In the year 1975 our nation began a series of celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the United States of America. The action went on from April 1, 1975, until July 4, 1976. The over year long event ended with a major celebration of televised events, live fireworks shows nationwide, and several neighborhood parties went on all 4th of July weekend in 1976, many of which took place in Chicago.
As our nation and our city of Chicago partied hard certain streets of Chicago began to change as, once again, Chicagoans were moving away from certain neighborhoods and into new neighborhoods that did not welcome them. While many Chicagoans partied the night, in certain neighborhoods violent and animosity was sparking.
During the late 1950s through to the late 1960s the streets of Wicker Park, Uptown, Lake View, Lincoln Park, Pilsen, Little Village, Roseland, Calumet Heights, Burnside, Pullman, West Pullman, Washington Heights, Auburn-Gresham, Austin, West Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, East Garfield Park, East Humboldt Park, Bridgeport, South Shore, Heart of Chicago, Englewood, Fuller Park, West Englewood, Marshall Square, Noble Square, East Village, and South Chicago all were changed as African American and Hispanic Chicagoans were encouraged to move into these once white communities. These neighborhoods experienced culture shock as the city neglected to assist with easing racial tensions. Many of these neighborhoods experienced harsh white flight as predatory real estate institutions encouraged such behavior, then to make it worse lending institutions effectively welcomed red lining as these communities became blacklisted as high crime, hopeless communities that needed to be disinvested and left to their fate. Police patrols soon were cut back as less residents were able to pay expensive Chicago taxes which effectively defunded these communities and defunded the police. This also encouraged white flight once homeowners were informed their properties had already begun to decline in value and were soon to decline further causing panicked sales of their long-term homes. The blame had then shifted from the institutions that originally drove these ill-planned real estate shifts to the homeowners that felt they had done the best for their families as they fled a neighborhood that was promised to go into depression. Those families that were encouraged to move into these same communities were promised by real estate institutions a new opportunity in a safer and higher functioning neighborhood. Neighborhoods like West Humboldt Park, Austin, Marshall Square, and Lincoln Park had already gone through a racial change as Hispanic people had moved from the Near West Side neighborhood into Lincoln Park, Marshall Square and West Humboldt Park. African Americans were steered to Austin and West Humboldt Park by the later 1960s. These communities did not fully racially change as many mostly white families fought to retain value of their properties while white teenage and young adult street gangs roamed these streets encouraging more outsiders to look elsewhere besides deciding to find their new homes on these streets. The Bi-Centennial era would finish changing these certain streets and change new streets in new communities unfamiliar to racial change as the city partied on celebrating the big 200.
1975: Change begins in the north
The Bicentennial consisted of a series of nation-wide parties and celebrations that began in 1975 which was like how the mid-70s new migration patterns took place in Chicago during these same years. The change all began on the northern part of Chicago then arrived in the more southern parts of the city as the Bicentennial celebrations carried on.
On the coveted streets of Rogers Park on the far north side of the city, this community had long gotten used to being tucked away at the city’s edge far from change and mostly free of crime besides within the Jonquil apartments and the Juneway Terrace where petty crimes would occur slightly more than the rest of the neighborhood. These apartments were rather shabby and rougher since the 1940s into the 1950s as they nearly sat within the borders of the suburb of Evanston. These apartments changed hands in 1975 or at least began to accommodate lower-income families from the south side and west side. Most of these impoverished families were black Chicagoans seeking a better living on these Rogers Park streets. Alongside these families came members of the Black Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones who would soon clash with one another on these new streets making Howard Street a legendary street of gang activity. Many of these families would also settle in and near Howard Street claiming older homes and apartments near the main strip that divided city from suburb. Howard Street was saturated with affordable apartment buildings for these families.
Rogers Park at this time was not flooded with gang activity; however, many youths that had lived their entire lives on these streets and often listened to the angry talks from displeased adults in the community about the newly arriving Hispanic and black families from impoverished parts of the city were going to ruin the community. The Latin Kings had now arrived for the first time in this new community recruiting among the newly arrived Hispanic youths, many of which had already become victim of racial taunting or were harassed by local small gangs. The Latin Kings were also popular with many white youths in the community but at first were mostly popular with Hispanic youths. Groups like the Latin Kings and the black gangs of Howard Street enraged many long time Rogers Park youths as the Simon City Royals organization was called upon the come settle these streets mainly in the area of Clark Street and Farwell Street. The Simon City Royals now answered that call and recruited upset youths to fight against the new enemies, especially the Latin Kings.
Rogers Park now housed four of Chicago’s powerhouse gangs that now freely roamed these streets violently attacking each other with deadly force. Black Gangster Disciples (now Gangster Disciples) befriended Simon City Royals as Latin Kings befriended Black P Stones which minimized racial tensions re-directing the focus on gang rivalry only. Rogers Park changed quickly during the early months of the Bi-Centennial and would now sometimes be declared one of Chicago’s more dangerous neighborhoods. The Latin Kings, Black P Stones and Gangster Disciples would become permanently part of these streets since the Bicentennial.
The streets of Lincoln Square would fall into a similar fate as Rogers Park during this earlier Bicentennial year as four of Chicago’s most notorious street gangs would now arrive. Lincoln Square was another majority white community that was used to low crime and safe streets. Just like Rogers Park residents would only need to listen to conversations with friends and family from elsewhere in the city that lived in communities that experienced racial change to formulate their own opinions about racial change. The early 1970s had dulled down racial migration patterns city-wide and on these streets, residents assumed they would remain clear of such changes.
In 1975, the steering of African American families to the north brought some of these families to the streets of Lincoln Square as some affordable housing became available. This was not as large of a migration wave as in Rogers Park but was significant enough to cause a stir to the point that the Black P Stones felt the need to assist the black community on these streets. The Gaylords street gang had been residing in Lincoln Square since 1969 and became a gang friendly to life long resident youths for the past six years. The Gaylords would not clash much with the newly arrived Black P Stones because their focus was quickly redirected to the newly arrived Latin Kings that posed a larger threat to the Gaylords. The Insane Popes of Irving Park closed down some of their strong sections elsewhere in the city and now escaped to these streets at Lawrence Street and Rockwell Street to begin a new era. This also displeased the Gaylords who now were at an intense war with Latin Kings and Insane Popes. Insane Popes also recruited among long-time youth residents that had dodged the enticement to join the Gaylords for the past six years. The Popes also had a violent rivalry with Latin Kings and even would clash sometimes with the Black P Stones.
From what I have gathered the Black P Stones did not engage in too many gang wars in this community and the fighting remained within the Popes, Gaylords and Latin Kings. In later years The Gaylords and Black P Stones would have a unity within the People alliance.
This sudden slight racial migration along with a gang migration soon made these streets tough as this community endured intense rivalries for two decades until mid-1990s police sweeps and tougher neighborhood watch groups eradicated most of the gang activity. This rivalry was often quite racial especially between Latin Kings and the Insane Popes and Gaylords. The Gaylords of Lincoln Square were so bitter toward Latin Kings they refused to join the People alliance in the 1980s even though almost the rest of the Gaylords city-wide had joined.
Although Lincoln Square would gentrify greatly in later decades the Black P Stones and Latin Kings would remain permanent parts of Lincoln Square since they arrived in the Bicentennial then later surviving gentrification.
As these Bicentennial racial migration waves swept the northern part of the city it was just a matter of time before Albany Park would become much more affordable as neglect set in. This neighborhood became less cared for by the city and soon became a higher crime community. Local youths became displeased how their neighborhood they grew up in was falling into despair. These families could not afford to leave this community as their better off financially friends soon fled these streets at the first sign of trouble. These families did not want to continue to see their homes drop in value and wanted to preserve as much equity as possible; however, much of their projected losses were exaggerated or fabricated reports received from various sources.
As Albany Park became a tougher neighborhood by the beginning of the Bicentennial the long-time youths of this community called upon the Simon City Royals and the Gaylords to recruit in this neighborhood. As these mostly white gangs arrived a war erupted between them which made them lose focus of their original purpose. The Latin Kings, Puerto Rican Stones and Future Stones had arrived in the same 1975 year and challenged all gangs. The Latin Kings and the Stones recruited among the newly arriving Hispanic population often protecting groups of Hispanic youths from attacks from mostly white gangs. Many long time Albany Park youths clashed with Stone and Latin King groups that would victimize them drawing them into the ranks of the Simon City Royals and Gaylords.
When the city began neglecting Albany Park the gangs arrived to fill that void. This was another neighborhood changed by real estate steering during the Bicentennial. Latin Kings, Simon City Royals and Gaylords would become permanent residents of Albany Park since the Bicentennial year of 1975.
The project Kings.
Since the year 1964 the Latin Kings of Lincoln Park ruled the Armitage and Sheffield area of the neighborhood. The Latin Kings were still strong and heavily active on these streets during the Bicentennial and when an opportunity came to enhance the power of the Latin Kings in the Lincoln Park area the Latin Kings gladly took the new opportunity very quickly.
In the year 1975 the Insane Deuces that once ruled the Lathrop public housing projects now felt it was best to allow Latin Kings to move into the Lathrop projects in the Clybourne to Damen, and Leavitt to Hoyne area which was on the Lincoln Park side of the projects. These Latin Kings became quite powerful in these projects and lived peacefully with Insane Deuces for a little over a decade until drug disputing over crack cocaine destroyed that friendship in 1989. The Insane Deuces left the projects in 1992 but the Latin Kings would last into the 2010s decade when the projects closed their doors. This was another early Bicentennial settlement.
Southern West Town
South of Chicago Avenue along the border with Noble Square, Ukrainian Village, East Village and East Humboldt Park sat one of the older Italian settlements in Chicago since the 1880s. This part of the West Town community was a long-time home to the original C-Notes and original Gaylords who were some of the toughest Chicago gangsters one could encounter. By the Bicentennial these older warriors had been gangbanging since the late 1950s and were ready to hang it up and retire elsewhere in the city or the suburbs. Once these men left alongside much of the longer time Italian community Hispanic Chicagoans from East Humboldt Park, Pilsen and Wicker Park moved into this old Italian community as the C-Notes let these new groups of Hispanic youths know they still ran this neighborhood. Some groups of youths called upon assistance from the Maniac Latin Disciples of East Humboldt Park, the Harrison Gents and Milwaukee Kings of Wicker Park and the Satan Disciples of the Pilsen community to assist these youths against the C-Notes. The Milwaukee Kings soon moved their entire headquarters onto these streets. Maniac Latin Disciples and Milwaukee Kings were close with each other during these times and there was no issue with Harrison Gents. Satan Disciples and Maniac Latin Disciples found similarities to each other and soon the C-Notes were being ganged up on; however, the territory held by the C-Notes would remain intact for decades to follow and to this present day the C-Notes remain at Ohio and Leavitt while most of their ally supported rivals left long ago.
In later years all these gangs would join the Folk alliance; however, war eventually ensued between them. The first Folk against Folk war was between the Harrison Gents and Satan Disciples.
Violent gang wars erupted in this community for decades after this Bicentennial settlement. The Satan Disciples would become a permanent fixture on this community and was part of the Bicentennial settlement as they continue to clash with the C-Notes up to present day.
The rise of the 4s and Souls: The conquest of Austin
Chicago’s west side began a racial transition beginning in the 1950s and accelerating into the 1960s. The west side also became an increasingly neglected, redlined and forgotten part of the city that had become synonymous with poverty, high crime, blight and hopelessness. White flight patterns and red lining devastated these streets transforming them into some of the hardest and most feared streets in Chicago. By the end of the 1960s West Humboldt Park and Austin remained the only majority white communities left on the west side and redlining was already setting in as block busting real estate agencies continued to comb these streets steering white residents out while steering black families to move in. By the beginning of the 1970s decade both neighborhoods already had a hard-core gang element that had migrated to these streets from other communities. The Latin Kings had established themselves well on the streets of West Humboldt Park while multiple Vice Lord factions now called Austin home.
Early Vice Lord groups in the late 60s and early 70s in Austin were not major drug distribution outfits nor did they claim this neighborhood as theirs. They remained within certain territories in Austin defending themselves from invaders while still holding onto civil rights beliefs. The Vice Lords of Austin often took on the roll as father figures to young black youths that were often taunted and bullied by groups of angry white Austinites upset with the new racial transition.
By the mid-1970s white flight had now swept Austin at an accelerated rate as now Austin had become fully redlined by the Bicentennial years as this now majority black community had fallen into the same fate as the rest of the west side leaving residents feeling cheated being steered into a collapsing neighborhood. Poverty set in deep leaving many young black youths in a state of desperation to have an income in this employment desert after most businesses that once brought employment closed their doors forever, many of which are still closed today.
At the beginning of the Bicentennial in 1975, the west side’s most prominent black streets gangs came together for the purpose of business as now the Black Souls and Four Corner Hustlers had at last become popular among west side black youths. Key leaders of Vice Lord groups, Four Corner Hustlers, Black Souls and the Black Gangster Disciples found themselves behind bars by 1975 leaving a leadership void for the many thousands of youths attached to the various west side gangs. Soon community activism, civil right movements and youth organizations would leave these streets as the freshly incarcerated leaders that represented such programs were now serving time in prison. Government agencies and non-profit organizations had been withdrawing from the west side since 1969 and by 1975 these organizations had severed all ties to the gangs and these streets the gangs lived on leaving young black males with no guidance and most importantly with no source of income. These were turbulent times in the U.S. as our economy was facing an inevitable recession as much of the blue collar jobs that supported so many families were leaving the Chicago area leaving several thousand unemployed with no new opportunities on the horizon. This is when the west side gangs took matters into their own hands and began engaging in wide scale cocaine and heroin distribution with heroin becoming the highest paying job and many times the only job on the west side. In an organized effort Black Souls, Four Corner Hustlers, Vice Lord factions and the Black Gangster Disciples established business driven alliances geared toward heroin distribution. These arrangements brought one territory gangs into great strength as the Four Corner Hustlers and Black Souls would benefit seemingly the most from this new Bicentennial arrangement. Four Corner Hustlers and Black Souls would now expand into new territory outside of their original Garfield Park stomping grounds as Austin became the new promised land for drug profits. Gang leaders mapped out Austin’s streets that led to the abundant expressway system access points and began aggressively recruiting youths near these points of entry in and out of the neighborhood as now heroin could make its way through the main vein streets of Austin transforming Austin into the “Heroin Superhighway.”
Black Souls and Four Corner Hustlers would become the most efficient drug distributors on the whole west side but the heart of their profits and power now was shifted from Garfield Park to Austin as these ripe streets made for large profits that even the Vice Lord factions would now partake. Austin had now entered a new era that would last into present day as these Bicentennial years changed these streets and the organizations on these streets forever.
1976: the heart of the Bicentennial
As America’s celebrations continued to grow in 1976, migratory shifts continued as steering and block busting efforts almost seemed to be completing a Bicentennial era drive to change Chicago’s streets for the sake of profit. These efforts now shifted deeper into neighborhoods previously dotted with change in the 1960s. Changes would also arrive in new Chicago metropolitan neighborhoods as change even spread to the western and northwestern suburbs and in Chicago neighborhoods thought to be previously untouchable for hardened gang activity. The results of this new change brought about immediate violent and deadly results while other communities would experience gang activity for the first time.
The new wave of change to West Humboldt Park
Since 1962 West Humboldt Park had been changing racially at a steadier pace as this community remained majority white during the early 1970s. The southern part of this neighborhood was now majority black and Hispanic by the early 70s and much of the eastern part of the community. The most northern part of the community by North Avenue between Bloomingdale Trail and the streets west of Central Park Ave remained majority white. In the eastern part of the community the Latin Kings reigned supreme over any other gang force in the east and south and successfully had eliminated any other gang elements in those areas. The southern part of the neighborhood closer to Chicago Avenue became mostly gang free entering the early-mid-70s years of 1973-1975 as police efforts ended the presence of much of the Supreme Gangsters and all of the existence of the Black Souls.
Beginning in 1969 through to 1971, the Gaylords, Playboys and Simon City Royals arrived on the streets west of Central Park Avenue and carried on gang conflicts with the Latin Kings to the east until the mid-70s. Many residents on these streets west of Central Park Ave feared migration patterns and that gangs would spread west and now change their streets. Many residents fought to upkeep neighborhood and property values deflecting block busting and red lining efforts all through the 1960s and in the early 70s. White street gangs battled to keep criminal and rival gang elements from entering these coveted streets but by the Bicentennial that passion became lost as seemingly driven changes began to overcome neighborhood spirit and long time West Humboldt Park residents now began to lose interest in their fight and now focused on new lives in the suburbs.
The transition of the northwestern part of West Humboldt Park during the Bicentennial was rapid lasting less than a year’s time to completely change these streets forever. Long time West Humboldt Park residents resisted much temptation for white flight during the 1960s into the earlier 1970s and it could have been expected that slow white flight pattern would continue but instead the neighborhood endured an intense culture and gang shock during the Bicentennial that started bad blood and hard feelings between gangs carrying on for decades into present day. West Humboldt Park has often been deemed one of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago. These streets have housed some of Chicago’s hardest gang element in the city and much of it can be attributed to the early gang history of West Humboldt Park in the years 1962-1977.
Early racial clashing is what fueled the early development of the Latin Kings and Gangster Disciples in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood. Black and Hispanic families began moving to the area south of Chicago Avenue down to Franklin BLVD/ Ferdinand Parkway in the later 1950s until 1962 in very sparse numbers never arriving alongside any migration waves. Most of this early migration was unnoticeable and non-objectionable to West Humboldt Park long time residents. The objection began in 1962 when early block busting efforts began to accelerate as more long-time residents living on these streets near Chicago Avenue began to fear crime and poverty in the nearby Garfield Park area. Those that remained struggled to uphold the value of this part of Humboldt Park and much of the youth gathered along Chicago Avenue forming gangs that often bullied Hispanic and black youths driving Hispanic youths to usher in gangs from other neighborhoods, one of which was the Imperials from the Near West Side. The Imperials would evolve into the notorious Latin Kings that proudly called Ohio and Kedzie their home. This Latin King element held these streets for three years until white flight took another turn as long time mostly white residents began to leave the streets of Central Park Avenue heading east to the park south of North Avenue. The Latin Kings quickly claimed these streets in 1967 opening their notorious Beach Avenue and Spaulding Avenue headquarters. From Beach and Spaulding, the Latin Kings quickly advanced from North Avenue to Grand Avenue and from Central Park Ave to Kedzie. Intense racial clashing with white gangs like Simon City (not Simon City Royals) and others created one of the hardest gang elements in Chicago history as these Latin Kings of West Humboldt Park would become legendary after going head-to-head with some of the most psychopathic greaser gangs in the city.
The Supreme Gangsters (Gangster Disciples) began a conquest of the west side of Chicago beginning in 1967 and in 1968 this organization would arrive for the first time to recruit this now African American majority area. After the Puerto Rican people left this area along Chicago Avenue in 1967 African Americans would replace them and quickly became the majority. When African Americans arrived in 1967 white gangs were fading out of the area and posed a minimal threat. Instead, Hispanic gangs and much of the Hispanic community just to the north did not mix well with these black families and racial conflict soon began that became more intense than the previous conflicts between whites and Hispanics. The Supreme Gangsters and Black Souls arrived in 1968 as both gangs were spreading out beyond their original neighborhoods in this same year making settlement on these streets convenient. Within a very short time Black Souls and Supreme Gangsters became archrivals as conflicts with Hispanic groups were of far less focus that conflict with each other. The war was violent, and murders were published by the Chicago Tribune detailing violent gang murders between the two gangs. In 1973-1974 law enforcement brutally cracked down on these gangs wiping out the Black Souls and either wiping out this first element of Supreme Gangsters or at least leaving them to be dormant until the Bicentennial. During the Bicentennial in 1976 the Supreme Gangsters would re-emerge on these same streets but now using the name Black Gangster Disciples. I am not positive if this was the same branch that now re-surfaced or if this was a new faction, but I personally believe this was not the old element and that this was an entirely new group that had arrived alongside a large African American migration wave of 1976.
Not only did a Black Gangster Disciple/Supreme Gangster element return to the streets south of Chicago Avenue; multiple Vice Lord factions also moved onto these same streets as Traveling Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Mafia Insane Vice Lords, Unknown Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords all crammed into these streets in 1976 setting off an immediate vicious gang rivalry. These gangs would also go head-to-head with the Latin Kings, a gang conflict meshed with racial conflicts.
Vice Lord groups and Black Gangster Disciples also landed on the streets north of Chicago Avenue and west of Pulaski up to Division Street in an area that was once rather neutral from gang activity. This area bordered the West Garfield Park neighborhood and during the Bicentennial year many of these families or families from other majority black neighborhoods were steered to live in this area and once the gangs arrived in this area there was immediate racial and gang conflicts with Hispanic gangs that had just moved north of Division in former Gaylords, Playboy and Simon City Royal turf. Insane Unknowns, Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples, YLO Disciple/Cobras and Imperial Gangsters arrived on these far northern streets as these gangs would clash heavily with Latin Kings and black street gangs. YLOs, Spanish Cobra, Maniac Latin Disciples and Imperial Gangsters established an alliance that would eventually extend to the Black Gangster Disciples, but Insane Unknowns managed alone until they unified with the Latin Kings and Vice Lords a few years later.
The Bicentennial was the beginning of the most violent and permanent conflicts between West Humboldt Park gangs. The 1976 racial steering was haphazard and ill-planned allowing deep conflict that can never be forgiven or forgotten even now in present day, and it all began during the Bicentennial year of 1976.
The first Hispanic migration to Hermosa and the first Hispanic gang
Just north of West Humboldt Park sat the northwest side community of Hermosa that was much coveted to working class white families. The streets were safe and everyone in the neighborhood knew each other which made an ideal environment for Hermosa’s majority. White gangs like the White Knights, Gaylords, Playboys and Taylor Jousters stood guard day and night roaming and patrolling these streets making sure no “undesirables” wondered on to these streets. Many long-term residents were appalled by the idea of people of another race moving onto these streets in high number but during the Bicentennial year of 1976 Hermosa would experience a sizeable Hispanic migration wave that caused a stir. White gangs in Hermosa especially were tough on Hispanic youths especially now that a sudden migration wave brought fear the neighborhood would completely change, and the white gangs would re-act. Hispanic youths soon called upon the assistance of the Imperial Gangsters from Logan Square to aid them against white gangs, some of the same white gangs the Imperial Gangsters fought in Logan Square like Taylor Jousters and Gaylords.
Although some block busting and steering efforts worked to push a significant percentage of whites out of Hermosa in 1976 the neighborhood was highly resilient to much more of this crooked real estate practices and this Hispanic migration wave was short lived as were the Imperial Gangsters, but the Bicentennial year was the debut year that Hispanic gangs would roam these streets.
New migration to Lincoln Park: The Royal curtain spreads
Since the year 1959, Lincoln Park was the sight of racial transition in many parts as white families were steered to the suburbs as one of Chicago’s larger Puerto Rican populations settled on these streets and were less than welcomed by long-time mostly white residents. The Young Lords gang and several other smaller Puerto Rican groups took formation to battle back against these hostile white gangs and by the later 1960s Puerto Rican gangs now dominated these streets. The Latin Kings especially became most powerful as they conquered up and down Armitage Avenue.
During the year 1974, the Insane Unknowns made their way onto these streets and were not viewed as a large threat to many white gangs as many white members once called themselves Insane Unknowns since the mid-60s. When the Simon City Royals brought about their royal curtain spread across the city during the Bicentennial, Lincoln Park’s intersection of Fullerton and Southport became ideal stomping grounds for the Royals. Their allies the Insane Unknowns happened to already be in this neighborhood off Lincoln Avenue but now they wanted to hangout in the nearby Wrightwood Park area at Ashland and Wrightwood, but this upset some of the Simon City Royals from Southport and Fullerton. It was acceptable for Royals and Unknowns to be friends as long as they didn’t infringe on each other’s properties. Legend has it that most Royals had no issue with this settlement but all it took was one leader to make the decision for the rest of the Royals as he ended the life of a young leader of the Unknowns in front of his friends. This would begin an unforgiving war between these two gangs that is still a war into present day. Both these gangs would wage war with each other and the Latin Kings into the 2000s decade until gentrification wiped out all the gangs of Lincoln Park, but the Bicentennial year would still always mark the start of the Simon City Royal and Insane Unknown war.
Suburban migration: The first white and Hispanic gangs from the city to the suburbs
During the Bicentennial years local factories near Maywood and Melrose Park began to close their doors permanently that was the source of employment for many long-time Maywood residents. Many former workers responded by selling their homes and leaving the community as the suburb of Maywood did not have much more to offer than employment that was now no longer a feature of the suburb. Property values soon plummeted as this community was soon to face poverty which became an ideal suburb to steer black and Hispanic families looking to escape the harsh realities of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. These families felt they had made it far in life being able to live in the suburbs that were once almost impossible for a black family to make a life in besides the impoverished south suburbs of communities like Ford Heights, parts of Chicago Heights and Robbins. At first it was uplifting until these families soon found no employment opportunities and Maywood was becoming disinvested. Although white gangs were not an issue in Maywood newly arriving black families faced racially motivated mistreatment and some violence from many angry white residents. The same population of Maywood that treated blacks as second-class citizens also treated newly arrived Hispanic families the same way. Some Hispanic youths responded by calling upon the Marshall Boulevard and 24th Street Latin Kings to come to Maywood and assist with these conflicts. This brought about the recruitment of the Maywood Latin Kings that were built in 1976 amid the Bicentennial.
These Maywood Latin Kings would begin recruiting in the suburb across the railroad tracks from Maywood which was the mostly Italian suburb of Melrose Park. In a small section of the suburb Hispanic families were able to move to Melrose Park and this is where Latin Kings opened another suburban chapter which would be their second Chicago suburb also established in 1976. Many groups of Italian boys gathered in Melrose Park and formed cliques that were similar to gangs. These groups often bullied Hispanic youths driving them to join the ranks of the Latin Kings.
During that same Bicentennial year Latin Kings touched down in the suburb of Aurora in 1976 along with the Insane Deuces. Although both of these gangs would not recruit or make a presence until 1980, 1976 was the first year these gang had any members living in this suburb.
During the Bicentennial year of 1976, Latin Kings become the first and only Chicago based Hispanic gang to settle the suburbs as they arrived in Aurora, Maywood and Melrose Park. This would begin a long-term and permanent Latin King presence in these neighborhoods up to present day. The Latin Kings were the first Hispanic Chicago based gang ever in the suburbs as they arrived in Cicero in 1964 but the first long term permanent settlement happened in 1976.
During the Bicentennial years conflicts with Hispanic and black gangs brought on exhausting and costly violent gang wars for many of Chicago’s toughest and most hardened white gang members. Many white gang members had moved out of the city before the Bicentennial but for those that remained they needed to prepare for the most dangerous gang banging ever experienced but for many of the gang members in their 20s and older that had families, engaging in such intense gang warfare would be too costly for his family; therefore, these brave mostly white warriors now needed to find a new home in the quiet far north west side of the city. Neighborhoods like Dunning, Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Montclair, Norwood Park had only experienced fist fighting furious greaser type gangs since the 1950s making this area ideal for the white gang banger heading toward retirement. C-Notes, Gaylords and Insane Popes were the main groups to partake in this flight as many also settled in the Italian suburbs of Elwood Park and Norridge. These were the first gangs to settle in these communities as Gaylords, Popes and C-Notes became the first white Chicago based gangs to settle in the suburbs in Norridge and Elmwood Park. The problem soon arose that these gangs did not want to share these new territories with these other white gangs, and this is when gang banging in the northwest suburbs began. During these early years C-Notes and Gaylords were allies but the Gaylords certainly did not like the Popes. The C-Notes made the Chicago neighborhood of Jefferson Park their new home starting the notorious J-Park C-notes. All this was during the Bicentennial year of 1976.
Marshall Square/Little Village: The second wave of new gang arrivals.
In 1962, the Little Village community experienced the first major Hispanic migration wave that would bring about the arrival of the notorious Marshall Boulevard Latin Kings in 1964. This was brought on by a three-year long feud between the Gaylords and several groups and small gangs of Hispanic youths. By 1966, when the racial conflict died out as white gangs left the area arriving gangs from adjacent Hispanic communities settled mostly on the streets of Marshall Square. During the fateful year of 1966 the Artistics, Harrison Gents, Satan Disciples and Morgan Deuces now moved into these streets and became major organizations in this area. In response to this arrival the Sin City Boys and Ridgeway Lords were formed in 1966 to fight back these arriving gangs.
Now that the Bicentennial arrived nearly all the remaining white population left Little Village and Marshall Square allowing the arrival of more Hispanic families as more housing was made available. This community area was also increasingly redlined making for more affordable housing for more impoverished Hispanic families. During this transition white residents had moved out of the Marshall Square Lawndale Gardens projects as the projects became a completely Hispanic community as the Latin Counts now dominated these buildings. During this same Bicentennial migration wave came Ambrose that moved in on 26th Street. The Villa Lobos gang had previously arrived in the year 1970 and were always a quieter and smaller group but when the Bicentennial changes came to Little Village in 1976 the Villa Lobos were able to spread their influence throughout these streets becoming one of Little Village’s larger gangs.
As new gangs were arriving in this community area and old gangs like the Satan Disciples and Latin Kings were aggressively recruiting groups of long-time youth, residents became upset by this new gang wave and started their own gangs to fight back like the Kents and the Two Two Boys that both began in 1976. Within no time the Kents would merge with the Artistics to form the Artistic Kents that would later become the Stone Kents. The notorious Party Players had their start on these streets during the Bicentennial as they first attempted to be a party crew in 1976 until they were forced into gang life by 1977 after wars with Satan Disciples.
Beginning in the Bicentennial Little Village and Marshall Square would soon become the sight of the craziest and heaviest gang activity in the neighborhood’s history as several different sets of colors proudly were flaunted on these streets until one gang after another vanished leaving just Latin Kings, Satan Disciples, Two Six and Two Two Boys. Although most of the Bicentennial born gangs have now left these streets for a number of years the legends remain.
Unrest on the south side
During the 1960s as black migration swept the deeper south side, residents of Marquette Park, Gage Park and Brighton Park waited nervously to find out their fate as possibly becoming the next neighborhoods to undergo racial change. This part of the south side became a region of interest in 1966 for civil rights activism as these communities seemed like the least tolerant for black migration within their confines. This resulted in a demonstration from Martin Luther King and a large march of mostly black protestors that marched through this area of the city pushing for civil rights. Although the movement was legendary it failed to change these neighborhoods into an integrated area as all three of these communities remained all-white neighborhoods until the Bicentennial years. During these years white gangs formed like the South Side Heads and the White Knights that swore to defend these streets from “undesirables.”
These neighborhoods soon became target for predatory real estate agencies as fear was spread that black and Hispanics would move in and take over the community. Many of these residents also feared their jobs at the nearby factories would be gone soon which inevitably did happen later in the decade making a recipe for a very small amount of white flight from these neighborhoods during the Bicentennial. When Hispanic families moved in during the Bicentennial year of 1976 there was some uproar especially in Marquette Park as the neo-Nazis firmly established their headquarters on these streets. The biggest drive behind all this neo-Nazi activity was not so much Hispanic migration but instead there were fears of black migration from their neighbors to the east of Western Avenue in the West Englewood community. When the Bicentennial years arrived, West Englewood had now become a majority black community as white flight accelerated during these years. The neo-Nazis of Marquette Park responded by invading West Englewood and attacking many blacks. This invasion was not covered much in media outlets, but a race war did happen during the Bicentennial year of 1976. While our nation and our city celebrated such a great milestone a heated and violent race war ensued between Marquette Park whites and West Englewood black mainly driven by the neo-Nazis.
1977, the beginning of the Brighton Park and Marquette Park mafias
Now that the Bicentennial had just passed, the effects of that time period had a permanent affect on the streets of Brighton Park, Marquette Park and Gage Park. The closing of factories in the area along with the fears of a racial change that were driven by the crooked real estate agencies got the white flight phenomenon in motion as more Brighton Park and Marquette Park homes and rental properties became affordable and available for Hispanic families. Among the first Hispanic families to move to Marquette Park along 63rd Street came the Ambrose and Two Six gangs. There was perhaps a racial conflict these two gangs were involved in with white power white gangs of Marquette Park but in time these Hispanic gangs would fight one another. Marquette Park long time residents immediately fought back against change as they worked hard to stop predatory real estate practices and maintain the value of their homes and public properties. This ultimately discouraged further migration changes until the late 1980s but this initial small wave following the Bicentennial years was enough to establish the notorious 63rd Street Two Sixs and Ambrose that remain permanent residents on these streets.
In Brighton Park in 1977 the Two Six gang arrived on these streets as well as the Satan Disciples. Both gangs would fight white groups like the White Knights and the South Side Heads but would eventually consider each other bigger enemies. These two gangs still rule the streets of Brighton Park presently only allowing smaller gangs to settle these streets for short periods of time for the last four and half decades.
The Two Sixs were able to claim the streets of Brighton Park and Marquette Park in 1977 because this was the same year Two Six re-organized adopting colors, symbols and organization as the gang allowed members that were direct family to upper echelon members of the Mexican drug cartels. When the Ayala family began a take over of Two Six in 1977 the gang became well armed and developed incredible charisma allowing them to take in many of the newly migrated Hispanic youths in Brighton Park and Marquette Park. The Two Sixs had become a hard-core gang that had rapidly growing popularity which allowed them to make history on the south side streets.
Rage grows in the far northwest.
During the Bicentennial year of 1976 the Jefferson Park C-Notes now thoroughly enjoyed these new pristine streets. But once white gangs flying the Freaks gang flag showed up in Jefferson Park and Norwood Park anger soon erupted as fist fighting gang wars now plagued these streets after the Freaks arrived in 1977. The C-Notes were especially angered by this which proves Hispanic gangs were not their only enemy and considered undesirables. These semi-retired C-Notes wanted complete domination of these new streets but when the Freaks arrived that meant their total control would be pushed back. Now these semi-retired C-Notes found themselves becoming fully active gang bangers once again, but the only difference was, they did not have to worry about their lives or their family’s lives because both gangs would only use their bullets on rival Hispanic gangs rather than against each other. This fist fighting conflict continued into the 2000s decade until it fizzled out by the turn of the century after police became fed up with this conflict suppressing both gangs.
Don’t blame each other, blame the institutions of greed and politics!
Over the years many discussions have gone back and forth about how white flight destroyed much of the impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago and all over the United States. In recent years I have seen videos on Tik Tok, YouTube or other sources with people blaming white flight and white people for fleeing these communities long ago leaving these neighborhoods devastated. I also have seen many social media outlets and have heard many discussions for decades from many whites blaming blacks and Hispanics for how these same white flighted neighborhoods fell into high crime and despair tarnishing their fond childhood memories of when they used to live on these streets, or their relatives once did. Arguments and debates continue back and forth about who is the culprit. I have heard arguments that Hispanic and black people are to blame for letting these neighborhoods go into despair and I have heard opposing arguments that the white man was racist and left these communities so the communities they left could crumble and that it was done out of pure hate. I am here to not take either side, nor will I even state that both sides are wrong. I am here to state that both sides were right and did the best they could despite the situation that was suddenly put upon them. Sure, there was racism shed from both sides and sure some families left these neighborhoods out of hate while others moved into these same neighborhoods with hate and anger in their hearts, but the true overall cause is not the people’s fault. It isn’t the black and Hispanic people’s fault, and it isn’t the white man’s fault either, there was a much higher power(s) at work here that put together this perfect disaster for the personal gain of business.
In this piece I have highlighted a certain period of time in Chicago history where certain parts of the Chicago area underwent rapid change that caused devastating culture shock and economic shock. What I have noticed with my studies is that neighborhoods tend to change very quickly or have a certain short-lived era where a second migration wave changes entire communities within a matter of months. If you think about this, it is a devastating change when you consider the populations of any given neighborhood in Chicago. Most Chicago neighborhoods house as many people as larger towns. When you are considering a neighborhood that has a population between 30,000 to 50,000 people as an example that is over 90% white then two years later the community is over 90% black that means tens of thousands of residents suddenly leave within a few months’ time while another tens of thousands move in. This is a colossal turn around indeed. Imagine attending a school in your Chicago neighborhood and you know everyone in school, then by the end of the school year you don’t know a single face in the classrooms and hallways. This was the reality in Chicago, and I have found a direct link to the formation or growing of power with Chicago street gangs happening simultaneously alongside sudden real estate changes. I am still trying to get an exact event timeline together of what exact programs were launched during and around the years of 1958, 1964, 1976, 1979-1980 and 1990 but for now I have had lots of witness testimony from the people of the streets that have given me exact years that the gangs formed which directly coincides with sudden migration patterns.
The causes of these sudden migration shifts is still not known by me yet but I can speculate there was some kind of programs put together during these milestone migration years and it usually has to do with politics, banks, affirmative action and investment.
Politicians benefit or get involved in such migration plans because they want to have the image that they are helping minority groups move into better homes; therefore, politicians will often lead such drives to gain votes and support. The politicians will not be concerned with generating funding to ease this transition so it does not have devastating future results instead they will be part of the beginning of the change then clean their hands of further responsibility and follow through.
Affirmative action groups benefit from such migration patterns very similarly to politicians. These groups will preach that conditions are unfair for racial minorities and petition for institutions to assist with a migration shift and even push against opposition, the issue is, just like the politicians, once the move is complete, they will often wash their hands of any devastating effects or may join in on efforts for neighborhood assistance after it is too late and such later programs tend to fail.
Banks get involved with these migration patterns because they have the power to financially destroy these communities after the migration change by declaring these communities no longer fit for middle class America, especially white America. This assists real estate companies that invade these communities pushing long time residents to sell their homes right to the real estate firms out of fear of financial devastation. The banks and real estate firms can easily work together to generate major profit from these moves especially if real estate firms give any monetary kick backs to the banks in exchange for new redlining reports. Real estate firms were also responsible for steering which is a tactic that would blind minority families from options to move into better communities while steering them to soon to be redlined communities by fabricating promises these communities had a bright future.
Investors come into play by showing interest in certain areas of the city that have potential for heavy redevelopment; therefore, they end up in the back pockets of politicians for zoning permits, banks for installing redlining into the target area and real estate agencies to begin social steering. Once minority groups leave financially devastated areas investors can now purchase property at rock bottom rates and redevelop those areas into profit generators. Good examples happened in the Loop, Near North Side, Near South Side, Douglas, Oakland, Near West Side just as some examples. These investors can even have the power to change highly functioning neighborhoods and turn them into ghettos within a few short years as long as they remain in the back pockets of other power figures. If they work with real estate and trash a community into a ghetto they can then turn around and buy up that disinvested cheap property and continue the cycle.
I will not delve too much more into this because eventually I will have a piece going into details about all these major years of change in Chicago which will highlight 1958, 1964, 1966, 1976, 1979-1980 and 1990 and what was the driving forces for these changes. For now, stop arguing with one another and stop blaming each other and stop hating each other for the white flight eras. Please open your mind wider and think about the bigger picture. At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for ourselves and our families which is why this happened in history. One group of people wanted a haven from poverty and depression while giving their children a better future while the other group also wanted what was best for the future of their children and retaining value of their properties. Remember this before you decide to take one side or another and remember that both sides of white flight were had by the higher powers and the gangs are a result because someone needed to fill a void.