The Gangster Disciples, headed by Larry Hoover, are one of the largest African American street gangs in the United States. Originally formed on the South Side of Chicago, they still have a wide presence there, and in other Midwestern cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Detroit. They are by far the largest group that makes up the Folks coalition of street gangs, which includes the Black Disciples, Maniac Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Satan Disciples and a number smaller gangs.
Symbols used by the Gangster Disciples include a six pointed star (Star of David) in remembrance to its founder King David, (there is no connection to the Jewish symbol) the 'Devil's pitchfork' (pointed upward, to display it upside-down is an insult), and a heart with wings, horns and a tail. The gang's colors are blue and black.
The Gangster Disciples are known to be involved in about $100 million a year of drug trafficking.
Their main rivals are the Vice Lords, Latin Kings, and Black P. Stones.
The Gangster Disciples have roots that date back to the 1960s. Larry Hoover is the current leader of the GDs and has been since 1974. Hoover was born in Jackson, Mississippi on November 30, 1950. He moved to Chicago with his family in 1955. At the age of 13 Hoover wanted to join gang of 50 older youths called the Supreme Gangsters. They hung around the corner and 68th and Green Street where Hoover lived. Hoover was kicked out of High School on the first day of his sophomore year because he got shot in the thigh by a rival gang member in 1965.
Within due time Hoover became the leader of the Supreme Gangsters. In 1967 Hoover and the Supreme Gangsters overcame the King Cobras, who outnumbered the Supreme Gangsters, and Hoover caused most of the Cobras to become SGs. Eventually Hoover was able to organize the Gangster Nation, which was comprised of several gangs in the Englewood neighborhood including The Supreme Gangsters (the father/main branch of nation), Imperial Gangsters, African Sniper Gangsters, Raven Gangsters, High Supreme Gangsters, Russian Gangsters, Maniac Gangsters, Mafia Gangsters, 75th Street Syndicate Gangsters, Outlaw Gangsters, 95th Street Supreme Gangsters, the Dells Gangsters, West Side Supreme Gangsters, Racketeer Gangsters, East side Syndicate Gangsters, Gent-town Gangsters, and the Black Pimp Gangsters of the West Side..
Barksdale created the Disciple Nation consisting of the Devil's Disciples, Devit's Disciples, Falcon Disciples, Royal Disciples, Renegade Disciples, Executioner Disciples, Boss Pimp Disciples, East Side Disciples, Sircon Disciples, Motown Disciples, Dutchtown Disciples, Gonzato Disciples, Six-Tray Disciples, Maniac Disciples and four-Tray Disciples. Also, during this time David Barksdale controlled the Del Vikings, the Black Souls, and the West Side Cobras. In 1963 Barksdale changed the name of the Disciple Nation to the Black Disciples. The Black Disciples and the Gangster Nation were two alliances, basically similar to the present day Folk Nation. Before the gangs would join either Gangster Nation or Black Disciples, they had to alter their names a little. To be in the Disciple nation a gang had to adopt the last name of Disciple (there were exceptions like the Black Souls, West Side Cobras, and Del Vikings). To be in the Gangster Nation the gangs that joined had to adopt the last name of Gangster.
During the late 1960s the Gangster Nation was growing but still behind the development of the Black Disciples and the Black P. Stone Rangers. However, Barksdale and Hoover had a good alliance. Jeff Fort who was the leader of the Black Stone Rangers at that time invited Larry Hoover the absorb his Gangster Nation into the Black Stones and offered Hoover the position as an ambassador, which was a much lesser position than Hoover's present position as the leader. Fort offered to rename the Gangster Nation to the Gangster Stones. Hoover declined this offer. Instead, Hoover and Barksdale combined forces and created the Black Gangster Disciple Nation in 1969. The "Black Gangster Disciple Nation" (BGDN) at that time was an alliance and not a gang. The Black Disciples were separate, and the Gangs that joined the Black Disciple Alliance had their independence, similar to the Supreme Gangsters and the gangs that joined the Gangster Nation in the 60s. The BGDN was essentially one entity because the president, David Barksdale, and the vice president, Larry Hoover, worked together constantly as one nation.
Right before the BGDN was formed there was the BGD which was the Black Gangsters Disciples which Larry Hoover started. He changed the name of the Gangster Nation to the Black Gangsters Disciples and soon grew into incredible power all throughout the South Side right afterward. During this time right before the merger in 1969, the BGDs and the BDS were at war. So Barksdale and Hoover were enemies in the 60s. Then when the BGDN was formed, the wars ended and they instead combined forces to destroy (or attempt to) the Black P. Stone Rangers. However; the external goal was to form a coalition that would better the community and the members of their organizations. The BGDN soon became active in the community; they participated in several programs and opened up a gas station and some restaurants they even helped to keep kids in school by assisting in enforcing truancy policies. The BGDN was starting to move in a positive direction in the early 1970s. Even though the BGDN was moving in a positive direction, there suddenly developed a massive flooding of drugs into the black communities they lived in, soon members either were using the drugs or getting rich off selling the drugs. All these drug activities both done by the BGDN and even drug activity not done by the BGDN were destroying the community. Eventually the BGDN was engrossed in the drug trade. More tragedy would soon befall the BGDN in the early 70s. In 1973 Larry Hoover was sentenced to a life sentence on November 5, 1973 for murdering a drug addict. Joshua Shaw was the witness to testify against Hoover who claimed he saw Hoover and Andrew Howard kidnap William Young from 69th and Wentworth, Later Young was found shot dead in an alley way at 6814 S. Lowe on February 26th, 1973. Young was said to have stolen drugs from the BGDN's drug supply because Young was an addict. Howard and Hoover were given 150-200 year sentences each. Then in 1974 David Barksdale died of Kidney failure that was caused by complications from a gunshot wound that Barksdale got in 1969. Afterward a new president needed to be appointed and it was to be between Hoover or Jerome Shorty Freeman. It was decided that Hoover should be the new President. Two years later in 1976, Freeman disbanded from the BGDN to make the Black Disciples a separate organization.
It was very frustrating for law enforcement when the saw how the BGDs were still functioning full force and making massive profits on the streets and still growing in numbers even with King Barksdale dead and King Hoover in prison (King the title given to the two because they were essentially kings of the street). Hoover's power was shown even more when he did two major things in 1978. One thing he did was he ordered an inmate riot at Pontiac prison in Illinois. The riot resulted in three dead correctional officers. There was no disciplinary action because all of his GDs refused to testify. The second great showing of power was when Hoover created the Folk Nation. At this point in time the BGDN was one street gang and not an alliance like it was in the 60s; therefore, Hoover wanted to create a new alliance that would unify several street gangs. Because of their past relations with the BGDs the Black Disciples joined Folk so did the newly formed Black Gangsters that were a break away gang that used to be part of the BGD prior to 1978. The Satan Disciples joined Folk because they were related to the Black Disciples. The Latin Disciples joined because they formed an alliance with the BGDs earlier in the 70s. Then all the gangs that were in the U.L.O (United Latino Organization) with the Latin Disciples joined Folks: Imperial Gangsters, Latin Eagles, and Spanish Cobras. The Spanish Cobras good friends the Orchestra Albanies joined Folks that year because Cobras did. Hoover then offered Simon City Royals a good business proposition if the Royals joined Folks; therefore the Royals joined Folks and they got their closest allies the North Side Insane Popes to join Folks too. Two Six also joined Folks that year. Hoover had absorbed some of Chicago's biggest and fastest growing gangs. In the early 1980s, the Folk nation expanded and took in several other gangs. By this time the BGDs had opened up sets on the North Side of Chicago they even opened up a Latino faction known as the Spanish Gangsters Disciples. Throughout the 1980s Hoover held together the Folk nation while incarcerated behind prison walls as the BGDN recruited more and more members and opened up more and more sets all around Chicago and into the suburbs.
In 1991 the BGDs and the BDs started shooting at each other which started an interalliance war. This war set a bad example for all gangs under the Folk nation and several interalliance wars broke out within the Folk Nation. Also the BGDs went to war with the Black Gangsters too which caused the Black Gangsters to sever all ties and even leave the Folk alliance. During the month of August in the year 1991 when the BGDs and BDs went to war, the BGDs were so angry with the Black Disciples that they dropped the letter B from their initials which mean they were no longer known as the Black Gangsters Disciples but now known as the Gangsters Disciples or GD or GDN. Also in the early 1990s the GDs became the largest street gang in Chicago. The power of the gangsters Disciples was so great that they were bringing in millions of dollars from drug profits alone. In 1993 their was a GD picnic held in Kankakee, Illinois that about 10,000 GDs attended to hear Larry Hoover speak over a phone from prison. This event was a political based event. Hoover created the concept of Growth and Development in 1993 which stated that the GDs were no longer involved in criminal activities. In 1995 operation Headache was launched that took down 39 high ranking GDs. The goal was to hurt GD leadership and cripple the gang's operations. One result of Headache was that Hoover now had to serve a life sentence and he was moved to a more secure prison. 263 informants along with bugging of visitor's badges were enough to convict Hoover and the other leaders.
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