproduct of a loss of income and a loss of the tools she needed to complete her job once the budgets were slashed during redlining.  Her statement is accusatory of an individual person allowing quality of education to slip which discounts the systematic issue behind the change in this teacher’s care.

Without full intention of picking on Michelle Obama, I chose to use her statements to point out an example of biasness and small thinking that takes a side of an argument without calling out institutional racism. These beliefs are not only harmful but also counterproductive for change.  I chose here statements because at one time her and her husband ran this country in the white house and taking a racial stance I do not see as professional.  Michelle Obama had stated to the Chicago Sun Times “There was no gang fights, there were no territorial battles.  Yet one by one, they packed their bags and they ran from us.  And they left communities in shambles.”  In this statement she is dismissive of gangs in South Shore and seems to state that white flight happened anyway when there was no gang problem.  William Voegeli from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research presented opposing beliefs in “The Truth About White Flight” while sharing the work of Carlo Rotella who also grew up in South Shore at the same time Michelle Obama did.  He grew up five blocks away from Michelle Obama.  He continued to live in South Shore until the early 1980s and recalled a different recollection of that area of South Shore as crime ridden by the early 70s.  This was also the point in time when Black P Stones Black Gangster Disciples (Gangster Disciples) and Cobrastones (Mickey Cobras) migrated south of 71st Street.   Devil’s Disciples leader David Barksdale even passed out wads of dollar bills at Bryn Mawr elementary school at 74th and Chappel in the early 70s.  The gangs were in this area and white gangs had left the community by the early 70s; therefore, Michelle Obama’s claims are not very accurate.  It is a fact that this part of South Shore was becoming a very heavily gang settled area which has built permanent factions of Black P Stones, Black Disciples, Gangster Disciples and Mickey Cobras.  All these groups arrived in the early 70s south of 71st Street and made this area their home.  It could be possible Michelle Obama was not yet accustomed to the neighborhood gangs because they were relatively new to the southern portion of South Shore; therefore, I am not saying she made a false statement but instead a statement that was not accurate for the entire South Shore area south of 71st Street.

To give Michelle Obama some credit, she has provided a perspective from the middle-class African American families that they moved into white communities to better themselves and enjoy better amenities while contributing to their new communities.  As Michelle Obama stated to the Washington Examiner “The families that are coming from other places try to do better. But because we can so easily wash over who we really were-because of the color of our skin. Because of the texture of our hair-that’s what divides countries, artificial things.”  Michelle Obama was completely correct when she stated ““The families that are coming from other places try to do better.”  This taps into the misperceptions that African American and Hispanic families move to white communities to bring dysfunction and change the culture of the area in a perceived malicious plot.  Michelle Obama wanted to point out that her family and many other African American families were hard working and wanted a better life for their children.  Accusations that these migrating African American families desire disorder is not only unfounded but harmful.  Her statement in this case helps debunk racial stereotypes that African Americans are a threat to mostly white communities.

An example of a more harmful and accusatory statement from Michelle Obama was when she made the statements of, “I want to remind white folks that y’all were running from us. And you’re still running.” And “I want to remind white folks that y’all were running from us…this family, with all the values that you read about, you were running from us.  And you’re still running because we’re no different than the immigrant families that are moving in.”  Such a statement is harmful because it is inclusive of an entire race of people especially when she states “Y’all.”  Her statement leads one to belief that white people deliberately destroy racially changing communities by maliciously moving away from the area because of skin color.  This statement is not only alarmingly inclusive of an entire race of people it is also discounting the true cause of these neighborhood changes.  She discounts block busting, redlining, a loss of tax revenue and police cuts as culprits, instead her statement is that an entire race has bigoted mindsets and is dismissive of the well-being of African Americans.  This is rather surprising coming from the former first lady of our country and such a statement will cause outrage from a large population of Americans causing them to not support any of the causes Michelle Obama would support.  A racially general statement as such will cause a rebellious effect from the opposition which is counterproductive to achieving public support for urban renewal efforts.  Michelle Obama has been known to be in support of urban renewal in impoverished black communities and making such a statement will cause more Americans to withdraw any potential support for these programs.  This is also words coming from someone who was close to the system; a statement from someone married to a former president of the United States.  This is the same government that did not intervene enough in early block busting and redlining that damaged neighborhoods such as Michelle Obama’s South Shore community.  When the blame is just placed on former citizens of South Shore and many other changed communities it causes only anger, resentment without any possible solution.  When common middle-class families are blamed for the disinvestment of any community, it discounts the true belief systems that all middle-classes and most of the impoverished class share regardless of racial identity.  This is the right to live in a safe and functional community.  This is why Americans of all races work hard so they may afford the privilege to live in function and peace.  When crime rises to an unlivable level and neighborhood amenities collapse, it is not only normal but necessary to protect one’s family and equity.  This is the right and responsibility of all families of all races to strive for, the best that they can afford.  Making a guilting statement that these departures were an act of hate dismisses the personal responsibility of the middle-class to move into areas they can contribute fairly to among their neighbors and providing a safe environment for their children.  The people should never bear the burden of tolerating negative change just for the sake of their new neighbors and social justice. This is the responsibility of our government to enforce laws that are detrimental in avoiding block busting and redlining.  This is the same government Michelle Obama was attached to and for her to state that an entire race of people is the cause and should take the burden of fixing neighborhood woes is not only unfounded but absurd.  Her statement avoids the main cause of these issues and diverts focus away from constructive action favoring non-constructive racial debates.  Her statement takes away from the everyday plight of hard-working Americans to maintain the best upbringing for their children by leaving destitute communities.  She is correct in stating that African American families are the same as their white counterparts and move to racially changing communities to be a part of success while contributing, but her statement that blames a certain race of people is non-productive and avoids the true issue, especially since the true issues caused damages to her former community.  I do not believe Michelle Obama meant to be offensive or to alienate anyone intentionally.  Her statements reflect what many believe to be the cause of racially changing neighborhoods’ collapse, she just happened to become someone with influence which makes her statements more effective on society.

What to learn

It is of great importance that the common people become educated about the systematic greed that forced change upon a large part of the city of Chicago.  It is of importance that we learn the damages of corruption and link these damages to the creation of urban ghettos and to the creation of Chicago’s super gangs.  We can learn that the superhighway system forced the flight of the impoverished from their south side and west side homes into communities of a different culture which caused a violent racial clash.  It is important to understand that realty companies took great advantage of this disaster and pushed most of the displaced poor into designated neighborhoods.  It is important to understand that a tax drain took place after block busting that depleted neighborhood resources such as police presence.  It is important to understand that banks blocked the distribution of credit from these same communities while directing those potential funds into more profitable communities that were not redlined.  It is important to understand this was not a way for the banks to protect themselves from default in impoverished mostly black or Hispanic areas.  The funds were already provided by the government at no loss to the banks; therefore, eliminating risk of lending to a lower income community.  It is important to understand the effects of disinvestment spreading to neighboring communities and causing the plight to spread into entire geographical locations of the city.  It is important to understand that enforcement efforts to quash illegal or harmful bank and real estate practices were overlooked or ignored for impoverished mostly Hispanic and African American communities.  It is important to understand that practices of pushing masses of the poor into middle-class neighborhoods will cause the entire community to collapse due to a loss of tax revenue necessary to upkeep communities.  This is a damage from block busting efforts to push the impoverished into one area of the city.

Once we have more citizens armed with knowledge of the true cause of the collapse of urban and suburban communities, efforts to stop these practices will become more supported and funded accordingly.  When our society would become better educated about these issues, we would be able to balance not only racial diversity but also income diversity which would not force the poor into designated communities, a form of segregation.  When we understand these issues are no fault of common citizens, we will be inclined to vote on pushing issues of funding to impoverished African American and Hispanic communities suffering from high crime and poverty.  These votes will then appear on both Democratic and Republican efforts which will bring in more support from both parties.

We need to stop blaming one another and start looking at greed as the cause of impoverished and high crime neighborhoods.  We need to understand the practices of real estate, banks and government as the true perpetrators of creating impoverished mostly Hispanic or African American urban ghettos.  When resources were depleted and these racially changed neighborhoods were left in disarray, street gangs formed and stepped in to fill a lost void these communities needed.  These gangs often took a guardian angel stance protecting their territories and the people in it from rival gangs and criminal elements.  This was supposed to be the job of the police, but cuts of police patrols gave rise to alpha groups of young men that stepped to quasi fill this role.  This was the beginning of the super gang and there is a direct correlation between the construction of the superhighway system and the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.   Having a proper understanding about what factors create gangs allows us to understand their motives which can be detrimental in court cases against original gang members and can be detrimental to the overturning of unfair convictions of former leaders.  Once it is understood these leaders formed these gangs to deal with social disorder and crime it can show the true disconnect to the gang’s later exploits of murder and drugs.

At the very least the debate between which race of people caused white flight and redlining needs to end.  Both sides of the argument have been both right and wrong.  Despite the truthful part of each side of the argument both sides are more wrong than right, and the true perpetrators did not receive enough of the blame.

Please do not perceive my intention to be in support of democratic/left wing support or Republican/right wing support.  I do not identify with the left or the right, I follow none.  This is an issue that effects all Americans of all races and income levels.  Please understand that the gangs that dwell in your suburban or affluent communities that had migrated from Chicago were created by these socioeconomic factors.  Isolating the poor into ghettos, allowing neighborhoods to change rapidly without mediation, constant bank redlining is a problem that affects us all and affects our taxes that we pay.  We pay for inequality, and we pay for the fallout of the destruction of communities.  Greed has left certain communities starved and in dire need of resources and taxes end up slapping Band-Aids on these problems, taking money from your pockets while never fixing the overall issue.  Please understand that this issue did not only ruin the black and Hispanic community but also destroyed the white community that once lived in these now bankrupted neighborhoods.  Generations of white Chicagoans were conned by big real estate to surrender equity from their homes with the promise of having some equity maintained while they were conned into hurriedly vacating these communities for the banks to allow a conversion of these communities into urban ghettos.  This was done by design for profit.  Think about the colossal damages and even how neighboring communities were dragged down by high crime and disinvestment that spilled over neighborhood borders.  This was also one of the more severe attacks upon the black community.  The former white families that resided in these communities had the monetary means to leave those areas while the black community was stuck with high crime and disinvestment.  The largest atrocity against humanity from this process permanently damaged black Americans and bankrupted the black community.  The white flighters eventually recovered from their losses but the migrating black community that came to these same neighborhoods never recovered to the point that even their children and grandchildren and so on have been damaged by these redlining and block busting practices into present day. Use this as motivation to understand one another and end the racially motivated debate on who caused white flight and disinvestment, look to this as a greedy systematic issue and not a people issue.