Chapter 4

The Mayor Declares War!

From John Fry, Locked Out Americans: A Memoir.
Harper & Row. New York. 1973

Following is Chapter Four of John's Fry's memoir on the Blackstone Rangers. In this chapter, Fry describes the events surrounding Mayor Daley's declaration of war on gangs, the complete text of which is also reprinted on gangresearch.net

The Background


[Chicago State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, after the 1968 election, declared war on the young black street gangs and on the Black Panther Party. The black gangs frightened Daley, and it wasn’t because they shot at each other, or because some of them had commited murders in their membership drives, and wars over territories. One of the gangs, the Black P. Stone Nation, had grown to a loose knit membership of several thousand and was beginning to show signs of political and economic awareness and the use of such power. Black politicians were currying its favor, and private social agencies were making efforts to channel it into legitimate business activities.

Daley had seen the same thing happen before. He recalled Ragen’s Colts, the Irish thieves and street fighters who became the most potent political force in neighboring Canaryville, and his own neighborhood’s Hamburgs, who got their start in the same brawling way before turning to politics and eventually launching his career. There lay the danger of the black gangs. Blacks had been killing each other for years without inspiring any great concern in City Hall. But these young toughs could be dictating who their aldermen would be if he didn’t stop them.

Fred Hampton, Sr.

And the Black Panthers, a more sophisticated though smaller group was even more dangerous. They had set up a free food program in the ghetto and had opened a health clinic that was superior to those of his own health department. The Police Department had already been applying constant pressure when Hanrahan came charging in with his personal war. The police Gang Intelligence Unit was, in fact, bigger than the unit assigned to crime syndicate activities. But Hanrahan created a separate unit of his own for the same purpose.*

The government of the City of Chicago takes the position that all inhabitants of the city are one of two and only two

kinds, friend or foe, and under these alternate billings are also citizens of the republic who must abide within the law. If some people want to believe they are not American citizens, that is their opinion, on a par with opinions of crazy people who believe they are Napoleon or that the city will be invaded from outer space next Thursday afternoon. Whether friend or foe is not, however, an idle matter of opinion.

The friend/foe scale is more important than all other scales, such as Democrat/ Republican, rich/poor, and black/white. It is the operative dividing line. It may shift and thus appear arbitrary. It is. But it is never frivolously shifted. One of the many virtues of Mike Royko’s book Boss is to make clear that the superintendent in charge of politics in Chicago—“the Boss,” no less, Richard J. Daley himself—is the final arbiter of important matters.He is the leader of a city government whose primary task is to help friends and to hurt foes. Since it is a resourceful government, it can really help and really hurt. One finds it awful to fall into the hands of a living Daley as foe, but of the greatest beneficence to be counted as friend of his administration.

Read Mike Royko's classic book


It could reasonably be expected, from provisional understanding of the Black P. Stone Nation, that these young men would not be worried about any additional disaster involved in becoming a foe of the Daley machine, and might have concluded by attending to the experience of their regular daily lives that they had always been a foe. Conceivably, they would welcome an open declaration of foeship from the mayor. Clearly, their world-view features Daley as the “king fuzz,” as the “top screw.” Nothing he might do to them could surprise them. They were set up to “give ‘im fits,” if he is “gonna act on Charley’s part.” It was no disaster when the mayor and his counselors decided to land a few warning whacks on Ranger skills, and when that didn’t seem to produce the desired harmony, decided to wipe them out. To the Stones, this was “more jive piled on topa the old jive.” One can agree it was “more,” all right, and add, “a whole lot” more.

War is Declared — May 9, 1969

W henever the decision was made, it surfaced as a public fact on May 9, 1969. The mayor, flanked by his protégé, State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan, appeared at a press conference to announce a “war on criminal gangs in Chicago.” They announced the creation of a task force of gang experts drawn from all areas of city government, whose job it would be to work out a battle plan. The task force went to work right away. On August 4 the group released to all news media copes of a document entitled, “Organized Youth Crime in Chicago.” This report was the battle plan. Internal marks—poor quality of reproduction, interlinear pencilings, incomplete references, typos, garbled passages—indicate the document was got to this releasable condition in haste, almost as if to say, “You must realize the problem this afternoon; another twenty-four hours taken to polish the thing up would make it too late.” Furthermore, since when are gang experts also literary nuts?


This document is, perhaps, the “more jive” which Stones considered was being “piled on topa the old jive.” At any rate, they consider it the most recent demonstration of the city’s crazy hatred, not something new. I consider it a most important document. It marks the conclusion of a historical process which had been haphazardly begun in May, 1966. Between that time, when Blackstone was considered vague trouble, eligible for a little heat, “slap ‘em around some,” and the release of the report in August, 1969, Blackstone had steadily grown in negative public acclaim from trouble to bad trouble to organized trouble to malevolently organized trouble to criminals to organized criminals to—the end of the process—the number one problem facing Chicago, no less than “organized youth crime.” As the process was transforming them into ever more ugly apparitions of evil, it was also systematically obliterating their contentions about “out” {illeg.} in Chicago. The document marking the end of the process also shows the finished work of obliteration. There is no more residue to be found. Blackstone had become all “criminal gang.”


The document is also interesting as a possible source of information about “jive.” If Blackstone is correct in calling it “jive,” the “game” the city is “switching” on them should be plain enough for the non-Blackstone human eye to see. One should be able to find out something about the otherwise secret mechanisms city government uses to confer foeship, if it is “jive.” With such improbabilities in mind, let us attend without further couhgmment to The Report.


The Black P. Stone Nation is encountered in “Organized Youth Crime in Chicago” as one of three major Chicago street gangs. It is accorded eighteen pages of description while the Disciples rate three paragraphs, along with the Vice Lords, who also rate three paragraphs. This possible discrepancy occurs “because the Rangers have become the largest gang in the city, and because their notoriety has led smaller gangs to emulate their violence and terror” (p.11). The report may also at times be describing all gangs in general, but when doing so it is including the Rangers as the leading specimen of what a gang is.

War is Declared —Gang Violence is the Cause

Gangs became a problem in 1965, the report says. They expanded their ordinarily small numbers; they also increased the territories that each one pledged to protect. They thus went beyond their usual street-war rivalries. “Organized terror and violence were utilized for recruitment and discipline of gang members, and ultimately for the extortion of individuals and merchants in the gang’s territory. Deadly force was increasingly used to achieve these ends” (p. 2).


The introduction opens with a police report of a species of this deadly violence.
At approximately 2000 hours, 23 April, 1968, the reporting police officers were assigned to “a boy shot.” On arrival we learned the victim to be one Willis Clayton III, male, Negro, age 16. The victim had sustained a bullet wound, the entrance of which was in the right rear of head and was embedded in front of left (brain) lobe. The victim succumbed from the bullet wound and was pronounced dead at 2035 hours, 23 April, 1968.


It is stated in the following paragraph: “Willis was finishing his freshman year at Dunbar when a teenage gang killed him. Gang members met him on the street and shot him in the head at point-blank range” (p. 1). This murder provides depth to the statistics soon offered. “From 1965 to 1969 over 290 persons have been slain in gang-related crimes. In 1967, the worst year of gang violence, over 150 people were murdered by Chicago gangs. In both 1967 and 1968 nearly 30% of those charged with murder were under the age of 21” (p. 2). A footnote to that reference adds: “In 1969 over 690 gang-related shootings were reported to the police. Nearly 70% of the victims were between 14 and 21 years of age. Sixty eight of the victims died.”


In the section of the report devoted to the Blackstone Rangers, recruitment first is cited as an occasion for the use of deadly force. The Gang Intelligence Unit (GIU) supplied information that in May and June of 1966 sixteen youths were shot “because they were not members of the gang or refused to join. Thirteen more were beaten or stabbed” (p. 12). The report further states that “the Rangers shot 41 young people in their 1967 recruitment drive. Four died. One child was kidnapped and beaten. Thirty were beaten in the streets” (p. 13). The Rangers painted their names on “every” building in the heart of Woodlawn in order to “sustain fear and spread their reputation” (p. 13).


Gang discipline also produced occasions for the use of deadly force, according to the report. It notes that Cornell Steele has been convicted of the murder of James McCain in what the report states was “an assassination.” Five other incidents are variously described in which Rangers used deadly force on other Rangers or one-time Rangers.


But the greatest occasion for the use of deadly force, says the report, was the Rangers’ need to protect their territory against Disciples. Due primarily to the warfare between the gangs, 19 teenage youths were shot to death in Woodlawn from September 1966 to September 1968. Approximately 150 Woodlawn youngsters were shot during the same period” (p. 18). A notation reveals, “This data was compiled from district files of the Chicago Police Department.” A typical case included in the report (p. 19) reads: “Earnest Rollins, 15-year-old and a Ranger, told homicide detectives of his combat experience”:


“I opened up the gun to see if there were any bullets in it, and there were {illeg.} bullets in it. I went toward Woodlawn and I saw a bund of ‘D’s’ standing on the corner of 65th and Woodlawn. Then I ran toward the alley so I could get a good shot, and then they started charging, and then I shot one of the boys. Then I looked to see if he was going to fall, and he fell. . . .”


Four other typical cases are included, after which the section on gang-rivalry-related shooting concludes:


The fact that more than 200 people, the majority in their teens, have been shot in Woodlawn in the past 3 years does not say enough. An injury from a bullet or shotgun blast puts a youth in the hospital, takes him out of school or work or possibly injures him forever. In the case of parents whose children are killed, it means the pain of the moment, identifying the dead child, the irreparable loss, and fear that it may happen to another child in the family (p. 22).


The report finds that recruitment expanded membership and dues. “The money went into the gang treasury and was used for such purposes as bail and guns” (p. 22). To dues was added the money which came from extortion. Five extortion attempts are described, after which this summary statement appears: “A total of 52 extortion complaints have been filed with the police where the accused has either ide4ntified himself as a Blackstone Ranger or is a known member of the gang” (p. 25). The report agrees with gang contentions that not everyone who identifies himself as a Ranger is a Ranger, but notes that these people “whether gang members or not, rely on the reputation of the gang for making good its threats” (p. 26).

The War on Gangs — Extortion

T he report places the Ranger participation in The Woodlawn Organization (T.W.O.) sponsored Job Training Project (funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity) under the category of extortion. To substantiate this placement the testimony of a Disciple leader is adduced. He testified before a Senate investigating committee regarding $5-a-week kickbacks in Disciples’ centers. The project having been terminated, the Rangers, at the time of the writing of the report had been forced to begin extorting businesses.


In recent weeks several incidents have been brought to light which indicate that the Rangers are not neglecting this source of revenue. The owner of a tavern has left Woodlawn—and even the state for a period of time—as the result of an attempt by the Rangers to take over her establishment. In a statement to the police, she related that a Ranger told her he was assuming control of her tavern, and later said he was going to kill her. She left the state. The juke box dealer who supplied her tavern was subsequently visited by a group of six Rangers who demanded $125,000 to protect his business. The demand was later reduced to $50,000 (pp.27-28).


Three other extortion incidents are described. In conclusion the report adds: “The Chicago police presently identify 32 young men as Ranger leaders. Among them they have more than 50 convictions for serious crimes and have served collectively more than 24 years in jail. Their crimes range from battery to murder” (p.28).

The War on Gangs — Questions

There crime is in such volume and variety it is—sickening. Of course. That was the intent of the report. It was prepared for the purpose of alerting the people of the city to the menace of gang crime. It couldn’t have been prepared for the enlightenment of city agencies; they prepared it. Inasmuch as the Blackstone Rangers are said to have done the things named in the report, they would not be especially edified either. The authors of the report released it to the news media, which promptly got the message out to the people.


Had the matter not been criminal gangs, some question might immediately arise about the manner of release. If, for instance, the corporate officers of a well-known Chicago industry had been the subject of the report, and their crime the particular point of the report—both crime they have committed already and crime they are likely to go on committing—a reader might wonder why the report was not sent to the police and investigators of the state’s attorney’s office so that the crimes might be tried and the potential crimes averted. But this report was prepared exclusively from data supplied by the police and state’s attorney’s office. What is lacking in their existing authority and resources to get the criminals to trial? If they haven’t enough money, the report might better be sent to the city council for emergency action. If they haven’t sufficient personnel to get the job done, they might attempt to deputize some volunteers. The resources of both agencies, however, seem to be adequate. With the data-evidence right there, going on for page after page, why aren’t they formulated into charges presentable to a grand jury? Or, is there something about the data-evidence which recommend the message form rather than the charge form?


The idea of substantial members of the business community being called a criminal gang by the mayor and state’s attorney is beyond reason. It is unthinkable they could be made the subject of a report deliberately released to all news media. Why? Quite simply, because the subjects would sue the city for slander and libel, and would win the suit, unless the city was prepared to prove everything it said in the report to a court; at that, the subjects could probably prove malice directed against them in the fact that the proved statements were not first presented to the court.


But, then, these members of the Blackstone Rangers are not substantial members of the business community. Apparently they are substantially less possessed of rights than others in Chicago, or, at least, less possessed of the resources to press for their rights, which may amount to the same thing. And in that position, the question of slander did not present itself to the mayor and state’s attorney or the question of libel to the authors of the report in sending the message out to the people.


The authors of the report did not give much attention to the exact status of the information they decided to present as statements of fact. This was not a matter of concern to them. It didn’t enter their minds, probably. For instance: Willis was finishing his freshman year at Dunbar when a teenage gang killed him. Gang members met him on the street and shot him in the head at point-blank range.


Unlike the case of Cornell Steele killing James McCain, where the report notes that Steele was found guilty of murder by a court, the report does not elaborate on the identity of the killers of Willis Clayton or the eventual disposition of their cases or whether they are awaiting trial, or have yet to be arrested. In the absence of this essential material or a note explaining that the material exists and cannot be made public, the authors of the report would have been better advised to have written:


Willis was finishing his freshman year at Dunbar when a[n alleged] teenage gang killed him. [Police officers state that alleged] gang members met him in the street. . . .
The question of pretrial rights of any accused assailants is not the point. What is the status of the information? It is, precisely, report of allegation, and should be stated in just that precise way. When such precision is lacking, a reader assumes, from the words he is reading, that the information is fact. It could become fact only because the authors of the report allowed it to climb in quality and certitude from allegation to fact. I count forty-nine instances in the report where the authors convert police-supplied information into the hard reality of historical fact.


Were this ordinary sloppiness one meets in bureaucratic documents, it would be merely irritating. More than sloppiness is involved. The basic doctrines of American jurisprudence have been literally set aside. Is it not the case across the American republic that the only final and finally safe judge of crime is a court of law, whether judge or jury? No matter how spectacular an event, how many eyewitnesses—as was the case when Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald on television—it is merely an event until a court has pondered the evidence of those many eyewitnesses and considered it in light of the spectacular charge and utters the word “guilty.” Only then is it appropriate to speak of a crime having been committed. Short of that deliberative “guilty” there is no real sense to the use of the word “crime.” “Organized Youth Crime in Chicago” regularly presents as crime the written reports of police officers, their suspicions, opinions, judgments, and their reports of the suspicions, opinions, and judgments of others. Consider the following case:

The War on Gangs — The Case of Charles Strong


Charles Strong, 17, lived in a neighborhood controlled by the Blackstone Rangers, but he refused to join the gang. Rangers had beaten him and fired shots into his home, until his family finally moved to a new neighborhood. Word got back to the Rangers that he had joined the Disciples. On May 27, 1969, Strong came back to the neighborhood to see a girl friend. They sat on her porch until 10:30 P.M. when 15 Rangers approached from an alley and ordered them to freeze.


One of the gang fired a shot at his feet and another grabbed his clothes at the back of the neck and ordered him to walk fast. They went into an alley. He shouted, “Don’t kill me.” They beat him and he fell. He lay in the alley and did not speak again. One of the gang stood over him with a revolver and carefully pointed the barrel at the back of Charles Strong’s head. Methodically, he pulled the trigger four times.


One or two of the gang looked at Strong’s body. Blood was coming from holes in the back of his head and at the base of his neck. Then they left. Eight Rangers were arrested and indicted by the grand jury (p. 15).* Although a footnote calls the account an account, it is offered as a true account of what happened to Charles Strong. In that act the authors have converted arrest and indictment into certainty of guilt, which they are not able to do unless they set aside the doctrines of jurisprudence which reign across America. Rather than assume the authors maliciously set out to overcome 1,000 years of Anglo-Saxon/American legal experience, I assume they did not think about what they were doing. It didn’t occur to them that a grand jury is not a court and that a grand jury merely marks a state’s case as cogent enough to go into court with. It didn’t occur to them that evidence so compelling within the unchallengeable precincts of a report might not prove as compelling before a court. Why would such doubts arise in minds accustomed to accepting this particular kind of police report on these particular people as true and exactly equivalent to criminal act?


Inasmuch as the police supplied all of the data in the report, it is all the more important to visualize the situation of the people of the city and the people of Blackstone, between which stand the Chicago police who monitor the proceedings of the people of Blackstone and report to the people of the city. This is an unusual situation. The people of the city would not otherwise put up with it. They almost always want to know about what happens and want to judge for themselves. Ordinarily they have a rich assortment of monitors: reporters, friends, fellow workers, cab drivers, participants, neighbors, friends of friends, and the police. Remaining curiosity can be satisfied by going over for a personal look. But in this specific situation the police are the only reporters. Other sources of data were not used. (The report quoted extra-police sources in preparing the “history,” and at times used newspaper reports—which reported police reports). Above all, the data themselves are not heard in the report. The police quote gang members on occasion, but the quotations are not words directly spoken from the people of Blackstone to the people of the city. The quotations are derived from words Blackstone speaks to police, to each other, or to parties involved in criminal conflict.


Had the authors of the report interviewed Blackstone on any or all of the areas of the report, Blackstone perhaps would have answered with a swift obscenity. But then, it is not certain. Perhaps they would have confirmed some of the contentions of the report. The people of Chicago will never know from the authors of this report what is going on in the mind of criminal gang members. Their mind is a total obscurity to the reader save for the illuminations offered by gang experts. They say, for instance:


". . .Ranger leadership has frequently used the assassination-style killing to prevent mass defections or to make an example of certain defectors, especially if they join a rival gang."


Such a statement does not content itself with stating what happened, but why it happened. First of all, someone must have known the minds of Ranger leaders. Else how could it be known that Ranger leaders did one thing (used assassination-type killings) in order to accomplish another end (prevent mass defections)? This illuminates some pretty dastardly minds at work, all right, but it is not clear which minds are illuminated—which Ranger leaders’, or which authors’. Aside from these disquisitions into Ranger motives, one will not find the Ranger mind, any more than he will hear the Ranger voice.


But why should they speak? Why should they have an opportunity to display their thinking to the people of Chicago? Their crime obliterates their standing. Their records of conviction and “collective” imprisonment show how substantial and long-standing their crime has been. But their view of a sundered Chicago has not been obliterated. It seems to be the view of the authors of the report. Even the position of enlightened tolerance with which the report so hopefully opens comes to odd conclusions about the limits of that tolerance:

 

The War on Gangs — The Role of Law Enforcement


In the field of law enforcement, municipal police are basically organized to meet ordinary criminal activity. They are not typically structured to deal with large-scale criminal organization among youth. The policy of the city’s law enforcement agencies has been to give young people special protection when they get into trouble with the law. When picked up by police, youngsters are referred to specially trained officers, brought to a special court, turned over when confinement is necessary, to young institutions and supervised by a special staff of probation and parole officers when they are released. Their offences are not made a matter of permanent record, and their names are not made public. . . .

Yet action must be taken when young men deliberately set out to create a structure which threatens the security of others, even in their own homes; which organize for the avowed purpose of controlling a community’s youth populations; which employs its structure to obtain revenue illegally; and which attempts to secure immunity for its crimes through intimidation and violence (p. 6-7).

Who will perform the infinitely delicate task of deciding which youth are eligible for special protection and which youth deserve the other kind—“action”? Moreover when will the decision be made, at the moment of membership in one of these “structures” or after the “structures” “threaten” or “control” or “attempt”? Will the law determine these matters, or the council of exerts convened for the announced purpose of preparing a “battle plan” to implement a “war”? Neither one, it seems. The police will make the decision as to which will receive special protection and which will get action. The limits of tolerance seemingly are the exact boundaries of the regular and the sub-America. What kind of perversity is this? The report ends up agreeing with the Blackstone it has derided, in fact takes up Blackstone’s torch in posing, Are all people born here in this country gonna be real Americans or only the ones [sic] suit you?”


August 4, 1969, marked the completion of the process. Careful attention to the document shows n eagerness on the part of the City of Chicago to picture the Black P. Stone Nation under a blanket of absolute, unrelieved criminality, which picture is not matched with a corresponding evidence required to prosecute. In some instances successful prosecution was noted. But only in five instances. The statistics of gross crime, gross shootings, shootings in certain areas, shootings in certain time periods, extortion attempts, murders, the ages of victims, the ages of shooters are contradictory within themselves. For all the “gang-relatedness” which gives them apparent coherence, they have more artistic value than empirical validity. One concludes that the conferring of foeship is an important undertaking best left to experts in that sort of thing. One would not necessarily conclude that this process had been going on for thirty-six months. The report reads almost as though it were telling the real story of the Blackstone Rangers for the first time. In reality it was the grand finale to an old story told many times. There was old “jive”, too, for the new “jive” to be piled on top of. The old “ji8ve” is equally instructive.

 

The War on Gangs — The Chicago Press


An editorial appeared in the Chicago American (July 10, 1968) during the time of the so-called McClellan hearings. It bore a promising title, “U.S. Displeases Jeff Fort” which is certainly true. But the American editorial writers didn’t quite mean it that way.


The U.S. Government has displeased Jeff Fort and his lawyer, and we guess will have to take the consequences. Fort, a leader of the Blackstone Rangers, and his lawyer stormed out of a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday and were declared in contempt of Congress. . . . The theory operating here seems to be that Fort, being an underprivileged product of the black ghetto, owes absolutely nothing to the government’s laws or institutions and may defy them at will. On the other hand the government, having sinned against Fort by not making life easier for him, owes him instant compliance in anything he (or his lawyer) may ask. The theory is about due for a test and we hope it gets one. If (Marshall) Patner establishes his client’s right to defy Congress, Congress will certainly have proved the contempt was justified.


Reading the editorial is like watching a shell game. The pea is under this, that, the other, which shell? The pea, of course, is Jeff Fort’s standing in the republic. For the purposes of considering him a contemptuous American, he is provided an honorary citizenship. But it is quickly withdrawn. Apparently he doesn’t have the right to press for due process and should have submitted to questioning by the Congressional tribunal without the due process he sought, because he does not have the right. This dazzlingly quick giving and retrieving can also be observed in the “theory” which the writers devise as a working explanation of how Jeff Fort’s contempt might be explained. This is a “theory” about a “theory.” It is the editorial’s theory about what Jeff Fort theorizes. As underprivileged, he thinks he owes nothing to the law – he is a criminal; as American as he thinks the law should heed his rights. Well, he can’t have it both ways, can he? If he wants protection from the law, he should take his punishment first, untrammeled by considerations of the first, fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendments, since that was the issue his lawyer unsuccessfully sought to introduce at the hearings. The editorial is quite sure about that. If the Congress lets him get away with the pretense of being protected by these amendments, the Congress “will certainly have proved the contempt was justified.”


One may assume from such exhibitions of civic-mindedness that something like a rule exists. The Blackstone Rangers in their mounting negative acclaim will appear as criminals, but citizens nonetheless. When they act as though they were citizens of the community, maybe underprivileged, the rule judges them to be pretending.
A youth worker on the south side told a reporter he had quit trying to work with the Rangers. He was trying to help them and they resisted. So he quit and took a job where he could really help boys who want help. He concludes from his experience, “The Blackstone Rangers are illegitimate, irresponsible, and do not want to change.” And, he adds, they are not a “constructive community organization.” That appearance is a put-on which cannot be accepted.*


An unrelated pair of articles condemns a far more obnoxious evidence of pretense. In the first article, the ace crime reporter for the Chicago Daily News (June 25, 1968), Art Petacque, outlines a plot revealed to him by anonymous official police spokesmen. These sources told him about Jeff Fort’s attempt to buy off a police detective. It was a hush-hush spy and counterspy sort of plot. The article ends on an oddly incongruous note. “As leader of the Rangers, Fort drives a new white sports car, although, except for two months when he worked for the Office of Economic Opportunity, he has not been employed for two years.” However terrible the effort to compromise an officer of the law, it is next to nothing.

 

The Blackstone Rangers— "Fake Americans"

Consider, please, Jeff Fort riding around in an automobile. The gall of the fellow seems unlimited; he is riding around in a white sports car! And he doesn’t even work. Had he only arranged to have a daddy who might have bought him the car, that would, of course, be fine since there are lots of American boys riding around in sports cars who do not work. Failing that, had he worked with his own hands and saved his money and bought the sports car, that, too, would be acceptable. He did neither. So he cannot be allowed to get away with pretending to be a regular American boy.


This identical trend of outrage was made clear by Winston P. Moore, warden of the Cook County Jail and never one to hide behind some pussyfooting “official spokesman” label. He wants to be identified as a source of data against Blackstone Rangers. He was a fountainlike source of data. On one occasion he was speaking with his usual directness against Ranger deceit, their put-on, their attempt to make people believe they were poor American boys. He wanted people to know the facts. “Let’s face it,” he is reported (Chicago American, June 21, 1968) to have said, “these gangs have turned into a black Mafia of Chicago, selling dope, prostitution, and engaging in extortion or doing anything for a buck.” Moore tells Chicagoans to look beyond this momentary appearance of the Blackstone Rangers as actual Americans who might really have a chance to get work and settle down. It is a mischievous appearance at best. They are not trying to work. They are working a cheap hustle, a pay-off racket, getting a Job Training Project for the kickbacks it provides the Ranger treasury. And he thinks he knows what that money is used for: “to buy guns and probably cars. All the leaders have cars even though they do not have jobs” (ibid).


Since Moore had just taken it upon himself to speak for the entire “Negro Community,” including “the militants,” he wanted it to be known that he was upset, the people whom he represented were upset at the sight of these leaders driving around in cars. Who, indeed, do they think they are? A veritable Thorstein Veblen is required to reveal the complexities of this conspicuous riding in cars though out of work. A Jean-Paul Sartre is needed to examine the whirligigs of pretense the Rangers are working on Chicago, the little, how-do-you-call-it? Fakes. But, of course! That is precisely what they are: FAKE AMERICANS.


What is the substance of their pretense? It is twofold. They are pretending not to be criminals. That seems to be the uppermost theme. But, they are also pretending to be regular Americans, and that too seems to be the uppermost theme. They are both uppermost, of course, because together they comprise the essence of pretense.


At all costs the Blackstone Rangers cannot be allowed direct participation in Chicago public experience as actual citizens. The doctrine of pretense stops any efforts they might make. In order to participate in this experience—or in the marginal areas of public debate—they should first cleanse themselves of the criminality. Since it exists as a charge-message, and they are not the ones initiating it, how exactly might they go about cleansing themselves, except by debating the particulars of the charge-message, which they cannot do until they are cleansed? The lines of a double bind emerge. They are prohibited from saying what is required as a prerequisite for having something to say worth listening to. R.D. Laing’s marvelously comprehensive theorem comes to mind once more: “The greater need there is to get out of an intolerable position the less chance there is of doing so. The more untenable a position is, the more difficult it is to get out of it.”


Crime is no longer what a judge determines criminals do, or what policemen report that criminals do; crime has become a state of the criminal’s mind; crime is a propensity toward crime. Crime inheres in the gang member as his essence. Wherever he goes, crime goes with him. Whomever he meets is infected. He is a virus set loose to plague the city. By all means, action must be taken to prohibit contact between the virus-carriers and the uncontaminated. The police, with such a vision, cannot be faulted for striving to preserve the precious difference between the sick and the healthy by quarantining the plague area.

The War on Gangs — Mayor Daley's Chicago

To the mayor, appropriately enough, goes the honor of having the last word.

The concern of the city of Chicago is to make every neighborhood a safe place in which to live, a community where children may go to schools, playgrounds and parks without danger of attack, where adults may shop, attend church and meetings and visit friends without fear, and where businesses may be conducted without intimidation. Residents of our communities at times are not permitted to enjoy the freedom of movement without fear of attack because of the conduct of individuals banded together for criminal purposes who prey upon the residents of neighborhoods.

Richard J. Daley


These criminal gangs extort money from businessmen and also from school children. They burglarize, assault, rob, rape, and murder. By their action they seek to terrorize the community for the sole purpose of personal enrichment. Their actions indicate that they have no regard for their community or its residents, but are interested only in their personal gain. . . . They seek to cloak this criminal activity under the guise of social involvement and what they advertise as constructive endeavors. Unfortunately, some groups which have no real knowledge of the community disregard the record and are misled into supporting criminally led gangs.*


All of Chicago lies before him—industrious, churchgoing, visiting friends and family on Sunday afternoons, the children happily at play. Is this not the clue to what he is saying? Where are the Stone peoples in the mayor’s Chicago? Where are the broken, distracted, hungry, assaulted, addicted people whose heads are full of rage at the insult life has been to them since birth? They are not in the mayor’s Chicago. They have been banished from recognition. So they are the not-theres, the not-visiting friends and family on Sunday afternoons, the not-industrious, the not-church going. But this not-existence is not a total obscurity. It turns out they are there in their null shape. Almost melodramatically they reveal themselves to be there right along: as Chicago’s ravagers and enemies.


To the subpoverty of Stones and Stone peoples has been added a war and a hatred. Chicago cannot endure part free and part criminal—by its own multiple admissions. Give or take the word “criminal,” that would be Blackstone’s view, too.


Endnotes