|Area||Far Southeast Side|
Calumet River on the north, 116th down Avenue O to 117th on the south, Indiana state line on the east, Calumet River to the railroad tracks on the west
|Gangs headquartered||Latin Kings, Latin Counts,|
Yes, Chicago has an east side; however, it isn’t what you think. There is technically no east side of Chicago, Chicagoans just know the “East Side” means the neighborhood tucked away south of South Chicago right next to the Indiana state border. This industrial area is often forgotten about due to being so far away from the main hustle and bustle of the inner city. It is time I add a page for this neighborhood because over time I have discovered the East Side has been quite rowdy with gang issues. Granted, this is one of the safer communities in Chicago and has always scored lower crime rates but that doesn’t mean the gangs of Chicago have never been here.
Unlike most of Chicago, the East Side was just barren land during the nineteenth century earlier decades when settlement of the rest of the city was widespread. This land was still settled by Native Americans until the early 1870s when the white man became interested in this land. (Fact source, http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/406.html)
The boom in industry in nearby South Chicago drove German and Swedish settlers to come to this area in the 1870s. In the 1880s Croatian, Slovene, and Serbian immigrants began to settle here joining the Swedes and Germans. A rivalry between both waves of ethnic groups developed that would later include Slavs and Italians that came here in 1914. This soft rivalry was mostly squashed thanks to the first World War. (Fact source, http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/406.html)
This community was heavily supported by the steel industry located all over the South Chicago, South Deering, and East Side community areas. These jobs helped keep this far southeast side of Chicago flourishing even during the depression years.
Gang activity first reached the South Chicago neighborhood long ago and began to escalate with greaser type groups in the 1950s. South Chicago also had Mexican gangs in the 50s which was mostly unique for most of the city in those times. As far as the East Side in the 50s I don’t know if there were any gangs hers in that decade or even on these streets in the 60s. In nearby South Chicago gang activity of Mexican and white gangs blossomed in the 60s especially over racial issues between Hispanics and whites. I can imagine some of these issues spilled onto the streets of the East Side especially since South Deering youths all attended George Washington High School; however, as far as I know there really wasn’t much gang activity in South Deering either during these years.
The whole far southeast side of the city was badly affected by the closing of the steel mills as so many south siders lost their jobs and were forced to leave the area in 1979 and 1980. This is when white flight became big in this part of the city, but the East Side remained strong during these earlier 80s years as strong ethnic family ties bound residents together to stay here unlike the neighboring communities that fell into economic depression and white flight was severe. East Side resisted heavy white flight due to the ethnic ties but couldn’t totally dodge it as most of the white flight happened in the vicinity of Wolfe Park. Mexican people began moving into this area; however, no outside gangs were brought into this area yet until 1984.
In the year 1984, many Mexican families began to settle in South Deering, South Chicago and here in the East Side neighborhood. A clash or values possibly along racial lines came to the Wolfe Park area as Latin Kings moved into the Wolfe Park area and for the frustrated local youths frustrated with the change came the Simon City Royals to recruit those youths. The Royals quickly captured Wolfe Park while Latin Kings took all the surrounding area. The Latin Counts also moved into the neighborhood at the same time and gang conflict was about to begin. East Side had a history of violence and intimidation towards people of color spanning back decades when they opposed the settlement of African Americans, now the focus was on Hispanics and groups like Latin Kings and Latin Counts offered protection to newly arriving Hispanic youths while Royals were there to support the longer time youths that resided here. The Kings and Counts of East Side were a part of close to a major King and Count expansion happening very rapidly in South Chicago and South Deering.
By 1990, the Latin Kings and Latin Counts became the supreme forces in this community especially the Latin Kings. Spanish Vice Lords would arrive in 1991 and take over Wolfe Park that the Latin Kings wanted badly now that Simon City Royals had to leave the park and close operations permanently. The Spanish Vice Lords migrated from South Deering and soon became a larger force in this community. The following of this group sparked from a massive gang fight at George Washington High between Black Gangster Disciples and Spanish Vice Lords, now starry-eyed Hispanic youths looked up to the SVLs and joined their ranks.
Hispanic migration continued in recent decades making this community become the majority Hispanic neighborhood it is now. Gang violence increased in 1990s and 2000s but never became a major issue as the East Side has always remained one of the safer neighborhoods in Chicago with a low murder rate. The Spanish Vice Lords eventually left this area by the 2010s leaving Latin Kings and Latin Counts to rule this area. Latin Kings and Latin Counts have a violent gang rivalry keeping gang violence alive in this community although minimal overall.
The dominant group of the past was the Simon City Royals. In later decades the dominant groups were Latin Kings, Latin Counts and Spanish Vice Lords. In recent year Latin Kings and Latin Counts dominate the neighborhood and are perhaps the only gangs left in this community.
The prominent gangs to have walked these streets over time are:
Latin Counts Established 1984-present years
106th to 107th, Mackinaw to S Ave O
105th & Ave M (10/5)
Simon City Royals Established 1984-1991
106th to 110th, Burley to Ave O (Wolfe Park) Established 1984-1990
Latin Kings Established 1984-present years
96th & Avenue M (No Limit Latin Kings)
97th & Ewing
96th to 101st, Ewing to Ave N
103rd to 108th, Ave L to Ave H (East Side Latin Kings)
98th & Avenue L (98 Outlaws)
99th & Ewing (99 Ruthless)
104th & Avenue L (Murda Ave)
Somewhere on 117th around 117th & Ave O
Spanish Vice Lords Established 1991-2000s
106th to 110th, Buffalo to Avenue O (Wolfe Park, Bukk City) Established 1991
Twelfth Street Players
108th & Mackinaw (Wolfe Park)