Former Vice Lord Leader Bennie Lee

On the Evolution of the Conservative Vice Lords

Chicago Gang History Project: February 28, 2002

S: How y’all doing this evening? ……. would you to be on your bed at home, on the TV or just laying down. I would. But I would…... I rushed here and ran into a maze. You know trying to come down Taylor St.? Thinking I could take short cut over here and ran around into all those dead ends and another dead end and another dead, till I decided to go through alleys. Then the alleys had dead ends <laughter> I’m going back home. So I left the son and the grandson at home. Yeah I’m a grandfather even though I don’t look like it. 7 year old grandson and they was like what we gonna eat? My daughter put her head in there and said don’t worry, and then he crying cause they don’t like her cooking. So I got an issue I gotta face when I get home. It’s more than an honor being here tonight. Anywhere I can go to share my insight on gangs, it’s more than an honor. As Mr. McFarland mentioned I had some involvement myself with street gangs.

I came to Chicago in 1963 from Cleveland, Ohio. I was 9 years old and believe it or not in Cleveland I was tied into a little block street gang. 9 years old. We did things like running in stores and snatch the ice cream. We did things like threw rocks at guys on the next block. So I was kinda like coming into poverty stricken area and we had to do things like my father lived in Chicago and me and my mother and my 6 brothers and sisters we live in Cleveland and so we didn’t have too much. And so we kinda get off just like the average gang member gets called up. In a poverty stricken area just trying to survive.

Coming to Chicago I met my crew in Chicago. Right in …. Met my little crew and we running around on the street and we did things like going in and out of stores. I learned how to pick pockets by the age of 10 years old. You know we would have the people waiting to cross streets, you know women have those big pockets and they have they’re wallets in them. So we learned how to you know help her with her groceries and go in her pockets and get her wallet out at the same time. We learned how to play the til at the time. You know going through the grocery store, we were so small we go through grocery stores and we would you know cash registers up, you know I hit that thing and it opened up. You know it’s called playing the til you get to mine the cash. And we learned how to do those types of games at 10/11 years old.

In fact then it had those buses with the electric tables to them coming out Western, coming out of the ___ , down this road. And you had to have a buddy to s___ em. We used to put em and you know the bus couldn’t move, when the bus driver got off we played this game when we got on in front there and there’d be little pouches being where they put the money in. They didn’t have what you have today. The little green pouches you put the dollars in there, you put the coins in, where you put… we would steal that. So these kinds of games we played. And sometimes school wasn’t too __ cause when some people had new school clothes and we didn’t have no school clothes and our feet were burning from the hot ground because we had cardboard in our gym shoes. So we played this game, we ditched school where the little one was running in the cleaners and the big one would follow him in and then later we’d try to break somebody else and we would sneak in and hit the cash register and steal the wallet out of the purse. These were the kind of games we played. And then we would get in trouble in the evening when we came home with new clothes and new pants and my mother would wonder where you getting that from?

All right. And about the time I was maybe 13 that’s when I really did it and got involved in a major street gang on the West Side – Vice Lords. How we got involved is pretty much… it had a lot to do with racism. It had a lot to do with racism. Back in 1967 we were one of the first black families that moved right over Cicero and Jackson, it was predominantly white neighborhood. So we had to fight and go to school, fight and play. But if you know anything about that area even today Columbus Park was the nearest swimming pool. 5500 West. And the next swimming pool was Garfield Park right off of Hamlin and close to Madison, near Lake St. So we were caught between Columbus Park or Garfield Park. Columbus was a little closer. We had to go through the neighborhood to get to school. So we had to fight white guys to get in, we had to fight these white guys to get back and so some guys in the neighborhood, realizing me and my crew we had enough courage to go swimming. So they would claim us just to go swimming.
Now as time went on, whites started moving out and blacks started moving in and at that time they had what they called the Cicero Vice Lords. These were guys 17 and 18 and we were 12, 13, some 14 years old. And one day, they chased us, and I went to the ___ running. And they caught me. And they told me I couldn’t go until I boxed this guy named Freddy Fly. Freddy Fly was about 17 years old, had a reputation as a two time golden glove champion. And this Freddy Fly was short so he was our height but he was older than us. So they told me I can’t leave until I boxed Freddy Fly. So me and Freddy fly got to boxing. I got a little comfortable. …..

.And so the other guys on the sidelines they say oh <can’t understand> He said yeah he try it again I’m gonna knock him out. So now I got stick but keep in mind my father was a pro fighter. My father was a professional fighter. So I grew up with gloves on. I could speed bagging it, jump rope I could do all that till I was 10, 11 years old. And so I realized this Freddy ain’t what I thought he is. So I said no, I open a ___ ___. I hit a boxer’s down, right. Call it my pride, we ran.

So maybe two days later we were still on our corner, right over on Verne and Gladice. And they surround the corner, about 40, looked like a 100 of them but there were really about 40, they surrounded us. Now we 12, 13 and they 17, 18 and they said who y’all Chief? And everybody looked right at me and that scared me to death. Now some of these guys I was running with I was even intimidated by. So they said well you guys gotta come to this meeting at ….. Church, it’s a church over here on …A business meeting, a Vice Lord meeting, be there. So we discussed it now, we need to come up with a name. What kind of name we gonna come up with? Back then they had a cologne called Apache, and they had these Apache scarfs they was wearing then, and one of the guys, Big Frank said we gonna be Apaches. Yeah Apaches. And then one of the guys said why don’t we be Apache Vice Lords, ____ the ___. So we ended up going to the rosters as part of the Vice Lord Nation.

And I was one of the youngest recognized gang chiefs of that Vice Lord Nation. Vice Lords considered to be a Nation cause there’s different groups all over the city and that’s what made them what they consider a Nation. And I didn’t realize then what I was getting into. Now keep in mind this was the era of the civil rights movement and I’d never really heard of racism and discrimination and Jim Crow laws and all those things. But I’d experienced it hand on when I was looking back in retrospect. Been called to help these people with their groceries and help them move cars out of snow and get called a lot of names that hurt wondering why it was so. And then we’d get more involved with them and we started realizing they were actually doing some things for our market in the neighborhood, trying to mine the prostitutes off Cicero, trying to, one guy was trying to sell drugs out the neighborhood. They was doing some things but we were too young to appreciate that.

So as time went on me and my crew we ended up, through the youth commission, I’m at the same time of the commission when I was 15 and when I got out of there, being the first of my set down high through em from off a set that ain’t nobody heard of. They heard of … St., they heard of … but they never heard of Cicero. So I kind of had to stand up for myself. And I just kind of paved the way for those coming behind. And that’s how I pretty much served my time. I’m gonna make a difference between serving time and making time serving.

So as I got older and I finally came out of St. Charles’s at 17, I did 2 years there. Come out at 17 and wasn’t out 2 weeks when I go to County Jail. Gang affiliate and this went on till I finally went to the prison, went to the joint. At 19. I went to the joint at 19. And I didn’t come home till I was 27 years old. And the last 3 years of that did, this is what I got the hardest, ___ __ talk about how I was once charged with 15 counts of murder, 2 attempted murder mob action. And this stemmed from a prison riot in 1978, …. Prison. Some of you probably read about it, heard about it. And when this riot broke and they shut us down, and they came maybe months later we were still on dead lock. They came about ___ state doing an institutional transfer. And when I got on that bus being transferred from Pontiac to Stateville and when I seen every high ranking chief in that prison on that bus, and me myself as a high ranking chief in that prison at that time. I knew then that we were getting in bad and we got shipped from Pontiac to Stateville and they kept us at Stateville and they just brought the death penalty back to Illinois, in ’77, this 78. They had just brought the death penalty back so they housed us on death row. And we were on death row. And we stayed on death row 3 years fighting this case.

And I can say that was my alma mater right there, the courtroom. I remember stepping in that court room and we had 10 thousand pages of discovery material, that’s the evidence they have against you. 10000 pages of discovery material and because I was an 8th grade dropout with limited education I couldn’t understand what I was reading and in that courtroom I couldn’t comprehend the dialogue that was going in that courtroom that was real frightening. So while we had to do that and go back to that tier, we were on, and we had become brothers for real. We had to look past each others opposition.

One thing left us, ___ ___ the honorable Louis Farrikhan had come to visit us. And he told us something that brought us together. He said a conspiracy is not right now in that courtroom, the conspiracy happened over 400 years ago in slavery. When they taught black men not to trust each other. And here it is 400 years later you guys still don’t trust each other and looking each other as opposition so y’all gonna have to change. So that stuck with us, so we kind of had to throw our flags off. We had to become brothers for real, now that ___ brotherhood of ___ came about. And we made some history. Where if you spend time in the county jail they didn’t have phones on your tier. We demanded right to have access to our attorneys. We get a phone put on our tier. So they made it retroactive, they put it on all the tiers throughout the county jail. So we made some history.

So as time went on I got acquitted on that case and I came home. Was out maybe 5 months and went back again. Cause I couldn’t handle being out at 27 years old. Been gone since I was 19. I was never really prepared to come back to society. Name all in the papers, your whole city up in an uproar, brothers waiting for me to come home, looking for my leadership. I couldn’t help em out. I ended up back in the prison 5 months later. Back in the State. And I really called going to Stateville being in segregation and going, seeing a book on a bed. And it was the autobiography of Malcolm X. I took that book and just threw it in a corner. Cause I preferred not to make life even ___ matters. And I was bored, two months later, interestingly I was bored and I picked that book up and turned to the part where it said, Malcolm X became frustrated cause he couldn’t comprehend what he was reading and that caught my attention so I went to the front of the book and I read the whole book. And when I think it might have saved me I gave it to another person. I was older, I wasn’t a young buck no more. I was 30 years old and I started realizing I hadn’t seen a year outside since 1968 and this was 1983 I’m talking about. And I thought about all those young guys in Stateville at that time that was behind me and running my __. And I brought it cause we had a board now to go to.

The street gangs in Chicago are controlled from the prisons, there’s no leadership out here. The leadership is in the prisons and we had this board, this committee and the committee consisted of a head from each sector, the different branches. And with us the Vice Lords one of the highest honors you can get is called the Old Man. You were like the head of this board and I became the Old Man. And I started thinking in terms of when I first came to prison there was some fear of what prison would be like and I made my mind up that I was not to get victimized so I premeditated violence constantly. Out of fear. So my position was to take all the weapons from these young guys and force them to seek council from us older guys before they act out of fear. To cut down on some of these unneccesary violence. I also felt like these young guys shouldn’t be mopping the floors and working in the kitchen that they should be in school. So we started flooding the school with these young guys trying to get enrolled but the GE class can only hold so many; it had a year long waiting list. You had to be on a year to be enrolled. We talk about the east county with this. And so the administration get wind of this and I became a threat to the administration. Cause the Vice Lords we had as part of our oath that we would serve our time constructively that for on our release we could become a productive member of our community. That was one of the oaths we took and being part of the Vice Lords it gave me a first understanding of our cause.

You probably’ve seen Vice Lords with the ___ ___ and the two half moons, and the 5 point star, you probably something simple. What those __ means the two half moons represented one nation of people that has been divided into two. The one on the left represent our people over in the east in Africa. The one over on the right represents us here, __ wants us go back. Cause we one nation and we broke away from our true heritage over there. This is why Vice Lord brothers ……. And that 5 point star represent the true nature of man. For every man is seeking for love, peace, freedom, justice, and equality in his life. But also man must give into his trouble, that man retrogressive knows the 5 points of the law, the <can’t understand> and this is why a lot of Vice Lords are getting killed, are in jail, are strung out on drugs, they gonna deviate from God’s laws, through the nature of man. So just being a part of that gave me my personal understanding of my culture. And as I got older it started making some sense and I was on a road, I was in a position where I could get something done with the guys. This is what I started to do and what it did is that led to breaking off from the mob.

Cause my position was we got good teachings but we practicing gang behavior. So that caused me to back off. And the __ was shocked, I said I’m through with all of this. I didn’t realize being the best for my __ is. So when you go back into Stateville think you seen they probably talk about ___ ___ you gotta understand LSD. It was a coalition, a citywide coalition right here in Chicago called LSD. The Vice Lords, the Stones and the Disciples formed one of the first street coalition, street gang coalitions ever in this city. And Fred Hampton who was the head of the Black Panther party, the Illinois chapter Black Panther party played a role in that. So they showed them brothers some of the power they had, how they could utilize their power, how they could push people in office, how they could get grant money ___ and how they became legitimate and not for profit organization.

See the Vice Lords became Conservative Vice Lord Corporation. They incorporated. 501 ___. At distance. And Fred Hampton because he was kinda like the mastermind and intertwined with all of that there, he became a threat, this is why I believe he was assassinated. Fred Hampton wasn’t killed, he was assassinated by state’s attorney Hanrahan at that time. And the Chicago Police Department. And keep in mind if you look back in that, there were gang violence kind of ceased. Second David Jr. ____ get involved with the Disciples or the Blackstone Rangers on the south side and they going they go opportunity knocked. There’s clickers of tapes of Blackstone Rangers being introduced on the ___ …. Show. Gang violence kinda ceased. On the West Side they formed what they call Operation Bootstrap. When the Vice Lords and the Gypsy Cobras and they …..wanted to get compensated. And they were clearly bringing brothers in there for purchases and they were provide job opportunities and trainers for them.

And first they had Tastee Freeze you know where …. back in 68. And the Old Man (Mayor Daley) at that time called War against street gangs. When you have 25 gangs tallying it all through Chicago, we have beaten over 300. He declared war. Right. There was a senator back then…Think his name McClellan, something like that. He wanted to do an investigation on the street gangs and the programs that they had, about the efficiency of these programs and moved to discontinue any government funds that support them. So that kind of helped the brothers out there, they had became dependent on these funds from these programs and now that was taken from them. So what you saw putting together a new trend of being gang members getting locked up in a big part of the 60’s and if you’re doing the research you see Winston … went to the floor of the Cook Country Jail at that time. He inspired a new type of ambition – an African American gang was ___ and for the first time of this kind gangs ….

So they wanted to do like …. how many Blackstone Rangers gonna run through here, how many Disciples you gonna, how many Vice Lords were here? Those were the three major street gangs in Chicago at that time. And as time went on they start filtering into Stateville. And gang violence I think deceased in your early 70’s. You didn’t get too much of that. It all went behind the wall. But they was claiming turf in prisons.

In 1974 a riot broke out in the Stateville prison B House. . Lt. Burger got killed. And three brothers got indicted after that but after they came, then the brothers came together and they said hey man we need to pull it together. So they reactivated LSD behind the walls under a new name Project ABLE. Adult Basic Learning Enterprise. And this consisted of the independent white inmates, hispanic inmates, a representative of each street organization and they became like a liaison between the administation and the prison population. So gang riots ceased in prison. And out of that they formed what you called a universal law. These were laws to govern everybody. To respect each other. Cause we all have to live and occupy the same space. A code of conduct. You probably hear about different street gangs got their own limits? Well they brought, they pulling it from the universal law, the code of conduct and got your own identity, see?

Now we moving into the time of Superintendent Reed at Stateville who met with that committee and found out who they represent and discontinued. So there was no communicating between the inmate population and the administration and things got crazy again. And then started being about riots and being in prisons because there was no communication. So if they’d listened to the theme of when gangs try to come together, do some good themselves, just if someone in the field. See? We talk about things like the ___ ___ ___ each other this program, where they infiltrate organizations that are rising up, they’re better than the commissions or the community of the people. They then would lock us up, they did it with Malcolm X, and Elijah Muhammed. They did it with Martin Luther King. They did it with Black Panther Party. They did it with the street gangs back then and they still doing it today. It’s not a coincidence if you stand on the corner, bunch of four corner hustlers stand out there, the police pull up with a load of Insane Vice Lords in the back seat and just pull over. And drop them brothers two blocks away and come right back and bust that whole block and get ___ out of that corner. They did set them up. They was coming for em anyway. We talk about aggravation, we talk about people that agitate situations, keep this going, cause they need this to the work… What y’all brothers think you recognize that?

From the year 1977 there was only 5 prisons in Illinois – Stateville….. was boot camp really. You went to …. St boys court you probably got 6 months in boot camp, in ….. Now there’s over 35 prisons in Illinois. That’s saying something. That Ida home used to be on the little corner of Arlan and Roosevelt, now it’s like a University. <laughter> that’s saying something. But then when you look around all those prisons, you talk about going past real counter ___ where all you’re prisons at. So these guys over here in the city gets ___ in black to come over here in the city they go to prison down in southern Illinois, it’s a whole different culture. Most of their time is fighting just to get to stay. And open up the chapel at John Edwards and say don’t serve time, make time serve you a lot of good just serving time. So they coming out, they’re not prepared.

So here we are in the 2 year 2000 and gangs have gotten ridiculous. These young guys come into a agency. I want you to understand time is changed. But ask yourself questions like how can these young guys get hold of the ammunition that even the Chicago Police Department can’t get a hold of? We talking about reject weapons from the army. These guys getting caught with …. knives and things, I mean weapons they use in the army that they don’t sell in gun stores. How are they able to get a hold of that? Sound like a conspiracy to me. You never heard of big drug busts from the shores of Chicago. Drugs don’t just come here through the black and hispanic community. They come by way of these suburbs. Talk about conspiracy, another tip lies in subtracting it with groups of other aggregate groups that said we’re needed in your community because it’ll sell faster than mine. It’s because of my agency and I brought into that no problem. I felt like somebody. I’m talking about first hand experience. Because I knew I could make that happen. And I know that we meet guys in jail and we protect them. And then we may not get out but when they get out we could send somebody by them to look out for them, now they take care of em while we in jail, we keep that relationship going. And these are the guys that don’t give such an industry in Chicago, they’re in the suburbs. So the focus is on the guy in the corner. Not the guy, not the source. So they need the guy from the corner to keep these ____ ___ in the conspiracy.

And young people need to hear that. That they bag you for it. I always say those southern Illinois farmers they got a new crop – called the inmate. They have political wars over whose little town will get a prison in it because prisons is big business now. But these young brothers need to hear this you know? A lot of guys you talk with return home and even prison life is just… it used to in time you had to read, to entertain yourself so you could develop your mind. Now they don’t mind you having a cell with a tv running and earphones on to the radio and you having a conversation with a guy down on the alley; he could use you going on. And you confide his let you come out here hey why? The kind of deal he’ll set up is just like when you look at society, overcrowded conditions. One of those tiers is no bigger than this little auditorium here. And around the cells. One tier up they have to satisfy an eight person alley. Gonna cause conflict. Four benches to satisfy 8 bodies. Conflict. 4 toilets. Conflict. 4 showers. They set up to keep conflict and tension so when it’s time to go to court, you’ve haven’t had time to prepare for his case, he spend most of his time just trying to survive.

And when you come down here in these streets, underneath your ___ you look at how the same __ our people ___, even today when I look at there there’s not one place set up to hire ten fathers at one time. Not one place set up to hire 10 fathers at one time. When you look at Cicero and Jackson the first block is 4800 West on Cicero. That’s a double block between Cicero and the Laverne, 48, 49 all in one. But if you look at the last address there in 4800 block it’s 4859. So it’s clear there’s 49 --buildings on that one block. And most of those buildings are two flats, some three flats. So if you really cram you can get 118 families on one block but there’s not one place that’s set to hire 10 fathers. And we wonder why our unemployment rate is so high. Some guys mind’s is not equipped to deal with racism and discrimination and when they try to leave that little box to go seek employment and they’re facing discrimination basically they’re forced back into the box and try to survive the best way they came.

It was Malcolm X that said if you have a poor neighborhood you’re going to go to a poor school. And when you go to a poor school you gonna get a poor education and that poor education enables you to work a poor paying job. And that poor paying job enable you to live back in the poor community and you see generation after generation doing it.
And I’m sure y’all went into some histories about your immigrants were mostly your gangs. That right? Keep in mind blacks were enslaved in the early 15, 16, 1700’s. Blacks were enslaved. It was the African slaves, blacks became the new immigrant. Migrating from the south to the north. So they had to battle other ethnic groups that were considered minorities in this country. Fighting over jobs. That caused racial tension and because black normally move in a neighborhood occupied by another ethnic group, blacks had to band together just to check themselves. That kind of gave birth to gangs in a black neighborhood. When you look at the youth authorities. They were conducted by the other ethnic groups, those street gangs. And when blacks start drifting in inside their youth authorities they had to band together to protect themselves. The Vice Lords came about in the 1957 in the St John Youth …. That’s where they started in the St. John Youth …. You know when you look at the Blackstone Rangers. You look at the Disciples. All them guys was in the youth …. Those heads that started those street coalition were in the youth …... Now that they older they in these prisons. Leadership is always been inside the prison.

But the thing you hear when you hear about gangs and how gangs form is poverty and racism. Rranz Fanon, in his book Wretched of the Earth, he talked about how when you have a group of people that’s being oppressed, you have a oppressor and you have an oppressed. The oppressed try all means to fight back but they find their way is useless and ineffective. So what happens, the oppressed take on the techniques of the oppressor to fight back and what happens is the oppressor who is out of the picture and then the oppressed use those same techniques on his own people. And I’ve seen it over and over and over. When we were young, we fought black guys to go to …... To go to school. And when the whites moved out of the hood we turned and looked at the new brothers coming in and got them ___. When we had to fight whites to go to school and go swimming, then turned those same techniques we used to fight those white guys we end up turning against these other guys. We changed our name from Apache then we became Insane Vice Lords. We became Insane Vice Lords. Wasn’t my homies ___ he couldn’t spell it he put it ink on the wall. <laughter> After that we became a

___ and I remember one night we were coming from a basketball game and a guy sighted us. And he was ___ ____. And I asked one of the guys, well what they think they have one of them four corner hustlers and they was on the other side of the valley. So our plan was the next day to go there and retaliate. So we went over across Madison and we whopped at every guy we ran into cause that was our style, whopping and making you join us and all this. And so we went over there and terrorized the other side nicely. Few days later I run into a guy and he said, what are you ___ and they were both from the hustlers. And they were brown ___ ___ and Vice Lords wore gold. Said if you gonna be a Vice Lord you gotta get rid of them brown pants you got there, pick up your gold. And you gotta come up under the name Vice Lords. So they became 4 corner hustler Vice Lords.

When you looked at the gangs that you see today, they all derived from those 3 – Vice Lords, Stones and Disciples. When you look at the Disciples you had what you called the Black Disciples, the Devil Disciples, the … Disciples, Satan’s Disciples, you know these were Disciples. And then you have the Blackstone Rangers had different groups like Cobra Stones, Gangster Stones, as a matter of fact the Gangster Stones pretty much lived in a Disciple neighborhood around 67, 68, with Halstead where the Gangster Stones were. And they felt so much friendship from the Disciples around there so they told Jeff Fort now, hey we need to break away from this because we get friendship here so they wanna become Disciples so they became Gangsters. They became High Supreme Gangsters.

And at the time __ united and they became Black Gangster Disciple Nation. All right? And then when King David died, who was the head of the Disciples, some older Disciples don’t want to honor the head of the Gangsters, they said no we gonna break off and that gave birth to the Black Disciples. And some of them okay we’re gonna break off from that and they gave birth to the Gangsters Disciples but some guys wanted to remain unified and said we gonna be Black Gangster Disciples so it got crazy. And a lot of help to you know which way to go a guy could get hurt cause they didn’t know who to choose cause they come in later on than what had happened and they didn’t know who they wanted to honor as they’re king.

And then when you look at the Blackstone Rangers you get here from that.. you heard of Mickey Cobras? Well that was once the Cobra Stones but when Mickey Cobb went down they given honors to Mickey Cogwell they became Mickey Cobras in honor of Mickey Cogwell there. And then you had the Blackstone Rangers that were originally and then they change their name to El Rukns, Boys of America, and then the old guys wanted to keep their dignity they became Ancient Stones. So you see different groups came out of that group the Stones. And then with the Vice Lords – the Conservative Vice Lord nation you get Unknown Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, and I could just go on and on and on. Imperial Vice Lords, come up in my neighborhood.

And what’s happening nowadays there is no more nations. Ain’t no more nations. Cause you got Gangster Disciples killing all other Gangster Disciples. There’s a thing called outlawing going on now. Some of these guys got a big old cross over their arms it’s got outlaw down the center. Maybe they outlaws for real but you make you’re a Gangster Disciple but you don’t respect certain Gangster Disciples. You may be a Vice Lord with that outlaw on but he don’t respect certain Vice Lords. That’s what this outlaw thing going on. The majority of the young guys in prison now for killing or shooting you can guarantee 90% of them is with his own. The average Vice Lord in prison for shooting and killing somebody he done killed and shot another Vice Lord. The average Gangster Disciple in prison is down there cause he shot another Gangster Disciple. Because of the conditions. Because of the conditions.

Drugs is the center of this. These drug wars going cause they give em to each other and a lot of em get strung out on it and they vow they know laws. The way this is set up now if you follow a certain mob and you selling a certain product or even a drug you can’t use that drug. And if you get caught using that drug you’re in violation. And a lot of these guys are using these drugs and it’s causing conflict within their own circle. And that keep repeating itself and it’s causing a lot of unnecessary killings see? And this is what you’re seeing. Guys like me gonna have to change. Keep from being initiated. I don’t know how to take it. On one hand it’s been over 18 years since I’ve been incarcerated it did a lot. With my mind. And I try to reach out to young guys, the police want to lock me to a deal down my past. Man I didn’t get a school, I didn’t get a degree, I can work a job, I can run program. I just walked off a job that I was the head of the program over 12 years. One of the largest drug agencies in this state.

Did I mention, I ran a criminal justice program ……. Did a good job. Did a lot of workshops, trained as well. Illinois Department of Corrections they had us drill newcomers every year. I was one of their main presenters that they would call. Out there ___ for the Army, got national even civil institute. I’ve done training, San…, ___ California. Last year the head of ___ ___ for Bill Johnson said they would have to come and he’s motivating on a ___. Prison down there wanted me to be a keynote speaker. The warden clearly but two days before the ___ said man they won’t let you in because you a bad mother. And that was when they …. over 18 years. And the Feds has had a contract with St John Youth Commission that they wanted to open a drug unit inside the Youth Commission. My heart fluttered. I wouldn’t do this. I spent two years down there. I want to go and do some good for these young guys. So they put me as part of this team and go down do a cross training with the criminal staff and the correction officers. It’s supposed to be an 8 week training. The 3rd week they ___ the extra gates and said you can’t come back in because you’re background. So it’s hard on guys like me. And see I’m not gonna let that stop me cause I know my aim and purpose in life.

I know God spared me to be a message to you today. I know I’m giving you raw facts something you ain’t really got, some the facts you down ___, some of em not really survive. I’m saying some things and I’m callling the experience of things right today as a father, as a husband, as a grandfather. Today I do consultant work. But I always get this thing, I __ see calls me <can’t understand> I would have <can’t understand> and one in Aurora. My name came up they want me down to do this presentation. And I had to remind them that we have to check this out with your boss cause I’m an ex-convict. And now they’re nervous. <laughter> I think you know where it went wrong with me in that and where my life begins. You know this is why I look at society, people tripping. Because they could serve their time and head back to society. I been paying a debt for the longest. But I ain’t tired. It just energizes me because they are my fight. It energized me, gave me something to fight. And then when I try to rally all the men in Operation Bush, trying to rally all the ex-offenders that’s been out over 10 years and finally got some credibility now and maybe we could fight for the rights of ex-offenders that we not get doors shut in our faces. Even though we’ve been out of the system over 10 years and doing some things. A lot it look like, __ can’t dispose of an ex-offender __. I blew my top. I might even lose my marriage. So you can’t win. But it’s exciting to me cause I’m gonna fight, I’m getting ___. __ ___. But I know as I stand before you, been a coordinator of a program…..going to school at the end of the ___.

I’m paving the way for that young guy that comes behind me. That’s in the hiding hole right now. Mobster says sure he can get high on this. So I pay you fair. So the Mobster says this is bigger than me and this is how I look at it. Mobster says this is bigger than me. What I do is not for me. It’s for those coming behind me and this is what I stand for. On the end, then I’ll take some questions now.<applause>

Student question <can’t hear>

S: I believe the inmates have first hand insight on the commissions than the average one of you out there. How many of you all know that the world underground at 26 and California? That you can go in their courtroom and go underground and come out way on 31st and Sackview. A lot of people in society don’t know this. The society under the ground. Inmates have first hand experience. How many of you know that a lot of the drugs you see today, I experienced in prison years ago? Cause they use prison as places that, they use inmates as guinea pigs. Inmates when you hear about riots, they fight for causes. Brothers in have told me, two of you on the yard, <can’t understand> said look, brothers down here die to make it possible for you to get a full course meal. When they were given one scoops of bean and a piece of bread probably had a roach in the middle. Them brothers fought for better conditions in those prisons and they would check your brother if they become ___ __. Throw a basketball and drop race. They had to fight to get those things. Weren’t gonna give em to them. The riot in ___ prison in 78 it was a direct result of the inhumane conditions and it’s already <can’t understand> Then they riot cause of your waste. The director Todd Warton at that time got fired cause he didn’t want to recant his statement that that riot was a year late and we’re ___ because of the inhuman conditions that the inmates are living up under. And because now you want to scapegoat the gains for the riot, they couldn’t use that statement and fired ___ ___ ___. So yeah I say inmates should have a right to vote. It is not a ___ to scope. It’s about conditions. These riots you hear about it ain’t cause those guys just want to riot. It’s about conditions. I mean look at this. Those same people you send to prison are the same people that’s gonna one day come home from prison. Let me see the person in this audience that doesn’t have not one person in your family that’s not been to prison for the ___. One person has got no have no family that’s never been to jail.