Black Disciple

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The gang's genesis dates to 1960, with a South Side gang called the Devil's Disciples had become sufficiently large to warrant being given an outreach worker by the Welfare Council of Metropolitan Chicago Youth Services (source: Chicago Historical Society). The Devil's Disciples were mostly male African-Americans, 15-18 years of age, frequenting the intersection of 53rd St. and Kimbark Ave., and operated from 53rd and Woodlawn to 49th St. and Dorchester Ave. In the early 1960s this gang known as the Devils Disciples became the "Black Disciples" (see Explosion of Chicago's Black Street Gangs: 1900 to Present, 1990, by Useni Perkins). The three major players in the Devils Disciples were David Barksdale, Shorty Freeman, and Don Derky.

Most accounts date the founding of the Black Disciples to the year 1966 as a southside gang. The founding leader of the Black Disciples was David Barksdale, referred to in gang materials as "King David." As a boy, Barksdale trained as a boxer at the Better Boys Foundation, later making an unsuccessful attempt to turn pro in New York City before returning to Chicago.

Even in the 1960's, the Black Disciples were enemies or rivals of the Black P. Stone Rangers led by Jeff Fort.

The center of their influence in the 1960's appeared to be in the Englewood community of Chicago, where "to raise money to fund their illegal enterprises Disciple leaders staged fundraising parties at the Maryland Theatre, located at 63rd and Maryland" (See Illinois Police and Sheriffs News, "Paying the Price of Our Neglect: Street Gangs are the New Organized Crime", Spring, 1994).

Barksdale, seriously wounded by gunfire from a rival gang member in 1969, died in 1974 of kidney failure related to those injuries.

Barksdale's arrests consisted mostly of disorderly conduct, weapons and drug possession (i.e., marijuana), with no actual convictions of drug pushing, according to one relative interviewed in July 1995.

Regardless of Barksdale's own arrest record, by the early 70's it was clear that his gang was involved in narcotics trafficking. And when he died, the narcotics territory and leadership of the Black Disciples was up for grabs.

Two men attempted to fill the power void: Jerome "Shorty" Freeman rose to become the leader of the existing Black Disciples; and Larry "King" Hoover created his own thing --- the Black Gangster Disciples.

Freeman tried to secure Barksdale's territory for the benefit of his gang, the Black Disciples or BD's (which continues today as a separate organization with its own unique by-laws and constitution.)

From prison, Hoover fused remnants of Barksdale's organization with that of his own gang, "The Family." Hoover had founded "The Family" at age 23, about a year before Barksdale's death. (See Chicago Tribune, Dec.11, 1973). Members of the Supreme Gangsters, a transition gang identity, became the Gangster Disciples.

Mississippi-born Hoover lived at 121 E. 104th St., in what today is called the "hundreds" area of Chicago's southside.

His gang's territory stretched from Chicago to Gary, Ind. On Nov. 5, 1973 Hoover was found guilty of the kidnap murder of reputed addict William Young. Joshua Shaw was prepared to testify against Hoover, but he too was murdered Sept. 27, 1974.

But Shaw had already given his deposition at a preliminary hearing, detailing how he saw Hoover and his lieutenant, Andrew Howard, kidnap Young from 69th Street and Wentworth Avenue on Feb. 26, 1973. Young, whom Hoover suspected of stealing from The Family's narcotics supply, was found shot to death in an alley at 6814 S. Lowe St. later that day.

Both Howard and Hoover received sentences of 150 to 200 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. When Barksdale died in 1974, Hoover was ideally positioned to begin organizing his own gang following.

Howard, later known as "Dee Dee" was to continue his association with Hoover, and would himself be included in the Aug. 31 indictments....
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