|Founded||Founded in 1958 by Edwin Marion Perry, Toehold, Bobby Bonds, Ernest Wren, and Leonard Calloway in or near North Lawndale|
|Colors||Black, Red, and Gold|
|Color usage||Black and gold 1958-present; Black and red 1978-present|
|Primary ethnicities||African American|
|Symbols||Playboy Bunny, Cane, Top Hat, Martini Glass, and Pyramid|
The Vice Lord nation is one of the largest gangs in the United States with chapters in every state in the nation and almost every city and town in this country. The Vice Lord nation has grown so powerful because of the goals the nation has tried to accomplish over time. Many think it is all about drugs and money but the real cause for the nation is not about drugs and money or not even about violence, but this is the behavior that often results from membership but the nation itself does not condone violence and criminal activity. There was a time in history where our country had faith in the Vice Lords and even offered assistance; as a result, something positive and marvelous developed from it that helped west side youths live better lives. The Vice Lords were positive for the North Lawndale community and had a very positive impact on the youth during this time period. What needs to be understood is there was barely any opportunity for black youths on the west side of Chicago and there was often only one way to go.
Many say the Vice Lords have origins that date all the way back to the 1940s, however, this does not mean any part of the nation was founded back in the 40s, it just means that members of older gangs ended up flipping to Vice Lords in later years and that many of the goals of the older gangs intertwined with the development of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation.
The oldest significant black street gangs in Chicago were the “Dirty Sheiks” and the “Wailing Shebas” that date back to deep into the early 20th century before the year 1927 on the south side of Chicago. These two gangs often acted as syndicates and fought against other black gangs or even white gangs. In the early 1940s Skeiks and Shebas had migrated to the Jew Town area of the Near West Side neighborhood to assist newly arrived black southerners facing terrible discrimination as they settled along Halsted Street.
Beginning in the very early 1940s, a new surge of black migration came to Chicago as the war industry opened up several jobs for Americans. In the southern United States jobs were a lot scarcer for black families and many were still living in extreme poverty without many essentials like plumbing, adequate housing or even clean water to drink at times. Everywhere in the United States there was racism and hatred toward blacks but in the south, it was much more obvious as there were actual laws that explicitly commanded that blacks should remain segregated. Employers could legally discriminate against hiring blacks and many Jim Crow laws even forbid blacks from owning their own property. This forced many blacks to work in jobs that whites didn’t want because of the very low pay and harsh working conditions. Blacks also often had to rent from slum lords that legally could neglect property and leave living conditions in shambles. There was not much representation for the black community in these years but there was plenty of representation for the white southerners in favor of these harsh treatments including the Ku Klux Klan that often roamed through shantytowns that blacks lived in and enforced these Jim Crown laws harshly. Blacks had been migrating from the south to Chicago since the 1860s but there was not much of a call for blacks to take the risk and travel up to Chicago until the Chicago Defender newspaper began sending issues of their paper down south informing black families about the success that some black families experienced after moving. The paper began circulation in 1916 and sparked the third wave of black migration which also became the first big wave. As families got settled and some reported a better life in the 1920s it brought more families until a lull happened in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
In the early 40s it was once again being reported that Chicago was the promised land and in many ways, Chicago was a much better alternative to living in the Jim Crown south but Chicago would also being new horrors to black families that was not mentioned in the Chicago Defender. Families would now trade one form of a nightmare for another.
As the big rush to the north began in the 1940s, southern black families arriving soon found out the promised land was not all it was cracked up to be as an immediate housing shortage often stopped families dead in their tracks. Most blacks were crowding into the south side of the city into areas like Bronzeville, Oakland, Washington Park and some other various south side neighborhoods. Most south side neighborhoods didn’t allow blacks and used restrictive racial covenants to prevent blacks from moving in confining most black families to move within a few assigned neighborhoods on the south side. The west side of Chicago was still very white, and these neighborhoods did not have much of a black population. To make a long story short, redlining practices on the west side of Chicago successfully brought down the value of entire neighborhoods and houses with a swift motion causing white people to move out very fast and predatory real estate agents moved in black families while sticking them with higher mortgages.
I don’t know the whole story but eventually members of the Dirty Sheiks and the Wailing Shebas created the Imperial Chaplains and 14th Street Clovers along Halsted Street by the late 1940s or early 1950s.
In 1951, the Clovers and Chaplains migrated to North Lawndale but were not big-time gangbanging groups until 1954 when the North Lawndale and Near West Side neighborhoods began to set off with several fist fighting gangs as territories were now being set. Both these gangs would take over these neighborhoods as the big outfits in the community as the Sheiks and Shebas ended.
North Lawndale was a neighborhood that became conquered by predatory slumlords in 1955 after they purchased the vast majority of rental properties. Moe M. Forman, Al Berland, Joseph Berke, Lou Wolf, and Gilbert Balin became the most notorious of slum lords renting below sub-standard properties to impoverished southern black families without maintaining the buildings. Impoverished families had no choice but to live in these conditions because they couldn’t afford anywhere else to go and other mostly white neighborhoods were hostile toward black families even after the covenants were lifted.
North Lawndale rapidly declined as many businesses closed and buildings became deteriorated in the mid-1950s. Crime began to run rampant as criminals from outside the neighborhood drifted in and wrecked havok or committed hate crimes. Families were stuffed into slum buildings in substandard conditions and there was no centralized heat as families needed to gather near antique wood burning stoves in the middle of the living room. The neighborhood lacked parks and recreation leaving many black youths facing boredom, poverty and frustration. Youths began to gather in numbers and occupy their time by harassing each other and starting fights just for fun. Pre-existing youth clubs in the community soon converted into street gangs like Imperial Chaplains and Clovers, while many new gangs were forming that were of a more violent breed than the original Clovers and Chaplains, one such gang was the Egyptian Cobras that came to North Lawndale from Jew Town in 1955.
It got to the point in the later 1950s where young black youths growing up in North Lawndale couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without being in a gang. If we think forced gang recruitment is harsh in modern times it was worse back in the 50s and 60s as gangs took ownership of every piece of public property on the west side. You couldn’t go to the pool, the park, the theater or even the grocery store without some gang harassing you. Even if a young black youth just tried to walk to school or go anywhere, they were constantly harassed to join gangs and were beaten and bullied if they didn’t join and still wanted to venture into certain areas. If you didn’t want to join a gang there wasn’t much you could in the community for recreation. It got to the point where youths needed to make a tough decision and that was which gang to join. The decision of which gang to join would all depend on what activities the youth wanted to get involved in. Did they like playing at the park more? Did they like the theater? Was the pool the most important thing? Another deciding factor for joining a gang was determining which gang hung out in the vicinity of where they lived. It is much harder to join a gang from the other side of North Lawndale when the gang outside your window is a rival.
Starting off the year 1957, the gangs of North Lawndale and the Near West Side reached a new level of violence as gangs now began beating each other with weapons, stabbing each other with knives or even shooting each other with guns. The gangs had now reached a new level of ferocity.
By the year 1957, the Clovers were the dominating gang in North Lawndale with the Egyptian Cobras quickly growing just behind them. The Clovers were said to be one of the toughest gangs out there and at the time they also ruled the Jew Town streets on Halsted. The Clover toughness and dominance caught the attention of the Chicago police in March of 1957 when the police began their massive crackdown on black Chicago street gangs on the west side, mainly Clovers and Egyptian Cobras. Fillmore District Captain Thomas J. O Donnell ordered a sweep of black gangs in the Lawndale area and it ended up being a haphazard and violent process where young black youths were beaten badly and incarcerated. Many cops would burn kids with cigarettes and whip them with belts or punch them in the face. This all led to the James Halsell affair in May of 1957 where James Halsell, a Clover was charged with very minor misdemeanors, yet he was beaten savagely with belts for six hours. This sparked an investigation from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Executive Board of the Chicago Youth Centers (CYC), a citywide gang outreach organization. Despite the investigations the police sweeps continued into 1958 and several black youths were arrested, and many were sent to juvenile facilities.
During the sweeps of 1957 to 1958, a 15 year old youth by the name of Edwin “Peppilow Perry” and his group the “Phantom Burglers” were arrested for burglary and brought to the Illinois Youth Center (St. Charles reformatory) in St. Charles Illinois. In 1957, when Peppilow was fourteen years old he left home and began living on his own involved in a life of crime, mainly burglary. Peppilow wanted to become a member of one of the larger outfits at the time the Imperial Chaplains but when he visited their lair to speak to “Big John” the leader of the Chaplains, Big John said, “We don’t want no punk motherfucker in the organization.” It is a mystery why Big John wouldn’t let him in since Pep was six foot one and 190 pounds, fast on his feet and with his hands. One thing for sure Big John, made a big mistake not letting Pep in but of course if it wasn’t for this chain of events, we wouldn’t have the Vice Lords today (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Pep was assigned to stay at the Harding Cottage at the reformatory and he found out his friend from the neighborhood Leonard “Cal” Calloway was staying in the reformatory as well. Pep had already gained a reputation as a hell of boxer and exhibited leadership qualities. He also was known for getting new guys in line coming into the facility. Pep somehow arranged for Cal to be transferred to his cottage and the boys came together at Harding. Calloway was a member of the Imperial Chaplains and was Pep’s sponsor to gain membership into the Chaplains but of course that didn’t go as planned back in 1957. Now in 1958 the two were in Harding Cottage together and decided to clique up. They also cliqued up with Ernest Wren who was also an Imperial Chaplain. The boys got together with “Toehold,” Ralph Bonds, Maurice Miller and one other that I don’t know of. As far as I know only Cal and Wren were in gangs already. Pep assembled this group of seven into their own organization geared at organizing their work details and pulling strings to get jobs they favored. The jobs they worked were very important in the institution and this caused these seven boys to end up running the whole Illinois Youth Center and since they worked jobs that were assigned by the institution the staff didn’t pay any mind or understand the Vice Lords and let them carry on. The Vice Lords controlled the institution by taking on the number one and two roles in the butcher area, the kitchen and the linens area, essentially making them control the food and clothes in those sections and deciding who does certain work duties in their sections and who is to be cast out. (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The seven boys didn’t have a name in the very beginning, but Pep decided he wanted to have a name especially since the boys were already running the important jobs there. Besides the relations between Cal and Pep, the boys were all strangers to each other until Pep came into the reformatory but now, they would become a group. The boys had meetings twice a week and at one of those meetings they decided on a name. From the glory stories of gangbanging from Cal and Wren, Pep wanted this club to be a gang once they all returned to the streets. Maurice Miller thought this was just going to be a social club and came up with the idea of “Conservative Lads” but Pep wanted a different last name but decided to keep the “Conservative” part of the name. The “Vice Lord” name was created by Pep after he looked up in the dictionary that “Vice” meant to have a tight grip on something and not let go, then of course they would be “Lords.” The ideas from Wren and Cal were to be called “Imperial Vice Lords” to pay tribute to the gang that each of them belonged to and that Pep had previously worked hard to join up with but now Pep had a vendetta against Big John and the Chaplains and wanted nothing to do with them so “Conservative Vice Lord” was the chosen name. Within a short time, they realized that the “Conservative” part of the name didn’t make sense for them and they also knew many guys on the streets wouldn’t know what “Conservative” even meant let alone pronounce the word, so they just went with “Vice Lords.” (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Maurice Miller was the first one to get out of the reformatory and the deal was he was supposed to be the first one to spread the word about the Vice Lords to the streets in exchange for having the “Conservative” part of the name and he was the first one to inform the streets about the Vice Lords, however, the nation was not really put out there yet until all the boys got out by the Autumn of 1958.
By the time the boys got out the Clovers were no longer the biggest and meanest outfit anymore, now it was the Egyptian Cobras (now known today as Mickey Cobras) that were the biggest gang. The Clovers and Chaplains were still very large gangs, but the Clovers took a big hit from the police raids of 57-58 allowing the Cobras to gather all the steam. The seven Vice Lords were entering this world on the streets of North Lawndale where there were several gangs that had combined membership into the thousands, some gangs like the Clovers, Cobras and Chaplains had hundreds of members each. The Vice Lords knew they would have a challenge facing off with all these larger clubs but were still determined to preserve their existence on the streets.
Once Pep was out, he took in some close friends on the street: “Son,” “Trip,” “Green,” and Green’s cousin “Sloop.” The Vice Lords now had eleven guys in their group and didn’t recruit anymore non-gang affiliated members for the rest of the year. In order to attract attention, the guys hosted dances, threw parties and attracted women to their group. At one party the Vice Lords ran into four members of the Clovers and a fight started. The Vice Lords beat the four Clovers until they ran away but then awhile later fifty or sixty members showed and attacked the Vice Lords who were outnumbered severely. The Vice Lords fought well and escaped the party but couldn’t win against this larger gang, this is when they decided it was time to grow much larger. The Clovers also became the Vice Lords’ first enemy on the streets (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The Vice Lords really wanted to take out the Clovers and needed additions to their army, but it wouldn’t be possible unless they went up against a moderate sized gang and took them out. Their first target was the “Barons,” a twenty-four man gang that Pep picked a fight (known back then as a ‘humbug’) at Farragut High School. Over the next week the Vice Lords fought them while outnumbered two to one and still beat on them until they got the Barons to submit and flip to Vice Lords, now there were about 35 Vice Lords (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Next, the Vice Lords took on the Van Dykes which was a war that lasted two days, in the end the Van Dykes’ leader found out his own brother became the Vice Lord Vice President and he wouldn’t fight his own brother, that’s when the Van Dykes flipped to Vice Lords by the end of 1958 and now the Vice Lords were becoming well known going into 1959 (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
During the year 1959, the Vice Lords went to war with several gangs all at once and that gained them lots of reputation. They began to war with the biggest gang in the neighborhood the Egyptian Cobras especially since the Cobras controlled most of the public recreational areas. They had the pools, the theaters and the best parks and had the most girls, this drove the Vice Lords to fight them tooth and nail while simultaneously warring with multiple other gangs. Peppilow became very well-known and the Vice Lords dismantled some other smaller gangs and now their numbers had reached a few hundred. The Vice Lords were now at war with the Egyptian Cobras, Comanches, Imperial Chaplains and Continental Pimps. The Vice Lords were unique from other gangs in the area as they refused to draw up alliances with any other gangs and were rather anti-social with other clubs. The only way they would agree to be friends with another gang is if that other gang adopted the last name of “Vice Lord” but that of course meant they basically would flip to Vice Lords, an ultimatum that all the gangs didn’t like and refused but what most of them ended up dissolving their organizations and flipping to Vice Lord eventually. (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Vice Lords also had aggressive recruiting measures they adopted back in 1959 where they would approach individuals or maybe a small group whether they were already in a gang or not and ask them to become Vice Lords. In the beginning, to become a Vice Lord you needed proper representation but by 1959, all you needed to do was be able to breathe and move. A youth would be asked to join and if they said they wanted to it was made to happen right on the spot with no initiation ritual. If the youth said they didn’t want to they would receive a “whippin” or brutal beating with more to follow on other days until they submitted and joined. Gangs in the late 1950s on the west side were known to do this but not nearly as often or as badly as the Vice Lords did it, they were much more persistent and violent in their recruiting measures. For other gangs, as long as you stayed out of their territories you weren’t forced to be recruited but for the Vice Lords your only requirement to be aggressively recruited was for you to exist and breathe. The Vice Lords were full of aggression and loved to teach each other to box. They also would pick out random guys on the streets and tell each other to attack sometimes for no reason (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Eventually, Vice Lords were taking over the Illinois Youth Center and declaring anyone that came in an enemy if they weren’t Vice Lords; this became especially apparent when Edwin Perry went back the center again. While inside he got word that “Bow Chest” of the Imperial Chaplains had slapped around and beat up his girlfriend in front of his sister. Pep asked him which arm Bow Chest used to slap his girl with, after the youth told him which arm Pep said he was going on a week’s long vacation and bringing back the arm that was used to slap his girl around with. After this declaration, Pep set out immediately to get revenge right after getting out of the reformatory. At first, the Vice Lords attempted to raid an Imperial Chaplain party but where beaten back as they were outnumbered. After this they laid low traveling about the west side avoiding the Imperial Chaplains leading the Chaplains to believe they had won. One day the Vice Lords got word that the Chaplains were hanging out 200-300 deep at the Central Park theater located at Roosevelt Road and Central Park Ave (3531-39 W. Roosevelt). The Vice Lords marched to the theater 50 strong but by the time they arrived all but 12 of them backed out along the way. Pep, Bate, Stucky, Toehold, Yancey, Wren, Trip, McLamore, Big George and three others went at it with about ninety members of the Imperial Chaplains while all the rest watched the fight. Despite being heavily outnumbered by nine to one, the Vice Lords were beating them back and put a good hurting on the Chaplains until they got out of the theater. The Chaplains then chased the Vice Lords and caught Wren and jumped him. The rest of the Vice Lords wouldn’t leave Wren behind, so they attacked Wren’s attackers then decided to proceed back into the theater and take on the Chaplains yet again. During the brawling Bow Chest emerged; as soon as Bow Chest emerged Pep and McLamore abducted him and pinned him. The two began cutting his arm off as they slashed him all over the rest of his body, even in the face, they also carved “CVL” on his back. Once they cut his arm halfway off the police showed up and broke it all up and Pep was arrested. Pep was convicted and sent back to the reformatory for another light sentence. In court Bow Chest had, had his arm sewn back on but when word traveled at the Illinois Youth Center what Pep had done every single Chaplain flipped to Vice Lord immediately which nearly flipped their entire gang in 1959 (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition). The Chaplains would still remain in existence after this but as a smaller gang that didn’t have much significance on the west side streets, Pep single handedly dismantled most of the Chaplains. I also want to mention Pep got his revenge on Big John for disrespecting him back in 1957, I don’t know all the details, but he got even.
Vice Lords became very popular as the year 1959 progressed. Packs of Vice Lords all over North Lawndale took out one small group after another and destroying small gangs forcing them to flip. Many youngsters also began admiring the Vice Lord style of wearing a black cape with gold lettering and an earring placed in one ear before it was even close to popular for males to wear earrings. The Vice Lord new symbols were admired as Maurice Calloway came up with the idea for the top hat, cane and gloves. Calloway made the canes spell out “CVL” and used a skull wearing the top hat, bow tie and cigarette holder with smoke coming out of the skull. The capes were a total Vice Lord thing and often used to hide shotguns and other guns, that’s why police made Vice Lords take them off (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The Vice Lords became a serious force to be reckoned with and began to spread fear in the neighborhood. They dismantled the Bandits and the Spanish Counts (Not a Hispanic gang) gangs and then exercised a curfew for other gangs on the streets. If any other gang was out after 9:00 P.M. they were severely beaten, only Vice Lords could roam the streets at night, nobody else. This display of sheer power gained the Vice Lords more momentum and was making them graduate to becoming the kings of the streets. The Vice Lords went anywhere they wanted and didn’t feel the need to claim certain territories like the other gangs did. One day they were hanging out in one area then the next it was elsewhere, this made it tough for police to track their haunts. They also had no respect for other gangs’ turf and if any gangs had a problem the Vice Lords were always overflowing with eagerness to fight over it, something you never saw in other gangs in history as gangs usually want some down times between wars but the Vice Lords were like aggressive dogs that wouldn’t quit. The Vice Lords only had one set location for meetings back in 1959 and that was 2135 S. Millard (Millard and Ogden Ave) in North Lawndale (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In the year 1960, Pep got out of the juvenile center again and now he was seventeen years old. He got word that one of his top Lieutenants “Possum” had flipped to a Morphine. After failed negotiations to get Possum to flip back to Vice Lord Pep intensified the ongoing war that had started after he was locked up and all through the winter in 1960 the Vice Lords kept coming at the Morphines until they finally surrendered and their leadership, including Possum, joined the Vice Lords, thus, dissolving the Morphines (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Next on the agenda was the take down of the Cherokees that ruled Theodore Herzl School located at 15th and Ridgeway. The Cherokees also dominated 16th Street back then and were known for being very tough. The Vice Lords fought the Cherokees for a few days and took over Herzl School but were not satisfied enough. The Vice Lords called for a meeting with Cherokee leaders about surrendering and flipping to Vice Lords, the Cherokees refused. After the refusal by the Cherokees, the Vice Lords violently attacked the Cherokees hurting their members badly, busting heads until they took 16th Street away from the Cherokees forcing most of the Cherokees to flip to Vice Lord. Some Cherokees flipped to Egyptian Cobras while others flipped to Imperial Knights and that’s when the Imperial Knights were next on the agenda. They beat on the Knights for a month until every member of the Knights flipped to Vice Lord (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Next up were the Braves. The Vice Lords were sick of the Braves messing with young Vice Lords and now it was time for payback and domination. The Braves were a big gang and even were located in the ABLA projects and Henry Horner projects in the Near West Side neighborhood. After a three-month war the Vice Lords destroyed the Braves and this only left one other big gang, the Egyptian Cobras (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Vice Lords spread outside of the North Lawndale community in the year 1960 as they landed in the Near West Side neighborhood and East Garfield Park after defeating the Braves where they began to exercise domination over those communities. This also the year the Vice Lord dismantled the Clovers and fought their way into the ABLA projects and the Henry Horner projects, thus, 1960 was the year Vice Lords landed in the ABLA and Henry Horner Homes.
The Cobras were fierce competition and wanted to claim the all of North Lawndale and from Pulaski Road all the way east to end of the neighborhood it was now Vice Lord territory. The Vice Lords wanted the Cobras to completely leave the west side of Chicago entirely especially since the Vice Lords now had dominance over west of Pulaski in K-town. After giving an ultimatum in 1960 for the Cobras to leave and the Cobras turning it down a big brawling war ensued that caused Pep to stab one of their Lieutenants in the neck. The Lieutenant then called the police on Pep and this time Pep was tried as an adult being seventeen years old and was sentenced to six months in Cook County Jail. After Pep went in the Cobras were beating back on the Vice Lords which lead to the death of “Dee Dee” after Cobras shot him with a high-powered rifle during a brawl with the Cobras. Dee Dee was only sixteen years old and was a leader of pee wee members. After the death of Dee Dee Pep was enraged and told his fellow Lords that when he got out the Cobras better be softened up. The Vice Lords listened well and shot “Stump Daddy’s” brother “Pop Eye,” Stump Daddy was a Cobra leader. They gave another Cobra, Hershey Foster a concussion and they killed another Cobra leader, Leroy Brown, by stabbing him forty-two times. The Vice Lords then kept on hitting the Cobras hard until when Pep got out the Cobras were indeed softened up and even backed off (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
While Pep was locked up the Imperial Chaplains tried to reassemble and began growing again, this angered Pep and the Lords, so they stormed a dance being held at the YMCA. The Vice Lords trashed the building breaking windows and destroying everything in sight. The YMCA then called the police on the Vice Lords and Pep. In the meantime, the Vice Lords stormed a pool hall in Franklin Benjamin Park (4320 W. 15th St) and tore apart a poolroom and even burned furniture. They then advanced on a nearby restaurant and caused problems over there. After all this Pep was arrested and put back in Cook County Jail again, this time the judge gave him a one-year sentence hoping it would stop the Vice Lords dead in their tracks, the judge was wrong (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
While locked up in the juvenile portion of the jail Pep was wild and fighting several youths inside getting thrown in isolation until the authorities decided he was too much for that section and he was moved to the adult side to be with grown men. When he first got there, he was confronted by an older guy that tried to bully him; Pep ended up beating the man up on three occasions until he gained a reputation in the adult side. He worked in the kitchen and declared he wasn’t going to be a food server anymore and withdrew all his Vice Lords from that duty too. Within no time he was controlling all work details in the adult side which meant the Vice Lords were running it all. The Vice Lords were well taken care of getting preference of the best clothes, the best food and the best sleeping arrangements. This caused more gang members coming in to flip to Vice Lords so they could get the best treatment. This also caused the Vice Lords to be bigger on the streets because these flipped members came home as Vice Lords too. Edwin Perry had such power that he was able to successfully escape from jail by slipping out the front using a disguise without anyone knowing about it. He found a Vice Lord that looked just like him and had him dress like Pep and act like him for three months, the guards never noticed, and the man was released when Pep’s sentence was over, not a word ever said. The Vice Lords also had all the intelligence on all the other gangs in the jails and prisons. They knew all their movements and what they were all about. Vice Lords also shouted down messages through the toilets and air vents when guards were not standing around. They could shout down the toilet after pressing the button and their voices would travel through the pipes to the inmate below. Vice Lords also used jail and prison staff to relay messages for them to the outside. They would write numbers on their backs or tell them to remember certain information. Most of the jail and prison staff cooperated because they lived on the west side and didn’t want to be terrorized by Vice Lords at home (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In 1961, Pep got out of jail and he found the nation to be in very good shape as “Sugar Cane” made things more organized than ever. Vice Lords were making money as they set up several different hustles like offering protection to store fronts, restaurants and drug dealers. When they offered protection, these businesses slid some cash into the pockets of Vice Lords. Many Vice Lords did armed robberies or had girls steal clothes from department stores so they could sell the clothes on the streets. The Vice Lord leadership were even the ones to consult with for potential business owners that wanted to open on the west side, this brought them in competition with Italian organized crime that usually ran the underworld of the city including the black ghettos. This led to an assassination attempt on Pep at the Millard Street club house. An unknown gunman came knocking at the door on October 2, 1961 and shot a Vice Lord Chief named Glenn Miles in the chest killing him instantly. It was said the bullet was meant for Pep and Vice Lords knew the Mafia had put a hit out on him for stepping all over their operations. The police arrived and found six automatic weapons, shotguns and two .30-.30 scoped rifles which got Pep arrested right away. The police said the Vice Lords killed their own member and investigated other Vice Lords. This incident caused the Vice Lord’s building of their own organized crime racket to falter as there were fears of another Mafia reprisal (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Vice Lords began to focus on quicker ways to make money after the failed syndicate activities. They opened up their own auto theft operation. Vice Lords had boxes full of keys that were used to boost cars and they figured out how to steal just about every model in the neighborhood. Stolen cars were used for direct sales of the whole auto, the sale of parts, joyriding or for gangbanging hits on rivals (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In the early years the Vice Lords were already all about war strategy. Leonard Calloway was War Counselor and devised strategies to ambush enemies and create attack strategies by using Guerrilla warfare type attacks. Cal and the Vice Lords would draw maps and take notes on entire territories of all the other gangs. They would even map out buildings, doorways, gangways and everything so they could plan attacks. They would attack with guns, do a shooting, then jump into getaway cars real fast. In one incident, in 1961, the Vice Lords kept beating up Egyptian Cobras and Imperial Chaplains anytime they saw them on the streets wearing their sweaters. Vice Lords stripped the sweaters saving up a few hundred of them until they crashed a party that Cobras and Chaplains were throwing. All the Vice Lords were wearing the sweaters disguising themselves as Cobras and Chaplains until suddenly, they started beating on actual Cobras and Chaplains. The Vice Lords shot out the ceiling lights with shotguns and threw their jukebox down the stairs. Of course, because of all the sweaters it was hard to tell who was who but Vice Lords ordered actual Cobras and Chaplains to move over in one area but no one moved and this is when Cobras and Chaplains never wore the sweaters again. Vice Lords were known for crashing rival gang parties and beating everyone up in sight while kicking out their windows, this was all strategies to terrorize and intimidate other gangs in the area and caused them all to shrink in size (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Because of the attack on the Chaplains at the YMCA in the late part of the year 1961, all Imperial Chaplains flipped to Vice Lords and became the first separate branch in Vice Lord history known as “Imperial Vice Lords.” This would become the first of many branches to come, but now the Imperials were a part of the overall Vice Lord nation.
In the early part of the year 1962, CHA officers began reporting recruitment drives at the Cabrini Green public housing project in the Near North Side community. Shortly after this, a 17-year-old Vice Lord affiliated Cabrini Green resident Alphonso House Jr. shot a peanut vendor to death in the complex. The Vice Lords had arrived in Cabrini Green in 1962 and this gave birth to their 500-502 Oak Street territory mainly by the buildings near Oak and Hudson. Vice Lords also settled outside of the projects in the Near North Side tougher areas near the Ranch Triangle and near the shabby areas near North Avenue. Vice Lords also made their way into the Marshall Field Apartments in the Old Town section of the Near North Side, this was a public housing unit located at Hudson and Evergreen.
In the years 1962 and 1963, as the Vice Lords abandoned their syndicate operation after Glenn Miles was killed, older members spent much of their time in bars drinking a lot while young members ran the streets small time hustling and gangbanging. During this time while the Vice Lords were starting to slip a little and only focus on Egyptian Cobras, a Vice Lord named Eugene Brown broke off and formed his own gang called the “Roman Saints.” The Saints became very popular, but the Vice Lords were always tougher causing the Saints to team up with the Cobras, but it didn’t do the Saints much good as the Vice Lords still had their number (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In the year 1964, the Vice Lords began to go through changes. The organization now numbered in the thousands and it was now impossible for Pep and the top leaders to control the whole organization. This is when Pep stepped down as the active leader at age 21 to spend more time with his family. He would still act as a behind the scenes leader, but he was not the main man anymore. It was decided one night at a pool room that 29-year-old Alfonso Alford would take over the role. Alford joined the Vice Lords very late in life, not joining until he moved to Chicago from another state in 1962 at age 27. Now at age 29 he would become the new leader. The Vice Lords looked up to Alford as he was charismatic, tough and quick tempered. Alford would do activities with the Lords taking them places and spending money on them. He took them on field trips and he even helped young Lords get jobs and make a little money (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In 1964, Vice Lords began hanging out on the south side of the city with the Black Stone Rangers as the two organizations formed a tight alliance. Ranger founders Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston were related to Vice Lord leaders Leonard Calloway and Bobby Gore so this is what got them acquainted to begin with but now Vice Lords were making more of a presence out there and helped the Rangers as much as they could (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In 1964, as I stated earlier the Vice Lords were so large it became impossible for even great leaders like Alfonso Alford or Edwin Perry to directly lead all these young lords all over the west side. For the first years from 1958-1964 the Vice Lords didn’t really claim certain territory, they simply moved about the west side and terrorized any other gangs away from trying to establish certain territories. It was finally in 1964 that the Conservative Vice Lords established a set piece of territory at the intersection of 16th Street and Lawndale in the North Lawndale neighborhood, this became their headquarters. This was of course only the headquarters of the Conservative Vice Lords but not the whole Vice Lord nation as now the Vice Lord nation was divided into different factions starting in 1964. “Ugly Frank” started the “Traveler Vice Lord” branch. Billy Washington started the “Congress Vice Lords.” Cupid, Dino, Shane and Bolock created the “Warlords.” Another group was the Renegade Vice Lords and City Vice Lords of 16th Street. There were the Kedzie Albany Terrible Vice Lords, Cermak Vice Lords, Conservative Village Vice Lords on Pulaski Road, 7-Crown Syndicate Vice Lords located in K-Town, Cicero Vice Lords (of Cicero Avenue but not until 1968), Independence Vice Lords, Lake Street Vice Lords, Madison Vice Lords, Chocolate Corner Vice Lords, Ambrose Vice Lords, Black Orpheus Vice Lords, Invisible Vice Lords, Maypole vice Lords, Jackson Vice Lords, R.I.P Douglas Ridgeway Vice Lords, 12th Street Vice Lords, 15th Street Vice Lords, 16 Street Vice Lords, Village Vice Lords, the Player Vice Lords and of course the Conservative Vice Lords, bringing the total to 26 different factions of Vice Lords created in 1964. All these groups operated individually and many of them didn’t even know who Alfonso Alford even was. There were now Vice Lord groups located in the Near West Side community and living in the A.B.L.A projects, Rockwell Gardens projects and the Henry Horner Homes.
In the mid-1960s Vice Lords had settled alongside black migration in the Uptown neighborhood and the Wicker Park neighborhoods. The Vice Lords became very well-known in Wicker Park at their Evergreen and Hoyne stronghold that was heavily contested by white greaser gangs and the United Neighborhoods gangs (Insane Unknowns, Latin Kings, Spanish Lords and Warlords).
The other big event of 1964 happened in July of that year when Edwin Perry, Bobby Gore, Alfonso Alford, Leonard Calloway and J.W. were hanging out on 16th Street drinking bottles of wine and throwing the bottles into vacant lots and the street. Younger Vice Lords were coming around that night talking about smashing rival gangs that were already beaten to a pulp; some of those gangs were already asking for mercy to not take anymore punishment but there was nothing else to do in the neighborhood but be big and bad. This is until the older guys came up with an idea based upon how they were seeing the destruction and damage they had caused in the community. The guys decided on an idea, after some debating, to go about opening legitimate businesses and working to better the community. This was a major breakthrough for the Vice Lords and on that night, they became “Conservative Vice Lords” once again (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The first order of business was for the Vice Lords to put a stop to the mayhem around them. Vice Lords worked as mediators to stop violence and put an end to gang wars, Vice Lords even stopped fighting with Egyptian Cobras which allowed Vice Lords to move into the K-Town section of the North Lawndale neighborhood west of Pulaski Road and this allowed them mobility to move into the West Garfield Park community. Vice Lords acted as kind of like police or guardian angels watching over businesses and people in the neighborhood so harm would not come. The challenge of all this was the police still had a negative outlook on the Vice Lords and young men still felt the despair of not having opportunities to succeed that still led them to crime. The Vice Lords knew the best thing they needed on the west side was its own economy with businesses that could vest in the community and bring employment for youths. This part of the city was barren and was a complete slum due to extreme economic poverty. Without revenue generating businesses not enough city tax dollars could go into renovations and maintenance to the neighborhood leaving the area deteriorated.
In the year 1965, George T. Sims Junior was appointed Commander of the Fillmore District, and the first black commander of that district as well. The older Vice Lords used this appointment to their advantage to further their new direction. The Vice Lord leaders wanted to speak with Sims informing him about their new direction and for suggestions to steer youth away from crime and gangbanging. After this, the streets of North Lawndale slowly began to improve.
In the year 1966, the Vice Lord’s new cause was bringing in more positive attention as they began to work very closely with Egyptian Cobras, Black P Stones and Black Disciples on bettering their communities and putting an end to violence. In the summer of that year Martin Luther King came to Chicago and stayed in North Lawndale to help protest during the west side riots of 1966. Martin Luther King planned a march through the mostly white areas of the southside of Chicago in protest. The Vice Lords, Disciples and Stones were ready to march alongside Dr. King but after a remark was overheard from one of King’s men that they didn’t need gangbangers to help. Edwin Perry gave one quick signal with his hand and all the gangs disbursed and withdrew aid. Later that night Dr. King summoned Edwin Perry, Bobby Gore and a few other leaders to where he was staying and told them he didn’t back that statement about not needing the gangs for support instead he expressed that he needed them and after that the Vice Lords and their allies marched alongside Dr. King. After this march the Vice Lords started to get major attention that summer as groups were coming to North Lawndale to speak to the Vice Lords and admire their progress; the Deacons of Defence, RAM, ACT as examples came to meet the Vice Lords and this is what got the ball rolling. Everyone could come meet the Vice Lords at the new club house that opened a little earlier that year at 3655 West 16th Street (16th and Millard). The older Vice Lords scraped all the money they got from hustling over the years and pooled it all together to open this pool room. This became the first legitimate Conservative Vice Lord building in history, and it was made possible by Vice Lord member’s hard earned money and not government grants, but the grants were soon to come (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Leading off the new year of 1967, Chicago area was socked with horrible snow storms and blinding blizzards that left much of the city buried. This blizzard was so bad that cars couldn’t even move about in the city which provided a perfect lawless environment for young Vice Lords. In the mid-60s older Vice Lords struggled to contain the younger Lords and this blizzard made it much worse as now the young Lords had a blast ripping off one store after another, stealing, looting and burglarizing the Jewish owned businesses, some of the older Vice Lords even got in on the action. The problem with this was it drew negative attention to the Vice Lords and drove out more business owners out of the neighborhood even after the winter was over. This brought negative attention, but this negative attention turned into a positive as now Commander Sims was concerned that the summer of 1967 would become a repeat of the summer of 66. Commander Sims he arranged a meeting with Vice Lord leaders to discuss how to prevent chaos. At this meeting would also be David Dawley from Newbury, Massachusetts of the Transcentury Corporation who was sent to eleven cities across the nation to investigate working with impoverished areas and conducting research. Dawley’s research was key to the government’s decision or other organizations linked to the government granting money to the Vice Lords. David Dawley moved to North Lawndale and lived on these streets among Vice Lords. Dawley interviewed Vice Lords all over the neighborhood and helped the CVLs form “Operation Bootstrap” which was a coalition of CVLs, Egyptian Cobras and Roman Saints that were geared toward working with west side major corporations to prevent riots that summer that would cost these companies millions of dollars. These companies Bootstrap worked with were: Sears Roebuck, Ryerson Steel, Illinois Bell, Western Electric and others. During that summer Vice Lords, Cobras and Saints policed the neighborhood and broke up gang meetings and even stopped the Black Panthers from creating a plan to destroy businesses and begin looting. There were challenges that summer and scandals rocked the city and the nation that could have easily triggered more rioting but the CVL led Operation Bootstrap stopped the violence because they had a bigger plan in mind (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The Conservative Vice Lords began to come to a full realization that burning down neighborhoods and fighting the white man was not the way to go anymore. From the years of 1958 to 1964, they violently revolted against society, but now the mindset had changed. Vice Lords realized that fighting the government and white people only brought negative images to not only their organization but to the black man. It became time to show power in a different way by showing restraint and asking for help from the city and government. Vice Lords wanted to see black owned businesses, jobs for blacks, clean and safe streets and they knew that violence was not the answer to achieving those goals. This is mostly long-lost history that is buried and under published. A Nation of Lords is an excellent autobiography that tells the whole story about the full Vice Lord intentions but sadly most of the general public never picked up a copy of this book so I will continue sharing highlights from the book blended with my personal knowledge so you, as the reader, can really understand what the Vice Lord nation was really trying to accomplish here. I strongly recommend A Nation of Lords, but I will cover some major highlights as I already have done so far. The Vice Lord struggle has often been in the same class as the Black Panthers or even the Black P Stones, but this is different because the Vice Lords had the goal of fully working with the white man and the government, police etc…to get a helping hand to rebuild the North Lawndale community and create a sustainable economy. They were hoping this model would then spread to the rest of the black ghettos city-wide, then eventually help all poor people of all colors. The ultimate failure rests upon the city and the Mayor at the time that didn’t adhere enough to Vice Lord pleas for assistance with change.
Before the summer of 1967, Alderman George Collins promised that if the Vice Lords would keep riots off the streets that summer, he would help CVL open an ice cream parlor. As the summer progressed not only did Vice Lords prevent rioting, they even set up divisions within themselves that dealt with education, law, order and justice. On September 11, 1967, Alderman Collins lived up to his promise and incorporated “CVL Inc” as a non-profit organization and began opening up a storefront at 16th and Lawndale which brought the opening of “Teen Town” later. David Dawley had just submitted his report in November to the Transcentury corporation which was a major peace to convince the federal government to give money to CVL Inc. David was then trying to get the Rockefeller Foundation to fund the $15,000 Teen Town needed to open which should have been simple due to the fact it didn’t need major committee approval. After several negotiations with the YMCA and Bootstrap the money was at last granted in February of 1968 and Teen Town opened on April 4, 1968. YMCA acted as an auditor for all monies CVL would receive to make sure the gang used the money in the places they promised to use it but CVL leaders needed to make it clear that the YMCA was not to get the money directly and then give it to CVL. Also, CVL wanted to assure that Bootstrap was a separate organization and not to get the funds either. Sadly, on the same day Teen Town opened and the big announcement was to go out the assassination of Martin Luther King quickly stole the headlines and diverted attention away from this colossal moment. To make matters worse rioting went on uncontrollably on the west side as everything burned. Vice Lords decided not to partake in the rioting as an organization, but they did nothing to stop it like they did in the summer of 67. The store owners never showed any gratitude for the previous summer, so Vice Lords just stayed out and let it all burn while they protected Teen Town and the pool hall. Rioters only targeted white owned businesses anyway and after the riots white business owners stopped doing business in the area. The Vice Lords opened a relief station right after the riots at 3720 West 16th Street to pass out food and supplies to hundreds of families affected by the rioting (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
In the aftermath of the rioting CVLs sent letters to the Mayor’s office pleading for assistance with the transformation of the neighborhood and bring more grants to help establish a fully functioning community. These letters were ignored by the mayor.
Even though Mayor Daley was not on board CVL still came across more grant money in the years of 1968 and 1969. Of course, the best form of help would have needed to come from the city itself but for now grants from several private and smaller federal programs would have to do. Grants came in from: The Field Foundation for $25,000, $130,000 from the Ford Foundation, $36,000 from the Department Of Labor and $60,000 from W. Clement Stone (Source: Crimescenesblogspot.com). The money was used to open multiple legitimate companies and community centers. The businesses were: Teen Town at 3700 West 16th street, The African Lion at 3702 W. 16th street, The House of Lords at 3724 W. 16th street and one at 3414 West 15th street, Art and Soul at 3742 West 16th street, Tastee Freeze at 18th and Pulaski and California and Flournoy. Simone; which was a business venture with Sammy Davis Junior for African American women’s beauty products. West Side Community Development Center, Management Training Institute, Street Academy, Tenant’s Rights Action Group, Art and Soul, Youth Organizations United. Vice Lords took part in programs to beautify the neighborhood rehabbing building, removing trash and planting gardens. Vice Lords also became educated on tenant’s rights working on a non-for-profit basis as they successfully fought legal battles against crooked landlords forcing landlords to provide better tenancy and to push back on unfair evictions. Vice Lords were also working to bring more employment within the community so people in the neighborhood didn’t have to commute too far away places such as out in the suburbs. Having employment locally could also provide more equal pay (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
The late 1960s was also the time when Vice Lords started manifesting in multiple suburbs across the Chicagoland area as far north as Rockford and as far south as Robbins. Vice Lords also settled into the Austin neighborhood on the west side which was an all-white community that was not happy to see black families move into the area. Many members of the white community of Austin reacted violently to blacks moving in and older adults even sicked their kids on young black youths ordering them to attack. Black youths could hardly move about the neighborhood without scores of white youths bullying them especially the greaser gangs like the Gaylords, Playboys, Ventures and Rice Boys. In 1968 Vice Lords arrived among the black families along Cicero Avenue and began recruitment in Austin so black youths could fight back against their attackers.
It got to the point in the late 1960s where North Lawndale residents could walk the streets wearing jewelry and other valuables without any fear of being attacked as Vice Lords now not only refrained from violent behavior against the community, they also acted as the police in the area making sure residents were safe. Not all Vice Lords were on board with this but for the most part all the North Lawndale CVLs were all about this positive direction and most of the criminal elements in the Vice Lords existed in other neighborhoods or within other branches of the nation. The newspapers lit up with headlines talking about how the Vice Lords had changed and were now working toward new goals and once a gang of killers and hooligans now had become a community organization. Despite all the hard work there was still an overall negative perception on gangs in general, and this was amplified by Mayor Richard J. Daley that preached about his war on gangs in 1969. The Vice Lords were classified as a gang and the city would take a blanket approach to all gangs not just some. This was a damaging attitude for the Vice Lords as it also clumped Vice Lord operations in with the operation of the Black P Stones that were under heavy investigation in 1969 for misuse of government funding. It is true that the federal government ended up gathering evidence against the Black P Stones, however, much of the funding the Stones received was still going to good use, just not all of it. No matter how you look at it, the money filtering to the Stones helped the community and helped south side black youths as youth centers were opened, businesses that provided jobs, G.E.D programs and job training centers helped save many youths on the south side of Chicago but the illegal endeavors were highlighted above all and became a big part of Mayor Daley’s war on gangs. The Vice Lords were dipping into the same type of funding sources as the Stones and were even opening the same type of businesses and being a black street gang like the Stones just got them swept under the same category as the Stones. When the investigations began and concluded CVL Inc funding was eventually cut off and the Vice Lords were left with nothing even though not a single Vice Lord was convicted of an overall conspiracy to use funding for illegal endeavors like the Stones were convicted of.
Not only were the Vice Lords classified with more criminal gangs, there was also a lack of patience with bestowing the Vice Lords the opportunity to keep the west side streets safe. Federal law enforcement agencies spat out crime stats in the higher numbers during the late 1960s and Vice Lords were often given no credit for making a difference even though the Conservative Vice Lords directly were barely contributing to those crime stats by committing crimes. The Conservative Vice Lords had expressed they needed more patience because it would take years for them to help the entire west side clean up their act, something that couldn’t be done in just a year or two. This is why the Vice Lords expressed their need for more resources in the black community to keep youths distracted with positive activities and to offer better opportunities with recreation and jobs. Many of these letters written to the Mayor were unanswered. Mayor Daley himself never visited the Vice Lord clubhouse despite being invited on multiple occasions instead him and many other government officials wrote off the Vice Lords as bad company.
Other problems with funding were that the city had already allocated funding to the west side, but every dollar was controlled by city officials that were not in touch with what the community truly needed to rehab itself. CVL Inc had all the knowledge of how to spend funding in the best way to provide the maximum effect on the community but instead pleas to the city fell on deaf ears. The funding that was received was often mishandled and mismanaged by other groups such as Bootstrap which caused lots of confusion and frustrations. Sometimes funding would fall into the hands of less educated Vice Lords that mismanaged the funds and paid themselves a salary that didn’t fit into the CVL agenda, once again this was caused by money going to where it shouldn’t even if it was within CVL it would go to the wrong part of CVL against CVL leadership’s instructions.
A big blow to the Vice Lords was the convicting of CVL leader Bobby Gore on murder charges. In November of 1969, Bobby Gore was taken away in handcuffs accused of murder. He then went through a very brief trial in early 1970 as he was denied continuances. His case was only continued three times in the very early months of 1970 as it became very clear the justice system was eager to lock him up and not allow the defense to further investigate and prepare a stronger case. The system was completely set against Bobby and he was convicted of murder, a murder conviction that would later be overturned in 1981 (Source: A Nation of Lords: The Autobiography of the Vice Lords, Second Edition).
Vice Lords continued to attempt positive changes in the years of 1969-1973. As reports of members committing violent crimes now began to take back over the newspaper in the early 1970s, CVL Inc still kept going and kept its charter in the early 70s. CVLs also worked with Black P Stones and Black Gangster Disciples with the “LSD Coalition” or “Lords Stones and Disciples.” The LSD coalition heavily advocated for employment rights for black Chicagoans until it ended in 1973. Between the years 1964 through 1969 the Vice Lords were mainly only in the newspaper for their positive leadership on the streets and the programs they were getting involved in. Only a few times were they in the negative spot light during these years. The worst case was that of Edward Taylor, a CVL member, convicted of murdering a nun in 1969. The Executioner Vice Lords had started a murder-for-hire business in 1969 and a shooting with the Roman Saints in 1966 along with some other small stories was just about all that made the papers in a negative light in these years. Once Bobby Gore was convicted of murder and David Dawley moved back east and the spot light was back on the Vice Lords, the Vice Lords began to engage in criminal behavior. Original member and co-founder Leonard Calloway was convicted of murder in 1970 taking down another CVL leader. In 1972, CVL leader Kenneth “Goat” Parks was convicted of possessing and using stolen U.S. Treasury checks, which was another conviction that really hurt CVL reputation. During the year 1972, the Vice Lords were still working with Egyptian Cobras to prevent war so there was still some positive actions going on from CVL; CVL Inc was still active as of 1972. Many of the headlines of Vice Lords committing crimes and murders were carried out by other branches like Unknown Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and Cicero Vice Lords, but CVL violent crimes were much less as they still struggled to maintain order as the new heroin epidemic was beginning to take over the west side of Chicago in these years. Youths were beginning to partake in the heroin trade as it was putting money in the pockets of desperate west side youths and as the influence of CVL Inc was slowly fading in the early 70s more youths were getting involved in heroin. Conservative Vice Lords of North Lawndale did not involve themselves in the heroin trade, but the other branches of the overall Vice Lord nation were getting involved and this was the years where distinguishing between the different factions became very important.
In the year 1973, David Dawley returned to the streets of North Lawndale to present his new book, A Nation of Lords which was announced in the newspaper and brought a positive spotlight back the Vice Lords. The public could now read all about the Vice Lord story and develop an understanding. This was also a year that the Vice Lords did not show up much in the paper for crimes committed. Some positive leaders were still on the street especially Alfonso Alford who was still President up until March of 1974 when he was shot three times near his home. It was at that point that Alford stepped down and left the area leaving CVL to fall into a mostly criminal organization once again. The legitimate businesses the Vice Lords once owned and operated in North Lawndale closed down once CVL Inc was deactivated. The buildings where these places once were thriving with hope now became depressed dilapidated buildings just like how they were left before CVL Inc bought them in the late 1960s including the pool room at 3655 West 16th Street that Vice Lords bought with their own hard-earned money in 1966. These buildings were either replaced by businesses that failed a short time later or immediately turned dilapidated and were torn down leaving much of 16th Street barren. The vacant lots where these buildings existed now became centers of gang activity, garbage dumping and drug trafficking. Vice Lords fell out of the newspaper in the latter half of the 1970s with the exception of stories telling all about Vice Lords involved in prison riots and the stabbing and beating of rival Disciples but no good was published or even any bad on the streets, it was as if the Vice Lords were forgotten. The only time the name was brought up at all was to attach fear and gang awareness. The papers stopped reporting because the west side gang violence became isolated from the rest of the city and the suburbs which was societies’ way of cutting themselves off from the problem. By the time new Mayors took over the Vice Lords had already returned to crime, thus, taking away any interest in helping the organization rebuild or helping the west side rebuild. There have always been older Vice Lords at the ready waiting to assist with rebuilding and getting things back in a positive direction but without key support from government and private institutions, there could never be anything that could be accomplished even close to significance. This started an attitude that from the younger Vice Lords that older Lords that still preached of positive change in later years were just basically delusional Lords that would never get anything done that didn’t grasp reality. At this point, the best way for Vice Lords to survive in a depressed land was to sell drugs, especially heroin which became the lead economic vein for the organization. Just in the Austin community alone the Vice Lords took a firm grip on the “Heroin Superhighway” trade all through the streets of this west side community. Vice Lords organized their branches into separate mafias just like how Italian organized crime operates rival syndicates under one La Cosa Nostra entity. The Almighty Vice Lord nation as an overall organization is divided into these rival families across the west side that kill each other and fight for to maintain and to conquer territory for the sole purpose of drug profits. This is often seen as necessary because the city and our nation has turned their backs on the Vice Lords and left them to criminal endeavors.
As I had stated before the Vice Lords were mainly only in the media about their prison issues. What was not in the media was when the Vice Lords were key players in the creation of the People alliance in Statesville Prison in April 1978. A labor strike was organized behind prison walls that was put together by Black Gangster Disciple, Black Disciples, Black P Stone, El Rukn, Mickey Cobra, Black Soul and Vice Lord gang members. The Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples were especially pivotal in this organizing that became known as “Folk” and “People.” This assembly effectively reached white and Hispanic gangs and got them involved in a total sit down to refuse to do labor in the prison until rotten food stopped being served and there was overall better treatment for inmates. The Stoppage protest must have been successful because it never made the news. The Folk and People alliances were organized because these were allies and enemies that needed to be organized for this event, however, for this event all the gangs in prison became allies while this went down. The reason “Folk” and “People” needed to be distinguished is so that they understood they were enemy alliances that were coming together for this common good. When the event was over with Folk and People remained, however, a lasting impression was left that these alliances could always come together or negotiate peace and organize wars. The El Rukns, Black P Stones and Vice Lords have a deep history that dates to 1959 when Leonard Calloway and Bobby Gore helped their cousins Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston organize themselves into south side gang leaders that eventually created the Black P Stone Nation. Now these organizations were coming back together to assemble the People alliance and the El Rukns proposed the Vice Lords become part of the Islamic faith and adopt Islamic symbols and bylaws. With this being established the Vice Lords and El Rukns were able to assemble this alliance and represent the Islamic side of the People alliance that Black P Stones and Mickey Cobras would acknowledge as “All is Well.” The People alliance could also bring more peace within Vice Lord factions as there was some conflict among the factions.
The overall adopting of the Islamic doctrine brought a spiritual aspect to the Almighty Vice Lord nation which provided peaceful spiritual guidance for members to act outside of criminal endeavors. These new Vice Lord doctrines were aimed at preventing violence and bringing new discipline to members. The pyramid was adopted as a new symbol and each corner of the pyramid would add up to 360 degrees. Just to be clear though Vice Lords are not Muslims, only Islamic doctrines were adopted but not the whole faith.
In the year 1979, tensions were building between the El Rukns and the Black P Stones after the split happened in 1976. Each organization was being credited or discredited for actions they did or didn’t commit as law enforcement and the public pinned certain actions on one group or another when the other group was the actual perpetrator. This caused the El Rukns to declare law over Black P Stones and Black Stone factions that meant no one was to claim “Stone” or there would be dire consequences. This was a time when Black P Stone numbers where at a lower point on the southside than rival Disciples, Mickey Cobras and El Rukns, therefore, Black P Stone members connected with Conservative Vice Lords from the west side of Chicago. Black P Stone members, Conservative Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers put together a robbery gang called the “Pistoleros.” This group began congregating and meeting in the Atlgeld Garden Projects located in the Riverdale neighborhood on the far south side. Much of the group had recently migrated from the west side and had taken up residence in the Altgeld Gardens projects in 1979 and this is how they connected with the Black P Stones in the projects. The gang launched two major hold ups at the Oriental Theater in downtown Chicago and at the Rhodes Theater located at 79th and Rhodes in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood. After these sticks ups in 1979 and 1980 the Conservative Vice Lords were able to establish a section on the south side in the “Pocket Town” area of the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood as a result of Black P Stones flipping to CVL to avoid the sanctions by the El Rukns, this was a way for the old BPS to keep operations going under the guise as CVLs. CVLs became established in the 73rd and Stoney Island area. Four Corner Hustlers were able to land on this same turf and flip other Black P stones as well. Eventually war would break out between CVLs and Black P Stones as CVLs robbed and shot down many Stones causing a big war in the 1980s. CVLs withdrew from Pocket Town but opened several other sections from there all over the south side in the 1980s like the infamous “London Town” CVLs at 101st and Cottage Grove and then throughout the Roseland, Morgan Park and Riverdale (Altgeld Gardens) areas. CVL also opened in the Lawndale Gardens projects in the Little Village community and in West Englewood, Auburn Gresham, South Chicago and Midway Airport area that included a strong buildup in the Leclaire Courts projects alongside Four Corner Hustlers and Black P Stones. Traveling Vice Lords also settled in the Altgeld Gardens and Insane Vice Lords settled in the Greater Grand Crossing/Pocket town area as well. Insane Vice Lords were the second faction to settle on the south side of the city.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Vice Lords began heavily engaged in the drug wars on the west side, south side, north side and in the Cabrini Green projects up north. Guns blazed in Cabrini Green as Vice Lords at the 500 N. Oak to 502 N. Oak buildings (Bank Roll) in the Red walls section shot it out with rival Disciples and even Mickey Cobras over drug turf and territory as snipers were posted on roof tops picking each other off. The southside Vice Lords were hardened killers of some of the most dangerous Vice Lords known. The Vice Lords of the west side took over the streets entirely having complete dominance of North Lawndale and Austin only allowing other gangs to have very small territories in these areas. Black Souls and some Gangster Disciples factions in the West Garfield Park neighborhood posed some competition but for the most part Vice Lords and Four Corner Hustlers would dominate this neighborhood. The strongest competition in East Garfield Park was the Black Souls, other than that Vice Lords ruled that area too making the Vice Lords conquerors of the west side of Chicago. Even in West Humboldt Park Vice Lords dominated the entire southern section of the neighborhood as they violently went to war with Hispanic gangs from the neighborhood. In Wicker Park, Vice Lords became accustomed to being outnumbered and having to battle almost every gang in their vicinity.
Vice Lords ruled much of the west side public housing projects and owned some of the largest drug operations in these buildings. Renegade Vice Lords, Imperial Insane Vice Lords, Traveling Vice Lords and Conservative Vice Lords were known to be the biggest project dwelling factions on the west side as they had a major stake in the ABLA projects, Rockwell Gardens and Henry Horner projects.
The many Vice Lord branches also spread deep in the Chicago land suburbs as they touched down in just about every suburb you can think of. Some major strongholds in the suburbs were: Elgin, Bolingbrook, Joliet, Rockford, Decatur, Aurora, Addison, Robbins, Chicago Heights, Bellwood, Maywood, Calumet City, Champaign, Evanston, Ford Heights, Harvey, Kankakee, Peoria, Riverdale (suburb), Villa Park and Waukegan. Vice Lords would also spread nationwide and land in just about all 50 states in our nation especially in the Midwest in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa. Vice Lords became very large in Memphis Tennessee and out in North Carolina.
Vice Lords have multiplied into having well over 25,000 members nationwide and that is only a small estimate. This number if for the entire Vice Lord nation that accounts for all the individual branches in combined forces but doesn’t account for the fact that Vice Lord factions operate and govern as separate gangs. The only time Almighty Vice Lord nation becomes law is when members are behind bars then your faction is almost stripped as all Vice Lords must operate as one and follow the nation of the Peoples alliance strictly. On the streets you cannot simply claim you are a “Vice Lord” because the factions are mostly is a war state and have been for a very long time. Even when the wars were not as bad in the 1970s and some of the 1980s Vice Lord factions still operated more individually than any other organization in the city. Sure, you will hear about factions of Gangster Disciples, Factions of Black P Stones, factions of Latin Kings etc…but those organizations still don’t function as separately like the Vice Lords do and the VL factions have the most ferocious wars between them. With any other mob on this site I do not break down faction histories, but the Vice Lords will have the exclusive page where I break down as many of the factions as I can all on this page and tell all their stories. I have already covered the Conservative Vice Lord story but now we shall tell brief stories of the other active or well-known branches. I will be having no sections on this page for Four Corner Hustlers and Spanish Vice Lords because those factions have their own pages due to their extreme individuality.
Unknown Vice Lords
The story of the Unknown Vice Lords doesn’t start with Willie Lloyd. The Unknown Vice Lords were founded during the 1964 splitting of the Vice Lord nation into separate factions. Willie Lloyd was indeed an original member of the Unknown Vice Lords as he joined right upon inception at age 12 or 13. Willie may have been a regular Vice Lord in 1963 but for sure by 1964 he became an original UVL and possible co-founder. I am not sure if Willie came up with the name but the name “Unknown” came from these Vice Lords reading newspapers and joking about how criminals were committing crimes and the police were reporting an “Unknown” suspect was at large. I am not sure who the original leader of the Unknown Vice Lords was, but I do know the UVLs began on 16th Street in the North Lawndale neighborhood.
In the year 1965, Willie Lloyd now took over leadership of the UVLs and hyped them up into a massive recruitment drive and soon UVL numbers swelled into the hundreds making them one of the larger branches besides the Conservative Vice Lords. By the later 1960s the UVLs were able to take a nice chunk of the East Garfield Park neighborhood in the area bounded by Congress to Monroe to Central Park Ave to Kedzie (Ghost Town). Also by the later 1960s UVLs settled into the Wicker Park neighborhood around Evergreen and Hoyne where they fought with all white and Hispanic gangs.
By the early 1970s, UVLs were colonizing near Chicago Ave in the southern part of the West Humboldt Park neighborhood. Around this time period the UVLs were making headlines for various violent crimes as they were making much more noise than ever. In the years of 1970 and 1971 the UVLs engaged in violent shootings in the North Lawndale and East Garfield Park area that resulted in deaths and they went at it with Egyptian Cobras and Black Souls that made the newspapers. The UVLs seemed to be on a violent rampage and much of this was incited by their leader Willie Lloyd who was also developing a reputation for being a violent gang leader.
Willie Lloyd’s reputation for violence exceeded him further in December of 1971. Willie Lloyd and four others took a long drive out to the quad cities to Davenport, Iowa where one of their members was residing. The men came to this small city to do stick up robberies and their first spot was the Little Green Apple Tavern. The men held up the tavern at gun point and took cash and took a nickel plated .38 caliber revolver from the tavern. Then on December 5, 1971, the crew visited the Quality Inn Motel in downtown Davenport in search of a room frequented by a Davenport police officer Leon Washington thanks to a tipster. They were hoping to break into his room when he wasn’t there and steal his money and weapons, but they picked the wrong room and robbed another man instead. After robbing the man, they tied him up then went back to looking for Washington’s room. When the men found the room, the other man tied up in the previous room broke free and called the police while the crew robbed and tied up Leon Washington. This is when Davenport rookie police officer Michael Farnsworth showed up with his partner and both men were shot at immediately, upon the second shot from the .38 caliber revolver a bullet struck Farnsworth in the head killing him instantly. Four of the five men were arrested and charged with murder. Willie Lloyd himself did not fire any weapons at the officers but he was still convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but he only served 15 of those years. Even though he didn’t shoot anyone he was still hailed as a cold-blooded killer by authorities and by UVL members back in Chicago which not only boosted the reputation of Willie Lloyd but also of the UVLs. During his time in prison out in Iowa, Willie Lloyd still controlled UVL operations.
UVLs even got involved in politics and voter’s leagues under the name “Unknown Conservative Vice Lords” in 1984 which was said to help mask their illegal activities.
In December of 1986, Willie Lloyd was paroled much to the objection of Iowa State police and Davenport police, but Willie was headed back to Chicago’s west side. When Willie got back, he had earned high rank in the overall Almighty Vice Lord Nation and now that he was free he took over all leadership of the whole nation which meant he was in command of all Vice Lord branches while still being in charge of UVLs simultaneously. The police nationwide were still upset about Lloyd’s release and some Minneapolis police officers got revenge in October of 1988 when they beat Willie in the streets of Minneapolis. The reason why Lloyd was in Minneapolis is because he had family that lived there, and it was said that he was drug trafficking and/or holding meetings at his sister’s house for operations between Minneapolis and Chicago. Lloyd oversaw 150 UVL members in Minneapolis and they were best known for selling Crack and robbing other drug dealers.
More troubles fell upon Willie Lloyd in 1989 when he was arrested and convicted on illegal weapons charges possessing a Mac-10 machine gun and for attempting to shoot down a police officer. Lloyd was convicted and went back to prison, this time he was in an Illinois prison for the first time. While locked away in this short prison stint of about 2 ½ years Lloyd began using heroin and got addicted to the drug. He became somewhat reckless while addicted and much of the nation wanted him removed from power as he was now viewed as a high risk.
On December 30, 1992, Willie Lloyd was released from prison once again and strutted out of prison surrounded by body guards while wearing flashy clothing. Lloyd was determined to restore his power of the Vice Lord Nation even in the face of adversaries. As soon as Willie got home there was already disputes over drugs and monies owed. There was also a major war erupting over the North Ave drug trade with the Four Corner Hustlers making Willie a marked man. Willie Lloyd faced more legal issues as he was now facing charges of armed Robbery and unlawful restraint leading off the year 1993. During his trials there were a few attempted hits made on him. Once was on the Eisenhower Expressway when men shot his car up when his girlfriend and child and driver were the only occupants, no one was killed. One of Willie’s former top Lieutenants Cardell Williams and his faction of the Unknown Vice Lords was responsible for the shooting of the car on March 26th. Earlier that month Willie himself ordered the kidnapping of Tyrone Williams, the brother of Cardell. Cardell’s crew had gotten revenge by kidnapping two young teen boys working drug spots for Lloyd’s faction and they were dragged to railroad trucks as they cried and begged for their lives, but they were both shot to death execution style. Both these UVL factions were accustomed to robbing each other and were at total war. It got to the point where Willie and even his lawyer needed to wear a bullet proof vest to court. In October of 1993, another attempt was made on Willie as his car was shot about 30 times, but Willie was only shot in the leg while his girlfriend and his daughter once again survived unscathed.
By 1994, police closed in on UVL drug operations headed by Willie Lloyd and Willie was convicted and sent back to prison. During Willie’s 8-year stint in prison he became a reformed man this time and stepped down from Vice Lord leadership giving up the gang life. He returned home in the year 2002 preaching a different message trying to help youths get out of the gang life. Willie Lloyd’s philanthropy was not admired by all as he was shot down severely in 2003 and left in a wheel chair. Regardless, Willie Lloyd continued his work even though he was paralyzed until his death in 2015.
Despite Willie Lloyd’s departure the spirit of what he helped create and build continues presently as the Unknown Vice Lords are perhaps the fourth largest Vice Lord faction with branches all through the suburbs and nationwide.
There is a faction of Vice Lords called the “Unknown Traveling Vice Lords” which I am sure is partially formed by an Unknown Vice Lord faction merging with some Travelors but I don’t know any of their story.
Traveling Vice Lords or Traveler Vice Lords
The Traveling Vice Lords got their start in the year 1964 when the Vice Lords broke up into factions. These Vice Lords were started by “Ugly Frank” and were more of an East Garfield Park group and perhaps this is where they were founded. I don’t know what happened to Ugly Frank but by the very early 1970s he was no longer the leader and instead Neal “King Neal” Wallace was in charge and became the first well-known leader of the organization. Some have regarded Wallace as the founder, but he was not the founder, maybe a co-founder but not the founder.
In the year 1970, Travelers got more aggressive about expansion as they moved into the Austin neighborhood and began flipping members of the Unknown Vice Lords into TVLs. TVLs rooted themselves further by combining concepts with some Cicero Vice Lords to create the “Cicero Traveling Vice Lords” which was led by Isaac Adams which you can say he was the founder. Shortly after Adams founded the CTVLs he was charged with the murder of a Cicero Police Lieutenant’s son in June of 1970, this possibly is what killed off the CTVLs because I have heard nothing more about this faction.
Traveling Vice Lords became a rising star among the Vice Lord factions and became perhaps one of the top three largest factions or perhaps the third largest faction. In 1970, TVLs took over a good part of West Garfield Park and now were very much present on almost all the west side neighborhoods.
In the 1970s, TVLs rooted themselves very well in the projects on the west side of Chicago as they took up residence in the Henry Horner housing projects and the ABLA housing projects. TVLs also became strong in the Rockwell Gardens as they joined other Vice Lord factions in those buildings.
In the year 1983, King Neal passed away but the TVLs only grew stronger in the 1980s as they settled on the south side of Chicago in the Altgeld Gardens projects in the Riverdale neighborhood and in the Roseland neighborhood (Wild Hundreds).
TVLs were very flexible and could easily move about the city or into other states if needed. TVLs could establish alliances and set up business relationships with other factions or organizations if needed but would kill very quickly if any organizations were ready for war. In the public housing projects on the west side TVLs set up very strong drug operations and gunned down opposition that threatened these strong operations, this brought many violent gangs wars in these buildings.
Flournoy and California was TVL’s biggest operation as by the 1990s they were pushing $5,000 to $30,000 a day in drug sales. Andrew “Bay Bay” Patterson was directly supervising this section until it was raided in 1995 after an undercover dirty cop helped bring it down. Patterson and several others were convicted of drug conspiracy.
TVLs became so large they spread into other states as they opened large operations in cities like Memphis and North Carolina.
Some breakaway groups of the Travelers include the Maniac Traveling Vice Lords and the Outlaw Lunatic Traveling Vice Lords, but these groups were not formed until the 2000s decade which is not my field of research as it is beyond the year 1999.
Cicero Insane Vice Lords
The Cicero Vice Lords came about in the year 1968 when black families and Vice Lord gang members first moved into the Austin neighborhood. White residents were very unhappy that blacks were just moving into Austin and began taunting black youths and even beating them up. Gangs like the Playboys, Ventures and Rice Boys dominated Austin and had the goal of keeping blacks out. The first area of Austin to be settled by blacks was over by Cicero Ave and Jackson and very soon the black community spread further north and south along Cicero Ave. The Vice Lords moving into the area started their own faction naming themselves after Cicero Avenue where blacks were moving near to. This branch became known as the “Cicero Vice Lords.” The very first piece of turf for Cicero Vice Lords was at Cicero Ave and Jackson right in the heart of where blacks were first moving.
In the late 60s and early 70s the Cicero Vice Lords made good friends with the Insane Vice Lords, Imperial Vice Lords and Central Vice Lords from the same neighborhood. Central Vice Lords were the first VL faction in Austin though the others arrived later. In the year 1972 these three Vice Lord factions established an official alliance within the Vice Lord nation called “Insane” orchestrated by the Insane Vice Lords, this is when the Cicero Vice Lords became “Cicero Insane Vice Lords.”
Over time the Cicero Insane Vice Lords landed in the Brainerd area of the Washington Heights neighborhood and they also settled in suburbs in towns like Bloomington or Cicero. Over time CIVLs has shrunk in size and left the Austin neighborhood and many members flipped to Mafia Insane Vice Lords. CIVLs are still active.
Insane Vice Lords (Apache Vice Lords)
The story of the Insane Vice Lords goes back to the year 1968 in the Austin neighborhood. Bennie Lee was the founder of this faction of the Vice Lords after he moved to Austin at Cicero Ave and Jackson in 1967. In 1968, Vice Lords began appearing in the Austin neighborhood at Cicero and Jackson which was the spot that the first black families moved to in the neighborhood. Bennie soon got into it with the first Austin area Vice Lords known as “Cicero Vice Lords.” Bennie was tasked with fighting one on one against Cicero Vice Lord member Freddie Pie. Freddie was older and trained in boxing, but Bennie was still able to put up a very good fight which gave him a reputation. A few days later Cicero Vice Lords approached Bennie and his crew and asked them to come to a meeting at Mandel Church (5000 W Congress Pkwy) at Lavergne and Congress Parkway. The Vice Lords then ordained Bennie as a Vice Lord leader of his own group of Vice Lords that he called “Apache Vice Lords,” Bennie was only 13 and the youngest Vice Lord leader in the whole Vice Lord nation. The first piece of territory for the Apaches was at Lavergne and Gladys.
The Apaches soon developed a reputation for violence. In one incident on Christmas Eve in the year 1970, two members of the Apaches robbed someone of their welfare checks. When the police came to seize the two members these two Apaches engaged in a gun battle with police that resulted in both boys getting killed. Bennie Lee himself ended up in juvenile detention for two years around this same time. From 1972 to 1974 Bennie was in and out of jail until he ended up in prison in 1974 where he served 6 years.
In the year 1971, the Apache Vice Lords changed their name to “Insane Vice Lords” because of Tim, but it wasn’t Bennie who changed the name, he was in Juvenile detention at that time.
In the year 1972, the Central Vice Lords, Cicero Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords and Imperial Vice Lords adopted an “Insane” unity which added “Insane” to all their names.
Many Insane Vice Lords faced incarceration, many times for violent crimes leading them to live up to the “Insane” part of their name.
Insane Vice Lords eventually spread to the south side of Chicago in 1980 and flipped members of the Black P Stones that were avoiding sanctions from the El Rukns. The Insane Vice Lords now were operating in the Pocket Town area of the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood alongside Conservative Vice Lords. This territory didn’t last long but the Insane Vice Lords still remained on the south side, but I don’t know where they were located or really much more about them at all.
Insane Vice Lords established a presence all over the state of Indiana and several other states like Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska and Iowa along with possible other states. I am not sure when the IVLs closed up shop of the west side or when they left the south side, but they were still on the south side in the 1990s. I am not sure what happened to IVLs in Chicago area, but they are still a major influence in other states.
Imperial Vice Lords/Imperial Insane Vice Lords
This is indeed one of the deepest histories of the Vice Lord factions. The story dates all the way to at least the early 1950s when the Imperial Chaplains formed on the west side of Chicago. The Chaplains are one of the first major black street gangs in history and formed in the Jew Town area of the Near West Side along Halsted Street. Eventually the Chaplains migrated to North Lawndale and became a major force in both neighborhoods by the late 1950s. When the Vice Lords first formed in 1958 the Imperial Chaplains were one of their first enemies and founder Edwin Peppilow Perry had a personal Vendetta against the Chaplains. In 1959, the Vice Lords beat down on the Chaplains and forced them into becoming a small gang by 1960. Many Chaplains had flipped to Vice Lord in 1960 behind bars leaving only a small group that stayed Chaplain.
In the year 1961, the Chaplains attempted again to rise back to power and began assembling their forces which made Peppilow Perry want to destroy them for good this time. Pep and the Vice Lords stormed a YMCA where the Chaplains were having a party. The Vice Lords came in disguise wearing Chaplain sweaters and when the time was right, they began destroying the party tearing everything up and even throwing a juke box down the stairs. After this happened the Chaplains no longer wore the sweaters and it seemed as if they went extinct.
Late in the year 1961 they were the first gang that would not let their name die but were willing to become Vice Lords finally. Most of their members had flipped before 1961 and became regular Vice Lords but this last group still had pride of their nation and wanted to only become Vice Lords under the condition, they keep part of their name and have their own leadership. This was granted by the Vice Lord nation because Vice Lords always had the rule that a gang could join the nation, but they needed to retain the last name of “Vice Lord.” No other gangs agreed to this instead they just dissolved and flipped into the main Vice Lord nation, but the Imperial Chaplains were the first to take up the offer of keeping part of their name and they became the “Imperial Vice Lords” in 1961.
I don’t know exactly where the Imperial Vice Lords operated in North Lawndale back in the 1960s, but I do know they had set up territory in the Austin neighborhood by Cicero Avenue by the very early 1970s at the latest. The Imperial Vice Lords befriended the Insane Vice Lords, Cicero Vice Lords and Central Vice Lords. In the year 1971, the Insane Vice Lords had first adopted the “Insane” in the name. In the year 1972, these Vice Lord branches created a “Insane” unity which made the Central Vice Lords, Cicero Vice Lords and Imperial Vice Lords adopt “Insane” into their names and this is how “Imperial Insane Vice Lord” was adopted in 1972.
The Austin neighborhood became one of the main strongholds for IIVLs and they may have withdrawn from North Lawndale a very long time ago. Another major stronghold for IIVLs was in the Henry Horner public housing projects where IIVLs were operating a major drug operation throughout the 1980s, 1990s and into the 2000s until the buildings were torn down.
IIVLs settled on the south side of Chicago a little bit, I think around 71st and Jefferey in the South Shore neighborhood but I’m not sure. IIVLs set up lots of sections outside of Chicago as they opened strong in the suburbs of Joliet, Elgin and Aurora just to name some. IIVLs also moved into other states in the U.S. in Memphis Tennessee and in the state of Indiana. Imperial Insane Vice Lords are one of the major Vice Lord branches.
Mafia Insane Vice Lords
The Mafia Insane Vice Lords were created in the year 1973 by King Troy Martin in the Austin neighborhood. I don’t know if Troy Martin was a part of any of the Austin Vice Lord branches, but I strongly believe he was a ranking member of one of the Vice Lord branches before he created his own.
In the year 1972, an alliance was established called “Insane” which united Insane Vice Lords, Imperial Vice Lords, Central Vice Lords and Cicero Vice Lords that were all operating around the Cicero Avenue area of Austin. These gangs came to together to fight off the white gangs that attacked them severely just for being black. The Austin area was majority white in the late 1960s and early 1970s and blacks were often attacked for no reason and this is what brought Vice Lords to the neighborhood to begin with, but each branch was still outnumbered which is what prompted the “Insane” unity.
In the year 1973, Troy Martin wanted to take this unity to another level and just absorb all four Vice Lord gangs into one organization called “Mafia Insane Vice Lords.” The Insane alliance wasn’t working out very well and King Troy saw this as an opportunity to rebuild the Austin presence, however, the other nations weren’t going for it and rejected this offer. Since King Troy had very high rank in the overall Vice Lord nation, he was able to turn Mafia Insane Vice Lord into his own branch and this birthed the Mafia Insane Vice Lords in 1973.
In November of 1976, King Troy Martin was convicted of attempted murder. King Troy’s home was burglarized, and he accused Charles Mcgee of burglarizing his home. Mcgee claimed he didn’t burglarize the home and Martin offered to have him come over to his place to clear up the accusation. When Mcgee arrived, Martin came out of another roof with a large silver knife and stabbed Mcgee in the chest a few times according to court documents. Mcgee managed to escape and survive but died a few months later in 1977, this caused Martin to receive a murder charge. Despite being in prison, Troy Martin continued to operate the Mafia Insanes as the branch continued to grow in the Austin area (Source: People v. Martin).
At some point in time the MIVLs settled on the south side of Chicago at 45th and Leclaire in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood. MIVLs also moved into the Fuller Park neighborhood, South Chicago neighborhood and they became heavily rooted in the Grand Boulevard community “Mafia Town.”
MIVLs established suburban chapters and chapters in other states as they settled heavily in Joliet, Cicero, Rockford, Decatur and in Gary Indiana and Memphis Tennessee. Besides the Conservative Vice Lords, the MIVLs are perhaps about the second largest Vice Lord branch. King Troy Martin has been their longtime leader, however, he faced federal indictments before the U.S. Supreme court on RICO type charges alleging, he was involved in heavy drug and weapons trafficking conspiracies alongside Four Corner Hustlers and Cicero Insane Vice Lords (Source: UNITED STATES v. MARTIN). The Mafia Insane Vice Lords are perhaps the second largest Vice Lord faction.
Central Insane Vice Lords
I really don’t have a lot of information on this Vice Lord branch and this group is long forgotten along with many other old VL factions, but it is worth mentioning because they were part of the “Insane” Vice Lord alliance.
The original name for these Vice Lords was the “Central Vice Lords” and they got the name because they formed near Columbus Park on Central Avenue, perhaps in the vicinity of Central Ave and Jackson. These Vice Lords formed in between the years of 1968 to 1971 but I don’t have a specific year or founder information. This group formed to fight against racial injustice as blacks were not very welcome into the neighborhood at a time when Austin was mostly white.
In the year 1972, the Central Vice Lords united with Cicero Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords and Imperial Vice Lords because they were all fighting for the same cause in the Austin neighborhood. This unity was called “Insane” and the Central Vice Lords became “Central Insane Vice Lords.” After this, I have nothing else on the Central Insanes accept that they went extinct long ago, perhaps they didn’t even see the 1980s. Central Insanes also did not make enough noise to end up in the news or court documents to my knowledge, I would love to report more on them but for now I have nothing further.
Renegade Vice Lords
The Renegade Vice Lords are one of the older branches of Vice Lords that was part of the major breakoff of Vice Lord factions in 1964, therefore, Renegade Vice Lords have been around since 1964. Renegade Vice Lords formed in the North Lawndale neighborhood on 16th Street. Some say RVLs didn’t start until the 1980s, but this is not true because old timers remember RVLs at the House of Lords and according to the Chicago Tribune newspaper from July 19, 1970 members of the Renegade Vice Lords and Enforcer Vice Lords were shot by rivals outside of Hess School.
I am not too sure when Renegade Vice Lords arrived in the Rockwell Gardens public housing project, but it was for sure by 1985 and this section was started by “King Spot.” King Spot may have been the founder of the RVLs depending upon his age but if he didn’t found RVLs he at least put them in the Rockwells in 1985. RVLs had the buildings by Jackson and Campbell and Madison and Rockwell in the Near West Side community. RVLs also set up in the Henry Horner projects at Lake Street and Wood “The Hornets.” RVLs had a very lucrative drug trade in the public housing projects and made lots of money until the buildings came down. RVLs had a breakaway group known as the “Madd Renegade Vice Lords” that united heavily with a breakaway Traveling Vice Lord group known as “Maniac Traveling Vice Lords.” The Madd Renegades operated only in the Rockwell Gardens but when the buildings were torn down the MRVLs may have possibly become extinct.
At some point in the 1990s King Spot was shot and killed but RVLs still continued to grow as they colonized other states in the U.S. especially out in Ohio and Iowa or in the city of East St. Louis, Illinois. RVLs are still large in other states but I’m not sure about their Chicago sections as I have only heard about one section on the south side in the South Shore area at 79th and Coles and on the west side in West Garfield Park at Madison and Kildare. The RVLs are still one of the larger factions of the Vice Lord nation with membership perhaps in the thousands.
Undertaker Vice Lords
The Undertaker Vice Lords were formed in the year 1970 in the southern part of the Austin neighborhood. The Undertaker Vice Lords started right around the Cicero Avenue settlement of some of the first black families in the neighborhood. This Vice Lord faction was started by Eddie “Hi Neef” Richardson who was only 14 years old at the time. The UTVLs formed somewhere on Cicero Ave between Gladys and Flournoy, a strip they would eventually own exclusively in later years. Eddie Richardson was the first “King” of the organization alongside his second in command Carmen “Redman” Tate who was 15 when the Undertakers were formed. These two men set up the first generation of UTVLs and by 1972 there was already a second generation forming of boys as young at 9 years old and as old as 13 years old.
The second generation made some noise outside of Louis Armstrong Elementary School (5345 W Congress Pkwy) when they extorted students for lunch money, bus money and welfare stamps outside the school in exchange for not being beaten up. Students were taxed on a weekly basis and one student told police in 1973 that he was taxed $2 a week and had to steal his mom’s food stamps to pay the Undertakers according to the Chicago Tribune April 24, 1973 article. In that article Undertakers were arrested that were only 10 and 11 years old. This extortion operation was shut down at least for a while after the arrests were made.
Undertaker Vice Lords eventually got hooked into the drug trade and began selling heroin and cocaine in large quantities. In the year 1984, UTVLs became very big in the brown heroin business as they began a very lucrative business at the intersection of Congress Parkway and Cicero Avenue. This was a prime location because customers could get right off the Eisenhower Expressway and travel just a few blocks north. UTVLs operated at the Courtway building at this intersection for years and sold kilos of heroin from 1984 to 1990 according to court documents. Eddie Richardson was pinned as the king of this operation alongside co-founder Carmen Tate. Richardson had graduated to the rank of “Universal Elite” within the entire Vice Lord nation and was the Chief of the UTVLs. UTVLs also sold crack cocaine at the “Highway Beef Stand” at Gladys and Cicero Ave. There was also another drug spot out of a building at Laramie and Van Buren where you could buy heroin. It was also said that 3rd generation King Kerry Dockery was involved in the drug trade and 4th generation leader Joseph Westmorland. Eventually Richardson, Tate and Dockery were all charged with drug conspiracy in 1994 and Tate and Richardson were convicted in 1995 given life sentences while Dockery was acquitted (Source: United States vs. Richardson).
Even though the busts in 1994 hurt operations of UTVLs they still continued operations along the Cicero Ave corridor keeping Austin as their primary and possible only neighborhood, I am not sure if UTVLs operated anywhere else accept a section in the K-Town part of North Lawndale along 16th Street from Kedvale to Komensky.
Ebony Vice Lords
I am not entirely clear of how the Clay brothers ended up hooking into the Vice Lord nation but one thing for sure is the Clay family moved to the far east side of the River West community in the year 1968 at the address 933 North Willard Court. This was in between the intersection of Willard Court and Augusta and Willard and Milwaukee Ave. I am not completely positive that this is where the Ebony Vice Lords began but I would say it is extremely likely because Artur Clay is the founder of the Ebony Vice Lords and he was only 14 years old which is the very youngest age any Vice Lord has become founder of a branch. I personally believe Artur Clay joined the Vice Lords in a different neighborhood before the family moved to Willard Court and was part of another VL branch. I also cannot even say for sure if Artur Clay started this branch in the year 1968 but I can say it is very possible because this was perhaps the first time Vice Lords had settled in this area. There was a Vice Lord section nearby in the Cabrini Green projects and there was a group of CVLs in nearby Wicker Park at Evergreen and Hoyne so the Clay’s could find fellow VLs not far away.
I do believe this Vice Lord branch began at Willard and Augusta as soon as the Clay family settled in the area they created it. I have heard once that the original name was the “Harlem Mafia Vice Lords” but I can’t confirm that, nor have I ever found any evidence to support that. I don’t believe they were ever called Harlem Mafia Vice Lords, I think they have always been Ebony Vice Lords since day one and that first day was in 1968. David Clay Senior, who was 38 years old when the family moved on Willard Court and he became a landlord that owned the 933 N. Willard building. He would eventually purchase four other buildings at the Augusta and Willard intersection and became the landlord. David Senior was a known drug dealer by police, and this is how his sons got involved in the business. Roosevelt Clay was 13 years old back in 1968 and was a co-founder alongside his brother and so was the eldest brother David Clay who was 16 years old at the time. Melvin Clay was 8 years old at the time and perhaps was brought right into the nation alongside his brothers. Two other brothers were Eddie Clay and Harold Clay, but I have no information on them. This Vice Lord faction whether it was named Harlem Mafia Vice Lords or Ebony Vice Lords was approved by Vice Lord Supreme Chief Samuel “Madhi” Smith.
The Overall Vice Lord nation was making positive changes on the west side of Chicago, but Cabrini Green and West Town Vice Lords were not near these areas and were doing their own thing which sometimes involved dealing drugs and this was what the Clay family was involved in since at least 1968.
The Clay brothers also were heavily involved in armed robberies as they traveled the Chicago area and even into Indiana and Michigan for robberies. A big incident happened on April 25, 1975 where brothers Roosevelt Clay and David Clay were asked by Frank Love to do a favor for a friend of his. The favor was for a Delores Townsend who was a recently fired office manager at the doctor office of Doctor Lawrence Gluckman. Townsend wanted Love to find people to kidnap Dr. Gluckman to obtain a ransom and that is when Love consulted with David Clay. David Clay then made the plans with some other men and Roosevelt Clay walked in on the meeting and wanted in it all according to court documents. When the men arrived at Gluckman’s office at 2409 W. Warren Ave they demanded Gluckman get in the vehicle as they held him at gunpoint, Gluckman refused because of his heart condition so the men forced him into the vehicle into the trunk alongside two of his female patients. The men then went for a ride and when they arrived at their destination, they found that Gluckman had died of a heart attack. The plan had then gone south and didn’t go according to plan. Since the plan failed, they needed to execute both the women and that’s when Willie Carter said to the women, “Which one of you bitches wanna die first?” then he shot both of them in the head execution style according to court documents. The men were then arrested for these murders, but no convictions stuck at that time (Source: People vs. Clay). Roosevelt Clay and David Clay were arrested a few months later for possible involvement in a different robbery/murder in South Bend Indiana that they were not convicted for.
In the year 1978, Melvin Clay joined in on the family drug game, or at least police began to identify him as a drug dealer at that time. Melvin Clay would eventually become very pivotal in the Ebony Vice Lords in later years.
I have heard once before about an entity known as the “Gangster Stone Vice Lords” that supposedly existed in the 1980s. Supposedly this branch of Vice Lords was tied in with the EVLs and this was the new name for a while and that a “Lord Casper” was somehow pivotal in this creation. I have never found any evidence of a Lord Casper or the Gangster Stone Vice Lords. I only saw the GSVLs listed once on a website long ago and there has been nothing since. Only on Chicagogangs.org is there information on GSVL and I can say first hand, since I am the one who wrote what that site posted, that I was mistaken, and I can’t even recall where I got that info from anymore, but it was only one source. If I recall, the Chicagogang.org guy gave me the email he received on them and I ran with it. I would ask the Chicagogangs.org guy to resend it again but he went M.I.A years ago. I do think there could have been a Gangster Stone Vice Lords, but I theorize it was an alliance built between Gangster Stones and Vice Lords but was never actually a gang, it was also obviously very short lived.
By the early 1980s, the EVLs had purchased a lot of the Willard Court block and they had an established headquarters at 937 N. Willard Court that was known by police. Artur Clay was co-owner of the headquarters building and police witnessed drug trafficking day and night on the block. It was also said that Ebony Vice Lords and Clay brothers had strong connections to Italian organized crime syndicates according to court documents. In 1983, Roosevelt Clay was taken to jail and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery then in 1985 he was convicted of murder for a murder committed in Wisconsin which got him put in prison until at least 2038. According to court documents Roosevelt Clay used to work with infamous Chicago Outfit member Mike Switek as they dealt cocaine together (Source: People vs. Clay).
On December 18, 1984, the headquarters at 937 N. Willard was raided by Chicago police as Artur Clay was arrested for having an unregistered hand gun and marijuana. Police raided the headquarters because they were tipped off that the buildings were used to sell drugs and stolen goods.
On September 14, 1988, the EVLs suffered a major blow as police raided all their properties. By this time, Marvin Clay was running most of EVL operations while Roosevelt and Artur were in prison. Marvin Clay now purchased 933 and 935 Willard Court at Willard and Augusta. He also owned three building all at nearby Augusta and Racine from 1220 to 1226 w. Augusta. Police said to the Chicago Tribune that sentries stood out day and night with walkie talkies and pagers guarding these buildings that were distrusting cocaine, marijuana and heroin. In the article, it describes how the Clay family had been selling drugs in this area for 20 years and that Melvin Clay had been involved for 10 years and now was facing tax evasion charges. On September 14th David Clay Senior was arrested at 58 years old on cocaine and weapons charges at his home at Racine and Milwaukee. The drug business was said to have brought in $30,000 a week and there were constantly people hanging out in front of the properties while the sentries guarded these establishments. It seems clear that the Ebony Vice Lords were running the whole area in River West from just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway all the way to Halsted Street and up to Elston and Division.
In the 1990s, it seems as if the convictions of EVL leaders had taken their toll on the organization as now this branch of the Vice Lords was less talked about on the streets, however, the EVLs were not extinct and were still active at Augusta and Willard. The offspring of the Clay brothers were now taking leadership especially Jerry Clay who was the son of one of the older Clay brothers. Willard Court was still popping with EVLs and Jerry Clay was residing at 933 N. Willard and some EVLs lived at 929 N. Willard with their grandmother. Jerry Clay and Roosevelt Clay Junior planned an armed robbery at 2303 S. Ashland Ave in Pilsen at a Currency Exchange according to court documents. The robbery ended up not going all the way according to plan because one of the men, Tony Williams allegedly shot an armored truck guard point blank in the head killing him instantly then took all the money he was carrying. The Clay’s apparently objected to the killing but Williams said he had to do according to court documents. When convictions were handed down Roosevelt Clay Junior was charged with involvement in a murder while Tony Williams and Jerry Clay were charged with murder (Source: People vs. Clay). After these convictions the Ebony Vice Lords seemed to have went extinct in Chicago as nothing more has ever been heard since the take down of leadership. It appears they went extinct in 1998 after the robbery.
The Ebony Vice Lords were a family ran operation and with all family members being incarcerated it took away the core of this organization because it was so invested in the Clay family. The territory in River West for EVLs was completely renovated in the 2000s decade and turned into upper class housing mostly for yuppies, thus, removing EVL turf. The Ebony Vice Lords were perhaps one of the most hard-core Vice Lord factions in history and left quite a 30+ year legacy.
Executioner Vice Lords
The Executioner Vice Lords are perhaps one of the most violent factions of Vice Lords that existed. Many Vice Lord factions have trails of violence over the years while running drug empires and killing without a second thought, but the Executioners lived up to their name and were perhaps the most vicious killers in the entire Almighty Vice Lord nation.
The story starts with Earl “Mongoose” Good who was born and raised on the mean streets of Chicago’s west side. Good was born on June 4, 1947 and was one of 7 children but all his brothers and sisters did not live long lives and have since died including his mother Lucille Good. Earl Good grew up rough as his father left him at the age of 3 and his mother could barely support her 7 children, however, after having her first 3 children with Earl’s father she continued to have 4 more children out of wedlock and all the fathers were not there for his brothers and sisters. Lucille couldn’t hold a job because she had so many kids to support and the family was in extreme poverty trying to ration state funding. Earl acted up in school and often ran away from school and from home until he was taken in the Chicago Parental School program in 1958 but he continued to run away. Earl Good was then sent off to the Saint Charles reformatory in 1959, the same institution that birthed the Vice Lords. It was perhaps in St. Charles that he first joined the Vice Lords or perhaps was originally in another gang. By May 1960, he was too bad to be put in St. Charles and even tried to escape, he was then transferred to Illinois Industrial School for Boys in Sheridan right before his 13th birthday; he stayed here until July of 1961 when he was released at 14 years old back to the streets. In October of 1961, Good was arrested for trying to steal money from another boy in school and ended up back at St. Charles. He was at St. Charles until April of 1962 but then sent back to Sheridan after he cut another boy with a razor blade; he would remain in Sheridan until February of 1963 then he was let back on the streets at age 15. He wasn’t out long before he was back in later that year and he remained there until July 1964 when he was freshly 17 years old.
It was at this time in 1964 when the Vice Lords were dividing into factions that Earl Good wanted to establish his own branch of murder-for-hire elite Vice Lords out of East Garfield Park. Earl Good got together with 14-year-old Edward “Big Spicey” Spicer to create this new branch and be sanctioned by the Vice Lord nation and the Conservative Vice Lords called the “Executioner Vice Lords.” Earl Good’s violent behavior got him put back in prison in February of 1965 with charges of manslaughter after he violently stabbed a man to death during a heated argument and for the first time Good was going to actual prison. Earl Good was locked up until July of 1975 while Edward Spicer was running the Executioners.
During the latter half of the 1960s Chicago police were first learning about the Executioners as they were pursing their murder for hire business. Once such incident made the news in October of 1969 when two members of the Executioners murdered two men and beat another man for no reason outside of the Tea Box Lounge that was located at Ogden Ave and Trumbull. The victims were asked if they were in a gang and when they said they were not they were still shot to death. In the article the police described the Executioner Vice Lords as a group trying to establish a murder-for-hire business and a reputation to go with it.
On Christmas in the year 1969, the Executioners made the news again when they had a dispute with the Syndicate Black Souls. Both gangs were sharing a building located at 117 N. Albany (Randolph and Albany) in East Garfield Park. Both gangs were supposed to be cooking food and preparing it for needy children in the area for Christmas, but the Executioners decided to cook the food for themselves and this angered the Souls, this is when one of the Souls grabbed a shotgun and shot Executioner member Coolidge Gandy to death. The article basically showed that this was a hangout for the Executioners in this building.
As Earl Good remained in prison the Executioner Vice Lords continued to flourish in the earlier 1970s. Good was paroled in July of 1975 and hooked back up with Edward Spicer and the two men immediately began planning robberies in several areas including downstate in East St. Louis.
The first robbery was done on October 7, 1975 at 3910 South Calumet in the Douglas neighborhood. The men were tipped off that a 73-year-old blind man kept lots of money in his home. The men beat the man to death with a pistol and stole over $1,000 in cash.
The next robbery was on November 10, 1975 when the men robbed the Wonder Inn Tavern in the West Garfield Park neighborhood located at 330 North Pulaski (Pulaski and Carroll). The men stormed the tavern and demanded tavern owners line up against the wall and toss their wallets on the pool table so they could take their money. The Schlitz Beer man came to make a delivery and the two men made him join the others so they could rob him. The four men were led into a back room and then shot execution style but only two men died, the beer man called the police and identified Good and Spicer and now there was a warrant out for their arrests, but Good and Spicer fled far downstate to East St. Louis.
In East St. Louis on November 15, 1975, the men robbed the Leading Food Store and held everyone up at gunpoint. During the robbery they shot one man to death in the back of the head execution style then shot the other in the temple, he survived long enough to call police. The police showed up quickly and a gun battle started between Good, Spicer and the police. During the shootout Officer Bruce Moore was severely shot but survived, Good and Spicer fled back to Chicago.
On December 3, 1975 Spicer and Good were arrested and sent to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Spicer and Good left an impression on the Executioners as they remained on the streets, however, they were weakened by their leader’s incarcerations. Executioners spread to northwest Indiana where most of their operations were carried out at least through the early 1990s. I am not even sure if the Executioners had any operations in the city of Chicago after 1975, they may have gone extinct in Chicago by then.
Earl Good became a major prison advocate for the treatment of prisoners and worked with rival and allied gang members. He was even featured in Carbondale area newspapers in early 1979 with his pictures in there. Early Good then decided in January of 1982 that he no longer wanted to be a Vice Lord and was transferred out of Menard to get away from the gang population. In the year 1992, he reportedly found a new light and stepped away from gangs entirely and trouble until he eventually ended up in minimum security prison and became a reformed prisoner. Edward Spicer, on the other hand, flipped to a Conservative Vice Lord and achieved the high rank of 5-star Universal Elite. I believe the Executioners are now extinct on the streets in all states.
the Vice Lords and all the branches within the VLN have morphed into major criminal organizations on the streets, however, according to true Vice Lord doctrines and beliefs the Vice Lord Nation is not built upon criminal activity and condemns such acts at least since the late 1960s. Each member of the Vice Lords and each branch or section can choose a violent or drug dealing lifestyle, but it is not backed by Vice Lord true beliefs. The criminal behaviors of the Vice Lord Nation have often been used as somewhat of a necessity for young black youths growing up in violent and disadvantaged communities. This is what the original Vice Lords saw as they got older in the mid-1960s a world crumbling all around them and they blamed themselves for such actions but sought to turn a new leaf and set aside their hatreds of the government or the white man and work with these institutions and the white race if needed. Vice Lord leaders developed a maturity within their higher ranks and achieved much success in steering frustrated young black youths away from destructive behavior. CVL Inc worked perilously to rebuild their destroyed community and became the father figures to black youths that otherwise had no father figures to look up to. Even during the violent times before 1964, the elder Vice Lords still provided direction and discipline to boys and girls that were otherwise lost on the streets and even at home. It was then in 1964, that the leaders realized they could exert control over these young boys and girls and perhaps turn them around in another direction. Of course, not all branches were on board with the change, hence, one of the reasons why the VLN was broken into factions when CVL was re-established in July 1964, but at any time the other branches could still pitch in and set aside their criminal behavior and help out with the greater good. Maybe for once put down the pistol and pick up a spoon and feed soup to the poor residents of the community.
Beginning on September 11, 1967 CVL Inc went miles in the right direction when they were incorporated but leaders knew there was so much further they needed to go before they could save their community. After saving North Lawndale, CVL wanted to save all the west side then every black ghetto in Chicago and perhaps America. They even developed the far-reaching goal saving all the poor people of all races; Hispanic, Asian and even white. Leaders learned the white man was not the enemy and perhaps all those racist wealthy white folks were just uneducated about what was going in their community and that’s why there were always open houses on 16th Street. Come one, come all to see the changes and the positivity the Vice Lords have created! Sadly, many important people refused to attend the open houses including the most influential person of all, Mayor Richard J. Daley who never answered all those letters for more help, and he wouldn’t visit the cultural centers and job fairs the Vice Lords were setting up. Perhaps if he would have showed up he would have been blown away, or perhaps that is why he didn’t show up, he didn’t want to be wowed, he didn’t want to have to admit that a street gang had saved each other and their community where women and children could now stroll in the streets and play even at night without harassment or being robbed. Mayor Daley perhaps didn’t come to the open house because he had many cronies heavily invested on where the city plans and taxes really needed to go, in the pockets of self-interest of the corporations trying to make changes in the city to their benefit. A tax flow to assist disadvantaged communities to a group that knows how the money should be spent would be dangerous for big business and the government because the funds would actually go to where they should go and our government perhaps knew this and kept it only in their hands to distribute how they felt fit. In either case, CVL Inc received thousands of dollars in grants from mostly private corporations but it still fell short especially since some of the money was siphoned by other groups that used the money as they felt fit.
Two years of receiving government funding was not enough time, not even close to the amount of time needed to fix the woes of the west side. In 1969 the war on gangs that Mayor Daley declared caused all gangs to be classified under one umbrella regardless of the actions of the individual organizations and the Vice Lords were swept under the same umbrella as the Black P Stone organization and the government looked to lesson what the Vice Lords could do accept for coming down to pay a visit to the Vice Lord open house or to chat for a while with CVL leaders, this was a grave mistake that only ended up costing our society dearly.
Even after 1969 when our city began to slowly turn their backs on CVL Inc the CVLs still kept trying to keep it going in the early 1970s and tried to keep up the goals that were laid forth beginning in 1964 but as time went on it became an impossibility and with the end of Alfonso Alford in 1974 CVL Inc came to an end. The once popping 16th Street full of CVL owned businesses guarded by sentries looking out for the community and helping anyone from the community that stopped by in need had turned into a desolate slum with several patches of vacant lots and old vacant buildings that once were full of smiling faces and dreams of progress now exchanged for bleak vacancy as dope peddlers now patrolled the streets as some even flash the “V” sign. The sentries that once guarded the community affixed with berets now were replaced by sentries guarding dope spots. 16th Street that was once full of strips of businesses were now torn down replaced by trash filled empty lots unsafe for small children. This is the land CVL was left with as the organization now realized this was the fate that was to be accepted.
Sure, you can blame the community for allowing the conditions to deteriorate but what you must realize, it takes money to renovate and maintain a community. You may see the trash littered on the streets of North Lawndale and shake your head, but you must understand that every community is bombarded with trash but communities that do not have a tax drain can clean those streets and maintain them. You may shake your head at the dilapidated homes and abandoned buildings, but you must understand it costs money to renovate your home, money that many homeowners and landlords receive as loans but with redlining tactics certain neighborhoods are zoned with this red tape to not allow those loans. Even though redlining is now illegal you can bet it still is done under the table and many know this but can’t prove it. You may shake your head at the high unemployment of the residents of the west side of Chicago and scream to them “Get a job!” Even though there is some laziness in the community there are many if not most that want jobs badly but do not have the means to get that job due to geographical location. Think about this, if a smaller employer or even mid-sized employer looks at an application and sees the location where the applicant is from, they may pass judgement secretly. This is a practice I myself have witnessed behind closed doors and using another excuse not to employ someone can cut through the red tape. Many in these communities have been raised in a world that is lost on how to blend in with the outside society and will lack basic skills in interviewing, applications or even sometimes basic work ethic. These behaviors are often classified as laziness but in reality, the desire to obtain employment is there.
I have witnessed over time how ex-gang members that even have multiple felonies rehabilitate themselves and obtain decent employment. You may ask how do these former hard-core gang members obtain this type of living despite their background. The answer is they often obtain those skills from two different methods. One being rehabilitation programs from the penal institutions as tax dollars pay for inmates to receive these programs. It is sad that these men need to do time to receive this type of training that isn’t often offered in their communities. The second method is straight out being in a gang. Yes, being in a gang can help these men learn job training skills. You may think I’m crazy saying this but within the older and sometimes harder and more organized element of the gang, high ranking heads teach other members how to obtain employment or perhaps they simply use connections they have through organized crime syndicates or connections through the city to help get others jobs. Many times, the jobs are a guise to conceal illegal activities just like how the syndicates have done for years. The practice of gangs helping youths or younger gang members obtain employment by methods ranging from teaching them how to create a resume, interviewing skills, work ethic all the way up to connections has been a practice since the 1960s. The Vice Lords especially got heavily involved in helping members obtain employment and even fought for more opportunities in the city in the late 1960s, which was one of the biggest goals of the L.S.D coalition as they marched on the city demanding equality. This is how the Vice Lords had become a valuable asset to the west side of Chicago but on the downside some Vice Lords only have chosen many of the evils of society to engage with such as selling drugs and shooting but often that cycles many Vice Lords through the penal system to get job training skills and G.E.Ds or get connected within the syndicate element of the VLN that can teach young Lords to fit into the rest of society in order to conduct more serious nation business.
As you see, the Vice Lords are a product of a neighborhood where gangs controlled everything and divided the neighborhood making youths have a hard time using all the public facilities as this gang controlled that and this gang controlled this. The Vice Lords set forth to conquer everything and everyone so the Vice Lords could have it all for their members, this eventually morphed into a philanthropy that set out to fulfill the needs of the whole community then eventually the whole west side that was not just geared for Vice Lords to benefit from. The long-term goals were to eventually help the whole balck community city-wide and then eventually help people of all color in dire situations all over the city as well. Even though this all seemed to fall into dissaray many Vice Lord leaders are still law-abiding men that preach to the young about being productive men and women and living by the old doctrine. The spirit has not completely died in the VLN it is just not in the newspaper and not talked about or barely funded because we have been informed that the VLN has the goals to kill and sell drugs, which is a blanket statement and generalization without hearing out what the many elder spokesmen have in mind.
I highly recommend the book “A Nation of Lords” written by David Dawley as he did an autobiography on the stories told to him in the words of the founders and original leaders like Peppilow Perry. These are their words that I have interpreted and used as a reference to build up the nation history from the start. I have also done extensive research piecing together articles and court cases to bring you the histories to the best of my knowledge. I also have been told many street stories (my favorite reference) to intertwine it with the articles and court cases. I hope that you as the reader can gather a better understanding about what the Vice Lords have built and what their true goals are despite the harsh roads many factions and individual members have chosen.
The Vice Lord nation has spread all over the United States and has rooted itself heavily in all the Chicagoland suburbs, even in mostly white and affluent suburbs. I hear about it all the time of middle-class families complaining their children joined a gang and you can see it in suburbs like Naperville, Westmont, Downers Grove or Villa Park; young white boys screaming out “Vice Lord!” as they sometimes wreak havoc. This was something that was warned about long ago by one of the Vice Lord original members Kenneth “Goat” Parks. Parks warned, and I quote him, “They gonna wake up one morning and there gonna stand the dragon. You know, spittin’ that fire, and they gonna be throwin’ the buckets of water, but it’s gonna be too late.” This is a quote from the A Nation of Lords and in the next chapter of the book they expand on that dragon spitting that fire is smoking crack cocaine, is gang members shooting automatic weapons with the police outnumbered and parents fearing for the safety of their children. This is all a product of the 1980s drug craze that bleded into the present day as gang members found the best way to make the money was to go out on your own and get it as now there was no waiting for the government to cooperate with CVL Inc or any other organization as that was pulled back during the war on gangs. The kids in the suburbs have eyes and ears and hear all about the bravado on the west side and want to be a part of the nation of Vice Lords or any other of the gangs that are doing the same gangbanging as many of the youths in the city are misguided and often dirt poor and surrounded by negativity. Now, that young suburban middle-class kid will pick up a gun and join the nations that originally had nothing to do with them or didn’t even want them in the old days. Now they can be of use, to help move drugs through suburban outposts or to break into homes and steal firearms for organizational use or for trade. The dragon’s fire has spread as the needs were not met in the old days and the west side ghettos were left to stand on their own.