|Founded||Founded in 1968 by Rashad Zayad in or near Lakeview|
|Formerly known as||
Simon City Royals 1968-1992
|Colors||Black and Royal blue|
|Ethnicity notes||Formerly primarily white|
|Symbols||Rabbit Head, Lion, Shield, and Cross|
Rabbit head with bent ear, two lions, shield, cross with three slashes above it, pitchfork 1978-1992
The creation of the Simon City Royals is a story to truly be marveled as it is a story of some of the toughest and most charismatic greasers coming together to create a solid organization that had some of the toughest warriors on the streets that many look up to in awe and many girls flocked to.
Legend has it that the Simon City gang formed at Drake and Wabansia as far back as 1952 and another greaser gang called the Royals formed at the same time in the same area. There is documented evidence of both gangs’ existence. The Royals were first documented in the West Humboldt Park community by the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago on March 10, 1959 as one of the gangs they worked with at the Association House located in West Humboldt Park. All gangs active in West Humboldt Park were assigned to this house which proves the Royals gang was from that area. The Simon City gang made the news in October of 1964 when they shot at members of the C-Notes outside of their neighborhood with a shotgun. The Royals gang of West Humboldt Park, really doesn’t have anything to do with the formation of the Simon City Royals gang but the Simon City gang from the area does have something to do with it.
In the 1960s, the Zayed brothers, Rashad and Ahab, joined the Simon City gang and soon became highly respected. The Simon City gang was a white gang of mostly Italians but the Zayed brothers were Arab, regardless, they were still very much respected and were tough street warriors. Ahab was the younger brother of Rashad and became the leader of the pee wee (younger) Simon Citys.
As the later 1960s ushered in, Rashad joined the United States Army and fought in the Vietnam War. In 1968 the Rashad family moved to Addison and Southport area in the Lakeview neighborhood giving Ahab a new start. When Ahab arrived or maybe months before Ahab arrived Wayne Kowalski started his own club called the Ashland Royals (not related at all to the Royals of West Humboldt Park) just blocks away from where Ahab lived. The Ashland Royals wore the colors royal blue and light blue. The Ashland Royals’ turf was Irving Park Road and Ashland and they congregated right outside Lakeview High School (4015 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60613). There were seven members of the Ashland Royals that included Wayne Kowalski, Bottles, Batman and Michael Kraft. Michael Kraft was known for his size, hot temper and toughness. Batman was smooth talking, tough, confident and just a all-around legend on these streets that would put rival Latin Eagles in their places. Wayne Kowalski was known for being one hell of a tough greaser. The Ashland Royals were a mixed-race club with a Cuban member, a Puerto Rican and a Mexican member. Ahab befriended the Ashland Royals and the Royals liked Ahab a lot; they Royals thought of Ahab as one the coolest kids they met and they all attended Lakeview High School together.
Ahab joined the Ashland Royals and did not become the official President of the club, but he was looked up to by the rest of the guys in the club especially since Ahab got lots of girls. As the 1968-1969 school year concluded Wayne Kowalski graduated and quickly got married, after that he retired from the club leaving no leader in charge. Shortly after Wayne retired, Rashad returned from the Vietnam war at the age of 20 and went to live with his family at Addison and Southport. Rashad got acquainted with his younger brother Ahab’s friends and they soon let Rashad into the group. The Royals soon discovered that Rashad was just as cool as his younger brother, if not more so. Rashad had no interest in joining the Royals instead he wanted to return to his old club Simon City and recruit these Ashland Royals into flipping to Simon City, after all, they had something in common, a hatred for Latin Kings that were in both Lakeview and West Humboldt Park. Michael Kraft was the first to speak up and object to this and he argued with Rashad about it. After much disagreement about the Royals joining Simon City, a different agreement was reached where there would be a merger between Simon City and the Ashland Royals. This merger was to put both clubs together as one club making Rashad the leader of the club, now Rashad needed to name this new club. Rashad’s choice was “Simon City North” and he went ahead and started making club cards to pass around with that name on it, basically he created the name without asking the rest of the club if it was alright. When the rest of the club saw the cards with Simon City North on it they objected and told Rashad that “Royals” would have to be in the name and that is when Rashad came up with the “Simon City Royals” name. This all happened at the end of 1969, perhaps right around the holidays. The nation was at last fully given birth and Rashad was now known as “Arab” and regarded as the founder of the Simon City Royals.
After founding the Royals Arab made a restaurant at Irving Park Road and Ashland the main hangout of the Simon City Royals and they recruited heavily from Lakeview High School by 1970. Arab’s popularity in the neighborhood grew as he threw great parties and many girls flocked to hang out with these legends, this made other smaller gangs and parts of gangs want to join the Royals, thus, increasing their size. The popularity made clubs like the Latin Kings very jealous and war intensified between the two gangs. Latin Eagles in the area were also known for being a little racist against whites (even though Latin Eagles had white members) and bullied some of the white kids in the area, that’s when the Royals came in the offer these youths protection if they joined the club, making the Royals even more popular. Arab was a charismatic guy and could make amends with enemies at any time then invite them to Royal parties. From there he would be able to flip these rivals and get them to join the Royals, he had that type of charisma. Arab set up a new headquarters at the intersection of Paulina and Cornelia, then the section Waveland and Greenview opened right after that.
In 1971, the white gangs on the streets of Chicago felt they were the victims against the much larger Latino and black gangs in their neighborhoods. Latino migration was a major issue especially on the north side and northwest sides where old white neighborhoods were changing. Latin Kings were becoming a real power house and such gangs as Latin Eagles, Imperial Gangsters, Latin Disciples and Spanish Cobras were beginning to rapidly recruit. It was then time for a major truce among white gangs called the “White Power Organization.” This truce effectively stopped wars between white gangs and helped several white gangs grown much larger. One of those gangs was the Simon City Royals.
By 1972, as the WPO was more solidified than ever the Royals were able to open new turf from Lincoln to Racine and Irving Park Road to Belmont which pushed the Royals’ territory into the western part of the Wrigleyville neighborhood which is a neighborhood inside of Lakeview. It was at this point in time when the Royals wanted to advance further south to one larger block south to Barry Ave and that was when the Royals ran into the newly formed “Hamlin Park Insane Deuces.”
The Insane Deuces were a new gang that was formed from young gang members that used to be a part of a gang called the Barons or Junior Barons. These guys in particular were former Junior Barons that were influenced by the Pilsen area gang known as the Morgan Deuces. Now they had their own gang that was an offshoot of both Morgan Deuces and Junior Barons known as the Insane Deuces. And by 1972 they had expanded into Hamlin Park from the Lathrop Projects in the southwest.
The Royals fought very tough battles against the Insane Deuces in the early 70s and it was a war that couldn’t be resolved because they both fought viciously. The fighting was so severe that Royals considered Deuces to be one of their top arch enemies alongside the Latin Kings; to make it worse Latin Kings and Insane Deuces were allies.
In the year 1972, “Nelson” of the Simon City Royals opened a branch at Drake and Wabansia in West Humboldt Park. The Simon City gang that used to be Arab and Ahab’s gang converted into Royals and now the section had at least 40 members right away in 1972. I’m not sure if they converted the Royals from that area too or if those Royals really had anything to do with this nation’s history or not.
In the year 1973, the Simon City Royals encountered the Black Gangster Disciples for the first time. The Black Gangster Disciples needed help from organizations that were not African American like they were, so they summoned the Ashland Vikings, Simon City Royals and Ambrose to do favors for them and the BGDs would, in turn, do favors for these groups, this started a new alliance.
On July 10, 1974 Rashad Zayed A.K.A Arab was shot and killed around the 1900 Block of West Melrose Ave in the North Center neighborhood by two 17 year Insane Deuce gang members that deserted the U.S. Marine Corps around that time (Chicago Tribune July 13, 1974 P.23). Arab had a new girlfriend that lived in this area and he would not let Deuces and Latin Kings get in his way of love. On that Wednesday July 10, 1974 Arab had just pulled into his girlfriend’s garage when the two gang members jumped out and shot him as soon as he exited the vehicle. Even though the shooters were arrested and charged, the charges did not stick and the two were freed; therefore, I cannot say for sure these two did it but the streets knew the Insane Deuces did it. The great leader and founder of the Simon City Royals had lost his life, but his legacy is still honored today.
In 1974, Timothy “Bimbo” Gilfillan (Hagedorn, The Insane Chicago Way P. 246) took over leadership of the Simon City Royals and brought them into a new chapter. Bimbo was charismatic and knew how to smooth over problems and was well liked, he was also able to open new sections. Bimbo established relationships with gangs such as the Insane Unknowns and Black Disciples, yes the Insane Unknowns, I know it is hard to believe but before Folk and People, Insane Unknowns hated Latin Kings, Latin Eagles and Insane Deuces with a passion; therefore, Royals and Unknowns had common enemies.
A Black Disciple named Michael Motten A.K.A Motto (currently serving a life sentence for murder) moved to the area into Simon City Royal territory and began hanging out with Royals, Maniac Drifters and Insane Unknowns and, before you knew it there was a circle of friends that had Unknowns and Royals hanging out. It was also at this time in 1975 that the Simon City Royals first got involved in the weapons business which armed more members and also brought income into the organization.
In 1975, Bimbo brought immediate expansion outside of Lakeview into the Albany Park neighborhood at the intersection of Lawrence and Kimball and they also congregated at Leland and St.Louis. Albany Park was a deteriorating neighborhood with run down abandoned buildings, drug addicts and prostitution. Puerto Rican migration began moving in here in the early 1970s and by the mid 1970s it was rampant and of course Latino gangs soon were conquering the area and bullying the youths in the area, it was at this point that there was a demand for Royals and their goal was to conquer Theodore Roosevelt High School at 3436 W Wilson Ave.
According to court documents, on Saturday April 12, 1975 Bimbo and his friends were hanging out in front of the apartment buildings on that street corner of Leland and St. Louis in the Albany Park neighborhood. These Royals had just finished cleaning up gang graffiti a while ago and were admiring their work when a group of Latin Kings came by and started causing problems. A little while ago Bimbo was trying to bring peace with Latin Kings but it only lasted a couple weeks due to Latin Kings still trying to steal Simon City Royal sweaters. One of the Latin Kings known as William “Pothead” Lewis had a gun on him. The Royals then went and got paint sticks from inside the buildings to use as weapons and chased the Kings down and that is when Pothead fired his gun causing the Royals to Scatter, he ended up shooting Bimbo 4 times, killing him on that Saturday night on St. Louis and Leland. William Lewis was later convicted of the shooting but since there were circumstances that could point to self defense he was only given 20-25 years for the murder (People V. Lewis, June 24, 1981).
Bimbo was murdered in the streets and not too long after his brother Jeff “Tuffy” Gilfillan was killed on Paulina street. Both brothers were leaders and now both of them lie dead. Now that these brothers were gone the Royals were left without a leader for the next few years. At the same time in 1975 Larry “Larkin” Morris was gunned down by Gaylords in the streets.
In that same year of 1975 the Gaylords and Royals started to feud and it quickly escalated to the point when the Simon City Royals killed a Gaylord leader nicknamed “Wizard” as they killed him execution style by some railroad tracks behind Kilbourn Park in the Hermosa neighborhood.
Now Almighty Insane Popes and Simon City Royals both hated Gaylords, Latin Kings and Insane Deuces with a passion. With the hate of the Gaylords soon followed a hatred of the entire U.F.O unity which brought the Royals back into war with the C-Notes that had died out in 1971. New branches rapidly popped up all over the north side including Albany and School, California and Fletcher and Drake and Wolfram in the Avondale neighborhood. The Royals also ventured into the Lincoln Park neighborhood and opened up at Fullerton and Southport. The Royals also opened up a set in the Rogers Park neighborhood at Clark and Farwell, and the Royals also opened a new one in Albany Park at Central Park and Wilson.
It was a time of great expansion but it was hasty expansion and often unauthorized for certain sets to pop up. Many of times a large group of youths would get together and just start claiming Simon City Royal even though no one heard of any of them from any sanctioned sets; nevertheless, many of these sets became official later on because these guys proved themselves.
By 1976, the Royals were now taking in many members of the Almighty Insane Popes because they were left without a leader after the death of Larry “Larkin” Morris in 1975. The difference was the Royals functioned better without a leader than the Popes did and Popes appreciated that and flipped to being Royals. It was also at this time in 1976 that the Royals began heavy arms trades with the Black Disciples from the south side. An all black street gang dealing weapons with an all white street gang, it was crazy thing to see back in 1976.
The biggest shocker of 1976 was the war that started with the Insane Unknowns out at Fullerton and Southport. Fullerton and Southport was the only Simon City Royal set active in the Lincoln Park neighborhood by 1976. The Insane Unknowns were getting quite big over in Lincoln Park and expanding outside of Leavitt and Schiller in Wicker Park. The notorious Ashland and Wrightwood set had opened up in Lincoln Park and it was at this point where the Royals were objecting to such an Insane Unknown presence in the area. 1 year earlier Simon City Royal leadership of Bimbo and Tuffy kept good relations with the Unknowns and kept them as good friends but now that leadership was gone and the Southport and Fullerton Royals were out on their own with their own rules, after all, every faction of the Royals acted in a renegade fashion in these years.
A Gaylord known as “Deadeye” was tired of being a Gaylord for some reason and wanted to flip to a Fullerton and Southport Royal which he did. After he flipped he was hanging out with “Mr. Capone” on a regular basis who was the Insane Unknown leader at that time. Deadeye’s fellow Royals did not appreciate Deadeye always hanging out with him because Deadeye was a former Gaylord; therefore, known to change gangs. It was time for Deadeye to prove his true loyalty to his new nation, so the Royals gave him a hard bargain, he was told either to kill Mr. Capone or choose death. Deadeye and “Lil Kool” then went to go see Mr. Capone to hang out or to discuss how to stop the petty feuding between Unknowns and Royals, or at least that is what Mr. Capone thought this visit was all about. To Mr. Capone’s surprise the two were there to kill him and they did just that and because of this killing the Insane Unknowns went crazy and killed a Royal named “Bulldog.” After this happened war between Insane Unknowns and Simon City Royals became permanent and bloody starting in 1976.
During the late 1970s the Simon City Royals were on a war path smashing on other gangs with a wild, untamed fury. They went up against Latin Kings, Insane Deuces, Gaylords, C-Notes, Taylor Jousters and Chi-West. It was at this point that Royals ran into Spanish Lords over in Logan Square and war ensued right away. Somehow the Royals came into contact with the Latin Brothers out of Belmont-Cragin and they went at it hard.
By 1978, the Royals were entangled in violent gang wars that were costing the Royals their freedom as they found themselves filling up the Illinois correctional facilities. Without leadership, wars were rampant and bloody and allies now became foes such as Gaylords and Insane Unknowns.
In 1978, the Royals abandoned Drake and Wabansia. The reason the Royals left was not really because they got ran out by other gangs, it was because there were not enough whites in the neighborhood anymore and back in these days the Royals had more of a white power stance.
On November 11, 1978 a meeting occurred at Pontiac correctional facility for the highest ranking members of the most powerful gangs in Chicago and at this meeting were representatives of the Simon City Royals. The idea was mainly the brainchild of Black Gangster Disciple leader Larry Hoover to create two separate alliances that would act like two different mob organizations. This would effectively organize gang wars and help bring in better business for the inmates and maybe even help with street affairs. The Black Disciples joined the Folk Nation and at one time the Royals assisted the BGDs back in 1973 with a Vice Lord problem so they all knew each other and were allies to begin with so the Royals were one of the first ones to sign up to be a part of the Folk Nation. Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Imperial Gangsters and Orquestra Albany joined the Folk Nation but wars with those gangs were not a big deal to begin with so that was not a big issue, the only one tough to digest was being allies with the Latin Eagles but the Royals made it work especially since both gangs deeply hated the Insane Unknowns then Royals and Eagles actually became very close. It all worked out because the Latin Kings, Insane Unknowns and Spanish Lords joined the rival People alliance, then two years later the Gaylords and Insane Deuces would join People as well, the Royals were on the right side.
In the late 1970s it was a tough act to follow joining the Folk Nation especially because Royals had past wars with Latin Eagles and Imperial Gangsters; however, things would smooth out going into the 1980s.
By the year 1980 the Simon City Royals had become one of the largest street gangs in the city of Chicago with now thousands of members, they were only a little smaller than the 4th largest gang the Gaylords. It was now finally time that the Royals had some leadership after 5 years of being wild. It was 25 year old Todd “Dillinger” (or Toddy) Brewer that stepped forward and assumed that leadership role. Todd Brewer was able to bring all the sets together and prevent them from functioning with that “renegade” mentality. Todd Brewer’s reign was short lived and in 1983 he was shot to death by the Puerto Rican Stones in the Albany Park neighborhood. The P.R. Stones were now gunning for Lawrence and Kimball and this brought a vicious war with these Stones.
After Dillinger’s death the Royals grew closer to their Folk Nation allies because the Folk and People nation alliance became official on the streets and was no longer only for prison. It was at this point in time that the Royals began embracing their Folk Nation allies especially old foes like Latin Eagles and Imperial Gangsters. It was also about this time when Simon City Royals began shedding their white power stance and began letting in members of all races especially Latinos and blacks.
By the late 1980s Simon City Royals began having issues with key incarcerations of older and higher up members, this drastically shrunk the organization and resulted in a loss of territory over the course of the late 1980s up to the mid 1990s. The Royals also began engaging in bloody interalliance wars with other Folk Nation gangs eventually, and by the early and mid 1990s wars stated with gangs like Spanish Cobras and Maniac Latin Disciples. These interalliance wars were very costly especially the war with the Spanish Cobras which became legendary. The Simon City Royals were now throwing down the pitchfork gang sign that they had been waving around and tagging since 1981, now the fork was to go down.
100% of Simon City Royal presence vanished in Lakeview and Lincoln Park but that had a lot to do with gentrification in the late 1990s/early 2000s. The CPD along with gentrification pushed the Royals out of Avondale eventually. The Royals had expanded into the suburbs of Lyons, Brookfield and Cicero in the mid 1980s but eventually were pushed out by suburban police activity by the early 21st century. The Royals did; however, spread in other states especially Mississippi where there are thousands of members. The Royals in Chicago were eventually only holding territory in northern Logan Square and Albany Park.
This is a nation that has a hell of a legacy to be respected that had many legendary street warriors that fought valiantly on the streets so much that the spirit of the organization still lives on even in the retired old schoolers.
Please send in old school pics from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
Did the Drake and Wabasia section absorb the Royals gangs that had already been there for years?