Harrison Gents

Founded Founded in 1959 in or near Near West Side
Founding story

Founded Near West Side – Tri Taylor, Harrison and Western.

Formerly known as

Harrison Gents Beginning to 1992; Insane Harrison Gents 1992-1995

Affiliations ;
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Colors Black and Purple
Primary ethnicities Latino (Puerto Rican), White, and African American
Symbols Goatee Face, Eyeglass, Top Hat, Cane, Gloves, Lion, and Crest
Symbol usage

Face with wearing a goatee, eyeglass and top hat, top hat, cane, gloves, 187, two lions by a crest (before 1980); Pitchfork 1980-1992

Status Active

The story of the Harrison Gents begins in the year 1957 when a group of Puerto Rican, Irish and African American boys from Harrison and Western in the Near West Side neighborhood were forced to protect their neighborhood from invading gang like the Egyptian Cobras, Taylor Street Dukes, Clovers and Imperial Chaplains.  The gangs were hungry for dominance and wanted to take over this main intersection.  These kids at this intersection were good kids that were well-mannered and especially were respectful to women of all ages, basically they were well-behaved gentlemen.  The problem was they were also bullied and attacked by gangs which drove them to fight almost everyday.

In the year 1959, the boys decided it was time to organize into a gang and they had no choice due to constant invasions.  They decided on the name “Harrison Gents” because they were from Harrison Street and the “Gents” part came from the fact they were gentlemen to women.  They chose the color purple because it was a popular zoot suit color back then.

 

The HGs began congregating just down the block at Claremont Playlot located at 2334 W. Flournoy St (Flournoy and Western), this is where they congregated and swelled in numbers in the 1960s.  The HGs eventually advanced east down to Damen Ave and encompassed Damen Ave to Western Ave and Harrison Street to Flournoy.  This was all just about 2 blocks away from the Taylor Street gangs and not far from the Vice Lords of North Lawndale.

In the year 1964, some Puerto Rican members of the Harrison Gents migrated to the East Village neighborhood  at Ashland and Beach and this put them into direct conflict with the Latin Kings that were arriving at the same time at Ashland and Cortez during the great Puerto Rican migration to West Town area. The Gents that arrived here also slugged it out viciously with the P.V.P.s that became one of their arch enemies.  Ashland and Beach was the first section that came right after Harrison and Western.

In the year 1964, the Harrison Gents arrived in the Uptown neighborhood at the intersection of Kenmore and Ainslie when Puerto Ricans and African American were first migrating there.  This was also the first time the Gents recruited white members into the gang.  Another gang that settled one block away was the Latin Kings. Right away the Gents and Kings were met by the Young Lords and Latin Eagles Street gangs from the nearby Lakeview neighborhood, immediate gang brawls were breaking out between the 4 gangs.  Latin Eagles and Young Lords were allies and teamed up on Kings and Gents; therefore Latin Kings and Harrison Gents became very close allies.  In the midst of the war between Harrison Gents and Latin Eagles, the Latin Eagles killed the leader of the Gents which angered the Gents; however, they did not get revenge until 1975 when they burned down the house of a Latin Eagle gang member near the intersection of Fremont and Addison in the Wrigleyville section of the Lakeview neighborhood, a 13 year old girl was killed in the fire while members of the Harrison Gents were arrested (Chicago Tribune P 39, December 7, 1975).

The Harrison Gents then would spread their influence into the Wicker Park neighborhood sometime in the 1960s into the Blackhawk Park area at the intersection of Ashland Ave and Division.  In this area HGs were fighting with the Spanish Lords and some other gangs.

In the year 1968, the Harrison Gents found common ground with the Ashland Vikings because of their mutual hatred for Latin Kings and P.V.P, this was the beginning of a very close alliance between the two gangs.

The Harrison Gents would soon gain more popularity because of their ruthless ways and making the newspaper.  On June 24, 1969 several members of the Harrison Gents paid a visit to the Lathrop Projects on Clybourn Ave to start problems with the Young Lords that were living there.  The exact address this was happening was at 2852 Clybourn Ave which is near the intersection of Clybourn and George in the North Center neighborhood.  The Young Lords were an activist group by 1969 and were no longer all about the gang banging but the Harrison Gents had ticked them off and got them to fight.  The fight was nasty and heated and the Gents were likely getting the better of the Young Lords because when the police arrived and tried to stop it a few officers were accidentally struck by HGs that had tunnel vision in bashing anyone in sight.  The Gents tried to play nice and help the officers after hitting them but the cops still turned around and arrested them.

As the later 1960s came in the Harrison Gents expanded to the intersection of Sheridan and Leland in the Uptown neighborhood.  HG numbers swelled into the hundreds between the Harrison and Western section, Wicker Park and Uptown sections.  Eventually the Gents spread to Augusta and Paulina, Hermitage and Cortez, Chicago Avenue and Hermitage, Chicago Avenue and Wood and Rice and Wood covering all over Noble Square and East Village.

In the early 1970s, the Harrison Gents of West Town absorbed both “Mighty Grand” of Ashland and Grand Avenue and the Lazy Gents converting them all into Harrison Gents.

In the year 1979, bad blood developed between the Harrison Gents and Latin Kings in Uptown.  Conflicts led to the Latin Kings killing a Harrison Gent that year and full fledged war began.  Now the Gents from Uptown were joining their fellow Gents from West Town in a war against the Latin Kings.  One of the main reasons the Gents didn’t join Folks in 1978 was because of the Uptown alliance with the Latin Kings but after this incident they were open to joining Folks and in 1981 when the Folk alliance opened to new gangs the Gents got in right away.

When the HGs joined Folks they were able to ally up tightly with fellow Folks like the Insane Dragons and open territory at Augusta and Fairfield in the East Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Also, in 1980 the older H.G.’s out of Cortez and Ashland under David and an independent group of Cobras were actively hanging out with the Vikings. In that same year the V’s hooked up with Erie House at 1347 W. Erie Street who were trying to form a graffiti cleanup campaign with the West Town gangs. From there Puncher and C.M. an old school L.D. running a section out of the Huron and Ada territories established a Gang Truce that would include the A.V.’s, the L.D.’s, La Familia and the T.B.’s. Upset with an article where the Y.L.O.’s tried to claim the alliance under their flag the V’s and the D’s pull in the H.G.’s and start running under their own banner (U.P.C.I.) United Patriots Creating Identity and also wanted to run the truce alliance under its own flag.  But Erie House wanted a name better suited to the community so that they could open lines into the Department of Neighborhoods.  So as a compromise they kept the initials U.P.C.I. and added the name United People for Community Improvement.  Keeping the initials U.P.C.I. allowed the older leaders to keep United Patriots Creating Identity in the streets as the true umbrella over the gang truce coalition, hence the a.k.a. in the U.P.C.I. cards.  Over the next couple of months the U.P.C.I. would also include the Satan Disciples, a young section of H.G.’s out of Bosworth and Blackhawk, a group out of Eckhart Park going under The Neutrals who although refused to be labeled a gang could hold their own when they had to and periodically the involvement of some Cobras and B.G.D.’s who were affiliated with the Vikings and L.D.’s.  Erie House started dealing directly with C.M. and Puncher and allowed them meetings in Erie House with the other gangs when needed.  The anti-graffiti campaign was successful and led to a celebration event on the Eckhart Park field grounds in Noble Square.  But it was the V.’s who continued to launch other projects for the communities such as replacing vaulted sidewalks, cleaning vacant lots, coordinating food and clothes drives for the shelters and helping Peabody School (1444 W. Augusta) on closed campus for the kids. As a result, the Vikings got mentioned on the nightly news twice and appeared alongside Erie House on a talk show called Common Ground.

In 1980, the Harrison Gents ended up taking Ashland and Cortez from the Latin Kings.

In the early 1980s, the Harrison Gents took over the 412 W. Chicago Ave (41-Deuce) building in the Cabrini Green public housing projects.  The HGs were close allies with the Black Gangster Disciples, therefore, they only had to fight it out with Mickey Cobras and the Vice Lords; Vice Lords didn’t have much territory in Cabrini Green.

In the year 1986, feuds began between Harrison Gents and Ashland Vikings as a young group of Harrison Gents from Blackhawk and Paulina area were mixing it up with Vikings, this resulted in war between Vikings and these Gents.  The war was not backed by the older Gents from all other sections of the city, however, it was the start of later conflicts between Gents and Vikings.

By the year 1992 the United Latino Organization alliance was broken up as Spanish Cobras and Latin Disciples (Maniac Latin Disciples) went to war.  There were now three alliances that Latin Folks gangs had to choose from up north; the “Maniacs” with the Maniac Latin Disciples, the “Insanes” with the Spanish Cobras, or the “Almighties” with the Imperial Gangsters and Latin Eagles.  The Gents chose to align with the Spanish Cobras and they became the “Insane Harrison Gents.” It was about this time that the Gents settled in the suburbs of Kankakee and Cicero at 25th and Central Avenue.

It was just a matter of time before the Harrison Gents and the Ashland Vikings were going to explode on each other and in 1995 war erupted once again which prompted the Harrison Gents to withdraw from the Insane family and join the Almighty family, becoming the “Almighty Harrison Gents.”  The conflicts that began in 1986 worsened after the familias were formed and now the older Gents were backing up the Blackhawk and Paulina area Gents and permanent bloody war was settled between Gents and Vikings.  The war got really bad when the Harrison Gents gunned down “Cisco” on the Vikings then Vikings got revenge by gunning down “Benji G” from the Harrison Gents.

The Harrison Gents would eventually lose their Uptown and Wicker Park turfs due to gentrification.  They also lost their satellite locations in East Humboldt Park and Albany Park due to more need in their East Village and Noble Square operations.  The Cicero chapter would also eventually close down.  East Village and Noble Square would live on.

The Harrison Gents would remain at Harrison and Western until the area was dramatically changed due to gentrification in the 2000s decade.

Please send in old school pics.   1950s or 1960s pics would be especially appreciated!

Questions:

  1. Who was the founder of the Harrison Gents and what happened to him?
  2. What years did each leader rule the Gents up to the year 2000?
  3. Why did Cicero close down?
  4. What exact year did the Gents arrive Cicero?