The Almighty Black P. Stone Nation
Black Power, Politics, and Gangbanging
A Lecture by Lance Williams. UIC School of Public Health. Transcribed 18 Oct. 2001
Revised by Lance Williams, February 12, 2002.
What I want to talk to us about today is the Almighty Black P Stone Nation. I want to talk about Black Power, politics, and gang banging. In regards to this organization its very important for us to understand some basic things about them. And I'm going to try to give you a overview in the short period of time that we have. I want to cover some points that I think would be very important.
The Black P. Stone Nation: An Overview
First I want to kind of talk about the origin of the Black P Stone Nation, or the Blackstone Rangers. You'll hear me use several different namesto refer to this organization because they have used a variety of names over the years: as they say, they have "elevated" themselves to various names. And so we might talk about the Blackstone Rangers, the BPSN or Black P. Stone Nation, or we may refer to them as the Rangers or the Stones, we may call them El Rukns. These are all different names that refer to this one organization over the last 40 years. I wan tto make clear that I am not sure of the exact origin of the Stones, because there is a lot of controversy about it. I kind of want to talk to you about gangbanging and the Main 21. It’s very important to understand this aspect of the Black Stones and their development. . I want to mention the relationship between the Stones and the Woodlawn community and the Feds. The Federal government funded a job training program which included the Rangers.
Later we want to talk about the connection between the Stones and the Black Panthers. There’s a kind of connection there. We want to talk about their relationship with Louis Farrakhan and his "Angels of Death" which was really what I think had a lot to do with the demise of their organization from a very organized structure. And then we want to talk about their ultimate demise which was their connection with Muammar Khadafy and Libya. And then if we have enough time, then we can talk about the current situation or the current status of Blackstone. Which is something that I, I’m currently dealing with in my work on the street level.
Who I am?
So let me just say , a little bit about me. How I come into this is through my father. My father was growing up, we might call him a gang banger. He was a part of an organization called 14 Street Clovers which is from out West. The Clovers started out as a softball team and grew into a social organization that ultimately became the 14th Street Clovers. As the economy worsened, and not having resources, these guys started to hang out and hustle. So they were hooked, clicked up, \ and so they grew up from a social group to what we may call a street gang . Just based on the conditions that they were living in.
So my father was a part of the original group of people that founded this group called 14 Street Clovers. And as they got older and the economy kind of got bad and they started gang banging, some of them got incarcerated into St. Charles. He was a part of that group and that started to organize themselves based on what they knew and that was you know petty crime. So when they get out of the joint they were still doing these little petty crimes and their organization evolved into what we know today as the Vice Lords.
After these guys got older, those that didn't have extensive criminal records went to the military.. My father wasn’t one of them cause his criminal background was too extensive and so he couldn’t get into the military. Fortunately he got a job working at the post office, got married, and he matured out of gang banging . During this time the Federal governement was funding an organiziation like the YMCA to do work with street gangs. That was because you had this proliferation of street gangs in urban areas and they didn’t know what to do with them. Because these agencies had difficulty communicate with these kids, they went and got some reformed gang bangers and hired them to go back to the street to work with the younger gang banger.. My father was a part of this original group, called "detached workers."
A detached worker is an individual who goes out in the street to do his work, as opposed to doing it in an office. So hanging out with my pops in the summertime I was with him when he was going out and doing his work. And his major areas was Stateway Gardens, and he had a group of guys up there known as the Del Vikings. He worked with the Del Viking and he also worked with the Black Stones. So the kind of information that I’m sharing with you today is based on the kind of stuff that I saw when I was growing up, over a twenty year period.. My pops started with the Del Vikings and the Stones, and then from the Stones he finished up his work with the Vice Lords back out West where he comes from.
So I did that and then as I grew on to school and graduated I ended up and came back to Chicago. I was in Medical school at one time, I flunked out. I had to decide what I would do with the rest of my life. I Decided that I really wanted to you know work with kids. I gravitated into it because that’s what I did with my father . It was easy for me. I started an organization called "Know Thyself" program that was designed to work with school age boys who were having social problems i school, and most of them were gang bangers. Unintentioanlly, as an adult, I ended up back in the element as I grew up as a kid, hanging out with my father. So and i worked with these kids, I was able to draw off of the kind of stuff I stuff I saw as a kid hanging out with my pops. Knowing how to talk to them, understanding them, seemed to work.
So my work as an adult has primarily been with GD’s out of Englewood and right now I put a lot of work in some Eight Tray Stone Terrace from Greshan-Auburn, where there area about four different sets. And then as I progressed in my acedemic development I came back to school. Now I’m teaching Sociology of Violance over at NorthEastern Illinois University, Center for Inner City Studies. Inner city studies and… so that’s really my area. I’m not a gang expert like Doc and them. You know so I want to make that real clear.
But we want to talk about the Stones. If you look at the three, what I would call the three key black street organizations in Chicago – the Disciples, the Vice Lords, and the Black Stones. and, I don’t want to just say the Gangster Disciples, but let’s just say the Disciple affiliates because you’ve got the GD’s and you got the BD’s that are both what you would consider major street organizations but they all come out of one organization which are considered Folks, meaning those riding up under the 6. Sowe’ll talk about the BD’s and the GD’s together. So we talk about three groups. We talk about the Lords, the Stones and the D’s.
The Stones are different than all of these organizations, or other street gangers, or street organizations, who were all politicized at some particular point in time. When I say politicized I mean that they at some time in their history, Vice Lords and the Disciples decided to get involved in the political movement in Chicago. But the Black Stones were the only organization that had a main pillar of politics of the Black Power movement from their inception. .
The only other street organization in Chicago that could fir into that category, would be the Latin Kings. The Kings also had a political agenda from the start. So you look at the Kings and you look at the Black Stones you see they have a lot in commen. But because we’re talking about black organization I’m not going really be talking about the Kings today.
So the Stones came into existence on the heels of the Black Power movement and that was one of their major pillars. Despite their political and their religious affiliations over the years, they have always were gang banging. Cause some people say well how you gonna talk about the Stones having a political agenda, meaning that they were for community development and empowering those people in their communities but at the same time gang banging. When I say gang banging I’m talking about doing all those things that are wrong: drug selling you know, intimidation, buyers and all of that kind of stuff. So yeah they did all of that but they also were political and they also had a Black Power agenda.
So let’s deal with the origin of the Blackstone Rangers. Jeff Fort and all those guys come out of Woodlawn. Woodlawn was a changing community in the 1950s. It was one that a lot of black people weren’t living in at the time,but they were moving into the community. The organization started around 63r adn Blackstone and hung out between 63rd and 67th and BlackStone. Black Stone is a street about two to three blocks west of Stoney Island. And so that’s where they originated as a small little clique around ’59, ’60. We don’t really know the exact date. People will tell you they know but it’s, they really don’t know.
The Blackstone Rangers started off with about 10 guys. The founding members of the Black Stones were two individuals – Jeff Fort, Chief Malik, aka Angel and another guy, a lot of people don’t know about, his name is, we used to call him Chief Bull, Eugene Hariston. Chief Bull and Jeff were the ones that brought this whole thing into existence. The Rangers talk about the period ’59 through ’65as being their period of "creation." From then on, they definitely have a strong identity and they begin to grow.
The Main 21
It is important
to understand the Main 21's role in the development of the Black Stone
Nation. Without getting into the the details of their symbolism, I would
like to briefly talk about the symbol of the pyramid and what it means
to the Black Stones in relationship to the Main 21. When you see the
pyramid written on a wall, it is composed of 21 stones. Each stone represents
one of the Main 21. Now a lot of people don’t understand that
the Main 21 used to be separate gangs or separate street organizations.
It was the effort of Chief Bull and Chief Malik to pull these street
organizations together in one solid organization. That is how the Black
When I was a shorty we used to go up to the beach around Jackson Park every Sunday. Back in the 60’s and 70s That was when African American’s used to wear the big fros and all the different loud colors, the greens and purples and all of that’s along coming into the 70’s with the stacks. The Main 21 used to have processions in the park and they walked through the park like a big parade and all the kids and other people from the community would walk behind them. The Main 21would give us money and candy and all this stuff every Sunday . So we didn’t always see them as something bad until we learned a little more about some of the other things that they were doing. So this was the Main 21 as part of the origins of the Black Stones.
I’m not a historian, but I remember my father telling me about when Jeff and the Stones were teenagers, 13, 14 years old. So they were little boys basically, putting this thing together. The guys that were head of these different 21 organizations were grown men 30, 40 years old. So how does some 13, 14 year old kids pull together 21 street organizations of grown men and make them a part of one organization? It’s really deep how it happened. But time doesn’t permit me to go into it in details. But originally what happened was in the late 60’s, I mean maybe about ’67, ’68, Bull got locked up. Now see Bull was the muscle in the operation, he was the dude that would do most of the fighting. He was a big kid and he wsa the leader. Jeff was the brains but people were more afraid of Bull. Chief Malik, you know he was a big guy. You don’t do this kind of stuff without being a punk, but he was also very intelligent. But when it came down to throwing down, it was Bull that the person that people didn’t want to have to deal with. Okay so Bull was the muscle man, Chief was the brains. Bull got locked up,for about three or four years. Chief is running the thing by himself.
When Bull gets out of jail, the Chief calls this big nation meeting,. I was there I remember the meeting was out on the Rocks, between 31st and 39th street. hit would be packed with Stones and people, it was like a big picnic. Andthey had a big meeting. And the Chief made this announcement that from this point on that he would be taking on the sole leadership of the Black Stones, but they call themselves pretty much the Black Stone Rangers at that time. And he told the members pick a side. You know, "those of you want to go with Bull, go with Bul. ,Those who want to be with me come with me." And it shocked everybody. But the younger guys and the new members who really didn’t know Bull well because he was locked up when they came into the organization all went with Chief. The only guys who knew what the organization was about stayed with Bull.
Because the younger guys, who were the most ruthless gang bangers, wanted to stay with Chief Malik, it gave him the advantage over Bull and his followers. These younger guys didn't mind shooting and killing in the name of the Almighty P Stone Nation. Bull was very bitter and he vowed to kill Jeff. But because Jeff' security was so tight, there was no way to get to him. . I don’t know if you can imagine Lakeshore Drive around McCormick Place, they used to have rocks aroudn 31st street on the lake front. You would go to a meeting Jeff is standing alone out on the rocks, and everybody else would be around in the grass areas. Their security was so tight that they had people in boats behind him and you could never get to him, you couldn’t get access to him. And the ;reason they used to call the Chief "Angel" was because he used to do mysterious kinds of things like disappearing acts and other things . He was like that. . You know he was very elusive and that’s how come the Feds couldn’t catch him cause he played games with who was who and where he was and you would think he was in one place and he wouldn’t actually be there.
Anyway after the split up, Bull was messing around with Smack, Heroin. He got addicted and he would try to send people to kill Chief but tghey couldn't touch him. The Chief told all of his men that for no reason should any harm be brought to Bull, "don’t touch him. Anybody has aproblem with him, let me know." My father talks about it all the time and he was always kind of partial towards Bull because of his situation. So Bull was my man pretty much too I liked him because my father liked him. Bull kept with the drugs and then ultimately he got killed in Ida B Wells Projects, on some drug deal that went bad.
At one time as they became a little bit more political they hooked up with the Panthers . Well the Panthers came over said well look y’all got this large group of young people you doing things with politics and you know we could kind of come together. And as the Federal government, the FBI through the COINTELPRO program, saw this happening they did not want the Black Panthers who were a youth political organization, to hook up with a street organization. Because you talking about maybe up to 50 60 thousand members in Blackstone. Today, you got about 12000 police. So the Black Panthers who believed in armed defense against police brutality, if they hooked up with the Black Stone Rangers, 50000 deep and were strongly influenced by the Black Panthers. They decided we taking this place over… nothing the police could do about it. With 12000 against 50000 they would have to call in the National Guard and the military and everybody else. And if that influenced what was going in inner cities throughout the United States of America, America would have had a big problem.
Another person that you need to know in this history is this guy named Mickey Cogwell. Mickey Cogwell was an original Main 21. Jeff loved Mickey. He was his favorite person,he always talked about Mickey. And Mickey was the kind of person that made everybody smile, people just loved being around him. Well this guy Mickey Cogwell, very smart, very well educated. But the gang bangers always liked those kind of guys like Mickey who could go to a meeting with people from the establishment and represent the organization very well. He made the members proud to be Blackstones. And ultimately what happened was Mickey tried to take the Black Stones to a higher level, as an organization, get them involved in politics. But Chief Malik wasn't ready for the organization to become involved with poltics because they were still involved in doing illegal things.
So what happened was Jeff allowed Mickey Cogwell to do his own thing which was forbidden among the other Main 21. And so Mickey went and dazzled the people close to him, work for him, ultimately derive the two group called the MC’s, Mickey Cobrastones that's still in existence today. Mickey had a brother named Pony Soldier that was very wild , aggressive. Pony Soldier was very tight with Larry Hoover, who is now the chairman of the Gangster Disciples. Pony Soldier and Larry were real tight and at one time they were trying to get Larry to be part of the Stones but he already with the Gangsters. The Gangster Disciple part didn’t come until later.
Hoover pulled the Disciples together and made them become the GD’s right. Hoover was going to be part of the Stones but they wouldn give him high enough rank because all of the top positions were taken. Its hard to take one of those top lead positions and give em to somebody else because they had a network of people around. So they couldn’t give him a top position andhe decided not to be a part. But Pony Soldier and Larry remained real good friends. Ultimately Mickey Cogwell becomes a union organizer, organizing people that work in fast food resturants to be part of unions so they could be treated fair. And I think that that’s what got him killed because in 1977. . And he was muscling in on organized crime' territor. He was organizing McDonald’s workers and other fast food restaurants, and that’s a powerful thing to have a union of poor people that work in these fast food restaurants. So he got killed in 1977.
Now around ’73, ’74, Chief ended up getting his money from the Federal government, through the Woodlawn organization to do some job training. I think was a set up, because street organizations have always been a threat to the political structure of the United States of America. They could pull people out. The feds gave them all of this money right. And you give these gang bangers a bunch of money what you think they gonna do with it? Spend all of it. Yeah= they didn’t have any sophistication or money management skills, so they blew the money. And they came down on them for blowing this Federal money saying they were using the money to buy drugs and they may mismanaged it . Just that they didn’t have any fiscal skills, so when they got some money it was just comingled, you'd call it. It wasn’t something I think that was really intentional. Because of this, Jeff goes to Federal Prison, Leavensworth, he was locked up for four years. he got out in ’76, he kind of wanted to get away from Chicago, he went with Doc and them in Milwakee and set up shop and was being taught about higher level thinking about religion and what not. And when he gets out he starts this group called the Martin Luther King Movement to fight against these neo-nazis in the Marquette Park area.
And then when Jeff gets out of Federal Pennitentiary that first time, the ’76, is up in Milwakee he’s influenced by Islam and they become the Moorish Temple of America. So they were a street gang influenced by Islam That’s how come today when you get a Black Stone’s talk to each other they say" what up Mo". You ever hear that? You know even when I talk to the young guys I say well what does this Mo mean? Most of them, you know those guys on the street, they don’t know. But Mo comes from the term Moorish, which refers to Moors, who were Muslims who had conquered Spain at one time. So they called themselves Moors because they saw the Moors as African people. And so they got Islamic influences but still with street gang influences. And then they evolved from the Moors or the Mos to the El Rukns and they do that from about ’75 to ’88. And again they have Islam influences, but now they have now Islamic influence with organized crime influences.
Louis Farrakhan was the person that introduced Jeff Fort to the people in Libya. They were thinking they were going to do some terrorist activity... And because they were not sophisticated enough and let, I mean it was really scandelous how the thing happened, I happened to be at that Saviour’s day when Farrakhan had Khadafy speak via satellite and brought some of the El Rukns up on the stage and said these are my " angels of death." Farrakhan was afraid that the government was about to get him like they got Malcolm and so he used the BlackStone Rangers as a shield. But they didn’t know what they were getting into.
Farrakhan introduced Jeff Fort and members of the Black Stones to members of the international commuity who were involved with Black nationalism and some were into terrorist activity. One of the connections was made between Farrakhan, Libya's Khadafy, and Jeff Fort. On one visit to Libya, Black stone Rangers were given a ground to air rocket launcher and brought it back to the United States. The CIA intercepted in and took the trigger device out of the rocket launcher and placed a tracking device in it. The Stones brought it back to the Headquarters and the Feds tracked it andbusted the Fort, which was their headquarters on College Grove on 39th, right off of Oakwood and Drexl . They tore the building down.
In 1988 and 89 he’s convicted of plotting against the United States government for some terrorist action that they had been involved with in Lybia. He's sentenced to 80 years in Federal Penitentiary, then another 75 years they gave him so if he ever gets out of Federal Penitentiary, and he finises his 80 years, when he gets out he’s got to come back to Illinois and do another 75 years for a some kind of murder. they put on him in ’88 right. And this whole proces,s the Federal US Attorney Hogan who was prosecuting the Black Stone Rangers, they tookmany the Main 21 and gave them special privilidges to turn states evidence. The let their girlfriends come in, brought drugs and contraband into the Federal Jail, the one right downtown.
They were informants for the Federal Government and they were getting privlidges for it. Hogan lost his joband because of giving special prvilidges, but they never did go back and retry those guys that were convicted with this tainted evidence., like Jeff. Some of the other ones got new trials or something but they still ended up getting a lot of time. And then I think that Hogan got his position back. I did want to say, oh, this is what I want to get to.
And ultimately from ’88 until now they refer to themselves as Black Stones. So after the Feds came down and bustedth em all up they fragmented sets with a lot of drug influences. So right now the set I’m working on it’s got 3 G’s. Those main 21, when Jeff got out of the lock up and they became El Rukns they went from the Main 21 to the generals, 21 Generals. And then when he got, when they all got the Federal time that whole thing busted up. So now you got all these different sets around Chicago, no real organization and it’s like one of the sets that I work on in the trade you got three G’s in one set. So what kind of problems does that cause there is no chain of command. Right. It’s nobody really to answer to and so you know they do their own thing pretty much.