The Latin Kings Speak.

Talk by a Latin King Leader March 28, 2002

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How the Latin Kings Started

The Latin Kings were a small organization when they first started and there were nothing but street gangs in the city of Chicago in the 1950’s but people only concentrate about the blacks and the Latinos because it was during the civil rights movement and that’s the focus. But at the same time there were a lot of Polish gangs, and Jewish gangs. A variety, a variety of gangs all over the city. The difference is that the Caucasian groups of the gangs were already set on the track of being politicians, commissioners, police officers and everything. We were set on a track of poverty. We’re not gonna get all this shit. The Humboldt Park community used to be a very strong and thriving Jewish community. It had maybe about 75 Jewish temples in the Humboldt Park community. You walk into Humboldt Park now and you won’t find one at all. Because when the Latinos were moved out of Lincoln Park into Humboldt Park the Jewish community so whoa hang on, what the fuck just happened. You know?

The African Americans were trailing right behind us, a little bit further south. Jewish community said fuck this, knock the buildings down, we’re leaving. And they left. 50000 people left in one year alone and started Sagonash Village up on the north side where it’s Bill Daley lives. That’s Peterson and roughly between Pulaski and Cicero. So they and that community had already existed but they came and they said let’s build. You know? So the economics were yanked out of this community. Grocery stores, gas stations, everything you need to live on a daily basis was yanked. Imagine living in a neighborhood where you can’t buy groceries. Jump in the car, drive, like you in the suburbs. When you are in the dead center of the city.


Gentrification and Lincoln Park

In the 1960’s mayor Daley, Papa Daley, said you know let’s get ready for the 21st century. So he got a bunch of new people together, business men, and said let’s create a plan, let’s call it plan 21. We’re gonna make Chicago number 1 by the 21st century. I may not be there with you but somebody will. And sure enough. It was a whole move to gentrification. Moving people out of Lincoln Park. Now I’d be pissed of if I could go to Lincoln Park and move two blocks away. Make me move into Humboldt Park. Got kicked out. Into Humboldt Park. Lincoln Park was the first phase. Why do you think… I don’t know if you guys watch PBS but they’ve got all these shows on Chicago and older Chicago and all these buildings that they tore down and everything. That was part of the plan. Was to create an enormous skyline for Chicago at the lakefront so that the world could just ah what a beautiful city. And it started from there in at Lincoln Park and it spread out. And basically it’s just a half circle around the downtown area.

You got here, you got Edgewater up here and you’ve got Bronzeville down here. And everything in that circle has been gentrified. Why a half circle? Well because if any of you’s ever been to Paris or are planning on going to Paris, all the rich people live here and as you do this it gets poorer and poorer, lot poorer. And on the outskirts of Paris you’ll find all the housing projects, all the worst of the worst as they say and that’s the concept that this city’s run on.

Gangs, Racism, and Survival

And the basis of gangs is the basis of poverty and racism. When you have poverty and racism, inequality, lack of a stable economic base in the community, you’re gonna have gangs whether you like it or not. Nowadays they just so happen to be black and latinos. Why? Because we’re the ones that have the lack of economics in our community. Some people say you know pull yourself up by your own bootstraps right and we always say, well what if we don’t got boots. Then what? You know. And there’s never a response to that. I’m not here to justify anything that has happened because yeah there are bad people in these gangs.

There are people that kill, there are people that sell drugs, that’s without a doubt. I always tell my guys and guys from other organizations. If you get caught for doing something, don’t come asking for help unless they’re trying to add on some shit to you. If you got caught for murder, do the time man. There’s nothing I can do about that. What do you want me to do? Pull out 30, 40000 dollars and get you off the hook? You got caught with the guns in your hand and they can verify that you did it, you did it, what you want me to do? Some guys will say, no no you gotta get me out, at least help em get out of the country, go somewhere, do something...

That does happen and I’m not gonna deny it but guess what? It happens in the police department and it happens in our government. Local, state, county, federal government. Same thing happens. It’s just that we’re looked upon as the bad people because when you walk outside your house you see it. You can’t walk into a police station and see that. You can’t walk into the Capitol. It’s all done behind closed doors. Okay? A lot of the gang leaders that exist now are very aware of all the bullshit that’s going on...

We always tell the guys, you gonna go shoot somebody you make sure you shoot that mother fucker. Kill him that way. When you find out that bullet went and hit somebody else, I’m coming after you. I’ll be done. And that’s our justice. Does it justify anything? No it doesn’t. Am I unique in my perspective within the organization? Yes. Are there many that think the way I think? No... .Have I ever killed anybody? No. That I know for a fact. I never killed anybody. Cause when I usually shot at people that just did it to scare em.

Latin Kings — No Longer "People"

So 1985 the dynamics of gangs in the city of Chicago were really really interesting because in reality as an organization a lot of them were only 5, 5 to maybe 8 years at the most being completely oriented somewhere. And what I mean by that is literature, by-laws, code of conduct, purpose, points, that type of thing. So people were still trying to feel each other out, trying to figure out what was going to work what way. Around that time the Folk Nation, (which is comprised of Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Two Six, and a variety of other gangs) had a little problem between Latin Disciples and the Spanish Cobras and from there it’s been hell ever since. They fight amongst themselves.

On the People side, you have what used to be Latin Kings, the Black Peacestones, Vice Lords, 4Corner Hustlers, Familia Stones which used to be PR Stones, and variety of other people. Now Latin Kings left the People Nation. Cause there could be People and there could be Folks but we’re gonna be Latin Kings. And the reason behind that, which is probably the smartest move that the organization did or pulled, was because the Vice Lords got into some trouble and it was mandatory that everybody under that flag had to ride with them and fight against whoever they were fighting against. So the Vice Lords lost somebody to the Gangster Disciples and we had nothing to do with it, we don’t even have Gangster Disciples around us, we had to go at it with them because of our nationship.

So we decided to leave that and said you know what we’re losing guys based on you guys fucking up. And we ain’t doing it no more, and we left. And it was a hard move. Lots of people died for it. Lots of people purposely went to jail, to the penitentiary, caught a year maybe two years in the penitentiary, to make the transition. So that People understood that the Latin Kings will not ride under one umbrella. Okay? And since then we’re grown to maybe about double our size. Only because People have been able to see that.

On Helping the Community

We're not just murderers and we're are not just drug dealers, we are people, we are somebody’s son. We are somebody’s brother, we are somebody’s cousin, nephew, brother. And since I know I’m gonna stay on that track there’s nothing this fucking building and this institution can teach me...

But in the meantime this is what I want to do. And it’s a difficult thing to do and to follow because ultimately what I’m asking people to do it stick your neck out or stick your chest out and take a bullet if it comes your way. Because the only way we’re gonna solve the issue of violence in this country is not by harming everybody and it’s not by putting everybody in jail but it’s for fighting for the person that’s next to you. 'Cause the whole purpose of going up a ladder is not to get up there and be hey! It’s nice from up here! It’s not. It’s to go up 2 steps and pull someone up, go up 2 and pull somebody up. That’s the process of going up a ladder, (can’t understand) is to help those that cannot help themselves. You pull whatever __.

If you can’t do that, you’re not willing to hear what I’m trying to say, you can show me all the quantum physics you want don’t complain about it in the future. 'Cause it’s useless. It’s like walking around with a rock in your shoe. Saying oh it will, it’ll come out when I take my shoe off tonight before I go to bed. It’ll come out. You know. And if you never get home, you’re still walking around, don’t complain about it. You can stop and do something about it now. Don’t complain about it later on in the day. Say aw my feet are so sore I got this fucking rock in my shoe. You know. That’s your fault. Don’t complain about it. And that’s where we’re at now. And we’re, street organizations are trying to move ahead, be a little bit more positive on things. And it’s a hard thing to do cause now we have to convince the other kids of what’s happened to us...

Gangs and Terrorism

The anti-terrorism law is a horrible, horrible law. I mean, I understand what they’re trying to do, how they are trying to look at people, but you know, it’s 300, like 375 pages long. In page 212 you’ll find something that you’re like holy shit you’re kidding. In Vieques, do people know Vieques, Puerto Rico, the whole thing about you know the bombing and the shelling over there. Well within that document they’re saying that if somebody we’re to grab a pair of scissors and snip that bomb wire from the US military base, they will consider that an act of terrorism. Okay. Why is it that people that are trying to fight for survival are being targeted as terrorists and bad people?

The Latin Kings and the FALN

The Latin Kings were associates of the FALN to some extent....Cause I was talking here, and I said man why did the FALN and the Latin Kings have animosity against each other. I made a few phone calls, cause this was bothering me and I found out. It was because when the FALN said hey we got these bombs and we want to do something, Latin Kings said no thank you and they backed away. And this brother there I was talking to he was like 40 years old, he said the reason we pulled away was because the Latin Kings would not exist today if we took part in it. Which is true. 'Cause if you look at the people from the FALN, Clinton before he left office, released about 11 of them you know. And it’s true the FALN does not exist today. You know it exists in intellectual minds but it does not exist as an organization because of Cointelpro, because of the Red Squad.

Gangs, the Red Squad, and Cointelpro

The Red Squad was a group of Chicago Police Officers and FBI agents and their sole purpose was to infiltrate and corrupt organizations. That’s how Fred Hampton died, because of the Red Squad. That’s why the Young Lords got disbanded because of the Red Squad...

'Cause I’ll tell you something, all of us on this side of the fence, we want shit to stop. We wish we didn’t have to go through what we had to go through. We tired of burying people. Is it in our hands? No it’s not. Because we’ve seen and we’ve done it many times. We reduce the violence and we reduce all the graffitti and when we stop everything and we stop drug dealers from selling, we still go to jail. It continues to happen. Why? Because of the Red Squad. The Red Squad supposedly officially ended in 1976, it came out in the newspaper. You know everybody said hey it’s over it’s not happening again. In 1996 it came out in the newspaper in the Chicago Tribune that it really ended in 1983. Then another report came out not too long ago saying well we think it still might be active but in a minimal way. I have at least 3 or 4 close relatives, two of them that are in jail for no reason. I mean it’s not, they’re not there because they did something but because they were set up

Humboldt Park, Gangs, and Politicans

There’s, if you look at Humboldt Park, you’ve got two side ends divided by Sacramento, Sacramento and Humboldt Boulevard. The east side of Humboldt Park is primarily Latin Folks, Latin Disciples, the Spanish Cobras, Dragons, Gents, and I don’t know who else is over there. They all grew up, same bush there. On the west side of it, it’s us, all Latin Kings. When people talk about west Humboldt Park and they’ll show you map and they’ll say oh the west Humboldt Park area, they’ll skip over the Latin Kings territory, which is Kedzie, between Kedzie and Central Park, Grand and Arlington St. And they’ll skip over it and they’ll say over here in west Humboldt Park, well what are we? You know?

In that area you cannot build anything that requires a building permit without alderman Billy Ocasio signing off on it personally. Why did he do that? Because a lot of the older guys that were trying to get out of all this bullshit were trying to open up businesses. Legitimate businesses. Was it drug money? Yeah. So fucking what? So’s Merchandise Mart. Merchandise Mart was built on the Kennedy’s money from bootlegging. That’s why the Merchandise Mart lives. But does anybody say anything no because now we can drink liquor and all get drunk and be happy about it. So while these guys were trying to build something. Billy Ocasio and Luis Guttierez noticed that. And mind you the reason they don’t like us is because one of them used to be a Latin Disciple and the other one used to be a Gent. So they used to be Folks and they still have animosity against Latin Kings years and years after.

But when they need to get elected who do they come to? They come to the Latin Kings because they need this little area to vote from. We help em out in exchange for jobs. And those are the back street politics that are played in this city. Everywhere. Right now I can guarantee, I could almost put my life on it that there’s some politician or commissioner somewhere making a deal that if everybody found out about it, it’d be over. It’d be the end of their career...

...We have somebody that’s running for governor for this state on the Democratic setting. He so happens to be the son-in-law of an alderman on the northwest side of Chicago. Well that alderman is very deeply involved with the Latin Disciples. That’s the only reason this governor, democratic nominee governor, has made it to where he’s landed. Because he’s had unlimited funds by the street and drug dealers supplying that money, okay? The problem I have with that is that, if you put your face on TV and talk shit and go back and do this, then you know what you’re part of this gang and whatever happens to you oh fucking well.

Chicago has always been a gang city

'Cause I’ve come to understand that Chicago represents two things. It represents corrupt politics.., and it’s always been a gang city. If you can’t deal with that. Get out. 'Cause you’re gonna have to deal with it at one point or another. Chicago Police Department they’re little headbands, the black and white, you know it looks like little Taxi, they all look like little taxi cabs. Why do you think that exists? Does anybody know what’s the significance of that? Why you know why would you put a checkerboard around your hat? No? Nobody? It’s an old insignia of an Irish gang back in Ireland. That was their insignia and they adapted it. They adapted it here in Chicago cause there’s a large Irish population in the City of Chicago. That’s why we’re very close with the Kennedy’s and a lot of certain mob boss figures out there.

They used to be a… and it was because of that. So they said hey nobody knows. Except us. We know. We know what the insignia means so. Let’s unify under that. And they did and it still exists. And it’s an outrage. That’s why we all insist you’re a bunch of gang bangers too, fuck you. Cause it’s the truth. And they know about it. You think anyone’s gonna say anything about it? Nobody’s gonna say one word about it. Because now it’s become history. It’s not a gang issue anymore. It’s history. But what type of history? It’s a very very very violent history. You don’t have half the shit happen today that used to happen back then. Back then boy, I wouldn’t have wanted to live back in those times. Turn of the century, city of Chicago, it was horrible. Just walk by, oh shit a dead body man. You don’t have that happening nowadays. You have stuff that happens where kids get shot, people in general just gets shot and it’s a horrible thing. No one should be walking on the street and get hit by a stray bullet, I agree. And you know if you want to call em ethics or not.

Latin Kings and Spanish Cobras

I became really good friends with the leader of the Spanish Cobras to the point that I was showing up at his house. Guide me through a Spanish Cobra neighborhood. Get there, draped in black and gold, baseball cap all the way to the left and everybody’s like who’s this fucking guy? I got this jogging suit from Puma and mind you these corporations they play on the whole thing. Cause why did Puma have to come out with only black and gold like a work out suit and right here on the left side it said Puma King. And I’m like hey it’s a nice little <laughter> so I walk into their neighborhood like this and they’re freaking out. And one of them will say I bet you he’s a King lover, he’s a King Man, he’s walking up in here. And what’s up Folks? ______ Man but I ain’t Folks. But I’ll shake his hand. You’ll be like uh huh. We’re like one, okay we’re waiting for you to say something else. What do you want me to tell you? Something that you already know that I’m a Latin King. Ah man, get you out of here man.

...We protected their founder all over this country. Wherever he has touched down on there’ve been Latin Kings, we’ve said guard that mother fucker. Make sure nothing happens to him. Treat him as a King. Why? Because he and a high ranking member of The Latin Kings became really good friends at Stateville Penitentiary. Or whenever that King goes anywhere around the country and there’s Spanish Cobras, they say hey protect that nigger like he’s a Spanish Cobra. People get pissed off but that’s our way of dealing with each other. And it’s a very unique relationship and it’s a hard thing to maintain.

The Promise and Crime of Education

We always tell people that you go to school cause you got to get out of this neighborhood. Why you got to leave the neighborhood? To succeed. You should be able to succeed in your own home right? It’s like I give you a house, or better yet a car, right? What kind of car is it? A Ferrari. Imagine I give you a Ferrari, gassed up, ___ up, plant a girl next to you but I don’t give you the fucking keys. It’s only ___ you’re like oh god why won’t it turn on? You know what I’m saying? And it’s the same concept. ... It’s frustrating.

I got moved out of my neighborhood schools to a north side school which was predominantly white because we were told that we would have better services. Well I went from a 4th grade classroom to a 4th grade and because an asian girl transferred in they moved me out of that class. There was no seat available. When she walked in the teacher’s like we don’t have a seat. And I was like boy she burned up. Teacher does this <snap> get up. Me? Yeah get your stuff, clean out your desk. I’m like man what did I do? So I start cleaning my stuff and everybody around me just put their heads down and looked away and I’m like I’m being kicked out? What happened? And then she made everybody move back so this Asian chick could sit in the front and I’m like…

I imagine dumping, moving out my desk and dude in front of me is already sitting my seat and I’m like I’ll see you after class. I walked to the end of the class and I’m holding onto my books and my book bag and I’m like okay where am I getting to sit and I asked her, I forget what her name was, where am I going to sit? Well we’ve had a change of plans. Walk outside go down the hallway, knocks on the door, Jacklyn, we have this young man here that’s gonna be in your classroom you know. Oh yeah, I know. I walk in and it’s 4th 5th 6th grade all in one classroom. Son of a bitch. Still got the back seat. You know. And that was a really tough period. From there I refused to learn. Refuse to learn. Fuck you. I ain’t doing my homework I ain’t doing shit. Do I suffer from reprecussions from that period, of course. Of course I did. And I still kind of refuse to go to college cause I don’t see a purpose in it. You have a purpose for it. I don’t. because I think I’ve lived enough

Concluding Word

Boy I tell you if you guys could see half the shit I’ve seen you wouldn’t believe it and you’d be like, nah you know. You’d share some of my opinions about certain things....'Cause they know and I’ve told this to a lot of people in groups that I shouldn’t have said it, with police officers present, I said y’all a bunch of little cowards because if it came down to it that it was between you and me you know you’d lose....I bet you if I told you I want to kill you because of that badge you gonna be like… you really want to die too? Here’s my billy club. You’re gone.

'Cause you ain’t willing to die for it. And it’s not because I’m willing to die for a gang but because I’m willing to die for the purpose of progress to improve my people’s situation, other people’s situation and for the betterment of our community.