The meaning behind the Folk and People alliances
The meaning behind the Folk and People alliances

The meaning behind the Folk and People alliances

Most of us around this country and many people abroad have heard of the Folk and People street gang alliances. These alliances are now present in all 50 states and even some foreign countries. Almost all Chicago street gangs are bound to one or the other of these two alliances and many organizations nationwide are also tied to these two rival groups. Folk and People caught on like wildfire in the early 1980s as nation after nation began representing these two alliances on the streets and became especially enforced in Illinois and Midwest prisons. Thousands have lost their lives over wars between Folk and People since inception of the alliances in 1978, but more lives were saved by these alliances as well. You might be surprised to hear that these alliances were not created to be enemies. You may also be surprised to learn that Folk and People are basically the same thing.
Think about this; when you look up the definition of “Folk” or “People” in the dictionary and thesaurus you will see one of the top results mentions “Folk” or “People” as the first result. Look at the screen shots below when I looked up Folk and People in the thesaurus and dictionary.

As you can see, when the search result is “Folk,” it can’t help but to mention “People.”  Now when I looked up “People” it got away from “folk” due the fact folk means “people” by definition, but when looking up “people” in the thesaurus you can see “folk” is one of the top results.  They are indeed synonymous with each other and are one in the same.  Do you think it was sheer coincidence that the creators of these alliances invented names of the basically the same meaning?  The answer to that is no; there was deliberation in using those names to signify sameness.  A lot of this whole story is more deeply rooted in Gangster Disciple history because it was the leader of the Black Gangster Disciple nation that created this idea of complete unity among the nations.  That man is Larry Hoover, a name that some hate but most, whether People or Folk, have respect for among the old timers of all races and organizations.  The black man, the Hispanic man, the white man all have a respect for Larry Hoover because of his accomplishments while incarcerated in state prisons due to his prison rights advocacy for all inmates.  To understand Folk and People it is important to understand where this comes from and how the alliances are as much the same as they are different.

During the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, street gangs in Chicago exploded as many people were moving about the city, especially African American and Hispanic people were moving about after being constantly removed from their homes due to city renovations.

Puerto Rican people were displaced three times in Chicago as they were first removed from the Old Town neighborhood in the late 1950s.  They were displaced again from Lincoln Park due to urban renewal efforts.  They were also simultaneously displaced from the Near West Side when the highway systems were put in place and the new UIC campus was built.  Mexican people suffered major displacement out of the Near West Side in the later 1950s for the same reasons and were all around deported in the 1930s.  African Americans were displaced at first when they were forced to leave the South Loop because of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 when their homes were burned down.  They were displaced again out of parts of Fuller Park, Armour Square, and the Near West Side in the later 1950s thanks to highway construction.  As African Americans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans were moving about the city to West Town, Englewood, Roseland, Back of the Yards, Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park, Uptown, Logan Square, Austin, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Bridgeport, Little Village, Pilsen, Greater Grand Crossing, Woodlawn, South Shore and South Chicago in the 1950s and 60s a huge explosion of racial tensions overflowed as now the Irish, German, Italian, Czech, Bohemian, Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian residents of Chicago felt threatened that their neighborhoods and properties were going to go down in value because of their new colored arrivals.  Were they correct?  They were mostly correct because that’s how our city was designed here in Chicago.  The Chicago machine automatically depreciated the value of homes, businesses, and entire neighborhoods once people of color move in.  It was a system set up to cause certain people of color to fail and for white families living nearby to also suffer as their homes were brought down in value for the sake of profit for big business (namely real estate and the banks).

It was easier for the upper middle-class whites to move.  At the first sign of other races moving in they could afford to pack up and leave before the system could red flag their properties and the entire neighborhood.  The problem with this was their departure also brought down the value of the neighborhood and became a tax drain.  The white families that remained couldn’t afford to move to the swanky suburbs.  These families suffered in deteriorated neighborhood conditions as property values plummeted, police cut back on patrols and drugs flooded a now desperate community.  The whites blamed their new African American and Hispanic neighbors; however, many did not realize this was all set up by city planning and wealthy elites to generate profit.

Many of times migrants from impoverished slums of Mexico, Puerto Rico or the southern United States were not taught how to function in more sophisticated urban dwellings.  When these families arrived, they often lacked basic knowledge of how to tend to their rented properties and slum lords could care less to help them along.  Most of these families were also impoverished and struggling to find adequate employment which caused many to resort to vices like selling drugs and once those drugs were seen in these former pristine communities it caused a major backlash of hate from the older mostly white community in the same neighborhood.

Bottom line is, everyone was in the same boat whether they realized it or not.  City planning left these neighborhoods to their fate and redlined them from getting proper investment and renovations creating urban slums and high crime areas.  In this country and in this city alike there has been a history of not helping the poor or not helping destitute neighborhoods enough.  The gangs were the ones to step in and help families and youths after the city turned their backs on these communities.  The gangs stepped up as older brothers, father figures or even acting as a policing type group to keep out those that would cause harm.

In the African American ghettos of the south side and west side the gangs helped combat racial discrimination practices.  Some gangs wouldn’t allow African Americans to use certain facilities in changing neighborhoods; the African American gang would step in and fight for black citizen’s rights.  African American gangs protested unfair employment opportunities and marched against unjust police procedures that brought harassment to the black community on no basis.  African American gangs brought out picket signs on the west side and protested the wrecking ball coming to destroy homes that were slotted for demolition for highway and UIC construction.  All the African American gangs protested and fought for civil rights while in later years they did sell drugs so they could feed their families.  All African American gangs fought for social justice whether you were a Black P Stone, a Vice Lord, a Four Corner Hustler, a Black Soul, a Black Disciple, a Del Viking, a Supreme Gangster, a Egyptian Cobra or whatever, they all fought for the same causes and this very often brought them together at the same conferences, the same protests, the same urban renewal meetings or for all around peace treaties.  Black gangs were formed along some of the same blood lines and everyone that was in a gang had either brothers, cousins, uncles etc… that was in a rival gang but family ties were often deeper and could help ignore all those rivalries.  Family ties also kept truces in place or created them to begin with and could keep rivals even negotiating organized and clean wars.

The same can be said within Hispanic gangs as family blood lines run deep and whether you are a Latin King, Maniac Latin Disciple, Two Six, Ambrose, Spanish Cobra or a Latin Count the struggle becomes all the same and this often-brought Hispanics and African Americans together as they went through the same struggles.  Mexicans and Puerto Ricans could come together as they were both Hispanic and of the same color. Mexicans and whites very often would come together since the 1950s as they both had racial issues with African Americans and Puerto Ricans.  In later years Puerto Ricans and whites could even find common ground and even in some cases all races could come together in one organization.

It started to become realized by the 1970s more and more that the struggle was often the same in many ways as all the gangs were going through some of the same hard times.  A gang member would put in his work and fight for the neighborhood while sometimes getting into some more serious crimes like murder for vengeance or selling drugs to pay the bills and this landed many gang members in prison.  By the 1970s the prison systems were becoming packed with gang members to the point where the gangs were running the prison.

On the inside of the prison walls a prisoner was often reduced to being treated as a sub-human. State budgets cut back on resources and food quality for prisoners and prison guards were often brutal to inmates.  The conditions in these Illinois prisons were often far below the standard of living humans should be subject to.  This was a problem all over the country back in these times and it caused many of protests nationwide.  In Stateville prison in Crest Hill Illinois the conditions in this maximum-security prison were in a bad state as well and the prisoners were fed up.

Larry Hoover was incarcerated within these Stateville walls at the time serving a very long sentence for a murder he committed in 1973 when a junkie was trying to rip him off and Larry responded by removing him, so to say.  Larry Hoover was the leader of the Supreme Gangsters and the whole Gangster Nation on the streets, in prison this was now the Black Gangster Disciples, he ran it all.  Larry was highly respected back in those days and the whole BGDN honored him deeply.  Larry had allies too from Hispanic and white gangs that were arranged in 1973 with Simon City Royals, Ambrose, and the Ashland Vikings.  Larry was highly intelligent and charismatic.  Larry grew up in Englewood and knew all the Disciples, Gangsters and Stones in the area and would even shake hands with a former enemy that was looking to make a resolve.  He could be very forgiving and looked at the bigger picture.  Beyond trying to build an empire and make lots of money he was more interested in an activism stance once he was incarcerated.  He wanted the best for the Black Gangster Disciples to build themselves up into better men and make a life for themselves and their families legitimately.  The goal was always complete legitimacy while still trying to survive on the streets.  The barriers around young black males were tough to penetrate through and this was a constant struggle for himself and the Disciples to get past.  Redlining, discrimination, lack of opportunity, being placed in disadvantaged communities was all very tough obstacles to overcome that led many young black males down a dark path. Larry Hoover was looking for ways to steer his Disciples away from that dark path while still making money at the same time.

Larry Hoover was an ambassador of relations with rival organizations.  He was well respected even by many high-ranking Black P Stones, Vice Lords and Mickey Cobras and could sort out many issues.  Larry was so respected it was even said that he ran Stateville between 1973 until 1978.  Even though the Black Gangster Disciples were heavily built upon not trusting the white man, Larry was still able to connect with many white gang leaders especially with the Simon City Royals.  Larry could reach out across many racial barriers that plagued the streets and prison system back in the 1970s and he could talk to just about anyone that was receptive, and this is what led up to his inevitable master plan he put together in 1978.

Not only were the conditions in Illinois prisons terrible; the gang wars raged violently in a state of chaos that became very costly for all organizations.  Many guys were going into the Illinois prisons in the 70s and not coming back out accept in body bags.  This chaotic issue combined with brutal Corrections officers and rotten food led Larry to step up and become the voice of Stateville.

In April 1978, Larry Hoover put together a revolt against Statesville staff.  He needed utmost cooperation from all the gangs in Statesville to make this a successful protest.  If there were any organizations that didn’t want to take part this would destroy the whole plan, therefore, everyone needed to be in on it, or the plan was as good as dead.  I’m not sure if there were any difficulties in Larry summoning all the leadership of all the major gangs or not but he eventually made it happen.  The guys in prison were fed up and struggling with the same issues.  Many were being mistreated and fed spoiled food which is an act of disrespect.  Everyone felt the same pain and were enraged over the same issues, much the same as back on the streets where all the gangs were frustrated by how the city put them at a disadvantage that made them turn to being in gangs in the first place.  All gang leaders came together directed by Larry Hoover and made a stand in Stateville which led to all the inmates taking part in a prison-wide work stoppage.  This revolt was not in the news that I know of and from what I understand this was bloodless and a non-violent revolt. I also don’t think it lasted very long because, again, I found no news articles about it but everyone in Stateville in April 1978 can attest that this work stoppage protest did happen.

The Black Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples were almost one in the same back in 1969 until the mid-1970s.  Larry Hoover and the Supreme Gangsters created the “Gangster” coalition in 1967 to unify all gangs with the same problems with the same gangs.  David Barksdale and the Devil’s Disciples had a coalition called the “Black Disciples” that unified all gangs in 1966 that had similar problems with the same rivals and the police.  In 1969, both Black Disciples and Gangsters came together to create a close alliance called the “Black Gangster Disciples” which bounded both coalitions into a unity on the streets while each coalition ruled separate by their own “Kings,” King Larry Hoover of the Gangsters and King David Barksdale of the Black Disciples.   Basically, this was a coalition on top of two coalitions.  When David Barksdale died in 1974 there was a group within the Black Disciple coalition that didn’t want to honor the Black Gangster Disciple coalition, they would only honor the Black Disciple coalition, however, most of the Black Disciple coalition wanted to honor the Black Gangster Disciple coalition and this led to a split in the mid-1970s in prison until Dirk Acklin helped stop this rivalry.

Many times in the Englewood area David Barksdale called peace with the Black P Stones and even the Gangsters when there was war in 1968.  Larry was a strong follower of David’s concepts and bestowed those concepts on the Black Gangster Disciples that soon became admirable to other organizations especially after Larry was able to use those concepts as a backbone to write a constitution of bylaws that organized the Black Gangster Disciples in later years.  When Larry called for unity during these difficult times in April of 1978 all the nations came together as one force to put an end to the abuse all prisoners suffered.

Since the Disciples had previously connected with Ambrose, Simon City Royals and Ashland Vikings in 1973 the connection expanded to those organizations as well. After this was established, the alliance could be expanded further to include allies to be part of this allegiance.  The Black Disciples helped create the Latin Disciples back in 1966 so that roped Maniac Latin Disciples into this and brought their closest allies the Spanish Cobras, Latin Eagles, and Imperial Gangsters into the fold.  Simon City Royals were able to sponsor the Insane Popes.    Ambrose had deep family ties with Satan Disciples and Two Six and their wars were simmering back then so they were able to be brought into this.

Black P Stones, El Rukns and Vice Lords had family ties to Disciples, and everyone knew each other very well from years of war and from years of on and off peace treaties.  Vice Lords, Stones, and Disciples had marched together during the LSD coalition days when they protested unfair hiring practices and wage earnings.  They knew how to band together when the time was needed, and this was the time to come together with the Disciples again.

In April of 1978, one large coalition came together involving all Chicago street gangs, but the complexity would come later especially after the protest was finished.  In the wake of the protest the coalition was split in two as there was now a list of two distinct allied groups that could come together once again if needed.  This was similar to organizing a mafia family that consisted of two sides that could wage war or make peace.  In the beginning there was no name for these coalitions until the 1970s decade ended. In the prison system the gangs knew friend from foe; however, the coalitions lacked bylaws and structure; therefore, violence would ensue in the prison system between allies.

In the year 1980, Imperial Gangster leader Ronnie “Mad Dog” Carrasquillo and Maniac Latin Disciple Victor “King Vic” Gomez drew up the “Spanish Gangster Disciple” concepts in prison which governed all the Hispanic gangs that were allied with Larry Hoover’s allies.  This governing was approved and oversaw by Larry Hoover.  This was also the year that Simon City Royals and Black Gangster Disciples held a meeting in the Grand Boulevard community to discuss a further alliance.  Either in this meeting or shortly thereafter, the Simon City Royals gave an idea for the name of the Larrry Hoover allies alliance as the “Folks.”  It was then established that “Folks” was the official name of all gang allied with Simon City Royals and Black Gangster Disciples.  The Folks became heavily unified and established a brotherhood that became very strong and celebrated.  Heavy gang wars were far lessoned or all around ended when the Folk concepts were created.  Two Six, Ridgeway Lords, Ambrose and Satan Disciples had a violent three-way-war since the 1960s and this was ended when the Folk alliance was created.

The People alliance came out around the same time as Folks or a little after.  The People alliance would have spiritual aspects as Islamic and Christian beliefs became intertwined into this alliance.  I am not positive exactly how the “People” name was drawn up but the Latin Kings, Vice Lords, Black P Stones and El Rukns were the front runners of drawing up a People alliance constitution that celebrated these beliefs. These religious beliefs were not law but instead were symbolic of a unity.  The only organization that had strict religious beliefs was the El Rukns.  Vice Lords adopted many Islamic aspects into their literature; however, being Islamic was completely optional for members.  Key gang wars were ended when the People alliance was rolled out, many of them involved the Latin Kings who were at war with Bishops, Latin Counts and Puerto Rican Stones.  Thanks to this alliance Latin Kings, Puerto Rican Stones and Bishops became tight while Counts and Kings had a decade long cease fire.  Mickey Cobras and Black P Stones would end their feud and Latin Kings and Vice Lords would end their wars.

In 1981, these teachings of Folk and People were passed down to the streets and all organizations old and young, small or large were invited to be part of these coalitions that did not yet have incarcerated members; however, the newer gangs had to play by certain rules and had to vouched for to join by another gang that had already joined and had clout.  No gang could just simply declare themselves Folk or People, they needed sponsorship.  The governance also passed onto these wicked streets of Chicago and effectively stopped or slowed down so many gang wars and saved many lives.  Yes, there is a dark side that the two coalitions govern the drug trade as well, but they can also help organize these cartels to assure smoother operations that don’t result in as much death and disorder.

Beginning in 1981, a Folk and People fashion craze hit the streets as literature was passed around and gangs developed ways of wearing their clothing and folding their arms to signify which side, they were on.  Gangs loved it and turned into artwork as they tagged marvelous six-point stars for Folks and five-point stars for People.  Six dots and five dots were used as well.  Most of the Folks tagged a pitchfork to show their unity.  Fashion statements came out that signified Folk or People.  Tilted hats, earrings in one ear, one pant leg rolled up, one shoe untied, one glove on one hand, one pocket pulled out with gang colors drawn on it became a fashion statement.  If this fashion was on the right, it meant Folk if it was on the left it meant People.  Gang members also folded their arms to clutch the arm of the side they were on, and many posed in photographs with an arm grasped.  These fashion statements were the dark side of these coalitions because it made it too easy for rivals to spot gang members and shoot them dead but, on the other hand, it caused gang members to not shoot each other if they saw another gang member with this fashion on the same side of the body.

When the crack epidemic first began in the mid-80s it was at the height of Folk and People unity and made for a much smoother transition of gangs getting their hands in on this business without utter chaos and bloodshed on the streets.  Of course, in the long run, greed took over and ultimately destroyed these coalitions on the streets.  In the long run Folk and People didn’t work at the street level and that’s because Folk and People is not as greedy by nature in a certain aspect.  In other aspects like allowing prison guys to a cut of the earnings from guys on the streets it can become greedier, but when you look at the other way in controlling wars and stopping gangs or sections of gangs from stepping on each other’s toes for that money, some of the greed disappears.

Law enforcement has done everything they can to silence Larry Hoover and the ways of Folk and People but perhaps that is a mistake in this modern-day greedy environment on the streets where organization is needed more than ever to curtail much of the violence and show young men how to conduct themselves in ways to fit better into society.


Below is a complete original list that I know of for the organizations that joined Folks in the early 1980s:


Ashland Vikings

Black Disciples (became a separate group on the streets in 1981)

Black Gangster Disciples (now known as Gangster Disciples, Black Gangster Disciples became a name for one organization and shed the alliance status in 1981)

Black Gangsters (now known today as New Breeds, only while incarcerated since the early 1990s, when New Breeds go to prison they are Black Gangsters)

Black Souls (only when incarcerated)


Dragons (now known today as Insane Dragons)

Harrison Gents

Imperial Gangsters

Insane Popes (north side group)

King Cobras

Kool Gang

Latin Eagles

Latin Jivers

Latin Lovers

Latin Souls

Latin Stylers

Lychmen Sercaun Gangsters

Maniac Latin Disciples

Milwaukee Kings

Orquestra Albany

Paulina Barry Community

Ridgeway Lords

Saints (only while incarcerated and only until the late 1980s)

Satan Disciples

Simon City Royals

Sin City Boys

Spanish Chancellors (Only while incarcerated)

Spanish Cobras

Two Six

Two Two Boys



Below is a original complete list that I know of for the organizations that joined People in the early 1980s:

Arch Dukes


Black P Stones

Cullerton Deuces (Flipped to Folks in 1994)

El Rukns

Four Corner Hustlers (also declared part of Vice Lord nation while incarcerated)


Ghetto Brothers Organization/Yates Boys Organization

Insane Deuces (flipped to Folks in 1992)

Insane Unknowns

Latin Brothers

Latin Counts

Latin Dragons (Flipped to Folks in 1997)

Latin Kings

Mickey Cobras

Morgan Deuces

Noble Knights


Puerto Rican Future Stones

Puerto Rican Stones

Spanish Lords

Spanish Vice Lords

Twelfth Street Players

Uptown Rebels

Vice Lords

Villa Lobos