Latin Eagles

Founded Founded c. 1964 in or near Lakeview
Founding story

Began in the Lakeview neighborhood at the Lemoyne School playground and set up at Grace and Wilton

Affiliations ;
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Colors Black and Grey
Primary ethnicities Latino (Puerto Rican)
Symbols Eagle's Head and E
Symbol usage

Letter “E” with three dots

Status Active

The Latin Eagle history coincides with Puerto Rican migration into the northern neighborhoods of Chicago.  Beginning in the late 1950s Puerto Rican people began migrating into the neighborhoods of: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Wicker Park, East Village, East Humboldt Park and West Humboldt Park after two construction projects began to uproot two Puerto Rican communities in the Old Town neighborhood and in the Near West Side.  By the early 1960s, the migration intensified as the Near West Side project grew as construction continued on the Dan Ryan Expressway, Kennedy Expressway and Circle Interchange.  In 1962, the New University of Illinois at Chicago campus construction pushed migration even further along in the neighborhood as now a significant population of Puerto Rican people were residing in these new neighborhoods.

Between the years 1962-1964, several white gangs were attacking Puerto Rican youths because they were moving into what they considered their neighborhoods and now the bullying became intense now that they felt threatened about the increased Hispanic population.  This is when Puerto Rican youths put together rather ineffective gangs to try to defend themselves.  Because the communities they were living in were close to 90% white still it made it very difficult for these gangs to survive as the white gangs that had been there many years before outnumbered them greatly.  In the Lakeview area gangs such as the Top Cats and Emerald Knights took form that were created for defense of the Puerto Rican people against these vicious white gangs.  I am not sure if the Emerald Knights of Lakeview had any relation to the Emerald Knights from the Back of the Yards neighborhood or not.

In the year 1964, the drama between white gangs and Puerto Rican gangs worsened as Puerto Rican people were repeatedly victimized by white gangs and the whole neighborhood in general.  Puerto Rican citizens in Lakeview were treated like second class citizens and suffered discrimination until members of the Top Cats and the Emerald Knights began meeting at Lemoyne playground outside of Lemoyne Elementary School located at Halsted and Waveland.  The members of each group decided to come together and create one organization geared toward protection of Puerto Rican people called the “Latin Eagles.”  The Latin Eagles then congregated at the intersection of Grace and Wilton making this their motherland.

I don’t quite know what white gangs were in Lakeview in the 1960s but those groups were the Latin Eagle’s first enemies and many Puerto Rican kids joined the Eagles because of their constant conflict with these groups.  The Latin Eagles were the main group of Puerto Ricans for Hispanic youths of Lakeview while Hispanic youths in nearby Lincoln Park and Uptown joined the Latin Kings or Harrison Gents of Uptown.

As the year 1966 ushered in, some Uptown youths were made to attend Lake View High School as they resided on the southern part of Uptown.  Among these youths were members of the Latin Kings and Harrison Gents.  Latin eagles began to have conflicts with these Harrison Gents and Latin Kings attending Lake View High and on the streets Harrison Gents and Latin Kings were allies and wanted to spread their influence into Lakeview Especially the Latin Kings that wanted to unite their territories in Uptown and Lincoln Park, this created a war.   The Harrison Gents were a mix of Puerto Rican, white and black members while the Latin Kings were mostly Hispanic with several whites and some blacks, at any rate, both groups wanted to scoop up much of the Puerto Rican population of Lakeview and this became a conflict of interest in recruiting.  The Latin Eagles killed the leader of the Harrison Gents in 1966 which the Gents would not avenge until the year 1975 but this is how the bad blood between them grew.

In the year 1968, the Puerto Rican Stones migrated into the Lakeview community and became the second major Lakeview gang to begin recruitment of Puerto Rican youths which caused a war between Eagles and Stones as well.  Another rivalry to begin that year was between Eagles and the Ashland Royals that would eventually evolve into the Simon City Royals by the end of the year 1969.

In the year 1968, the Harrison Gent and Latin Eagle war worsened more as the Harrison Gents were responsible for killing the first Latin Eagle in history as they beat Hipolito Vega to death with golf clubs and bats near the slides at the Lemoyne Elementary School playground. For many years the Eagles painted Vega’s name on the walls among their murals especially at Wilton and Grace.

The Latin Eagles had close relations to the political group called the Young Lords.  The Young Lords protested for equal treatment of the Puerto Rican people in the late 1960s and early 1970s while the Latin Eagles fought groups and gangs on the streets that physically threatened Puerto Rican people, an action that the Young Lords couldn’t engage in as much.  The Eagles were the guardians of the streets and actually protected Puerto Rican residents from harm as they heavily gathered at Wilton and Grace.  Latin Eagles also gathered in great strength at Sheridan and Broadway in Gill Park.  The Eagles became very large primarily in the Wrigleyville section of the Lakeview community and expanded territory to cover: Irving Park Road on the North, Addison Street on the south, Lake Shore Drive on the east and Clark Street on the west.

In April of the year 1978, the Latin Eagles were invited into the Folk alliance after the alliance was formed in the prison system during a hunger strike.  This alliance brought the Latin Eagles close to the Black Gangster Disciples that were key in forming the Folk alliance.  In that same year Latin Eagles formed an alliance with fellow Folk alliance gangs on the streets called the United Latino Organization (ULO) which was formed with Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters and of course the Latin Eagles.

In the year 1981, the Folk and People alliances were now being practiced on the streets as now all gangs could identify with which alliance they were part of.  As this unfolded Latin Eagle wars with Harrison Gents and Simon City Royals came to an end.  The war with Harrison Gents may have even ended back in 1979 when Gents and Latin Kings went to war.

Royals, Eagles and Gents became much closer in the 80s even though the Gents were part of the Insane alliance, but Eagles were cool with the Insanes anyway because they are Folks too.  In the year 1985, Latin Eagles began to move into the Hermosa neighborhoods alongside a major Mexican and Puerto Rican migration wave to this community.  In this neighborhood Eagles met up with Spanish Cobras who were in the process of conquering Kelvyn Park against the Stoned Freaks.  In Hermosa, the Eagles ran into the Latin Kings as well as a war began over there as well.

On the night of September 9, 1989, the Latin Eagles threw a party at Caguas Nightclub which used to be located at 2444 West North Ave in the Logan Square neighborhood. The Eagles invited allies from the Spanish Cobras, Maniac Latin Disciples and Campbell Boys to the party. As the night went on a fight broke out between a Latin Eagle and a Spanish Cobra, eventually someone pulled out a gun and started firing it off. The crowd panicked and ran out the door in a hurry. Outside the fight turned into a massive brawl that ended up resulting in the beating death of a Wrigleyville Latin Eagle named “Lil Rook” with a two by four piece of wood (Illinois People vs. Johnson, 1995).

After this beating death of the Latin Eagle war ensued between Latin Eagles and Spanish Cobras putting a dent in the ULO coalition.  Only Kenneth/Kostner and Armitage Latin Eagles stayed out of the war but the rest of the Eagles now hated Spanish Cobras.

In the year 1992, the Folks up north became divided as Insanes and Maniacs became two officially split groups and the ULO was just about finished.  The Latin Eagles would not join either Insane or Maniac, instead they got together with Imperial Gangsters, Simon City Royals and Insane Popes to make “Almighty” and unofficial family between these organizations.  The Eagles were claiming “Almighty” for a very long time but now this was sort of like a coalition between them.

In the early 1990s, Latin Eagles began to withdrawn from the Lakeview area as it became very drug and crime infested.  As the Eagles began to depart they more or less allowed the Gangster Disciples to move into Wrigleyville but eventually this relationship soured as GDs became seemingly disrespectful to the Eagles and a war began.  By the mid – 1990s the war was over as both gangs were forced out of the neighborhood as Lakeview began major gentrification.

By the mid-90s, the Eagles were at war with the Maniacs and went to full war with the Insanes in 1997 after the Cobras killed “Mono” of the Eagles.

The Eagles would live on in the Hermosa community and recruit many Mexican members since the 1980s.  Their legacy in Wrigleyville cannot be forgotten as this is where they worked hard to help the struggling Puerto Rican community there.