|Founded||Founded in 1974 by Donnie “Buffalo” Tennet in or near Archer Heights|
Founded in Archer Heights, Archer and Komesky (Marzano’s Miami Bowling alley)
|Formerly known as||
Royal Insane Popes 1974-1981
|Colors||Black and White|
|Symbols||Reaper, Sickle, Cross, Diamond, Shield, and Halo|
Cross with two slashes and a halo on top
The South Side Insane Popes were basically born out of the older Insane Popes from the north side of the city. The north side Popes date back to 1956 and by the late 1960s they were a strong force in the Irving Park neighborhood. North side Popes had always had members and possibly sections operating on the south side of the city back in the 1960s and some moved into the Garfield Ridge neighborhood/Archer Heights area. The few Popes that lived in the area befriended the L.A. Boys street gang which was a very tough group white greasers that fought with black gangs from the Leclaire Courts projects. The L.A. Boys especially got acquainted with the Chanley Brothers from the Independence Park Insane Popes out of the Irving Park neighborhood.
As time went on the L.A. Boys were frequently heading up to Independence Park to party with the Popes and Popes came to the midway area to party with the L.A. Boys. In the year 1974, the L.A. Boys began to respect the Popes so much that they were ready to join the Popes and this is when a section of Insane Popes was placed on the south side at Archer and Komensky (Kool City). These original Popes were Donnie Tennant, Pete Luna, John Dayton, Bumstead, Rusty, Lil Elvis, Satan, Dutch, Baby Pope, Rican, Lil Rican and Wizard just to name some. This brought about the birth of the south side Insane Popes and they were allowed to keep the L.A. Boy colors of black and white. Around this same time the Royal Pope alliance was formed on the north side but the south side Popes would not honor this alliance and be part of it because the south side Popes did not like the Simon City Royals.
Even though the south side Popes did not like the Simon City Royals they still created their own name to give themselves a different identity from the north side. They called themselves “Royal Insane Popes.”
The Popes hung out at one of two locations, one was Marzano’s Miami Bowl located at 5023 S. Archer Ave (Archer and Komesky) and Archer Park at 4901 S Kilbourn Ave (mainly at 49th and Kilbourn) these were their first sections. Donnie “Buffalo” would assume leadership with his right hand man Pedro “Rican.” The Popes’ biggest enemies were Black Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Two Six and the Satan Disciples. The Counts immediately unified with the Latin Counts from 35th and Damen in 1974 and became very tight, this was the beginning of how south side Popes started to gravitate differently than their north side counter parts.
In April, 1978 the Folk Nation and People Nation alliances were formed in Statesville Prison. These were two alliances of the biggest and oldest street gangs in the city. The North Side Popes’ biggest allies the Simon City Royals along with the north side Popes themselves joined the Folk Nation in prison. The Popes up north were technically allies with the Satan Disciples and Two Six which were South Popes’ worst enemies. The Black Gangsters Disciples started this whole Folk thing and that was another terrible enemy of the Royal Popes of the south side. I’m not even sure if the south side Popes were even aware of the Folk alliance in the late 1970s but if they were they surely wouldn’t have wanted to identify with it because Black Gangster Disciples, Two Six and Satan Disciples all turned Folk that year.
In the 1970s, Popes had a reputation with the police for selling PCP, committing box car robberies and car thefts. According to Pope gang members when interviewed on June 15, 1978 for the Chicago Tribune, they were just “Party Greasers” that loved to drink and smoke Marijuana while protecting the neighborhood but police said otherwise. The Popes would use the money from these activities to buy guns, knives, brass knuckles and cars. They also bought lots of marijuana and alcohol with the money. In the summer of 1977 the 80 members of the gang polished off 49 cases of beer.
By the late 1970s, Pope turf had grown to be from Archer Avenue to 47th Street and Cicero Avenue down to 55th Street.
The Royal Insane Popes made the difficult decision to join the rival People Nation alliance in 1981 because their members needed protection behind bars and they refused to link up with Folks. The Royal Insane Popes then became known as “Almighty Insane Popes” and dropped the “Royal” from their name especially since they were joining People and were to have nothing to do with the Folk affiliated Simon City Royals. The Popes were sponsored into the People nation by the Latin Counts as they were taken to meet the Unknown Vice Lords for the connection. This new allegiance into People ended their wars with Latin Kings and Vice Lords, in fact, Popes and Latin Kings became very good allies.
As the 1980s would progress, the Popes were growing at an incredible rate. They opened more sets in Archer Heights and Garfield Ridge. Garfield Ridge new sets included turf around Vittum Park at 50th and Leclaire to Lavergne.
The Popes also moved into the clearing neighborhood conquering turf along 63rd and 62nd streets “Grim Town” and “Popes Alley.” They would also open territory in the Ashburn neighborhood at 83rd and Homan “Vatican City.” One of the most notorious sets to open was 34th and Hoyne (Hoyne Park) in the Mckinley Park neighborhood and 34th and Hamilton. Sets also popped up in the Canaryville section of the New City neighborhood at 48th and Halsted.
A section sprung up in the Gage Park neighborhood at 53rd and Kedzie and finally 46th and Whipple in the Brighton Park neighborhood. The 1980s were the best decade for the Popes and it was the time period of the leadership or Mike “Lord Conan” Hamilton who brought about great expansion and this would even take them into suburbs like Bridgeview and Burbank. The Popes were a fighting gang not a drug dealing gang like their enemies.
In 1989, a new section opened at 62nd and Normandy, which was started by Chris “The Kidd” Hamilton and Martin Lorenzen. By the early 1990s this section became quite popular and swelled in numbers.
In the years 1993 and 1994 62nd and Normandy began to lose numbers and began having conflict with the rest of the IPN, this led to this section breaking away and starting they own gang called the “Almighty Popes” in 1994. The APs took over 5 sets of IPs, 46th and Whipple, 49th and Long, 50th and Kilpatrick, 51st and Kostner and 71st and Harlem in Bridgeview, IL.The APs even had a different hand sign, colors and symbols but still rode with the People Nation. As soon as the breakaway happened IPs and APs went into a bloodless war for the rest of the decade and no one was killed on either side by the other. APs had the same enemies and same allies as Insane Popes.
In November of 1995 a big story made headline news as Almighty Popes gunned down two 13 year old girls as they were trying to shoot up some Justice, IL Ridgeway Lords. Even though the APs did it and the IPs told everyone and the cops that it was the APs not IPs, law enforcement did not care, all “Pope” gangs were the target on the south west side, this lead to IPs losing a lot of turf in the later 1990s and into the 21st century. The APs dissolved in 1998 but the old IP turf could not be resurrected.
Archer Heights fell along with Canaryville and some of Mckinley Park. The Popes held their turf in Clearing despite the fact that the AP shooting happened right there. The IPs also kept 1 set from Garfield Ridge at 51st and Kilpatrick. Police presence, retirement and flipping to Latin Kings led to the decline in Pope numbers.
In 2002 Mike “Conan” Hamilton retired from gang activity; therefore, the Chicago Crime Commission book is dead wrong listing him as the current leader, he is NO LONGER a Pope but now a law abiding citizen just like many former Popes, Lord Conan also passed away in recent years.
Please send in old school pics. 1970s pics will be especially appreciated!
- What year did each set open up?
- What happened to Buffalo?
- What year did Lord Conan take over leadership?
- What year did each set close down?