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The Gangster Disciples are an
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...

African American
street A street is a public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of landform, land adjoining buildings in an urban area, urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move about. A street can be as simple as a ...
and
prison gang A prison gang is an inmate organization that operates within a prison system. It has a corporate entity and exists into perpetuity. Its membership is restrictive, mutually exclusive, and often requires a lifetime commitment. Prison officials and ot ...
, which was formed in the
South Side of Chicago The South Side is an area of Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_ty ...
in the late 1960s, by
Larry Hoover Larry Hoover (born November 30, 1950)"Larry Hoover"
''Biography.com''. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
...
, leader of the Supreme Gangsters, and
David Barksdale David Barksdale (born Donise David Barksdale; May 24, 1947 – September 2, 1974), also known as King David, was an American gang leader from Chicago, Illinois. Barksdale was the founder of the Black Disciples. He and Larry Hoover decided ...
, leader of the
Black Disciples The Black Disciples (often abbreviated as BDN, BDN III, BD's) is a large street gang based in Chicago, Illinois, which received significant news coverage after the murder of one of their own members, an 11-year-old named Robert Sandifer. Hist ...

Black Disciples
. The two groups united to form the Black Gangster Disciple Nation (BGDN). The BGDN divided into different factions known today as the Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples. Today, the two gangs are bitter rivals.


Symbolism/colors

The predominant symbol of this gang is the six-pointed
Star of David The Star of David, known in Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelite ...

Star of David
. The Gangster Disciples also use the upward crossed pitchforks ("rakes" or "pitchforks") and a heart. The organization's members wear black and blue attire.


History

The Gangster Disciples were established on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois in 1969 by
Larry Hoover Larry Hoover (born November 30, 1950)"Larry Hoover"
''Biography.com''. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
...
. Larry Hoover was the leader of his own gang called the Supreme Gangsters while David Barksdale was also the leader of his own gang called the Devil Disciples. They later united the two gangs in 1969 and called themselves the Black Gangster Disciples. The Gangster Disciples are active in 110 cities and in 31 states, predominantly in the
Midwestern The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a pri ...
and
Southeastern United States The southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is broadly the eastern portion of the southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the Ame ...
, and also maintain a significant presence in the U.S. prison system. The gang has between approximately 50,000 and 90,000 members. The Gangster Disciples first emerged in significant numbers in
Memphis, Tennessee Memphis is a city along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. Its 2020 population was 633,104, making it Tennessee's List of largest cities and towns in Tennessee by population, second-most populous city ...
in the 1980s, the first modern street gang to do so. In January 2021, seven alleged members of Gangster Disciples including national and state leaders of the gang were indicted on charges of
racketeering Racketeering is a type of organized crime Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. While organized ...
, murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and weapons charges.


Gang violence

On July 3, 2005, members of the Gangster Disciples street gang killed Sergeant Juwan Johnson of the
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
in the small town of
Hohenecken Kaiserslautern (; Palatine German language, Palatinate German: ''Lautre'') is a city in southwest Germany, located in the States of Germany, state of Rhineland-Palatinate at the edge of the Palatinate Forest. The Historic Kaiserslautern, histori ...
near , Germany. Prosecutors accused U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rico Williams of being the first one to start attacking Johnson in a six-minute beating that he had to endure to join the gang. After the beating Johnson asked one of his fellow gang members to take him to the hospital. Williams then ordered his gang members not to take him there. Johnson later died from multiple blunt-force trauma injuries. According to the government's investigations, Williams was the leader of the gang set operating on base. Senior Airman Williams was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while other servicemen faced sentences ranging from 2 to 12 years. Some of the charges against the servicemen were: Williams, second-degree murder and witness tampering; Air Force Staff Sergeant Jerome Jones, conspiracy to commit assault, gang participation, and other charges; Airman Nicholas Sims and Army Sergeant Rodney Howell; involuntary manslaughter; Private Terrance Norman, voluntary manslaughter. The Gangster Disciples were falsely implicated in the 2008 murders of member Cecil Dotson Sr., his fiancée Marissa Williams, fellow member Hollis Seals, and his girlfriend Shindri Roberson. Also killed were Cecil and Marissa's 4-year-old son Cemario and Cecil's son with Erica Smith, 2 year old Cecil Dotson II. The toddler had been spending the night with his father and siblings. Severely injured in the attack were Cecil and Marissa's other three children nine-year-old Cecil Dotson Jr., five-year-old Cedric and two-month-old Ce'niyah.Supreme Court of Tennessee at Jackson. State vs. Dotson. 30 Sept. 2014. Find Law, caselaw.findlaw.com/tn-supreme-court/1679739.html Allegations were originally made that the Gangster Disciples were responsible for the event which came to be known as "The Lester Street Massacre" and was featured in two separate episodes of "The First 48" on A&E. It eventually came to light that the attack was a case of fratricide between two brothers, with the Gangster Disciples uninvolved in the crime. Cecil and his family were butchered by Dotson's own brother, Jessie, who eventually confessed to the killings. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to six death sentences plus 120 years for the three children (his niece and nephews) that he attempted to kill. The Gangster Disciples were cleared of any involvement. On April 27, 2016, 32 members of Gangster Disciples were arrested on RICO charges by federal agents. Among the 32 arrested was a former Atlanta-area police officer who prosecutors say was a hit man for the gang. The indictment alleges that Gangster Disciples members committed 10 murders, 12 attempted murders, 2 robberies, the extortion of rap artists to force the artists to become affiliated with the Gangster Disciples, and fraud resulting in losses of over $450,000. In addition, the Gangster Disciples trafficked in large amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, illegal prescription drugs, and marijuana. The indictment also seek forfeiture of 34 different firearms seized as part of the investigation. On July 21, 2020, a car pulled up at a funeral home in
Englewood, Chicago Englewood is one of the 77 official community areas in Chicago The city of Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = ...
and at least two gunmen inside opened fire. Fifteen people were wounded, with no reported fatalities. The funeral was for a victim killed a week prior, and was allegedly involving a dispute between two Gangster Disciples factions.


See also

*
OutLaw Gangster Disciples Gangster Disciples in the military Gangster Disciples have been documented in the U.S. military, found in both U.S. and overseas bases. Graffiti characteristics of the Gangster Disciples have reportedly been spotted in U.S. military bases in both Ir ...
*
Gangs in Chicago Chicago is considered the most gang-affiliated city in the United States, with a population ranging from 100,000 active members from 57 gangs to 70 gangs with more than 150,000 members. Gang warfare A gang is a group A group is a number ...


References


External links


FBI file on the Gangster DisciplesNational Drug Intelligence Center document on the Vice Lords
{{Organized crime groups in America Organizations established in 1968 1968 establishments in Illinois Street gangs African-American gangs Gangs in Chicago African-American history in Chicago United States military scandals