Imperial Champlains

Founded Founded c. 1949 in or near North Lawndale
Formerly known as

Imperial Champlains late 1940s-early 1970s; Imperial Vice Lords early 1970s-1975; Imperial Insane Vice Lords 1975-present

Affiliations Give details
Colors Black, Gold, and Red
Color usage As Imperial Champlains it is unknown, early 1970s to present black and gold, black and red 1978-present
Primary ethnicities African American
Symbols Playboy Bunny, Martini Glass, Gloves, Top Hat, Cane, Pyramid, and Crescent Moon
Symbol usage

As Imperial Champlains it is unknown, playboy bunny, martini glass, gloves, top hat, cane early 1970s – present, pyramid, cresent moon, eye 1978-present

Status Inactive

The Imperial Champlains were on of the first major African American street gangs in Chicago.  In 1948 or 1949 the Imperial Champlains formed in between the intersections of 16th Street and Trumbull and 16th and Homan in the North Lawndale neighborhood.  The Champlains were a breakaway group from the Egyptian Cobras that formed in 1948 in the community to deal with racism from angry Jewish youths.  I do not know why some of the Cobras broke away to start the Champlains but I do know that both gangs would grow to become the largest gangs in North Lawndale as they fought each other viciously for control of the neighborhood.  By 1955 more gangs began breaking away from the Champlains and the Cobras causing a major gang war on the streets of North Lawndale which prompted many more members of this mostly Jewish community to leave the neighborhood, the Champlains still continued to grow despite losing members to other gangs, the newer members were Junior Champlains.

By 1957 the Chicago police had identified and targeted the Champlains and began arresting several members of many gangs in the neighborhood and the Champlains were the angriest.  Many of the boys were taken to the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles to serve out sentences.  It was in this facility where Edwin Perry got together with 6 members of the Imperial Champlains to create the Vice Lords.  In 1958 when the Vice Lords hit the streets of North Lawndale they aggressively attempted a complete takeover of the whole North Lawndale neighborhood, rivals like the Imperial Champlains stood in their way.

Vice Lords, Champlains and Egyptian Cobras spread their influence into other west side neighborhoods like East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park and the Near West Side in the 1960s.  The Imperial Champlains set up operations in the Grace Abbott housing projects at 14th and Ashland and Henry Horner projects in the Near West Side neighborhood in the 1960s.  The Champlains continued to fight Cobras and Vice Lords but it was a losing battle by the late 1960s as the gang continued to shrink in size.  In the early 1970s the Imperial Champlains at last fully assimilated with the Vice Lords and became a branch known as “Imperial Vice Lords.” The Imperial Vice Lords landed in the Austin neighborhood at Chicago Avenue and Austin Avenue in the early 1970s.  In this community the Imperial Vice Lords met another Vice Lord branch led by Bennie Lee called the “Insane Vice Lords” from Madison Street and Cicero Avenue and the two branches became close.  In the year 1975 the leader of the Insane Vice Lords Bennie Lee was incarcerated and leadership of the Imperial Vice Lords was also no longer existent, it was at this point that both IVL gangs came together to form the “Imperial Insane Vice Lords,” and there was a new leader of this Vice Lord group Sidney “Don Sid” “Prince Symphony Sid” “Prince Shy Ku Auton” Hughes that led the organization and personally oversaw all operations in the Grace Abbott IIVL buildings until 1982 when he was convicted of rape charges.  Afterward Mathew “DJ” Williams took over as the leader of all operations for 20 years.  Under Williams’ leadership the IIVLs grew incredibly on the west side of Chicago mainly in Austin neighborhood and the public housing projects on the west side.  Williams also opted to allow all races into the organization in 1985 when the Vice Lord nation bestowed that option on all branches.  The IIVLs opened operations in the north side neighborhoods of Uptown and Albany Park in the 1980s and 1990s.  The IIVLs also opened on the south side at 71st and Jeffery in the South Shore neighborhood and they also opened in the suburbs of Elgin and Joliet.

The Imperial Insane Vice Lords still operate in large numbers presently; therefore, the spirit of the Imperial Champlains is still alive with the IIVL organization.

Please send in 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s pics!


  1. What exact year did the Champlains start, was it 1948 or 1949?
  2. Who was the founder of the Champlains and what happened to him?
  3. Who were the Champlain leaders from the 40s to the early 1970s and what years were they in charge?
  4. What year did Champlains open in the Henry Horner and Grace Abbott projects?
  5. What exact year did Champlains became Imperial Vice Lords?
  6. Who was the first Imperial Vice Lord leader and what happened to him?
  7. What year did Imperial Vice Lords open up in the Austin neighborhood at Chicago Avenue and Austin?
  8. What year did the north side sections open?
  9. What year did 71st and Jeffery open?
  10. What year did Elgin open?
  11. What year did Joliet open?