The Arch Dukes were the main gang that ruled the Grant Works section in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the early 1970s some young kids got together that had older brothers and older cousins that were Arch Dukes and Berwyn Greasers. These kids decided to start their own gang that they called the “Noble Knights,” that was situated at the corner of 14th and 51st Court. The first leader and main founder of the club was James Banfi (People Vs. Santiago August 24, 1982). Legend says it that “Crazy Pete” was the founder; however according to a news article from the Chicago Tribune on May 9, 1979, Crazy Pete was only 17 years old in 1979, making him too young to found the Noble Knights, and even then he was only the leader of the “Junior Noble Knights.” the “Senior Noble Knights” and the rest of the nation were ruled by a council that Pete was indeed a part of. Anyway, the Noble Knights gained more popularity throughout the 1970s and by the later 1970s they were becoming more popular than the Arch Dukes.
The worst enemy of the Noble Knights was the Ridgeway Lords as they engaged in the same war the Arch Dukes had with the RLs since the mid 60s. Surprisingly the Noble Knights had no beef with the RLs biggest ally the Latin Kings. During the 1970s Latin Kings from 27th and Homan would visit the Noble Knights in Cicero and they hung out together. I believe this relationship may have led to the Noble Knights allowing the Latin Kings to move into Cicero in 1979 but I’m not sure, regardless, the Latin Kings did colonize Cicero in the year 1979.
The Noble Knights gained notoriety in 1978 when a member of the Gaylords street gang named “Psycho” from the north side of the city came to a burger king and bumped into a Noble Knight named “Slick Jim.” Somehow the two got into an altercation and a fight broke out that very quickly ended when “Slick Jim” delivered a karate chop to the Gaylords’ throat and rendered him unconscious. As it turned out the Gaylord was put in a coma and never came out of it and the family made the tough decision to pull him off life support, as a result, Slick Jim was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The Gaylords then declared war on the Noble Knights and invaded their neighborhood, several shootings and stabbings later, both organizations were a little damaged from it. The Gaylords had the goal of whiping out the Noble Knights but the Noble Knights lived on and became stronger in later years.
In the year 1980, the town of Cicero was invaded by a gang from neighboring South Lawndale known as the “Two Two Boys” that settled at the intersection of 14th and 49th Court which was exactly two blocks from the Noble Knights’ stronghold and this of course sparked a major war between the gangs. This was also the year the Two Sixs and Imperial Gangsters arrived in this suburb as the very first Mexican families began to move to Cicero that year.
In the year 1981, the Noble Knights, Twelfth Street Players and Latin Kings came together to join the alliance the Latin Kings were part of known as the “People” alliance because of mutual hatreds of common enemies. The Two Sixs, Two Two Boys and Imperial Gangsters were part of the rival Folk alliance so the Twelfth Street Players and Noble Knights joined People at the same time as Folk and People was being spread all over the streets in 1981.
By the mid 1980s the Arch Dukes had completely went extinct and the younger members turned out as Noble Knights making the nation stronger. When the Latin Counts and Bishops arrived by 1982 all three gangs hung out and were really close.
The Noble Knights started out as an Italian gang throughout the 1970s and early 1980s but by the mid 1980s they started taking in a select few Latinos, but by the late 1980s the doors were wide open to allowing Latino youths in the gang. The Noble Knights would also spread into the suburbs of Berwyn and Lyons by 1987.
In the year 1989, the long time leader of the Noble Knights Peter “Crazy Pete” Lucente passed away from a drug overdose. After he passed “Yogi” assumed leadership of the Noble Knights. I am not sure how long Yogi ran the Knights but it was likely until 1992.
In the early 1990s, the Mexican population of Cicero took a sharp increase and along with Mexican migration to the suburb came more Mexican gangs and larger numbers for Hispanic gangs that already existed. The Two Sixs and Latin Kings began to multiply in numbers as new gangs like the Satan Disciples and Latin Counts moved into the community. In the year 1992, more new gangs were now infiltrating the suburb that primarily identified with the Folk alliance which meant they were instant enemies for the Noble Knights. Now the Noble Knights were experiencing more wars than ever with these new gangs which led to more members being incarcerated for violent crimes. Not only were NKs getting locked up, some were partaking in the white flight phenomena that increased dramatically in the mid-90s. The white families that left were very quickly replaced by Hispanic families, thus, bringing in more Hispanic gangs from around Chicago which of course meant more wars for the Knights. Some Knights grew out of the gang life and moved out in the midst of white flight while younger white members were forced to move with their families. Knights opened up their doors to allowing more Hispanic members by the mid-90s but Mexican youths were more inclined to join Hispanic gangs especially since the Knights had a reputation of being a racist club which was not completely true.
By the mid-90s Yogi was no longer running the Knights and this is when a leadership void developed that seemed to have a permanent effect on the organization as many Knights were in a free-for-all status which led to some reckless behavior and incarcerations. Finally in the year 1996 “Milo”took over leadership and helped to reorganize the Noble Knights but due to damage already done during the wilder years that just passed and the infiltration of several new Hispanic gangs and white flight, the Knights still suffered although Milo kept things the best he could.
In the year 1996, “Pony Boy” opened a new branch in the suburb of Hodgkins. During this same time there was branchs in Lyons and Palatine.
The Noble Knights no longer were the biggest gang in Cicero by the mid-90s and by the late 90s they had shrunk in size to becoming one of the less larger gangs in the suburb as more members faced incarceration and white flight. In 1999, the city of Cicero attempted to sue Noble Knights which really put a major black eye of the organization as the city wanted to hit gang members in their pockets causing more members to move away. In the early 2000s Cicero was vast majority Hispanic and the wave of new gangs settling from around Chicago continued until the Knights now became one of the smaller gangs in the suburb. In the year 2000 the Hodgkins, Palatine and Lyons branches closed as all operations were only in Cicero. In the year 2006, Milo was no longer the leader leaving the organization to “Duder.”
Since 2006 the Knights have operated small and low key in Cicero but are still active
Please send in old school pics. 1970s pics will be especially appreciated!
- What happened to James Banfi?
- What year did Crazy Pete take over?
- What year did Yogi step out of leadership?