|Formerly known as||Almighty Popes 1960-1973 and Almighty Insane Popes 1973-1980|
|Colors||Black and baby blue (light blue)|
|Symbols||Monk, pope hat, cross with three slashes above it 1973-present, pitchfork 1978-1992|
|Affiliation||Folks since 1978|
|Founding neighborhood||Ravenswood section of Lincoln Square neighborhood, Lawrence and Rockwell|
|Main neighborhood||Lincoln Square|
There was a time before “Almighty Pope” referred to a gang on the south side near Midway Airport that broke away from the larger Midway area Insane Popes. There was a time when being a Pope meant congregating on Lawrence and Rockwell and bashing on any Latino invaders that wondered into the neighborhood. This time period goes back to the 1960s in the Lincoln Square neighborhood in the Ravenswood section on Chicago’s north side. Greek people in Chicago originally settled in the Near West Side neighborhood around the West Loop/Little Italy section. In the late 1950s, Greek residents were given notice that their homes were to be torn down to make way for the Circle Interchange construction and also the University of Illinois extensions.
By 1960, the great Greek migration began as many Greeks settled in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, mostly in Ravenswood and all around the corner of Rockwell and Lawrence. It was at this very street corner that a neighborhood gang formed up called the “Almighty Popes” that was formed by “Slaughterhouse.”
The people in the neighborhood called them the “Greek Popes.” It was rumored that the Popes formed because of animosity with the Latin Kings, which is completely not true. There were no Latin Kings anywhere in site back in the early 1960s anywhere near Rockwell and Lawrence. Another story said it is because of the Gaylords, once again that is incorrect, the Gaylords nearest to them were in southern West Town which was miles away.
The reason the Popes formed is because there was Puerto Rican migration moving into the Lakeview neighborhood and a little bit in neighboring Uptown. The Young Lords formed in the year 1959 in Lincoln Park and were spreading their influence just north of them. Lincoln Square borders Uptown and Lakeview; therefore, gang activity and Puerto Rican migration bothered Greek youths at Lawrence and Rockwell.
The first conquest outside of the Lincoln Square borders for the Popes happened in about the mid-1960s when the Popes formed in the Irving Park neighborhood and based this branch in Kilbourn Park which is technically in the Hermosa neighborhood, but the Popes spread into Kolmar Park in the Irving Park community. The Popes also hung out at Oddo’s Pizza located at Irving Park Road and Kostner
By 1968, there was more trouble roaming into the Ravenswood area from gangs that dwelled in the nearby Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods. Uptown was a rough neighborhood back then, full of all kinds of poverty and deterioration. Uptown also experienced a large African American migration wave that brought Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples in the later 1960s. More Puerto Ricans also moved in and brought another gang element such as Latin Kings and Harrison Gents.
In 1969, the Gaylords settled in Uptown as well at Sunnyside and Magnolia and the Popes began slugging it out with them as well. The fighting with Gaylords, Latin Kings, P.R. Stones, Vice Lords, and Black Gangster Disciples caused the Popes to open their doors to heavier recruitment, and now there were a lot more of these greasers hanging out on Rockwell and Lawrence. The Gaylords did achieve victory when they took over Kilbourn Park in 1969 away from the Popes, this was a major loss for the Popes at the time, the Popes then moved that base to Kolmar Park.
In 1971, the white gangs on the north side and northwestern streets were feeling outnumbered by Latino gangs, especially since Latino migration was really strong in certain neighborhoods such as Humboldt Park. Many new neighborhoods were feeling the invasion and “white flight” was increasing while Puerto Ricans rushed into buying or renting their old homes. The Latin Kings were swelling in numbers at an accelerated rate while other gangs were following their lead and beginning to grow such as Spanish Cobras and Latin Disciples (MLDs). The white gangs felt it was time to unify and call for a cease fire. The two biggest white gangs at the time were the Almighty Popes and the Gaylords, so they had to make up first. The Simon City Royals were a growing organization but had not quite outpaced the Popes yet but they pledged in. This cease fire or unity was called the “White Power Organization” or “WPO.” During these WPO days all the white gangs would experience incredible growth, especially the Popes.
In 1973, the WPO disbanded because Simon City Royals and Gaylords could not get along, not only that, Popes and Gaylords could not see eye to eye either. At this point the Gaylords, C-Notes, Taylor Jousters, PVPs and Chi-West formed an alliance called the “United Five Organization” or “UFO” which was trouble for the Popes due to the fact that the UFO roamed the north side streets in bands of 100+ members looking to smash on each other’s enemies. Almighty Popes and Simon City Royals formed their own alliance called the “Royal Pope Nation” to show their unity, and together they were a serious force to be reckoned with and together they outnumbered the Gaylords. In this same year, Slaughterhouse moved back to his homeland of Greece and joined the Greek army which would lead to his demise in the army. Slaughterhouse was good friends with a much younger member named Larry “Larkin” Morris who was only about 17 years old at the time. Despite Larkin’s age, he was a big guy who was into working out and he was charismatic. As soon as Larkin took over her started expanding Pope territory outside of Lawrence and Rockwell. Larkin opened new factions in Lincoln Square mainly all over Peterson Park and Hollywood Park. Larkin traveled to the nearby Irving Park neighborhood and opened up a Pope section at Berteua and Kolmar at the Kolmar Park Playlot at 4143 N Kolmar Ave to start the “Kolmar Park Popes.” He also opened Independence Park at Irving Park Road and Springfield Ave. Larkin also opened turf in the Dunning neighborhood, all over Irving Park (mainly around Mayfair Park from Cicero Ave to Pulaski and Bryn Mawr to Montrose, especially at the old Skil factory by the tracks), sections in Albany Park, Portage Park neighborhood around Dickenson Park. Now the Popes had hundreds of members perhaps over 1,000+ members. Larkin along with 3 other members of the Popes created the “Insane” part of their name one day in 1973 while spray painting Pope graffiti on the back of the Sears building at the intersection of Irving Park Road and Cicero Ave. They admired the graffiti and said “Insanity to the max!” as they joked about it they decided the “Insane” moniker would stick and they became the “Almighty Insane Popes.”
In 1974, Larkin inspired a south side group of Popes to form at Marzano’s Miami Bowl at 5023 S. Archer (Komensky and Archer Ave or 51st and Archer) Ave in the archer Heights neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Larkin visited the south side one day to go see his cousin Donnie near Vittum Park in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood. Larkin was confronted by a whole swarm of the Mad Lads street gang and beat up three of them in a fight one at a time, after that Larkin was legend around there, so when a group of kids decided they wanted to start their own gang which they called “Almighty Insane Royal Popes.” They added the “Royal” part to distinguish themselves from the north siders and took the colors of black and white instead of black and light blue. They also asked Larkin if they had permission and Larkin said it was ok and that was the birth of the South Side Popes.
Larkin also opened territory in Logan Square that was very short lived and died out right after 1975, and now I will go into why it died and how to Popes would change forever. One April day in 1975 Larkin was with his brother-in-law Arnold Brazeau as they were cruising down North Keystone when they spotted three Gaylords on the street. Larkin jumped out of the car and began to chase these GLs. Supposedly he was chasing them because nights earlier some GLs broke out Larkin’s windows of his car and one of them was a former Pope that flipped to a GL. During the chase one of the GLs fired four shots at the two but all four bullets missed so Larkin kept chasing them anyway. The GL then fired another group of bullets that struck Larkin and he collapsed dead near 4472. N. Kilpatrick (at a dead end near Wilson and Kilpatrick). He was shot in his abdomen and chest and the killer was the one that used to be a Pope. After this happened the Popes were infuriated over this killing and the Popes sought revenge which put the Popes and Gaylords back into full scale war. Without Larkin’s leadership the Popes were in some disarray and many members flipped to becoming Simon City Royals while some other sets fell apart like the Logan Square Popes.
On November 11, 1978 the Folk nation and People nation alliances were formed in Pontiac Prison. Some of the biggest and oldest gangs were invited into the two alliances including the Popes’ biggest allies the Simon City Royals. Since Popes had the “Royal Pope” alliance the Popes were allowed to join the Folk nation in 1978. The Simon City Royals and Popes were now allies with the newly formed “United Latino Organization” which was a street coalition of the north side gangs that had joined the Folk nation in prison such as Spanish Cobras and Latin Disciples. In 1980, the South Side Popes joined up with the People nation due to having different gangs wars than the north siders. The north side Almighty Insane Popes’ biggest enemies were Latin Kings and Gaylords, while the south side Almighty Insane Royal Popes’ biggest enemies were the Two Sixs, Satan Disciples and Black Gangsters Disciples. Sure the Royal Popes hated Latin Kings and Vice Lords too but not nearly as much as Two Six and the Disciples. The north side Popes could no way join the People nation especially since they hated Latin Kings so badly and now that the Gaylords had joined People it was a definite no no. The Royal Pope alliance would also be shattered if the north siders joined People, so the north siders joined the Folk nation alongside the Royals. The south siders then dropped the “Royal” from their name and became the “Almighty Insane Popes” and joined the People nation because they could not get along with BGDs, SDs and Two Six, so they would rather ally with Latin Kings. The “Almighty” remained in their name but now had a different meaning.
In 1980, a new leader emerged known as “Alpo.” Alpo took over all Pope sets on the north side and enforced Folk nation bylaws and even had his popes throw up the pitchfork as their sign. Alpo ruled throughout the 1980s and maintained many sections. In 1985 the Popes faced extinction if they did not take in members of other races. The majority of gangs were taking in other races including the Vice Lords and Black Gangsters Disciples. Most white gangs refused to take in other races but the Royals and Popes started letting them in and shed their racist beliefs. Now Pope no longer stood for Protection Of The People Eliminating Spics, now it stood for Protection Of The People Eliminating Scum. Regardless of the fact that Popes were taking in other races they still shrunk in size. Many members began to retire while others faced incarceration or prison sentences. There was of course the usual round of flipping that happened that plagued all the white gangs later in the 80s and into the 1990s.
By the mid-1990s Alpo was no longer leading the Popes and many sections folded up in the years after, many of that due to gentrification in Albany Park, Irving Park and Lincoln Square.
Please send in 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s pics!
- If the Popes are any older than 1960, please let me know
- What happened to Alpo? What year was he out of leadership?
- What is the timeline of leaders after Alpo up until the year 2000?
- What year did Lawrence and Rockwell fall?
Zook Published: Updated: