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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Why Chicago is So Violent

Displaced gang members have gone to war in the Windy City.

June 28, 2012  |  by Tony Avendorph

Photo: Paul Clinton
Photo: Paul Clinton

Chicago has always been a violent city. When I grew up there in the 1950s and 1960s, you had neighborhood gangs like the Deacons and 58th Street. Then when the Blackstone Rangers were formed in 1959, a new episode of gang violence began.

I remember Englewood being a violent neighborhood growing up. And I remember taking the "El" train to 63rd and Halsted Street. I remember going to "lounges" ("clubs") between 75th and 79th and Halsted. There were places like The Green Bunny and The Skyway Lounge, and you could party without problems. Today that is not the norm.

I remember working an off-duty security job in the mid-1970s for a sorority party on 79th and Halsted and some Disciples wanted to come inside. I knew some of them from the neighborhood, and they promised me they would behave. About 30 minutes after I let them in they left. I had gone downstairs to my car, and came back up, when two of the Disciples walked up to me, and handed me my wallet, which I had somehow dropped by the car. My badge, ID, and money were still intact. Today that is not going to happen.

I guess what I am getting at, is I don't know my hometown anymore. I remember when a promising basketball player named Ben Wilson was gunned down by Gangster Disciples in 1984. My partner, Ed Christian and I were assigned to assist the Chicago Police Department, and all of a sudden Chicago had a "gang problem." I've got new for you, Chicago has always had a gang problem, and it’s not just Al Capone and Sam Giancana and the "Outfit."

Now Chicago's homicide rate is out of control. Since when has it been under control? Yes, the Chicago street gangs are wreaking havoc. They have always "wreaked havoc." This is not about "old school" gangsters coming out of prison and trying to re-establish themselves. It's about the youngsters having no respect for anyone.

They are many reasons why this has happened. Consider the following:

• Former mayor Richard M. Daley tore down all of the high-rise housing developments known as the "jets." There were approximately 91 of these projects throughout the city, and the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords controlled 75% of them. The poor people who lived in them have been displaced, and some of them are hardcore gang members.

So the gangs have gone to other neighborhoods. Some of these neighborhoods were controlled by rival gangs, some were neutral. Either way, the displaced gang members from the high rises have tried to take over and that's led to violence.

• Federal law enforcement has done an outstanding job in convicting gang leaders, who before their incarceration controlled their soldiers and demanded respect. There is no respect with the younger generation of gang members today. You don’t see the discipline of past years.

• Traditionally neutral areas that had little or no gang activity in the past now have it.

• Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations and Los Angeles-based gangs have set up inside Chicago and in the suburbs. MS-13, Crips, Bloods, and Sureños have a foothold in the area, and Chicago is a major distribution point for Mexican cartels.

• Guns have been purchased or stolen in the South by Chicago street gangs. It is very easy to buy weapons through straw purchases in the South. There has also been an increase in burglaries of gun stores in the South. These break-ins have been orchestrated by Chicago street gang members.

There is absolutely no regard for life among the warring gangs of the Windy City. In recent weeks numerous innocent victims, some six years old or younger, have been killed by stray bullets. A teenage girl sitting on her porch struck by a bullet and killed.

People ask me all the time if I know a solution to the problems in Chicago. For the record, I don't.

People also say to me, "Well you don't live there anymore. So what do you know?" That may be true, but I go back three times a year; I also have friends and former co-workers who live there, and I worry about their safety.

A fraternity brother of mine recently told me about some young Gangster Disciples trying to take his cell phone at an "El" train stop. He fought them and they ran. A Chicago officer told him, "You are lucky they didn't kill you." He grew up in that very same neighborhood, and thought nothing of protecting himself.

Chicago is my hometown. It will always be a part of me. But the city is in trouble, and it will probably get worse before it gets better.

Tony Avendorph retired in 2009 after 40 years in law enforcement, serving with the Illinois Department of Corrections, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and Prince George's County (Md.) Police Department.

Tags: Chicago PD, Gang Enforcement, Vice Lords, Crime Trends, Folk Nation Gangs, People Nation Gangs, Gangster Disciples


Comments (18)

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18

Dr. Curt Mantle @ 7/3/2012 7:36 PM

Illinois/Chicago is the only state in the union without secound ammendment laws, NO CCW. Only the bad guys can carry. Meaning, everyone is an un-armed victim. Vote the idiots out! It's your state, your right under the constitution.

Rick @ 7/3/2012 8:34 PM

Liberal CCW laws and open carry laws prevent crime and/or stop the criminal while committing the crime; statistics keep bearing out this fact.

FireCop @ 7/4/2012 5:42 AM

As much as my Canadian relatives argue (Canada is soaked in 21st century crime yet remains in the 19th century when it comes to gun laws), the truth is in the areas of the US where we have strong CCW laws, the crime rate is lower. That's just a fact. This world is getting so crazy as a law enforcement officer I NEVER go anywhere (except on vacation to Canada of course) without my firearm. And it doesn't help when the laws and the courts are set up to make it easy for the criminal and tough for the police officer either. We need to make some difficult choices and start cracking down on this garbage or one day we'll wake up and wonder what happened. Be safe.

Luke Easter @ 7/4/2012 1:33 PM

The problem is that Black youth have no one to look up to except the likes of JZ, Kanye West & Madea.

Even when Bill Cosby originally pitched his show one network turned it down. Why? Blacks can't have a doctor & lawer as parents.

Tupac, Biggie, Ice Cube, Dre, Iced Tea... Thugs and/or Drugs. Snoop? Jim Brown beat his women. James Brown damn near beat Tammy Terrell into oblivion. Fred Williamson, one stint on Monday Night Football talked about the two Ho's waiting for him in the parking lot after the game. Anybody ever hear of Dr. Ben Carson?

michael @ 7/4/2012 9:50 PM

There is just too many gangbangin' piece of shits in one city.

IaChief @ 7/5/2012 5:58 AM

Does any one really believe it is just coincidence, the areas of the country with the most restrictive gun laws are also the areas of the highest violent crime rates? Chicago is just another "success" of what long time democratic party control does for you

Bill @ 7/5/2012 6:18 AM

Highest crime rate in the nation. More killings then in Afghanistan. And the MOST restrictive gun laws. It doesn't take a genius to figure this one out. Even a Democrat can see what the problem is.

Mike @ 7/5/2012 7:58 AM

We need to educate are youth!!!

Rick @ 7/5/2012 11:17 AM

Tony, my friend, you hit the nail RIGHT on the head. Down here in Texas we STILL deal with GDs, Bloods, Crips, etc. BUT the difference is they combine clothing style of L.A. with the rank structure/book of knowledge from Chicago down here. Gang violence is increasing everywhere. I have been a lawman since 1993 and I have seen a drastic decline in respect from gangsters towards ANY authoritative figure.

Ironically, the problematic gang I wrote about in my book, "The Charon Unit", is run by the Gangster Disciples from Chicago. They are the most well-organized and methodical in how they conduct their business. I don't condone their activities at all, BUT I feel it's important to understand the capabilities of who I'm investigating. Let's keep networking and sharin' intelligence.

sharon @ 7/7/2012 6:21 PM

I had read about the tearing down of the ghetto towers on the southside... and moving those people to section 8 all over the city and in the suburbs...

I think this old cop got it exactly right.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2005/01/b36774.html

America behind the color line.

In a nutshell.. the first wave of black folks came to Chicago from Memphis, B'ham, Memphis.. Educated and ambitious.. Chicago enjoyed a black culture that rivaled Harlem.. music, cafes, black businesses galore.

They prospered and moved into the suburbs.

The second wave came from the rural South.. illiteracy was the rule as were large families (Farm labor) They are still mired down.. with no male role models.. so many being in the Pen.. No experience of ever seeing dad get up and go to work every day.

You can watch America Behind the Color Line on PBS.. Its the best study I have seen.

Greg @ 7/11/2012 4:50 AM

"Hate Facts" everywhere...hate facts are accurate statements/studies/data that show minorities (primarily Blacks) in ways they don't like.

Hates facts from the DOJ Uniform Crime Statistics show just who commits what crimes, by race of criminal, race of victim etc. The hate fact is, Blacks commit the majority of the crimes.

Another hate fact, over 70% of Blacks have no fathers, in Washington DC, it's over 90% with single mothers...it's the highest predictor of criminal behavior in males and very young illigitimate births by females from these households.

Another hate fact...Seattle Washington's crime rate is often compared to Vancouver Canada's as an excuse for more gun control because of shootings/crime. If you compare like populations (removing Black crimes from Seattle's data so it compares to Vancouver's population...comparing apples to apples as it were). It turns out that Seattle has less crime and less violent crime than the vaulted Vancouver Canada does.

It's not gangs, it's Black gangs and Black criminals. Detroit, Birmingham, St. Louis, Washington DC, Atlanta have very high crime and high Black populations...the two are linked (a major hate fact!")

Data isn't racist. When you hear hoofbeats, don't look for a zebra.

Ric Walters @ 7/26/2012 5:35 AM

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town... The town that gave us Rahm Emanuel, the Daley shows, Barack Obama, ad nauseum. When the leadership of a city thrives on being lawbreaking lowlifes, how do you expect the lowlifes in that city to act?

Try to find out from the media what color these gangbangers are. Unless a white guy commits a crime, they won't mention the color. Even when asking the public for help identifying a suspect, they'll leave out the color. Those same media promoted Emanuel, the Daleys, and Obama. Wonder if there's a link there???

Chris @ 8/1/2012 11:22 AM

I remember Dr Carson, but that's only because he spoke at my high school. Part of the topic of his speech? How he was stabbed in the stomach as a young man during a fight, and how that steered him away from gang life. Agreat speaker, and one he!! of a doctor, with an astounding number of firsts to his credit(to include the first successful seperation of siamese twins joined at the head!). You could do much worse for a role model, either black or white.

TW @ 8/6/2012 6:44 PM

Chicagos biggest problem is they are short about 2000 Police Officers that they are bugeted for. Chicago is also one of the most corrupt cities in the U.S. starting with the mayor and all the way down the line.

Sharon @ 8/19/2012 5:48 AM

Wow, I wouldn't live in the USA if someone gave me a house. I LOVE living in Australia where only farmers have guns. I've never seen a gun in my life and never want to.

1934 @ 11/26/2012 4:38 PM

Its violence because the leaders are taken off the street who have control over the gangs.The police think they are doing something when they are locking down the head and leaving the young wild unstructured individuals in the midst.The government don't want to admit that the leaders will have some control.They want to the world think that they are in control when actually they are not.

3rd generation @ 12/10/2012 3:53 PM

I agree with the above post. The government acts like they're in control when all they did was make a mess of things. Its always been killing but 90% of the killing back then was done to people who deserved it. I may sound heartless but, these guys I'm talking about who deserved it were terrorizing neighborhoods and killing for sport, someone had to stop them and the police couldn't. Now its the total opposite. 90% of the victims today don't deserve it at all. They are getting killed for sport as if the lunatics are taking over! Gang leaders are a necessary evil in an evil world. Someone has to be at ground level on a daily basis for these shorties to answer to, an agent on the 29th floor downtown has no clue or control over what happens on da streets. And its much easier for them to tell one guy from each gang that the killing needs to stop. Back then they did and the killing stopped for months or even yrs until some sicko decided to spark it up again and he was dealt with. Violence is violence and I ain't trying to sugar coat it, but, violence is like fire, it can exist and be controlled at the same time. But when you remove the fire wall, it spreads uncontrollably and that's what chicago is going thru right now!

afe @ 3/18/2013 4:05 PM

@Rick

Don't talk about educating others when you can't spell "our"

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