Name the Chicago Street Gangs

Gangster Disciples

Latin Kings

Black P Stones

Vice Lords

Two-Six

Maniac Latin Disciples

Spanish Cobras

Four Corner Hustlers

New Breeds

I am breaking an idiotic code that still exists in newsrooms across the country by daring to write these names in a public forum.

The unwritten journalistic code was that you were strictly prohibited from naming any street gang when reporting a drug bust, a murder, a multiple person shooting or any other crime story for that matter. Despite the fact that street gangs present the most well-organized, violent criminal threat to Chicagoans; news reporters are often not allowed to write or speak the name of any of these gangs.

The backward theory is that if you name a gang in a newspaper, on radio or on TV, you are giving them credibility, notoriety, fame or publicity that will make them more attractive to young people.

What an incredibly dumb policy.

Journalists go into the community to gather information and present the verified facts of an event. Gang affiliation and involvement is often a critical detail in violent crime stories. Journalists cover for the gangs who perpetrate violence by intentionally ignoring them in their reporting.

For instance, last June, two very young girls were shot in Avondale and the major news outlets reported it as a tragic shooting of two innocent young girls in a public park. Only several days later was it pointed out that the shooting was "gang related." Very few news organizations and none of the major TV outlets named the gang involved.

As CPD Supt. Garry McCarthy pointed out at a press conference last summer, the shooters were members of the Maniac Latin Disciples street gang. Their chief rivals in Avondale are the Latin Kings, or Almighty Latin Kings Nation. These teenage MLD low-lifes were shooting across the crowded park at another group of teens whom they believed where LKs. The two groups had been sniping at each other for weeks before the innocent 2 and 7-year-olds were struck. It was part of the perpetual, immature game of gotcha and "tag-your-it" that rival gangs play. This horrible game involves bullets, knives and fist fights all across the city.

The park at which this shooting took place was a known flash point between these two gangs. Did you see that fact reported anywhere? Did you read the names of the rival gangs in any of the reporting? Or did you just hear that this was a random shooting by a couple of lost youths?

Gangs like the Maniac Latin Disciples exist in the shadows of our society. They operate in neighborhoods and communities under the cover of fear and intimidation. The older gang leaders go out of their way to keep a low profile to avoid harassment from the police, detectives and the media. The last thing most gang leaders want is to see the name of their gang in the news. The teenage dummies aren't mature enough to understand this.

Local media throughout Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois should shine a bright light into the underworld of organized street crime. List the gangs and show the faces of members who commit or attempt to commit violent crimes. Point out the colors and clothing to look for and unravel the secrecy behind which these gangs operate.

The fear of the unknown is what grips so many law abiding citizens. They know nothing about gangs or gang life so they are fearful instead of informed and empowered. They may have seen a TV show here or there or heard about a "gang related" crime somewhere far away, but they have no real schooling on the subject.

Local news coverage of gangs and their exploits will only help educate and empower the society to deal with the chronic problem and its underlying causes.

There is a white-haired, senior editor somewhere in Chicago shaking his head saying, "Oh no, we don't want to give these guys any publicity, it will only encourage more teens join that gang."

That notion is total hog wash.

How many 12-year-old boys are perched eagerly in front of the TV to watch the WGN evening news? How many 14-year-old gang recruits read the Chicago Tribune cover-to-cover? How many 17-year-old gang members listen to WBBM 780 for traffic and weather together on the 8s?

None.

Young people join gangs for a lot of reasons, mostly for a sense of social belonging, safety from other gangs and the false promise of a  money and power. They do not join because some guy nicknamed "Ray Ray" was on the TV news getting arrested for a drive-by homicide.

In a democracy, citizens rely on the local media to be honest, dig up all the relevant facts and paint a clear picture of the story for us to evaluate. Covering up facts and allowing violent street gangs to get off the hook goes against the best traditions of journalism.

So if we ever want to rally real support in Chicago to defeat the most violent elements of local organized criminal syndicates, we need local media to report all the facts.

Stop covering for gangs.

Stop the willful ignorance of the facts.

Start listing gang names alongside the stories of armed robbery, murder, rape, stabbings and carjackings.

Put them on notice. The city belongs to peaceful citizens.

Gangster Disciples

Latin Kings

Black P Stones

Vice Lords

Two-Six

Maniac Latin Disciples

Spanish Cobras

Four Corner Hustlers

New Breeds

You are not welcome here.

 

Comments

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  • I'm not a republican but I hope it's okay if I press the "love" button on this article.

    Well done!

  • Really good points here. This could be a reason why lots of serious crimes by gangs go under-reported and, therefore, allowed to bring about more violence. This really shows how out of touch lots of journalism outlets are with the "other side" of the city.

  • Love it - if the city stopped responding to the gang "Stop Snitching" campaign, law enforcement could be so much more effective.

  • I get WHY you posted this, but I can't say I agree, and I'm saying this from the perspective of someone who grew up in an environment with three opposing gangs: GDs, Vice Lords and occasionally Stones.

    Your comment: "The fear of the unknown is what grips so many law abiding citizens. They know nothing about gangs or gang life so they are fearful instead of informed and empowered."

    Fact: As a law-abiding citizen, it doesn't make me feel any more or less educated to know who did the killing when all gangs have the ability to commit crimes and do. They'd be just as fearful by being informed, hence the reason so many are hell bent on not snitching and turning a blind eye to being an eyewitness.

    Your comment: How many 12-year-old boys are perched eagerly in front of the TV to watch the WGN evening news? How many 14-year-old gang recruits read the Chicago Tribune cover-to-cover?

    Fact: I interviewed a group of guys a few years ago who were all ex-gang members. They read the paper repeatedly, mainly the sports section. If they were really worried about NOT bringing attention to themselves, they wouldn't throw up gang signs, tag walls/trains/buildings and (in certain areas) do celebratory steps (i.e., Crips) to let you know who did what. I can't quite tell whether their name in the paper would be something they'd like or dislike, and I've outgrown my days of hanging out with guy friends who just so happen to be gangs, but if the topic ever comes up, I'll ask. But keep in mind that even ex-gang members (well, you never TRULY get out) can sometimes still be friends with those who currently bang, so the word can spread.

    Personally I don't see any use in naming them. Those who know about gangs will catch on quick. An example would be the gang sign that was allegedly in the Chicago city sticker. I knew what gang symbol it allegedly looked like, but even if I didn't know, I don't see how that would help me.

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