Rangers and Vice Lords call for peace, slum improvement

Chicago Daily News, Wednesday, July 10, 1969
By Jack Fuller

The Blackstone Rangers gang Wednesday issued a statement saying “we ain’t gonna study war no more.”
The gang called on all other youth organizations to do likewise, as leaders quoted from an old spiritual hymn.

Then they announced a new peace agreement with the rivals of the East Side Disciples, at a press conference that was one of two gang press conferences Wednesday.
There were these other developments:

• The South Side Rangers said they plan to begin working constructively in the black community and urged other organizations to take part.
• The Conservative Vice Lords, at their press conference, declared war on slumlords and announced a program to beautify their West Side slum area.
The beautification program will be carried out under a $25, 000 grant the group announced it had received from the Field Fountain of Illinois and as a result of 100 federal Youth Corps posts assigned to the Vice Lords by the Catholic school board.

The peace agreement between the Rangers and East Side Disciples came in the wake of nearly 30 deaths from gang violence since Jan. 1.

Herman Holmes, 21, a member of the Rangers’ ruling body said, the “Main 21,” said the peace agreement was reached last Sunday afternoon on the 63rd St. beach.
Holmes told reporters that some 300 leaders and gang members of the two rival gangs attended the peace parley.

The two large South Side gangs had made a peace treaty last April 7 during Chicago’s race riots. However, that treaty broke down. So did one arranged in 1966 between two gangs by former Police Supt. O.W. Wilson.
Holmes said the East Side Disciples had “communicated” to the Rangers a desire for peace about a week and a half ago.

“It had been on our minds all along to have peace,” he said. “Apparently it had been on their minds too.”
Ranger Gang leader Jeff Fort, 21, who Tuesday walked out of a congressional hearing in Washington on the advice of his attorney, came to he press conference near its end.

Discussing the peace treaty and the Rangers’ program for constructive activities, Fort said, “Black people have been trying to get together for a long time.

“But people have been putting things in front of them until now so we couldn’t see. Now, black people have seen the light.”

The peace pact was disclosed by Holmes at a press conference in the office of Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, 4612 S. Greenwood.
The Rev. Curtis Burrell, chairman of the KOCO and the pastor of the Woodlawn Mennonite Church, handed out the gang’s statement to reporters

Mr. Burrell said his group and others would work with the Rangers in the new program of constructive activity. Other Participating groups that had representatives at the session were:

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Black Consortium, West Side Organization and the Afro-American Arts Theater.

. The Conservative Vice Lords also had a representative at the press conference, which was held about the same time as the Vice Lords were holding their own in their storefront headquarters at 3720 W. 16th.

Robert Gore, the Vice Lords’ chief spokesman at their press conference, said the gang was “disgusted with the illegal force many landlords had to use.”

He said some landlords prey on tenants and threaten them with eviction when the tenants become “hip” to substandard living conditions in their building.
“We will block illegal evictions legally if we can and forcefully if we must,” Gore said. “We will fight for tenants’ rights as hard as we used to fight among ourselves.”

Gore also blasted the “unfair” tactics of the McClellan Senate committee that has been investigating a federal grant to The Woodlawn Organization.
In their statement, the Rangers:

• Invited all other youth organizations to stop violence in the black community. The gang called for both gang members and police to set aside their weapons and be more peaceful.

• Pledged to begin working constructively for the black community. The statement listed concern over “rotten meat, poor housing and the outrageous prices our people face every day.”

• Said that “Starting today in the Kenwood community, the gang will join community organizations in the interests of the whole black community, rather than just the interests of the Blackstone Rangers.”

• Said that it is “inviting the participation of the larger community, especially the private sector, in this new constructive program.”

Mr. Burrell said the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization would establish a youth legal fund to “flight discriminating and authoritarian police tactics and aid us in establishing a right law and a just order for our community.”

Mr. Burrell, a Negro, said that throughout the last year the Chicago police and its gang intelligence unit have “harassed and repressed the black youth of our community.”

The minister said the “Main 21” ruling body of the Blackstone Rangers, had agreed to the statement issued Wednesday in a meeting that was held since last weekend.

Meanwhile, Chicago antipoverty officials were accused Wednesday of brushing off a proposal to set up a city-run job training program for the Blackstone Rangers.
A city-sponsored program would have been cheaper and better supervised than the one now under fire by Senate investigators, according to its designer, Mrs. Marie Brookter, a former program representative at the Woodlawn Urban Progress Center.

She said she submitted a plan similar to the $927,300 project under scrutiny by the Senate Permanent Investigations subcommittee.

But, she said, her former boss, Delton J. Brooks, head of the Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunity, the local arm of the federal war on poverty, failed to act on it.
Her proposal differed on three key points from the one that The Woodlawn Organization established last year after winning a direct grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity.

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