As the late 1980s came to be, the Chicago streets had grown incredibly violent. A new crack cocaine epidemic and more loss of general leadership on the streets became breeding grounds for more deadly gang conflicts and new renegade factions. The Folk and People alliances were breaking down as crack cocaine wars caused some of that new divide. Shady real estate drives in the late 80s drove yet another wave of migration toward the Midway Airport area in Chicago’s further southwest side that was not met with open arms. Gangbanging now had spread into the more affluent southwest neighborhoods such as: Ashburn, Clearing, Garfield Ridge, West Lawn and Canaryville. This era would prove to become another milestone era for gang growth.
Late 1980s: The origins.
In the year 1988, the Marquette Park neighborhood had a rather light amount of gang activity besides the earliest years of the 63rd Street Two Sixs and Ambrose. Both gangs were well established in the western part of the community while the eastern area of the community did not have much gang activity besides any activity that spilled over the Western Avenue border with the West Englewood community. West Englewood had become as dangerous as their Englewood neighbor to the east of Racine Avenue. In the year 1988 black migration picked up greatly in east Marquette Park as older residents were convinced to sell their homes in exchange for a suburban paradise. Real estate now dodged many block busting laws and was able to steer black Chicagoans to live on these streets that were unfriendly to the black community. Marquette Park suffered racial clashing all through the 1980s and with a sudden heavy increase in black migration, racial conflicts would brew and even become affected by the gangs. The Gangster Disciples would move in alongside this black migration wave and now claim these east Marquette Park streets. Eventually Black Disciples would move into this community as well in later years, but I do not know when. This was the beginning of the Gangster Disciples in Marquette Park. The Krazy Get Down Boys would form in 1988 on the Marquette Park streets to battle with Latin Kings from the neighboring Gage Park community. The Krazy Get Down Boys would become a major gang in Marquette Park beginning in 1988 that would eventually turn into a full-fledged gang leaving behind their party crew status. As soon as the Krazy Get Down Boys and Gangster Disciples arrived gang wars intensified as crime spiked in the late 80s in Marquette Park. The Two Sixs and Ambrose from 63rd Street would also begin heavy recruitment drives and were able to expand closer to 59th Street during these years. White flight in the west of the community brought many more Hispanic families to Marquette Park.
The Gage Park community had successfully steered clear of migrating gang waves in nearby neighborhoods. Gage Park also survived mass layoffs from manufacturing plants that devastated the south side economy in the late 70s and early 80s. Gage Park was still a majority white community well into the 80s until rapid white flight suddenly took these streets by surprise beginning in 1988. The exodus of the older white community in the late 80s was so severe that Gage Park became majority Hispanic by the 1990 census which was an intense turnaround. The Two Six and Ambrose gangs were able to grow their borders further north in Marquette Park in 1988 and landed right on 59th Street on the Gage Park side up to 57th or 55th Streets. These two gangs did not get along when they arrived in Gage Park just like how they were toward each other in Marquette Park. This conflict brought bloodshed to this south side community that had previously been untouched by violent gang activity. The notorious Crown Town Latin Kings had their beginning in 1988 in Gage Park as they arrived alongside this new Hispanic migration wave and would support Hispanic youths dealing with racial conflicts but within no time that focus was on the Two Sixs and Ambrose gangs. The Insane Guess Boys party crew formed in 1988 in Gage Park but would soon resort to gang banging after clashing with the Latin Kings. In 1989, the Party People of Pilsen would arrive on these streets and became a permanent part of Gage Park. This was the beginning of the Latin Kings and Party People of Gage Park that would never leave these communities and become permanent residents. A new southwest side significant gang settlement had begun, much credited to real estate steering.
Just east of Marquette Park a certain unrest began brewing on the streets of Englewood since 1987. Once the crack cocaine epidemic hit the streets of Englewood severely, the Black Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples, Englewood’s two biggest gangs, began to feud over drug territory as both gangs dominated well over 50% of Englewood drug trafficking. For two years flareups would brew between both gangs until the pot finally boiled completely over by 1989 and the two gangs went to war in Englewood that would become difficult to contain as truce’s afterward would become shorter and shorter lived.
In the Back of the Yards community violence further intensified by 1989 after new wars would erupt. The Party Players and Two Six gang would break out into war causing the Party Players to establish new alliances with old enemies the Saints and Latin Kings. Saints also began engaging in further deep wars with Folk alliance gangs and now by 1989 the violence with Party Players would dissipate and an unexpected alliance with Latin Kings began to arise that was led by younger Saints for the most part. In 1990, Party Players, Saints and City Knights would attach themselves to Folk and People alliances in the Back of the Yards.
On the city’s north side, allied gangs began to experience a breakdown in diplomacy when key gang wars erupted on the north side streets in 1989. Imperial Gangsters and Maniac Latin Disciples began a permanent gang war while Latin Eagles and Spanish Cobras broke out into violence. As this happened the Insanes and the Maniacs were still strong allies, and this was now the beginning of friction between Almighties and Insanes and Maniacs.
Another example of north side friction broke out in 1989 between the Latin Kings against Insane Deuces and Ghetto Brothers organization. All three of these People nation allies got together in 1986 or 1987 to distribute crack cocaine that mainly centered around the Lathrop projects in the North Center and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. Early into this arrangement conflicts and disagreements had already begun but these gangs would carry on their alliance and distribution of crack until 1989. Once full conflict had begun in 1989 the Ghetto Brothers Organization and Insane Deuces fought the Latin Kings savagely but, in the end, the Latin Kings would take over Insane Deuce territory in the projects by 1992 and the Ghetto Brothers Organization went extinct by the end of 1989 much due to this war with Latin Kings.
By 1989, Chicago gangs had spread to several suburbs around the metropolitan area as now Cook, Du Page, Kane and Will counties experienced the heaviest gang activity. Gang activity became pronounced by the end of the 80s in communities more affluent Chicago suburbs like Addison. These suburbs were thought to be untouchable, and it would be a surprise when suburbs like Hinsdale, Oak Brook and Naperville would even become suburbs with Chicago based gang activity. In the year 1989 specifically the suburbs of Romeoville and Villa Park experienced a sharp increase in gang activity. Villa Park now housed Gangster Disciples, Conservative Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Insane Deuces, Latin Counts and Two Six. Villa Park gang activity would make newspapers at times and much of Villa Park gang activity was to not be forgotten beginning in 1989 and through most of the 1990s decade. In 1989 the Gangster Disciples were now beginning a Romeoville chapter in a Latin King suburb.
1990: Latin Kings, Satan Disciples, Insane Popes and Two Six get busy.
As the Hispanic migration wave intensified on the farther southwest side of the city, Satan Disciples, Two Six and Latin Kings now laid claim to most of the new farther southwest side settlements in the Midway Airport area. Gangs like Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players would attempt to destroy most of this new settlement but ended up fiercely defending their territories instead. Insane Popes underwent large growth hitting their organization’s peak of power over the Midway area between the 1989 and 1990 years. The Twelfth Street Players became the first suburban gang to settle in city limits in fiercely contested gang area. By 1990, Two Six and the rest of Gage Park gangs were now fully developed as even the Party People became a full part of Gage Park up to present day. Real estate agencies were busy during these 1988-1990 years assisting white flighters from leaving the southwest side while assisting Hispanic and black families move into these same homes the white flighters just sold. Although block busting was now illegal as of the Bicentennial years these agencies made it work without it being so obvious. In the aftermath, the southwest side experienced hardened gang activity.
Ashburn – During the 1980s decade African American and Hispanic migration was slow and steady but by 1989 the white flight suddenly spiked and black and Hispanic migration grew. A rather low amount of gang activity was found in this community as the biggest gang was the Insane Popes that was more of a gang for youths that had lived in Ashburn their entire lives. These Popes of 83rd Street were all about neighborhood conservation but when the Black P Stones arrived alongside some African American migration in the later 80s the Popes would lay off them as both gangs were allied to the People alliance. The Black P Stones would become a permanent group in the Ashburn community into present day, but the Insane Popes would only last until the 2000s. In 1990 black and Hispanic migration intensified as in a strange simultaneous white flight pattern quickly hatched which began to change these streets quickly. The La Raza street gang was the gang for Hispanic youths until 1990 as this group fought the Insane Popes heavily in Ashburn in the 80s. Now many of these La Raza youths from the 79th and Pulaski area now joined the ranks of the Two Six street gang that arrived here in 1990 amid a massive Two Six expansion on the southwest side. The Satan Disciples would arrive in 1990 settling very close to the Insane Popes causing major gang conflicts. Satan Disciples and Two Six would remain on these streets permanently but the Popes would not.
1990 Garfield Ridge – During the 1970s and 1980s the streets of Garfield Ridge exclusively belonged to the Insane Popes. Insane Popes would battle Satan Disciples and Two Six from nearby communities, but these enemies did not reside in Garfield Ridge. Even the Latin Kings and Latin Counts who were the closest allies to the Popes did not claim Garfield Ridge as one of their own until 1990. A sudden white flight pattern swept Garfield Ridge between 1989 to 1990 which ushered in a rapid Hispanic migration wave and new gangs were introduced like the Latin Kings and Satan Disciples to first address racial issues but would quickly focus only on enemy gangs. Gang conflict would heat up as Popes and Latin Kings went after the Satan Disciples, but the Satan Disciples would remain in Garfield Ridge permanently. The Latin Kings in this neighborhood would also become a permanent part of Garfield Ridge and it all began in 1990.
1990 Canaryville – Canaryville was the home to some of the oldest gang elements in Chicago…but that was the 19th century until the greaser gang era. During the 1970s and 1980s Canaryville became a gang free area despite being located between Fuller Park and Back of the Yards. Canaryville also remained majority white well into the 1980s. Beginning in 1989 Canaryville suddenly experienced a white flight wave which changed some of the community very fast. Hispanic Chicagoans found Canaryville to be desirable because of the sudden drop in value in some properties made the community more affordable to Hispanic families. This brought about some racial conflict and even the Insane Popes would arrive on these streets to sympathize with mainly white youths upset with neighborhood change. The Popes were never very large of a group in this community and would not become a permanent group in Canaryville as they left these streets in the 2000s. The Latin Kings, Satan Disciples and Insane Deuces arrived to protect mainly Hispanic youths dealing with racial conflict but soon these gangs would war with one another. The only alliance would be between Latin Kings and Popes but by the 2010s decade both these gangs left these streets. Satan Disciples made this community one of their 1990 claims and are permanent residents of Canaryville. Insane Deuces would also become a powerful group on these streets and become permanent residents since 1990.
1990 West Lawn and West Elsdon – The West Lawn and West Elsdon communities had been known to be majority white by the 1980s and no one would have expected these communities to ever change especially since a race riot happened here in the late 1940s. It became strange that these two tight-knit communities suddenly experienced white flight in 1989-1990. This sudden departure allowed Hispanic families to move into these now affordable communities. Latin Kings arrived in West Elsdon in 1990 while Satan Disciples and Two Six would arrive in West Lawn in 1990. This brought a 3-way gang war between these two communities as all three of these gangs were trying to take over much of the far southwest side. All three of these gangs would also become permanent residents on these streets. In 1990 these gangs arrived to address racial issues but would soon focus on war with the other gangs.
1990 Clearing – The Clearing community on the farthest southwest side of the city was not only a majority white community, it was also home to many Chicago police officers and was one of the safest se of streets in Chicago. Residents had pride in their community, and one would think this neighborhood would be unchangeable but in the 1989-1990 years would prove this neighborhood was vulnerable to change and vulnerable suddenly. Before 1989 Clearing was comparable to the Mount Greenwood community that was also one of the safest Chicago communities that housed Chicago police officers. Clearing would seemingly still sell out in 1989-1990 as property values dropped shortly after allowing Hispanic families to afford property. These families were looking for a new beginning in a safe community after they became fed up with the violence of Little Village. Little Village area gang members moved into this community alongside the Hispanic migration wave in 1989 and by 1990 the gangs would recruit to address racial issues. The Twelfth Street Players of the Cicero suburb moved onto these streets after being summoned by groups of frustrated white youths that had issues with the arriving Satan Disciples and Two Six groups that arrived to support Hispanic youths. The Insane Popes formed a new branch here in 1990 to recruit among white youths upset with this migration wave but more so against the gangs that arrived alongside the wave. Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players were strong allies which was an advantage for these People nation allies, but as white flight continued through the 1990s and 2000s both gangs would fade out of this area. Two Six and Satan Disciples would become permanent residents of Clearing. Since both gangs arrived, they have been sworn enemies and have made up the majority of gang activity since 1990.
1990 Romeoville – Romeoville was one of the first suburbs to experience Chicago gang activity in Will County dating back to 1980. Beginning in 1989 new groups would begin arriving that would oppose the Romeoville Latin Kings. The Gangster Disciples arrived in 1989 but would not grow into significance until 1990 as this group became a Romeoville Latin King arch enemy. Two Six and Latin Counts now claimed Romeoville as a section. This brought about an intense gang rivalry during the early 1990s years.
The results of 1990
The real estate burst in the late 80s into 1990 was mainly responsible for the deeper migration of Chicago street gangs on the farther southwest side of Chicago. Once again families were steered into certain communities in hurried fashion. White flight was encouraged while African American and Hispanic families were offered housing in a more affordable community, and this lured these families to the southwest side. Once again in history rushed and planned real estate waves would cause cultural conflict and gang conflict. While white gangs were becoming scarce on the north side and south side by 1990, on the southwest side white gangs were at their strongest in history. Now Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players were opening branches in multiple new territories and became even more known in the Midway area. The Two Six, Satan Disciples and Latin Kings street gangs greatly grew in power in 1990 which was much accredited to these organizations expanding to the southwest.
The people that had lived in these communities for many years were not in the wrong for being upset with a sudden and unplanned change. The people that arrived in the southwest in place of the white flighters were not to blame either. The white flighters were made to be worried about a loss of home equity and wanted to get it before they would suffer further loss which was mostly false information fed to them by real estate. The Hispanic and black families that moved in to replace them were promised the opposite. Many Hispanic and black families made this move to provide better opportunities for their children but were met with racial conflict as they settled in their new homes. Although not documented much, there were brief racial clashes in these southwest communities that were intense and worrisome enough for some Hispanic and black youths to call for the assistance from streets gangs from adjacent communities. This form of panic brought too many different gang choices to these more southwest streets which resulted in an immediate clash with each other instead of focusing on ending racial conflict. Within no time many white youths on the southwest side would encounter conflict with the Hispanic and black gangs which led to the call for Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players for protection from Latin Kings, Satan Disciples and Two Six. This was indeed the foundation of the notorious 63rd Street gangbanging of the 1990s and up to present years.
Our city has had a history of pushing entire races of people from one location to another for the sake of profit. If real estate had not had a racially steering agenda ever, we would see true mixed-race communities that would have been more conflict free along racial lines. When races of people are suddenly steered in one location all at once it only creates fear and conflict and, it causes the creation or expansion of gangs. This steering caused Insane Popes and Twelfth Street Players to temporarily obtain more power while this steering permanently built up the power of the Latin Kings, Satan Disciples, Two Six, Party People and Gangsters Disciples. This steering wave also pushed the creation of the Krazy Get Down Boys and Insane Guess Boys.