|West Chicago: West Chico; Summit: Scummit; Woodridge: Hoodridge
Belwood: Washington Blvd north, Harrison Street south, Eastern Ave east, Mannheim Road west
At a glance
I do not have a whole lot of information about the suburb of Bellwood’s gang activity over time, but I figured I would give a quick mention about this community since it has such a reputation for violence and gangs and has steadily high crime rates.
Gangs have existed in Bellwood at least since the early 1980s after the suburb experienced a decline in the local economy after several businesses closed down. Eventually the suburb ended up having at least a dozen different street gangs over time. The crime rate increased in the 1980s as gangs spread deep into the suburb and gang members battled gangs from neighboring suburbs like Maywood, Broadview and Melrose Park.
Bellwood would develop black street gangs like Four Corner Hustlers, Black P Stones, New Breeds, Black Souls, Conservative Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and Mafia Insane Vice Lords. Latino street gangs also moved into the area among the Latino population like the Latin Kings, Maniac Latin Disciples, Latin Counts and Insane Deuces. The Bellwood Latin Mob was a gang created in this suburb, and the Unknown Assassins had territory here in the early 1990s.
I do not know a whole lot about gang activity in the suburb of Summit but I do know this was one of the first Chicago metropolitan suburbs to be colonized by Chicago based street gangs. The suburb deserves mention strictly based upon the fact that gangs first moved in, in the late 1970s, and there was a spurt of some heavier activity in the 1990s. Apparently issues with gangs and crime became such a problem in the past that the community was nicknamed “Scummit.”
The gang banging in Summit all started in the year 1978 when the Logan Square based street gang La Orquestra Albany moved into the suburb at 52nd and Harlem and began recruiting some youths to join. In the year 1979 some youths that did not like the OAs started their own gangs that were made right in Summit. The Night Cruise was a gang for junior high aged kids to join while the Spanish Brothers was a gang for high school aged youths. Both Night Cruise and Spanish Brothers eventually came into contact with Latin King gang members that moved in from Chicago and both Summit based gangs joined the Latin Kings in 1979 which was a rival gang of Orquestra Albany.
by the late 80s to early 1990s Orquestra Albanies left the suburb.
In the 1990s more gangs had settled in the suburb such as: Almighty Popes, Milwaukee Kings and Saints. African Americans began migrating to the suburb in the 1980s and as the black families arrived some street gangs followed such as: Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords and Black Souls. Summit became pretty wild in the 1990s after several more gangs migrated to the area. The village was ideal for Chicago gang members to settle in because of the close proximity the village had to Interstate 55, where gang members could easily get on and off the expressway to run drugs to and from Chicago. Summit was actually a crazy suburb in the 1990s and graffiti could be seen as you were passing by the Harlem Avenue exit on the interstate. Summit Latin Kings were often some the most bold taggers that would not only tag in the underpass of I-55 but they would also walk out onto the busy expressway and tag the underpass wall in between the inbound and outbound lanes. The Latin Kings were heavily active between 61st and 63rd and Harlem (Midway Latin Kings) and could be seen many times if you wanted to go dancing at Studio 63 nightclub (pictured) at 63rd and Harlem.
In recent years there have been heavy crackdowns on gangs and crime in the village and this community has pulled in very safe crime statistics throughout the 21st century.
I admit I do not have much knowledge of the gangs in the suburb of West Chicago, but I do know this suburb has been gang banging since the 1980s and had some of the earliest suburban gang activity in Du Page County. The suburb has always had issues with Satan Disciples, Latin Kings, Latin Counts and even the Sin City Boys but in recent years there has been a major influx of a Los Angeles based street gang known as the Surenos (pictured). West Chicago is often heavily criticized for having a high crime and heavy gang activity; however, the suburb is actually one of the safer suburbs in the Chicago metropolitan area, you can see these stats on Neighborhood Scout and City Data. The south side of town is where most of the crime gravitates toward probably because that area is closer to Aurora.
Chicago based street gangs entered the suburb sometime back in the 1980s. According to a Gang Crimes Task Force report made in 1986, West Chicago was one of the suburbs mentioned with the most amounts of gang members in Du Page County (Chicago Tribune Patricia M. Szymczak, October 22, 1989), and you can imagine they were probably members of the Latin Kings, Satan Disciples and Latin Counts.
Many people like to get upset when discussing West Chicago blaming Hispanic people for the surge of street gangs in West Chicago, granted, Chicago based street gangs did migrate alongside Latino migration in the 1980s; however, the gangs effect all races and the vast majority or Latino people that moved to West Chicago were looking to escape the grip of violence and heavy gang activity in Chicago, so blaming a certain race is foolish especially since the suburb has seen many white gang members over the years.
West Chicago’s most intense gang activity happened in the 1990s, which is when several drive by shootings occurred and some dead bodies turned up. A lot of the heavy gang activity in the suburb was pinned heavily on the Satan Disciples street gang in 1999 when Du Page County prosecutors sued 22 high ranking Satan Disciples for allegations of harassment of police and citizens and using weapons to fight turf battles (Chicago Tribune Art Barnum, October 5, 1999). The law suit may have had an effect on the Satan Disciples, but it did nothing to stop gang activity of Los Angeles based street gang like the many different Sureno gangs that migrated to the suburb.
West Chicago may not be one of the more dangerous suburbs in the Chicago metropolitan area but the village had some of the earliest activity in the earlier part of the 1980s, and the community experienced some pretty intense gang wars in the 1990s which makes this suburb deserve mention.
People often have a choice nickname for Woodridge and that is “Hoodridge,” and this is based upon gang and drug activity in the suburb; however, the nickname is not very fitting if you want to get technical about this Du Page county suburb. Not all of Woodridge is bad presently or in the past, in fact, the vast majority of the suburb is extremely safe and middle class, there are actually only two small areas of town that have had higher crime, drug trafficking and heavy gang activity over the years and both are apartment complexes. The first area is the (pictured below) and Waterbury Apartments (pictured below) that are located right next to each other on Janes Road so that counts as one area, the second area of focus are the Timber Creek Apartments (pictured below) near Route 53. We will mainly be focusing on the Timber Creek apartments as this is has been the main hub of criminal and gang activity over the years.
Woodridge is the first Du Page county suburb to have known gang activity from Chicago based street gangs back in 1980. The arrival of street gangs in this community can somewhat coincide with the construction of Timber Creek, Waterbury and Emerald Courts apartments in the year 1977 and the Timber Creek apartments that were built in 1974. By the late 1970s and early 1980s lower income families from Chicago began settling these three apartment complexes in order to get away from the crime and gangs in Chicago; however, some of their children held onto their gang ties, one of those gangs was the Black Gangster Disciples who first caught attention in 1982 when a member of the gang shot another teen in the leg then ran off shouting “Disciple!” (Chicago Tribune page 3 July 6, 1984). The Black Gangster Disciples were not the only ones that infiltrated in the apartment complexes in town there was also the Vice Lords and Black P Stones. Gang related beatings began happening in the suburb in 1982 as there was clearly a major rivalry going on but Woodridge residents were cooperating with police whenever they witnessed gang activity (Chicago Tribune Daily Suburban March 15, 1983).
By the 1990s, more gangs had arrived in the suburb among the Latino population such as Latin Kings and Satan Disciples as examples, and the Latino gangs were mainly located within the apartment complexes especially in Timber Creek. The violence and shooting incidences had greatly increased in the 1990s and it made the entire village look bad even though the crime was all centered within three complexes.
Waterbury apartments and Emerald Courts are located in an area bounded by ponds that divide Emerald Courts from Natural Falls apartments on the north, Waterbury Drive on the south, Janes Avenue on the east and Echo Point Park on the west. Timber Creek is bounded by 83rd Street on the north, Joanne Lane on the south, David Drive to Andrea Drive on the east and Highway Route 53 on the west. These small zones are where most of the troubles for the community have occurred over the years.
In 1991 Woodridge set up a task force to fight street gangs in the community, and even though this same news article interviewed Woodridge police that were saying they had everything under control and there was not a whole lot of gang problems, the reality was there was plenty of gang activity in the three troubled apartment complexes, but they could boast it was not a big community wide problem because the issue was mainly confined to these small areas of town (Chicago Tribune Ann Piccininni July 31, 1991). A few months later in December of 1991 a major shooting incident occurred in the village that made everything the Woodridge police said in the July 1991 article about having things under control look unfounded. On December 28, 1991 ten Bolingbrook Gangster Disciple gang members piled into cars and drove to Woodridge to a party being held at the Timber Creek Apartments’ clubhouse on Foxboro Drive that had a gathering of about 50 to 100 people likely for a holiday party. The Gangster Disciples crashed the party or maybe they were invited, but showed up with a 12 gauge shotgun and fired three rounds into the crowd striking two party goers down that were said to be in rival gangs, the shooters were screaming gang slogans. The ten gang members then refused to leave the party and continued to hang around possibly looking to finish off the victims, I am not exactly sure why they did not leave because this allowed police to arrest all ten of them and charge them. According to the newspaper article nine out of ten of the gang members arrested were from Bolingbrook while the other was from the Fairmont part of unincorporated Lockport on Luther Drive (Chicago Tribune Ann Piccininni December 31, 1991).
The 1990s continued to see heavy gang and drug trafficking activity in Woodridge’s’ troubled three apartment complexes. There were even rumors that postmen would even get robbed in Waterbury and Emerald Courts, one thing for sure is many residents complained over the years of gang activity, drug trafficking and having their apartments or cars broken into. Narcotics agents and unmarked squad cars began heavily patrolling all three complexes and by the later part of the 2000s decade the complexes cleaned up significantly and became renovated. Timber Creek greatly improved and no longer became the main crime hotspot in town and actually became one of the safer areas in the village. Emerald Courts and Waterbury also fell out of the main crime ridden areas and became one of the lower crime parts of the village as well.