Gang power in Chicago politics and Illinois prisons... Marching, prayers and tears won't identify Chicago's drug gang murder problems and therefore won't solve them... Whether evasions of corruption, ignoring the PEOPLE and the FOLKs leads to the same results!
Anyone who worked directly against Chicago's sophisticated, well-organized, and very profitable drug gangs (as I did, see my biography at the end of this article) knows that certain types of marches, prayer meetings, and emotional appeals won't solve Chicago's drug gang problems -- let alone Chicago's increase in gang murders.
Anyone who can spell PEOPLE or FOLKS knows that I am talking about. For generations (at least four at this point) Chicago's Black and Latino drug gangs have been divided into two enormous gang "nations" -- the PEOPLE and the FOLKS. Investigators can find that PEOPLE gangs control areas where the dominant graffiti features the five-pointed star. FOLKS favor the six-pointed star. The origins of these symbols now go back to the 1960s, but their power continues and grows because it has long been rooted in Chicago's political economy. The two major sources of these powers are in the Illinois prisons and in Chicago's City Council (and elsewhere at City Hall).
FROM THE MAFIA AND THE FIRST WARD TO THE BLACK AND LATINO GANGS OF TODAY...
By the late 1960s, when the Blackstone Rangers and Woodlawn Disciples were first organizing, the Chicago media had long been reporting on the city's main "gang" -- the Mafia (or Cosa Nostra). Just about everyone who read the papers knew that Fred Roti, Alderman of the First Ward (which in those days included the Loop, Chinatown, and Little Italy) was mobbed up. Also, most who paid attention knew that the "Mob" had ties all the way to the mayor's office and into the highest ranks of the Chicago Police Department. But in those days, "Gang" in Chicago meant the (mostly) Italian Mafia that had descended from Al Capone.
And so it continued, for decades, that gang press coverage focused on the Mafia, long after the First Ward migrated away from the Loop and Little Italy and the main gangs in Chicago were African American, Mexican American (and Mexican) and Puerto Rican. And so it has been since. While Fred Roti (whose connections to "Bruno the Bomber" were well documented) is long gone, there is still a lingering Hollywood version of Chicago's gangs and gangsters, leading the Al Capone myth to linger over the city like a bad perogi or pasta salad.
But by the early 1970s, the city's Black and Latino drug gangs had become the major gang problem facing Chicago. And that problem wasn't a simplistic narrative (such as the one promulgated by Rahm Emanuel and most official spokesmen) that the problem is "guns," or "violence," or some kind of strange "epidemic of violence" that can only be solved by a (highly subsidized) program of "public health" work.
By the 1970s, the two major gang nations had fused. The descendants of the Blackstone Rangers had become the leading gang of the "People" (five-pointed star) "Nation" and the descendants of the Woodlawn Disciples had become the leading gang in the "Folks" gang Nation.
And since those two alliances were established in Chicago, they have slowly expanded, thanks to the way in which public education and public safety cutbacks have been organized, across the state, based in the jails and prisons. In 2017, as it was in 2007, 1997, and 1987, anyone who is in the know (including most police) can tell you which tiers at Cook County Jail are run by which gang nation and who runs which location in each of the state's many many prisons -- from minimum to maximum security.
[By the time, in 2001, that he was asked by then Chicago Teachers Union President Debbie Lynch to serve as the union's first (and to this date only) Director of Gang Security and Safety, George N. Schmidt had been active in the city's schools against the gangs for nearly 30 years. When he began his teaching career at DuSable and Forrestville upper grade centers in 1969 - 1971, Schmidt documented the large scale activities of the Disciples and Black Stones gangs. These activities often resulted in massive gang fights under the windows of those two schools (now both no longer in existence), with the police (then, almost all white) ignoring the fighting until it had ended. During subsequent years working in more than a dozen Chicago high schools, Schmidt continued to utilize the powers of the Chicago Teachers Union against the gangs within the schools where he worked, and often served as CTU delegate. By the time he became delegate at Bowen High School in 1993, he was also asked to served as "Gang Security Coordinator" and helped the community's leaders and schools defy the gangs and control them within the school. After he was professionally attacked, terminated, and blacklisted by Paul G. Vallas (and the Chicago Board of Education) in 2001, he was asked to work as "Director of Gang Security and Safety" by then-CTU President Deborah Lynch. When Lynch lost the union leadership to Marilyn Stewart in 2004, Schmidt was fired, and the security and safety position eventually reduced from dealing directly with gangs to chasing unsafe conditions like moldy walls instead. Although the CTU in 2017 has a committee supposedly dealing with security and safety, the union continues to evade its responsibility to note, confront and then eliminate the massive influence of drug gangs within Chicago's public schools -- both real public schools and charter schools.]