the Black P. Stone Nation (BPSN), has been shouting "Stones Run It" for over three decades. This gang is also unique in that several books have been written about it. However, as this gang profile will show, it has significantly changed over the years. For example, it now has a strong Islamic influence which pervades the various branches of this gang and its internal written codes. It is a gang which since its inception has been based on illegal drug income and violence.
Perhaps what is most interesting about this gang is the fact that its leader --- Jeff Fort, sought to do contract terrorism work for Moammar Gadhafi back in 1986. How close did this gang come to actually carrying out domestic terrorism? Very close is the answer. Jeff Fort had in fact travelled, despite the ban on travel in place at the time, to Libya to offer the services of his gang for terrorist attacks in Chicago.
This updated gang profile therefore examines, among other things, how an American gang can get involved in international terrorism.
The findings reported here come from a variety of sources and data presented are derived from several methodological approaches. The sources include: (1) historical sources, published and unpublished, as well as in-depth oral history interviews with persons having an intimate knowledge of the BPSN since its inception, (2) qualitative sources particularly detailed depth interviews with cooperative current and former members of the BPSN, (3) documents from the BPSN informants, and (4) quantitative data from survey research on BPSN members. Thus, both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in developing this gang profile.
The most important methodological issue that should be made here is what information was left out. A great many direct primary sources of data were used: interviews. Much of this information was not used here. Also, a wealth of other internal written materials on and about the BPSN gang were collected that have not been presented here. These internal gang documents tended to be historical matters and related to the creed and "constitution" of the gang. Given the length of this particular BPSN profile, these and other materials were not able to be presented here. Clearly, the information developed allowed for an entire book length report on the BPSN. What is presented here is therefore a synopsis of the major important issues about this gang.
WHEN AND WHERE DID THE BPSN BEGIN? LIKE VICE LORDS: IN A JUVENILE CORRECTIONAL CENTER (St. Charles Reform School)
Presbyterian minister Reverend John Fry, who became a close confidant and advisor to the BPSN through his tutelage of Jeff Fort and Eugene Hairston (the two founders of the BPSN), probably got very close to understanding the etiology of the BPSN. One caveat here, Rev. Fry was basically "duped" by the gang and substantial new historical information developed through interviews with other key figures during this time frame will reveal insights that are clearly not indicated in Rev. Fry's "gang apologist" account of the BPSN. Rev. Fry suggested that the BPSN is more like a "prisoners organization", and that it in fact started in St. Charles. St. Charles is a state reform school in Illinois.
Rev. John Fry lives, today, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Rev. Fry left Chicago after the federal investigation into the Blackstone Ranger's gang by federal authorities over the issue of federal funds being abused by the gang.
It is of historical interest that Rev. Fry places the birth of the BPSN in the time frame of 1957-1960. The Vice Lords began during that same time frame, also in St. Charles. The law of natural group opposition formation would hold that some other group had to exist besides the Vice Lords during that same time frame.
The Almighty Latin Kings Nation also traces its birth to this same time.
During the early 1960's the BPSN existed as a small rag-tag group of misfits; juvenile delinquents of the classic type. It was not until the mid-1960's, in fact, until they came into contact with Rev. Fry that the BPSN became a formidable force. The BPSN would grow exponentially with the financial, social, political, and other support from Rev. Fry. This little known aspect of gang life in Chicago is explained elsewhere in this gang profile.
In otherwords, prior to the arrival of Rev. John Fry (who brought federal and foundation funding to the gang), this gang known then as the "Blackstone Rangers", could probably not mobilize more than a dozen teenagers. Their expertise was in street thuggery: stealing, vandalizing, shoplifting. In the early years of the "Blackstone Rangers", they were simply an informal group of delinquents living in close geographical proximity to each other; some of whom knew each other from the "Audy Home" (Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center) and "St. Charles" (the Illinois Department of Corrections state juvenile institution).
Another account of the origin of the BPSN comes from the book by R.T. Sale (1971, The Blackstone Rangers: A Reporter's Account of Time Spent with the Street Gang on Chicago's South Side, New York, Random House). Sale described the process by which consolidation, alliances, and mergers took place to allow the BPSN to grow to be a menacing force in Chicago:
"He told me then how, back in 1959, there had been a small street clique on 66th Street that had a modest ten members. Jeff Fort was the man at is head and controlled a turf known as Jackson Park. But there had been a rival gang, a small one as well...on 70th Street....the gangs clashed...They fought together many times. When they found that neither one could inflict a final, decisive defeat, they came together and talked. A short time later they combined" (Sale, 1971: pp. 63-64).
The federal indictments against the El Rukn leadership from an April, 1987 federal Grand Jury indicated that the gang really got off the ground and was up and running in the year 1966. This would be consistent with viewing it as a criminal gang at that point in time. The reasons will be made clear later in this gang profile, when we examine how the gang was able to rapidly increase its membership during the same time frame.
A gang training document for the Illinois Department of Corrections states that the origin of the name "Blackstone Rangers" began in 1959 because then Jeff Fort lived at 6536 South Blackstone and his clique gathered nearby at the corner of 64th and Blackstone. This IDOC document is not believed to have reflected a great deal of debriefing sources, but rather extant literature references.
Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the idea of having his own "mob" did begin in 1969: other gangs did get up and running at that time (like the Vice Lords). It is also reasonble to assume that the area that is still dominated by BPSN today (65th and Blackstone on Chicago's southside), like many other gang formations, provided Jeff Fort with the idea of a name for his gang: "Blackstone". And in the early 1960's, clearly, Jeff Fort was on these streets with a small "Level I" (informal organization) gang that was up and running.
WHO ARE THE BLACK STONES?
Members of the Black P. Stone Nation (BPSN) ride under the "five pointed" star, they are therefore "Brothers" or "People". The BPSN was first known as the Blackstone Rangers gang. In the Blackstone Rangers there were two gang leaders: Jeff Fort and Eugene "Bull" Hairston (AKA "King Bull", and "King Ball"). Only Jeff Fort survived. This helps to explain how Jeff Fort today is in fact the undisputed leader of the BPSN. Many gang experts thought Jeff Fort's group, the El Rukns, was "put out of business" and that his gang involvement ended when Jeff and many of his "generals" gained federal prison sentences in the late 1980's. Untrue. Jeff somehow took over control of the BPSN after the series of convictions against the El Rukn's.
The Black Stones today are the Black P. Stone Nation. It includes several branches all of which trace their history to the original Blackstone Rangers. These branches include: (1) Gangster Stones (led by "Moose") who control the southside, (2) Jet Black Stones, (3) Rubinites (AKA "Rubes"), (4) Future Stones, (5) P.R. Stones, (6) Corner Stones, and (7) the Almighty BPSN (led by Wakeeta, Jeff Fort's son). The Almighty BPSN is the largest branch. Another name the BPSN uses for "Jet Black Stones" is "Jack Black".
Prior to Jeff Fort's 1976 coup over the BPSN, there was also a separate group known as the "Titanic Stones" that had been considered BPSN. That is, until Jeff Fort ordered them killed. Also, the Mickey Cobra Stones were a founding branch of the BPSN, again until Jeff Fort had their leader killed, and the Mickey Cobras then splintered off from the BPSN.
COBRA STONES: SPLINTERED FROM THE BPSN, BECAME MICKEY COBRAS
The "Cobra Stones" were a part of the BPSN at one time. The Cobra Stones was from the beginning of the BPSN to 1977 an official branch of the BPSN, and this gang faction was led by Mickey Cogwell. In the early days of the BPSN, Mickey Cogwell as in fact a founding member of the "Main 21" and was therefore a leader within the BPSN. Cogwell was one of those convicted in 1972 for defrauding the federal government grant of $927,000 (U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity) that helped the BPSN get a jump start on gang organization in Chicago in connection with Rev. Fry's church sponsored "gang program". This gang experienced the "Splintering effect" when Jeff Fort had Mickey Cogwell killed on February 25, 1977. At this point the gang became a separate entity that is today known as the Mickey Cobras gang. The Mickey Cobras refused to join the "El Rukn" leadership of Jeff Fort.
In fact, in 1976 Jeff Fort declared his intent to kill Mickey Cogwell in a large BPSN gang meeting. Shortly thereafter (February 25, 1977), Cogwell was in fact killed. Cogwell had been working as an organizer for a southside union at the time of his death. In 1970 the commander of the Gang Intelligence Unit for the Chicago Police Department portrayed Cogwell as the link between gangs and organized crime. According to one high ranking BPSN informant (among the many interviewed for this profile): "they was at war with us in 1994", thus the early history of friendship is not a guarantee of civility in relationship with the BPSN. Today the Mickey Cobras are "People" or "Brothers" in gang nation alliances, just like the BPSN. However, the Mickey Cobras exist in areas of the southside that compete for membership with the BPSN. And no one could say that just because both the BPSN and the Mickey Cobras today are a "people" or "brothers" gang that they are in any sense cooperative or friendly towards each other.
This is a good example of how gang alliance systems involving competing criminal offenders are not likely to be readily manipulated for purposes of "gang truces": the enmity between these gangs that should theoretically be "together" in an alliance against rival gangs is a long standing problem that has festered over the years. Still, today few seem to recognize that gang apologists and representatives of the gangs themselves who attract mass media attention with their claim of being able to "create gang peace treaties" are basically hustlers exploiting public ignorance on these rather complex issues.
Today the Mickey Cobras are known formally as the "Kingdom of the Mickey Cobra New Movement", AKA "Almighty Cobra Nation", AKA "Almighty Mickey Cobras Nation". In their original identity, they were known as the Egyptian King Cobras. In their third generation, they now like the BPSN, have a strong Islamic influence. The Mickey Cobras now have their own unique written constitution and by-laws. These documents show a strong Islamic influence, just like those of the modern-day BPSN. So what we have here are basically two Black gangs operating under some variety of Islamic beliefs that are in an armed struggle with each other. The NGCRC does maintain a file on the Mickey Cobras, like almost all gangs that have been tracked since 1990, but it is not a gang whose force strength and threat analysis ratings currently justifies a separate "gang profile" in this journal.
THE BPSN, LIKE OTHER GANGS, EXPLOITED LIBERAL CONFUSION
The BPSN got a major boost from sympathetic liberals willing to help the gang. One keen observer described it this way:
"These white liberals were awed by the potential political power of the Mighty P. Stone Nation, and they attempted to translate this power into constructive activities. While this in itself was noteworthy, the romantic image many had of the street gang made it difficult for them to realize the magnitude and complexity of the problem." (Useni Eugene Perkins, 1987, Explosion of Chicago's Black Street Gangs: 1900 to Present, Chicago: Third World Press).
As discussed later in this gang profile, the largest help to the gang came from a member of the clergy. A Presbyterian pastor named Rev. John Fry was the culprit. Rev. Fry basically turned over his church and the churches resources to the gang. If that meant using the church's money for bailing out gang leaders, fine. If that meant allowing the gang to hold its citywide meetings in the church, fine. For a description of the significance of this error of large scale gang meetings, one of the most dramatic accounts is that provided from one of the youths who attended one of these events and who later attended Columbia College: "D to the Knee ! Stone to the Bone!" by Dino Malcolm (Best of Hair Trigger: A Story Workshop Anthology, pp. 81-91, Chicago: Columbia College Writing Department). It describes how the very appearance of gangs being able to use a large church to hold a large gang meeting adds an important resource to the benefit structure of the gang as an organization. Most gang analysts today recognize that a gang will predictably exploit any resource it can. Thus, in a true zero-tolerance policy no such resource should be made available to a gang that could make it stronger or more organizationally effective (i.e., increasing its ability to recruit youths, adding to its legitimacy, etc).
Unfortunately, many Americans have yet to realize this important lesson about the history of gangs. For example, when Wallace "Gator" Bradley (the chief political spokesperson for the Gangster Disciples and their political wing known as "21st Century V.O.T.E.") was able to go to the White House and personally meet with President Bill Clinton on January 24th, 1994, subsequent pictures published in newspapers of this "photo session" with the President of the United States (see Chicago Tribune, Friday, February 18, 1994; section 2, p. 6) expectedly added much new momentum to the GD's political movement in Chicago. Apparently, Gator had the audacity to introduce himself to President Clinton as representing a group called "Better Growth and Development": i.e., using the "put on" that they are not Black Gangster Disciples (BGDs), a criminal drug gang, but are something "pro-social". But, historically at least, many liberals have been sucked into the beguiling language used by gang leaders as will be evidenced by the important role of Rev. Fry in the historical development of the BPSN.
ESTABLISHING THE BPSN AS A STREET GANG GOVERNMENT
Rev. Fry selected as the director of the First Presbyterian Church's(1) "Ranger Staff" one Chuck Lapaglia. Rev. Fry's 1973 book explains how they helped the BPSN (Jeff Fort and Bull Hairston) deal with their sudden expanded membership base, particularly their fear of police informants. As described in the 1973 book, Fry and Lapaglia took Fort and Hairston to a luncheon to discuss organizational advice to the BPSN. Lapaglia advised Jeff Fort and Bull Hairston to "age grade": create a two-tiered organization, one level for younger members, and one level for older "reliable" presumably more hardcore "Stones".
As described in Fry's 1973 book, the two gang leaders immediately took this advice to heart. Jeff Fort headed up the younger faction. Bull Hairston headed up the older faction (see Fry, 1973: pp. 16- 23).
Throughout both of Fry's self-aggrandizing books, he recognizes that gangs like the BPSN are dangerous and armed offenders. How then do we account for the fact that Fry and his assistants in the church and its programs helped the BPSN to become a "street gang government". Which would mean an armed criminal street gang government, capable of exercising the most formidable power in the African-American communities in which the BPSN existed. What kind of unique spiritual insight did Fry have to think that it would be a good idea for the African-American communities of Chicago to have "more organized street gangs"?
Our latest intelligence is that Rev. Fry has assiduously avoided any media interviews regarding these issues for a very long time. Further, our information is that he is currently working in a remote area of the USA that is virtually untouched by the aftermath of helping gangs to become more organizationally sophisticated. The need to debrief persons like Fry remains an important element of developing gang knowledge, so anyone who would be interested in this type of assignment, please contact the NGCRC.
THE GANG SYMBOLS OF THE BPSN
The crescent moon and the five pointed star are today important symbols used by the BPSN because of the strong Islamic influence in this gang. The pyramid with one side showing twenty-one small rectangles that could be "bricks" is another important symbol that also refers to the "Main 21": the founding fathers of this gang. Jeff Fort was one of these founding fathers. Most of the other original "main 21" are dead. The "main 21" was like a commission for organized crime and still functions today. When someone on the "main 21" makes a mistake or gets too close to competing with OG's like Jeff Fort, they just seem to die violently, and someone new takes their "seat" on the "main 21".
Other symbols associated with the BPSN include their code words: such as "C.S.A." which stands for "Cold Soldier Army". The name of their "set" or "hood" is also commonly used in their graffiti: an example would be "Terror Town", which refers to Chicago's southeast side. In this area of southeast Chicago, you cannot miss the clear language when you enter the neighborhood, and this gang graffiti has existed in this fashion for many years: the slogans on the garages and buildings, everywhere, reads "TERROR TOWN". An expression of solidarity for this gang is also commonly used: "Stones Run It", meaning the BPSN are "in control" or are "very powerful".
The two word phrase "Chief Malik" will often appear in BPSN graffiti. This phrase ("Chief Malik") refers to one of the aliases of Jeff Fort. Jeff Fort is known to the BPSN as "Chief Malik" (pronounced "malique"). Jeff Fort's earlier AKA's included: "Black Prince" and "Angel".
Contemporary BPSN members can often be identified at a distance: they like to wear their hair in braids.
THE ORIGINAL MAIN 21 MEMBERS
At the top were Eugene "Bull" Hairston (#1) and Jeff Fort (#2). Other early "O.G.'s" in the Black Stones included the following members who are not listed in any order of hierarchical power (see: Chicagoland Monthly, June, 1979):
#a George Rose (AKA "Watusi", "Mad Dog")
#b Lee "Stone" Jackson (DECEASED)
#c William Troop (AKA: "Sweet Pea", "Sweet Jones") (DECEASED)
#d Melvin Bailey (AKA: "Lefty")
#e Herbert Stevens (AKA: "Thunder")
#f Lawrence White (AKA: "Tom Tucker")
#g Adam Battiste (AKA: "Leto")
#h Sylvester Hutchins (AKA: "Hutch")
#i Charles Franklin (AKA: "Bosco")
#j Theotis Clark (AKA: "Thee")
#k Henry Cogwell (AKA: "Mickey") (DECEASED)
#l George Martin (AKA: "Porgy") (DECEASED)
#m Andrew D. McChristian (AKA: "A.D."
#n Fletcher Puch (AKA: "Bo Peep", "Old Man")
#o Edwin Codwell (AKA: "Little Charlie", "Caboo")
#p Leroy Hairston (AKA: "Mr. Maniac", "Baby Bull")(2)
#q Charles Edward Bey (AKA: "Benbolaman", "Bear")
#r Herman Holmes (AKA: "Moose")
#s Moses Robert Jackson (AKA: "Dog")
#t Paul Martin (AKA: "Crazy Paul") (DECEASED)
#u Lamar Bell (AKA: "Bop Daddy")
#v Johnnie Jones (AKA: "Cool Johnnie")
#w Bernard Green (AKA: "Droop", "The Colonel")
SPORTSWEAR AND GANG CLOTHING
When the "Blackstone Rangers" first appeared, their distinguishing clothing was a red felt beret.
When Jeff Fort returned to Chicago from Milwaukee after his first federal sentence and started the "Moorish American" group (circa 1975-76) that would evolve into the El Rukns, their distinguishing clothing item was a red fez cap.
BPSN members wear an assortment of highly stylized, expensive air-brushed gang designs on t-shirts and sweat shirts and hats. There are numerous examples of these in the National Gang Cultural Artifact collection maintained by the National Gang Crime Research Center for its gang training services. Most typical is a BPSN gang argot expression such as "ALL IS WELL" or a logo symbol such as the use of the pyramid.
One of the most popular items of gang apparel for BPSN members today is their sportswear line. This particular style of clothing is clearly gang designed. It has the large words "Black Stone" on it, but between these two words is the crescent moon with a five pointed star. Underneath this rocker reads the words: "ATHLETIC WEAR, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles". These are three of the larger cities where the BPSN operates today. A casual observer would look at this t-shirt and never figure out the put-on.
THE HISTORY OF THE B.P.S.N.
The BPSN may have started in 1959, making it as old as the Vice Lords, but it did not really become a strong and institutionalized gang until the mid-1960's. It existed side by side with the Devil's Disciples. The BPSN first gained strength up and along Blackstone Avenue on Chicago's southside. Their main enemy was not the Vice Lords who had existed since 1959. Rather the main enemy of the BPSN was the Devil's Disciples, who existed in closer proximity and competed for gang loyalty among disaffected southside youths. The Devil's Disciples would later become three gangs: the Gangster Disciples (led by Larry Hoover), the Black Gangsters (AKA: New Breed, led by Booney Black), and the Black Disciples (led by Jerome "Shorty" Freeman).
SACRED CALENDAR DATES FOR THE BPSN
A sacred day for the BPSN is August 8th. Jeff Fort selected August 8th as the "anniversary celebration day" for the BPSN. August 8th is also called the "feast day" for BPSN members. The first annual "feast day" occurred on August 8th, 1976. It was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The reason Jeff Fort selected August 8th as the "feast day" or time for the annual gang celebration is that it commemorated the anniversary of planning the murder of Chicago Police Officer James Alfono.
Officer Alfono was a Gang Intelligence Officer doing surveillance in a car around 67th and Stoney Island, when the BPSN shot out the street lights, and then shot through the trunk of the car with a high-powered rifle, killing Officer Alfono instantly. It was a basic gang assassination: the gang knew the police would "cruise by", the time frame of urban unrest set the tone for a great deal of hostility towards police, and the gang plotted how to send a message to the "establishment". Back then, it was clearly a "gang crime". Today, unless there was evidence that Jeff Fort ordered it and everyone approved of it a "gang meeting", it would probably not be considered a "gang crime" today unfortunately.
In spring of 2000, when Los Angeles and New York City eliminated their gang units, Chicago followed this new trend. Thus, for over a year there has not been much "gang crime" in Chicago. Gang crime specialists still exist, although a lot of them have left or retired, but those who remain also get other duties at the district level. Police officer Eric Lee was killed in late August 2001: shot by a Gangster Disciple (GD), when the shooter and his colleague GD were on "S" (security) for the GD drug house the officer arrived at, in a GD neighborhood. The GD shooter and his GD buddy were beating a third person in a gangway of the building (a GD drug house where drugs were confiscated after the killing), and Police Officer Eric Lee responded to a "disturbance" call. But when the GD shot and killed Police Officer Eric Lee, Chicago municipal authorities did not consider this a "gang crime".
And it is still not classified as a "gang crime". That is life under the new policy of not having a centralized gang unit in Chicago: gang crime will just "disappear"; if by no other method than "if it ain't written down, it didn't happen".
ALLIES OF THE BPSN
The BPSN has always been a "people" or "brothers" gang. It therefore rides under the five pointed star if it uses any star. It is most closely aligned with the Vice Lords and Latin Kings, owing to the prison connection for gang alliances. It is clear, though, that some other "people" gangs like the Mickey Cobras are dedicated enemies of the BPSN even though both had the same background. As will be explained, the Mickey Cobra's are no longer "Cobra Stones", due to the gang splintering phenomenon. In fact, the Mickey Cobra's remain mortal enemies of the BPSN even though both gangs are "people". But for all practical purposes, the main day to day enemy or rival of the BPSN are members of the Gangster Disciples gang.
THE ROLE OF ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS BELIEFS IN THE BPSN
None of the previous books written about the BPSN describe the role that Islamic religious beliefs play in this gang. This is partially a problem of timing, the books are older and predated the development where Jeff Fort's influence over the BPSN brought about this religious influence. It is important to note, however, that this is not regarded as a legitimate religious influence. Rather the role of religious beliefs in the gang serves a two-fold purpose: (1) it gives a cloak of legitimacy and social acceptability for an organization that at its core is basically criminal in nature, and in correctional settings is often necessary for purposes of holding "gang meetings", thus having religious beliefs as the outward appearance of the gang gives it certain protective powers, and (2) the religious beliefs add to the level of social control that the gang exercises over its members, and it also provides an ideology useful for purposes of "moral neutralization" (i.e., the beliefs help members to justify their criminal activities). Thus, like a cult, the stronger and more extreme the beliefs, often the more the members are pressed into submission to the centralized authoritarian organizational structure of the gang.
What Jeff Fort learned from his association with Rev. John Fry was that having some association with or appearance of a religious operation was very functional for an effective gang organization. The other gangs that have come to have such a religious component to their internal belief system may have simply copied the tradition started by Jeff Fort. This is another way in which gangs exploit a free society: they know that religion is a "sacred" aspect of society that most do not want regulated, inspected, monitored, or investigated. So the ability to predict the future organizational styles of gangs comes from knowing that gangs will exploit the "rights" and "freedoms" that any society offers.
The BPSN have adopted a decidedly Islamic belief system. Elsewhere in this gang profile we will examine, in detail, some of these aspects of the Islamic influence. The one question we can answer here relates to WHY Jeff Fort began this tradition. It would appear that Jeff Fort was looking for a way to overcome the federal parole restrictions about "gang association" when he was first released from his first federal prison sentence after being put away for embezzling federal monies in the Rev. Fry "gang program".
A gang training document in use by the Illinois Department of Corrections states(3):
"The El Rukn Moorish Science Temple of America's name appeared in March of 1976 coinciding with the release of Fort from the federal prison. Fort tried to join the Black Muslims and the Regional Church of the Moorish Science Temple of America. Both groups rejected him and his followers. Fort then started his own religious organization."
EARLY INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICS
During the "El Rukn" phase of the BPSN developmental history, the gang was similar to other Chicago gangs in trying to get involved in electoral politics. The El Rukns established an organization called the "Grassroots Independent Voters of Illinois". The involvement continues today, but as will be seen later in this gang profile, by a new name and a new organizational identity.
THE HISTORY OF JEFF FORT AND THE BPSN
Jeff Fort must be understood in terms of the different phases of his gang development: (1) his original years in relationship to getting liberal do-gooders to obtain foundation funding and government grants for him to abuse, (2) his stint in federal custody as a result of that early activity, (3) his return from living outside of Chicago and organizing the Moorish American "group" and his involvement in an anti-nazi protest group on Chicago's southwest side called the "Martin Luther King Movement", (4) his subsequent organizing of the "El Rukn" gang in 1976, (5) the federal prosecution of his "El Rukn" gang, and (6) the aftermath of the federal prosecution of El Rukns and his current ability to continue to reach out to gang troops in Chicago.
History of Black Stones and Jeff Fort: Their Help From Rev. John R. Fry (1965-1971)
A Presbyterian pastor named John R. Fry had an earthly mission but was beguiled by gangs into helping them grow stronger in Chicago. Reverend Fry was perhaps the first major American gang apologist. His two books describe this well: Fire and Blackstone(4) (1969, J.B. Lippincott Company, New York) and Locked-Out Americans: A Memoir (1973, Harper & Row, New York). Rev. Fry became the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago in 1965. Under his spiritual leadership the congregation studied such books as Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (a leftist classic) and thus this church took a decidedly political turn: where the City of Chicago was trying to suppress the gang problem, the church thought it could coopt and reform the gangs.
What happens in 1965-1971 under the influence of Rev. Fry later becomes an expensive historical lesson about gangs. Obviously, with federal funding and foundation funding and private donors, the money did come in that allowed Rev. Fry's church to start its gang program. The church had a close relationship with TWO (The Woodlawn Organization), indeed Fry's 1969 book claims the church was vital in getting TWO started. So the gang program was based at TWO. The gang program accomplished two things: (1) it gave existing gang leaders like Eugene "Bull" Hairston and Jeff Fort further legitimacy and influence in their community, and (2) it provided direct financial support to the gangs through the payroll system that would later be the basis for federal convictions. The community did not benefit, but the gangs did benefit. The community got weaker, the gangs got stronger.
The gangs were not coopted, nor reformed. What did happen is now a historical fact: the influx of money and the added benefit of being able to add the legitimacy of a mainstream religious institution (the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago) to the defense of the gang and its leaders did one thing --- it institutionalized the Black P. Stone Nation in Chicago and gave impetus to other gangs. Sadly, the historical record is clear here: this was tantamount to an insidious "experiment" on the African-American community that feels the most immediate effects of violence from gangs such as the BPSN and the Devil's Disciples (which would later become three separate gangs: Gangster Disciples, Black Gangsters, and the Black Disciples --- See respective gang profiles in Journal of Gang Research, Volume 3, Number 1 through Volume 3, Number 3).
The BPSN did not "fade away" into prosocial legitimacy under the tutelage of Rev. Fry. Fry indicated, in fact, that "between April, 1966, and the end of the year, the organization grew from 500 to 1,500 members. During the twelve months of 1967 the number doubled" (Fry, 1973: p. 15). So the BPSN did in fact rapidly flourish from such economic, political, and social nourishment is what Chicago history shows.
Both of Rev. Fry's books make him appear saintly and persecuted. Not surprisingly, he has some bitter words for law enforcement officers. The legacy of Rev. Fry's unconditional positive regard for the welfare of gang members can still be seen today in Chicago. It allowed a small gang group to become further organized and even more powerful. As this gang profile will also show, Rev. Fry totally failed in any proselytizing mission: this gang today is very Islamic. What gang leaders like Jeff Fort did learn in this early formative stage was that the cloak of religion gave legal and social benefits to the gang. So there was an enduring impact from Rev. Fry. Unfortunately, it was completely detrimental in the long run.
One other very important fact needs to be repeated here that is discussed elsewhere in Chicago gang history (see An Introduction to Gangs, 2000, 5th edition). Many mistakenly recall this aspect of Chicago's gang history as having an important connection to the University of Chicago. That is not true. Rev. Fry existed on the geographical fringe of the University of Chicago but had nothing to do with the university per se, other than hiring some staff from its students. There was no official connection. Rev. Fry was an independent actor who basically turned his church over lock, stock and barrel to the Blackstone Rangers (i.e., BPSN).
History of BPSN and Jeff Fort: His First Federal Sentence for Defrauding the Chicago "Gang Program".
The foundation and government funding in the 1960's was as confused then is it is today regarding the role of active gang members. Rev. Fry's influence in the late 1960's allowed funding specifically to hire active gang members. The first "heat" came in 1968 when the United States Senate began an investigation into such a "Job Training Program". In March of 1972 three BPSN members were convicted of conspiring to defraud the federal government. Jeff Fort was one of these, and he got his first federal prison sentence. When Jeff Fort finished his federal sentence, he relocated temporarily to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jeff Fort continued to have a strong connection to Milwaukee even after this time period.(5)
To be able to understand the societal benefits of targeted prosecution against gang leaders, one must understand the pressure that was building due to the fear that gangs like the BPSN were able to generate on the streets of Chicago. Fortunately, there is a book available on this topic. It is the 1971 book by R.T. Sale: The Blackstone Rangers: A Reporter's Account of Time Spent with the Street Gang on Chicago's South Side (New York, Random House). Sale's book about the BPSN is 186 pages of a "novel or narrative" informal writing style. It makes no effort to really understand the larger literature on gangs, therefore it is not a professional contribution. It does describe the flow of government money, particularly Rev. Fry 's involvement with the BPSN. It provides an accurate summary of how Senator McClellan headed the committee to investigate allegations of wrongdoing with the federal money that did wind up in the hands of the BPSN (Sale, 1971: pp. 86-87). It also documents the angst of Chicago's civic leaders in response to the BPSN being able to benefit from federal funding. The record is clear on a related point, however, that Jeff Fort and another gang leader (Mickey Cogwell) were in fact invited to the inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1968.(6) Some speculated this might have been due to the BPSN helping republicans. The record indicates that Jeff Fort did not attend, but sent one of his henchmen instead to the inauguration.
What is also an interesting part of the true history of the BPSN, as documented by Sale (1971: pp. 66-67) is how tension was induced between street gangs like the BPSN and the Black Panthers that were operating in the same areas of Chicago's southside. The evidence seems to be that Jeff Fort's gang were in fact paid by someone to engage in conflict with the Black Panthers, thus preventing the Black Panthers from effectively operating in certain areas (i.e., distributing/selling Black Panther newspapers, etc). No evidence has yet been reported on who exactly provided such funding to the BPSN to covertly suppress the Black Panther operations in Chicago (see: Knox, An Introduction to Gangs, 2000 for further background information).
However, it established a clear pattern of behavior for Jeff Fort's gang: a willingness to do "dirty tricks", for a price. Jeff Fort moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin upon his release from federal custody. This is significant, because later evidence would show that the El Rukn gang that he would form after the "Moorish American" transition period (when he returned to Chicago), would in fact be involved in drug sales operations in Milwaukee. Coincidentally, Rev. Fry's "gang director", Charles LaPaglia, was working in an educational program in Milwaukee at the time Jeff Fort was released from Leavenworth on March 12, 1976 and had some role in Jeff's parole plan.
Jeff Fort's Return to Chicago: A Moorish American Fighting Nazis in Marquette Park
Jeff Fort returned to Chicago, Rev. Fry was long gone, but Jeff now had his own "religious" identity. Jeff Fort adopted the cloak of a religious front: the Moorish American (AKA: MSTA, Moorish Science Temple of America). Today, this religious group has been adapted as a "front" for other prison inmates throughout the USA and is regarded in many correctional facilities as an STG. The time frame here was middle 1970's. It was during this period (circa 1976) that Jeff Fort's mob adopted the use of the large red fez caps, similar in appearance to those worn by Shriners.
Jeff Fort had returned at a time when a Neo-nazi group led by Frank Collin (National Social Party of America, NSPA) had established its operations in the southwest side neighborhood of Marquette Park. Jeff Fort started the Martin Luther King Movement as an umbrella organization to fight the nazis: protesting the nazi presence, marching on Marquette Park, etc. Jeff Fort at the time had use of a small warehouse in Englewood that was used as a staging area for these protests.
Jeff Fort's El Rukn Stage of Gang Involvement
In the El Rukn stage, Jeff Fort focused almost exclusively on "gang business": selling illegal drugs. This allowed him to buy a building that became known as the "Fort", or his own personal "Mosque". Jeff Fort's gang members in the El Rukn's were a hardcore group of older felons. Once becoming an El Rukn, the gang member changed his name by adding the "-el" suffix. In this fashion, to illustrate by example, gang member "Shay Bilker" became "Shay Bilker-el". The gang members used this name in everything they did: any paperwork, student loans, applying for government programs, welfare, etc. Thus it became easy to "pick off" the El Rukns on a computer in the late 1970's and throughout the 1980's, all one had to do was search the last name field in any file for the character string "-el". This was, therefore, not necessarily the smartest gang leader to have: one that would make it easy for government to identify all of the members under his command. But, then again, most gang members are not really known for having advanced critical thinking skills.
Jeff Fort's El Rukn gang also had operations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was simply an extension of the Chicago-based drug sales operation. The evidence for this is clear. As described in the gang profile of the Black Disciples (Journal of Gang Research, Volume 3, No. 3, Spring, 1996, p. 48): Louis Hoover (an El Rukn) "was one of two generals who ran El Rukn's Milwaukee drug operation in the late 1970's and 1980's (source: Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1992, section 2, p. 9, Matt O'Connor).
The best source of information places the birth of the El Rukn identity at an April, 1976 event. In April, 1976, according to federal indictment information, Jeff Fort held a large meeting for members of the BPSN at which he announced that the name of the organization was from then on to be known as the "El Rukn's" and that he, Jeff Fort, was the sole leader of the El Rukn Nation. The meeting has held at a site the gang called "The Camp" (located at 4233 South Indiana Avenue in Chicago). Also at this same large BPSN meeting involving all branches, Jeff Fort basically abolished the Main 21 as leaders and replaced them with his hand-picked generals and his top cronies. These new management staff for the gang included: Felix Mayes, Jake Crowder, Alan Knox, Derrick Porter, Floyd Davis, Walter Pollard, Edward Williams, Roger Bowman, Bernard Green, Thomas Bates, Fred Giles, Eddie Franklin, and Andrew Fort.
So in April, 1976 Jeff Fort basically achieved a complete coup over the BPSN. Jeff Fort at the meeting declared Mickey Cogwell, who had been a founding member of the "Main 21", to be an enemy. Jeff Fort made clear the need to murder Mickey Cogwell because of disloyalty to the "Main 21". Further, on February 25, 1977 Mickey Cogwell was in fact killed.
On April 14, 1978 the El Rukns formed their own corporation to purchase a number of apartment buildings and hotels in Chicago. The corporation was called the "El-Pyramid Maintenance and Management Corporation". One of the first buildings to be purchased was the property at 3945 - 3959 South Drexel in Chicago, previously it had been the "Oakland Square Theater" building but under Jeff Fort's ownership became known as the "El Rukn Grand Major Temple of America", AKA "The Fort". The "Fort" was demolished in June of 1990.
Many gang experts did not realize, then, that El Rukn empire was basically the top leadership of the BPSN. Thus, putting the El Rukn leadership out of business through federal prosecution would still leave intact a vast original organization known as the BPSN. In fact, today Jeff Fort still rules over the BPSN. Further, it will be shown in this profile that Jeff Fort continues to micro-manage the gang even from behind bars in the most secure federal correctional facility in America today!
The Prosecution of the El Rukn's
What appears to have brought an abrupt end to Jeff Fort's El Rukn drug-selling empire was the fact that he made overtures to a hostile foreign nation about contracting to carry out acts of political terrorism. This involved Libya's leader Moiamar Khadafy (see Bert Useem and Peter Kimball, 1989, p. 77, States of Siege: U.S. Prison Riots, 1971-1986, New York: Oxford University Press). The idea was Jeff Fort would be willing to blow up some planes in America for a large price.
To understand the complexity of the situation where a modern American street gang would be willing to perform terrorist acts for a hostile foreign government, we really need to return to the very first issue of this gang journal (Volume One, Number One, 1992: Views From the Field, "The Future is Here Today: Street Gang Trends", pp. 87-90, by Robert W. Dart). As Dart explained (then commander of the gang unit for the Chicago Police Department, and now director of security for the Chicago Transit Authority):
"In the summer of 1986, Libyan operatives from Colonel Moammar Gadhafi met for the first of two clandestine meetings in Panama with Chicago street gang representatives. Speculation about the purpose of these meetings ranged from negotiations for asylum from prosecution in Chicago to seeking money to carry on terrorist activities. It was then that they (i.e., the El Rukns) purchased a LAW missile from FBI agents with the intent to create terrorism by targeting a law enforcement facility or specific gang officers, or both. Later it was reported that this gang sent members half way around the world to Libya and other middle east countries" (Dart, 1992: p. 89).
This was obviously the turning point for the El Rukns. And the beginning of their demise, that is in that form. Hence with clear gang involvement in terrorism, federal prosecution came swiftly and strongly. Jeff Fort received an 80 year federal prison sentence for plotting to engage in acts of terrorism in the U.S. on behalf of Libya. If he ever did serve all the federal sentence, he would still face a consecutive sentence of another 75 years in Illinois' prison system for a 1988 murder conviction. So thanks to effective federal and state prosecution, Jeff Fort is never going to see the streets again.
The El Rukn Prosecution Aftermath: The Federal Prosecutor is Fired
We probably should have mentioned that some problems from a defense point of view did emerge during the federal El Rukn prosecution. The issue was about allowing government witnesses certain "privileges" even though they too were in custody. The lax supervision accorded some of these witnesses resulted in allegations that the prosecution witnesses were able to consume drugs and engage in sex while in federal custody. The bottom line: the leading assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted and won convictions against over fifty El Rukns including their leader Jeff Fort, William R. Hogan, Jr. was fired on April 11th, 1996. Fifteen El Rukns who had been convicted were able to win retrials and many others were able to plea bargain for lighter federal prison sentences, because their defense attorneys petitioned a federal judge that there was prosecutorial misconduct. It was never clearly established that the "misconduct", if any, was attributable to U.S. Attorney Hogan. The only factual issue made public, because of the secrecy being maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice on this issue, was the existence of a 1989 memorandum from another federal attorney that mentioned possible drug abuse among some of the governments witnesses that were in custody. The judicial issue here was that of suppressing evidence.
The untold story about the aftermath of the El Rukn prosecution is that Jeff Fort is still in the drivers seat and continues to have remarkable influence over street gang activities even from behind federal bars. The new evidence accumulated for this gang profile may force some serious effort to reconsider ways of dealing with gang leaders in custody.
JEFF FORT'S INFLUENCE OVER THE BPSN WHILE CURRENTLY IN FEDERAL PRISON
We don't know how he does it, all we know is what we see: Jeff Fort is still able to influence the BPSN even while currently in federal prison. One BPSN informant gave us a current photograph of Jeff Fort that shows Jeff in his cell: his cell is adorned with an Islamic picture, he has a entire "rack" of commissary goodies in his cell in the photo suggesting he is not wanting for much. And the photo shows Jeff holding his right hand up where the first index finger is pointed upwards. This is actually a fairly new gang hand sign for the BPSN that few gang experts seem to recognize: it means "we are one". Jeff Fort appears very muscular in this photo. This photo of Jeff in his federal prison cell has been copied and recopied many times by BPSN members who keep it as a memento of their leader.
Subsequent to the publication of the first gang profile of the BPSN in this journal, there was news media coverage of how the Federal Bureau of Prisons had "cracked down" on Jeff Fort's attempts at using his unique language code in letters and telephone calls to continue to influence gang activities on the streets.
JEFF FORT'S LETTERS TO THE BPSN TROOPS: NEW LITERATURE AND STARTING A NEW POLITICAL FRONT ORGANIZATION IN ILLINOIS
A letter bearing Jeff Fort's current BPSN gang name (Khalifa-Abdul Malik) and dated 3-13-95 demonstrates how the gang helped the GD front group "21st Century V.O.T.E." to stage protests in Chicago as well as how quickly the BPSN then were able to start their own political front group. Here is the full text of the letter:
"In the name of Allah, the Beneficient, the Merciful.
Wali! It is a good demonstration as far as the assistance you have been giving 21st VOTE. But, I feel we should have our own political base, that we can call our own. We should train our own brothers and sisters, even the ones that are not into organization's.
I want you to start training our brothers and sisters, but we must first get a political base and choose a name for our base before any training takes place. We should also reach out to our allies heads to get their support. I want Wai-keeta, Jack Black and Sandman, also Moose to support our movement. I want each one of the four to put up one hundred members each, which make a total of four hundred to be trained by you. I want Musambay to work with you. Get back with me about this! 3-13-95."
Why was Jeff Fort jealous of the GD political front group (21st Century V.O.T.E.)? Because one of the main operatives of 21st V.O.T.E. (Wallace "Gator" Bradley) was able to meet with President Bill Clinton in the White House's oval office in early 1994, and this legitimacy given to the GD gang provided a lot of political momentum that allowed the GD's to run several candidates for local elections in Chicago in 1995 as well. What happened to the BPSN after this letter from the Chief Malik? Well, things happened fast.
A typed memorandum addressed to "All Mahdi's" appeared quickly to provide new marching orders to the BPSN troops. Mahdi's are BPSN with any rank. The "Chairman" here is the outside BPSN leader who manages the BPSN members for the Malik. We are providing this memorandum in its entirety here:
"To: All Mahdi's
From: The Chairman
Re: Programs and Projects
Date: April 13, 1995
Before starting let us say 20 to the Honorable Body of Mahdi's.
As Chairman for the next 3 years I want to first outline a few Programs that will be Implemented throughout this City, throughout this State and throughout this Country, that will produce the Political, Economic and Social Growth of Our Nation.
As Responsible members of the Governing Body, it is your duty and responsibility to Plan, Organize and Implement Proclamation 1-A and Any and All Additions and/or Attachments to it.
Through unity, political action and community service, we can and shall reach our goals.
We all bear witness to the indisputable fact that "In unity there is strength and in people (numbers) there is power". Therefore, when we pull all of our people together and we all aid and assist in the following programs and work towards the same goals, we will have the political power to influence the decisions that are made that affect our everyday lives. This will be done through voter education & voter registration.
We will have the economic power to open and operate legitimate businesses, real estate and provide jobs for our people.
We will also develope social power by instilling pride, self-respect, honor and love, truth, peace, freedom and justice in the hearts and minds of the membership.
Our Nation will be networking with organizations all over the City. Representatives must be selected, groomed and prepared so they can be dispatched to establish lines of communication and working relationships in the areas of politics, business, jobs, peace in the communities and any other area that contributes to the uplift of the Afro-American people and community.
Our first network and relationship has been established with an organization called C.R.E.S.T. (Citizens Responding to Emergency Situations Today). They are lawfully chartered and headquartered at 2440 E. 75th Street (75th & Phillips). They will be holding a membership drive seeking volunteers to aid and assist in implementing their programs through political action and community service.
The board of directors of C.R.E.S.T. has offered us an office in their headquarters through which we can operate out of to plan, organize and implement the programs and projects in Proclamation 1-A. We will have community meetings every 2 weeks with all community leaders.
Through and with the assistance of C.R.E.S.T., we can be about improving the image of our community and lead our community leaders into the light of legal, strong and clean image.
Leadership is responsible and accountable for the implementation, establishment and teaching of Proclamation 1-A. The outpost of C.R.E.S.T. is there to assist you in all affairs, and you must be available to assist C.R.E.S.T. in its legitimate aspirations. Your cooperation in making C.R.E.S.T. a success is and should be mandatory and one of your top priorities. The phones are not on as of yet, but are anticipated to be on soon. The number will be made available to you when service is on.
I want to thank you in advance for any and all aid and assistance you have given and will give in the future.
My brothers & sisters, it takes finance to uplift the Nation, therefore, we shall establish an account with the local banking industry, so any and all financial donations and/or contributions can be sent to the treasurer.
To our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated, letters can be sent to the same address, as C.R.E.S.T. has a program geared towards maintaining family ties between those incarcerated and their families.
I welcome and encourage any positive, legitimate ideas, plans and/or programs geared towards the uplift of our Nation, the Islamic community and the Afro-American community as a whole.
Obviously, C.R.E.S.T. was formed rather quickly. Other documents were also analyzed from BPSN informants about this development. These documents show that C.R.E.S.T. did in fact gain a legitimate official state charter as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Illinois. Other documents show C.R.E.S.T. to be very similar in nature to the front group used by the Gangster Disciples (i.e., 21st Century V.O.T.E.): they are really concerned about street gang violence, school drop outs, unemployment, the rising number of people going to prison, teenage pregnancy, etc.
The internal written gang document cited above called "Proclamation 1-A" is actually signed by Chief Malik (i.e., Jeff Fort) and dated 4-23-93. We feel it is useful to provide all of this internal written code of the BPSN in its entirety here:
To all brothers of the B.P.S.N. who recognize me as their Chief Malik and who for whatever reason are not at this time inclined toward the true religion Al Islam, this is my request.
As of this day each leader of each branch of B.P.S.N. will be referred to (title) Al Akbar, which means servant of the Greatest and Allah (God) is the Greatest.
His function as the leader of his particular branch will be to keep in touch with the following.
1. All Al Akbar's (leaders) of each branch will be responsible and in charge of their own finances.
2. Each Al Akbar must seek to have more communication with the other Al Akbars to demonstrate unity of strength of purpose, and this love and understanding must be filtered down throughout the body.
3. Brothers who are in Aliens as well as in society are to be friends and aiders of the muslim community who follow the sunna of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) and work hard to prevent any conflict between the two organizations.
4. The Chief Malik is the only one over each of the Al Akbars, however my Amirs are to be respected in terms of considering their (Amirs) suggestions and adhere to all instructions that comes to you, from me, through them.
5. I do not insist that you attend Jumah (Friday Prayer) at this juncture. I do ask you to recognize Allah as God Almighty and that you discontinue the consumption of the swine (Pork) because it is an abomination and hazzard to your health.
6. The flag of the Masjid Al Ka'bah and the B.P.S.N. will continue to be Red Black and Green, the only difference will be that the B.P.S.N. flag will have those initials on it written in gold and the Masjid Al Ka'bah will have that name and the name of Allah written on it. The Red represents the blood we have shed, the Black represents our people and the Green represents the land we must obtain and the growth we must produce. The B.P.S.N. symbol will still be the Pyramid with a five pointed green star in the center of the Pyramid with Almighty written over the top of the sun with Black P. Stone under the pyramid and the word Nation at the bottom of the circle.
7. In our efforts to bring the city together to promote peace, success and financial security for our people, we must reach out for our Allies and other groups that want to attach (Stone) to the end of their name and bring them into the Nation.
8. All leaders of Allies and groups who agree to embrace the Nation will still maintain their leadership status of their particular groups and their leaders will be called Al Akbar also.
9. The Lords and Latin Kings are independent Nations who have been our long standing Allies. This proclamation does not refer to them nor does it change the relationship that we have always held with them.
10. In all Aliens, only the Amirs will choose who will be Al Akbars regardless of what organization or group you are in as long as your particular leader has given allegence (sic) to the Chief Malik. This is necessary in order to maintain peace and the recognition of leadership inside the aliens.
11. All Al Akbars are free to appoint leadership positions under them.
The Chief Malik extends his love to all the Al Akbars and to all the members of B.P.S.N.
We love each other more as we grow.
(signed) Chief Malik, 4-23-93"