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Chicago gang violence
September 25, 2012 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Chicago's WBEZ has created an interactive map of the city and where its various gangs operate, using data provided by the Chicago Police Department. Chicagoist considers the map and its implications while Progress Illinois discusses the changing nature of gang violence.
posted by shakespeherian (48 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Way at the bottom you find "4CH BPS CBL", interesting.
posted by HuronBob at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2012


my house lol
posted by phunniemee at 9:26 AM on September 25, 2012


This is really interesting. I just plugged in all of the addresses where I've lived in the city (six!) and they're all flanked by a lot of colorful boxes.
posted by phunniemee at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2012


Interesting that parts of both Loyola and UChicago have sections marked as gang territory.
posted by troika at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2012


At last, all of the data one needs to create a Chicago mod for Saint's Row 3.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:36 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Conservative Vice Lords"
posted by carsonb at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd be really curious to have that map annotated with the reasons for the fragmentation of 'territory'. The Conservative Vice Lords have these slivers everywhere but no large contiguous zones, and it makes no sense unless there's a story like they used to have huge amounts of territory, but the survivors got older and now they just have their little warlord set of blocks but don't really bother anyone.
posted by fatbird at 9:54 AM on September 25, 2012


@Phunniemee--you live near 26th and Cal? Crap.

They just found a body in a garbage can at 6500 W. California. Good times in the ol hood.

The house where my dad lives is engulfed in orange. Where does one find the gang names?

Convervative Vice Lords---Romney.
posted by stormpooper at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2012


stormpooper: click on the polygons, the name pops up.
posted by troika at 10:00 AM on September 25, 2012


I'm pretty sure the territory is mostly marked by drug busts there and the the affiliation more than any accurate territory mapping, but that is just a guess.

Related, and shared by somebody who doesn't want to claim the comment:

"Suddenly buying drugs consistently in 2011 from a particular 'easy to score from corner' seems even stupider - but makes a lot more sense - when you see 3 different colors intersect there. Does say something about capitalism though that the service was always very good and we never got ripped off there."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:02 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


How hysterical is it that there is no recorded gang activity in Lincoln Park?

Well, except the Lululemon Mafia. They're pretty vicious.
posted by gsh at 10:03 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Latin Kings representing.
posted by resurrexit at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


@Troika, thanks. Figured it out after I posted it. Twenty-six and West Lawn. Why don't they call themselves what they are "The Fucking Losers"?
posted by stormpooper at 10:05 AM on September 25, 2012


I'd be really curious to have that map annotated with the reasons for the fragmentation of 'territory'. The Conservative Vice Lords have these slivers everywhere but no large contiguous zones, and it makes no sense unless there's a story like they used to have huge amounts of territory, but the survivors got older and now they just have their little warlord set of blocks but don't really bother anyone.
You might try reading ChicagoGangs.org. In the case of CVL, they are a very old gang, with a history going back to the 50s. Like many long established gangs, they have formed many splinter groups over time, which leads to the fragmentation you see on the map.
posted by Lame_username at 10:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that almost every article on gangs focuses on black and latino gangs. Surely there are other ethnic groups that do this sort of thing. I know of one Chicago-based group in particular that has a pretty bad reputation.
posted by TedW at 10:08 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


TedW, I would have bet money on that being a link to something Lorimeresque.
posted by troika at 10:13 AM on September 25, 2012


Seems like I live on Latin Lovers turf. That would explain all the amo, amas, amat tags and dudes walking around in togae
posted by theodolite at 10:14 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Conservative Vice Lords"

I raise you the Insane Unknowns.

BTW this is the go to: Chicagogangs.org
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd be really curious to have that map annotated with the reasons for the fragmentation of 'territory'. The Conservative Vice Lords have these slivers everywhere but no large contiguous zones, and it makes no sense unless there's a story like they used to have huge amounts of territory, but the survivors got older and now they just have their little warlord set of blocks but don't really bother anyone.

You might try reading ChicagoGangs.org. In the case of CVL, they are a very old gang, with a history going back to the 50s. Like many long established gangs, they have formed many splinter groups over time, which leads to the fragmentation you see on the map


That is the case. They were from Lawndale originally. At one time they went legit, had federal grants and businesses. That ended quick.

Then there is the Black P. Stones which became the El Rukn. The El Rukn had an alliance with Muamar Qaddafi. I shit you not.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 AM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Theodolite, you think that's funny, but just look what the Latin Kings did to this one neighborhood.
posted by resurrexit at 10:22 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's interesting- apparently my last apartment was right smack in Insane Dragons territory, but when I lived there, the Latin Kings and the Imperial Gangsters/Gangster Disciples always seemed more prominent.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2012


Theodolite, you think that's funny, but just look what the Latin Kings did to this one neighborhood.

I'm pretty sure that was actually done by a faction of the JPLF.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:24 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I was a kid, the Latin Kings controlled the supply line of weed into my sheltered suburban neighborhood. Now I'm all grown up and gentrifying the hell out of Humboldt Park. Suck on that, Latin Kings!
posted by deathpanels at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else notice the default address?

They just found a body in a garbage can at 6500 W. California.

Hmm. 6500 S. California, I can accept, but that's nowhere near 26th and California.

There was a lot more tagging and property crime around where I live (Diversey and Kedzie) than there is now. And what remains is really lazy tags.
posted by eriko at 10:26 AM on September 25, 2012


Insane Deuces reporting for duty. Awww, my girlfriend doesn't have a local gang though. She can start her own: Neurotic Bunniez.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:33 AM on September 25, 2012


Weird story. I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago with the gf. We went to the Garfield Park Conservatory, which is amazing and wonderful and you should totally go if you get the chance. While we were there I texted a friend who lives in Chicago and asked her what we should do while we were in the area, were there any cool resteraunts or shops we should check out? At this point I should say that I live in Los Angeles, and while I've spent time in Chicago I still don't really know the city. So my friend texts back:

"Uh, just try not to get shot."

This freaks us out in no uncertain terms. At the same time we get this text, a dude starts walking behind us who has a t-shirt tied completely around his face so that all we can see are his eyes. Not inherently threatening but still there's something very unsettling about a masked person in any setting. Weirded out in the extreme, especially since the area around the conservatory is so beautiful, we shuffle quickly back to the El. Of course the next day we learn that a sixteen year old girl in Garfield Park was caught in gang crossfire and sho .

I love Chicago, but damn, now I understand why every cop I saw there wore a bulletproof vest.
posted by You Guys Like 2 Party? at 10:35 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chief Roti also expressed concern about the possibility that such maps would stigmatize any particular Chicago neighborhood as being affiliated with gangs. "That not only goes into people buying homes," he said. "That could go into businesses looking to start there." 


Somehow obscuring data so that people will unknowingly move into gang territory does not seem like a police department function to me.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:40 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Wicker Park hood is so deep in gangs that the only piece of graffiti I saw near my apartment this year was a friend's stencil graffiti of his cute dog.
posted by naju at 10:41 AM on September 25, 2012


Apparently I live in the middle of some Insane Dueces territory. I guess they hide in plain sight by dressing up as mid- to upper-middle class young families going for walks around the 'hood.
posted by mzanatta at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somehow obscuring data so that people will unknowingly move into gang territory does not seem like a police department function to me.

He does have somewhat of a point though. The territories represented on the map are by no means homogeneous. Even in my old 'hood in deepest Humboldt Park, there were some blocks that were fine, and some that were known to be "gang". Like anything in Chicago, this can change from block to block.

Additionally, moving into "gang territory" does not necessarily mean you are at any higher risk than other parts of the city. In a place where there is active drug trade, for instance, if you are not directly involved in the trade or interfering with it, you are likely to be left alone. Your biggest risk there is if there is an active territorial dispute and you catch a stray bullet. Of course, in other areas, gangs or no, you might be targeted for being an outsider, or because you look vulnerable, or because people have come from elsewhere looking victims, or simply because it is a fucked up area. The only place I was robbed at gunpoint in Chicago was right in the middle of Hyde Park.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:16 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is also timing. Some blocks are very different at 3am than they are at 10am.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:17 AM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


They seem to have left the Chads and Trixies of Lakeview/Lincoln Park off the list.
posted by srboisvert at 11:30 AM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many gang members are feeling offended by the depiction of their turf and are looking for "Submit a correction" links.
posted by crapmatic at 11:31 AM on September 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think I may want to create a Chicago gang name generator:

Ecumenical Vice Lords

Latin Archdukes

Unstable Puff Adders

Witch Kings of Blackstone

Uptown Randeans

Insane Romanian Cardinals

Disco Pants and Haircuts

Woodlawn Mikados
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:45 AM on September 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


Heh - when I was a teenager up in a small town in Wisconsin, I knew some folks who had some loose affiliation with gangs. One was a fairly "large" dealer (for our area, at least), and I worked with his girlfriend/mother of his child, and hung out with him a few times at his place, and I remember the girlfriend telling me the story about how the cops busted in and arrested him and they had their guns aimed at their 2 year old child :\

He was affiliated with Gangster Disciples. This lady that went to my church had a couple grandchildren (or was it nephews, I'm not sure), and the two of them were from Milwaukee, and also had ties to the GD. I hung out with them a few times, as well. I saw some braggadocio between the first guy I mentioned once and this poser who claimed to be in the Bloods and it was pretty messed up.

Then years later I met one of my sister's friends and she was talking about how she was so afraid of gangs and her kids becoming gangsters in the little rural town they lived in, and I basically said not to worry, that even if there were gangs, it's not that bad, they just mostly smoke dope and talk shit, it's not like a real gang (not that I'd want to push the boundaries to find out, of course)...

Anyways, man, memories. Even though gangs are evil, because of those associations in my teen years, I have this affinity for the GD even though I hate gangs and all the evil shit they do to peole. Strange.
posted by symbioid at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2012


You Guys Like 2 Party? next time you are at Garfield Park Conservatory go to Inspiration Kitchens which is a very short walk. It is great.

Yes - the Conservatory is in a very violent part of America - but I recently took my little human to that park, on the train and then the restaurant, on foot. I live in a western suburb, and will tell you the truth - visiting that park evokes a hysterical and fearful reaction from many here, only the shame remains unspoken. The likelihood of a tourist getting killed is vanishingly small, because the violence in that community is directed inward. There is very little crime around the park.

As for that shooting- it was a mile away from the Conservatory, which always has a number of police making themselves very visible to those visiting from the suburbs, putting it out in the hinterlands of west Chicago. It's not just the girls going to school, it's the boy stopping at the convenience store for a snack, its the couple of trans-gendered folks, the guy running the pizza shop.....
posted by zenon at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you think Conservative Vice Lords sounds odd, wait till you hear about the Insane Orchestra Albany. Or perhaps the Almighty Gaylords.

Seriously, though, it doesn't matter whether you think their name is silly, they'll still mess you up. Don't forget the lesson of the Rabbit of Caerbannog.
posted by me3dia at 12:39 PM on September 25, 2012


Quiz time! Chicago street gang, 1920s vaudeville act, or hipster kickball team name?

1) Ashland Vikings
2) Harrison Gents
3) Insane Popes
4) Krazy Get Down Boys
5) Milwaukee Kings
6) Orchestra Albany
7) Conservative Vice Lords
8) Traveling Vice Lords
9) Imperial Insane Vice Lords
10) Bishops
posted by The Prawn Reproach at 12:48 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pilsen Sith Lords

Jackson Park Senior Prelates

Insane Electors of Irving Park

Grand Admirals

Deranged Imperial Mongooses

IBM Marketing and Public Communications Division

Rogers Park Ptolemys

West Side Lord Protectors
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone else notice that the default address is Wrigley Field?
posted by hoyland at 1:19 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chicago gang cards, previously on the blue.

I lived in Chicago when I was a teenager, from '77-'82, and although I was conscious of the presence of gangs, they didn't dress like the gangs in The Warriors so I didn't notice them when I saw them. We had some smoking-area thugs in my high school, but we had people like that in the small town in Wisconsin that I'd lived in prior to moving to Chicago, so I didn't associate them with gangs, although once or twice I overheard some of the sketchier dudes talking about vaguely gang-sounding stuff (such as whether or not they should wear clothes in colors associated with a particular gang). Looking back on it now, I think that I was incredibly naive, such as not realizing why my friends (who had all grown up in the city) either stuck to their own neighborhood or took the El straight downtown to hang around, or why the cops who stopped me while I was walking home late at night seemed genuinely concerned for my safety.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:26 PM on September 25, 2012


Interesting that parts of both Loyola and UChicago have sections marked as gang territory.

It's actually uncanny to me how very little overlap there is between the gang boundaries in Hyde Park and the everyday routines of most U. Chicago community members. West of Cottage Grove to the lake, 53rd south to 61st: these are "gang-free" zones and they also coincide with where most students and professors live, eat, and shop (although tons of grad students live on 51st). Notably, however, this area does NOT coincide with the patrol area of the University of Chicago police, which extends (mysteriously, in my view) all the way up to 39th Street, and as far south as 64th.

Also notable is the wide berth given by these gang territories to Obama's Hyde Park home. I guess the good men and women of the Secret Service don't exactly make for comfortable neighbors...
posted by artemisia at 1:28 PM on September 25, 2012


I was ready to be shocked that Beverly was claimed as gang territory, but then I realized I was reading the map wrong: the gangs actually follow the Brainerd/Beverly and Morgan Park/Beverly neighborhood borders almost exactly.

It'd be interesting to see how much this data changes in the next few years. From what I gather, one of the reasons for the high body count this year are territory disputes, but the area on the South Side that's been an issue looks pretty solidly GD, with only a few other colored squares.

On the other hand, considering the correlation between poverty and gang violence, the last things these neighborhoods need is property values to drop any lower, and nothing drops property values quite like being told you'll be shot for being there. Some of these neighborhoods are a lot safer than others, despite being claimed as gang territory.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2012


Ha! I'm surprised to see that Gangster Disciples have some turf in Lakeview, not far from where I live. Hilarious! I was wondering how my friend recently ended up with such a shite bag of weed that he'd said he'd gotten from "a neighborhood guy everyone buys from," but that map totally explains it.
posted by heyho at 3:38 PM on September 25, 2012


Interesting that parts of both Loyola and UChicago have sections marked as gang territory.

It's actually uncanny to me how very little overlap there is between the gang boundaries in Hyde Park and the everyday routines of most U. Chicago community members.


When I was a student at the University of Chicago, I remember a guy coming in to talk to us about crime and security in Hyde Park. "The good news," he said, "is that the University of Chicago employs a private security force second onto that which protects the Pope. The bad news is that somebody at the University of Chicago thinks that those of you living in Hyde Park are going to need the same quality of protection that the fucking Pope has...."

It got a laugh. But after spending a year and a bit in Hyde Park, walking around at all hours, I noticed that a) it was a very, very safe neighborhood and that b) the security presence was ubiquitous. A day did not go by that I did not see a patrol car on the way to and from the University, and there were stands with "panic buttons" all over. So yeah, I can see why gangs would avoid directly trying to set up shop there.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:19 PM on September 25, 2012


Yes - the Conservatory is in a very violent part of America - but I recently took my little human to that park, on the train and then the restaurant, on foot. I live in a western suburb, and will tell you the truth - visiting that park evokes a hysterical and fearful reaction from many here, only the shame remains unspoken. The likelihood of a tourist getting killed is vanishingly small, because the violence in that community is directed inward. There is very little crime around the park.

As for that shooting- it was a mile away from the Conservatory, which always has a number of police making themselves very visible to those visiting from the suburbs, putting it out in the hinterlands of west Chicago. It's not just the girls going to school, it's the boy stopping at the convenience store for a snack, its the couple of trans-gendered folks, the guy running the pizza shop.....
Thank you, this is well put.

Before I launch into my Chicago spiel, a preface: I feel a lot of weird cognitive dissonance when I realize that I've normalized my experience with violence in Chicago after years of living here. Most of the murders take place miles away from where I live, which, weirdly, is how you end up thinking about it when you live here. That happened somewhere else, across this railroad track, or on the *bad* side of this street. Some day I will snap out of this fog and realize I live in a veritable warzone and move somewhere where the number of annual murders is not mentioned alongside the traffic conditions on the radio.

And we're back:

The thing people misunderstand about Chicago is that the gangs really don't want to kill non-gang members. Really. When a kid gets shot and it makes the news, there are crackdowns on gangs in the area. The shootings are almost always a case of stray bullets and police can figure out who did it, and gangs do not want more attention from the police. Gangs are armed protection for the drug trade. They prefer to avoid the cops because doing so would risk the product. (Okay, I'm filling in my lack of real drug-buying experience with Breaking Bad and The Wire, cut me a break.)

I grew up in the suburbs around Chicago and my hysterical parents tried to drill in my head this idea that the gangs were like a bunch of boogeymen hiding in the alley waiting for little nerdy white kids to stumble into their booby traps. The gangs are really fighting other gangs. While you're liable to get mugged if you're wandering around Humboldt Park at 4 am by yourself, it'll be more a crime of opportunity than anything. So the rule of thumb is, don't do anything to make it too easy for someone to bop you on the head and take your wallet. Follow that rule and you'll probably be fine. Unless you get randomly assaulted for your iPod or something.
posted by deathpanels at 4:27 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing people misunderstand about Chicago is that the gangs really don't want to kill non-gang members. Really. When a kid gets shot and it makes the news, there are crackdowns on gangs in the area. The shootings are almost always a case of stray bullets and police can figure out who did it, and gangs do not want more attention from the police. Gangs are armed protection for the drug trade.

I'm going to start by saying that I mostly agree with you. About 70% agreement.

I don't know, it feels like something changed this summer. Maybe their aim is worse or maybe the patterns that the fpp article talks about (gang leaders being younger, gangs becoming less professional) mean that the shooters aren't thinking of their future the same sort of way, but there seems to be less forward thinking about the deaths, less care about when the guns come out and where they're pointing.

The other problem with saying that gangs only want to kill other gang members as anything else attracts undue attention is, while that's still mostly true - you probably aren't going to be shot if you're white, though you still might be robbed because you look really out of place and/or like you're trying to buy drugs - if you're black or latino, it's different. Fact is, if you're a black man over the age of 12 in the wrong neighborhood, you're a suspected gang member. If you're shot, they'll assume it's because you were involved with gangs somehow, and nobody will care. So not being part of gang activities really only helps if you're white. Possibly otherwise if you're a saint, famous, or an alderman, but that's pretty much it.

I don't know. A friend of mine's godsister was one of the ones shot this summer in Englewood by a stray bullet. Said friend grew up in Englewood, she's since moved out, but before she did she shot herself in the leg with her brother's gun. Her brother's been shot at least once, he got the gun after the first incident. None of them have any gang affiliations. And the thing is, for that neighborhood, for that area, that doesn't even seem that crazy or unlucky. One of them is self inflicted and the other two were years apart. But I tell people that the reason why I don't like guns is because I've known too many who've gotten shot, and they get really quiet, like knowing even one is unfathomable. There's obviously a different mindset involved.

You're probably fine visiting, white people from the suburbs are really overly concerned about their likelyhood of being shot. But it's not like every single person who gets shot is gang-affiliated, and saying so has the unfortunate result of blaming the the gunshot victim for their own circumstance. Which I realize isn't what you're trying to do! But it happens anyway - I'm guilty of that line of thinking from time to time, too.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:03 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Something I find interesting - according to that map, I live directly across the street from a 2 or 3 block section of "Spanish Gangster Disciples." I've lived in this building for about 15 years. Through all of that time, in that area that's colored on the map, there have been only 2 or 3 apartment buildings that appear to have a large Latino population. Basically everyone else on those blocks is white, some black, except for one very large high rise that appears to be entirely immigrants from Africa, Poland, and Asia.

Yes, sometimes I've seen gang tags in the area, but it's been very rare. And the only gang related violence or activity I've seen appears actually to have involved members of the gangs that have "territory" a couple blocks north of here.

So really, in my experience, that particular small pocket of "Spanish Gangster Disciples" is in reality even smaller than what the map suggests. (Which is not to say that the map could be somewhat inaccurate in the other direction for other areas of the city.)
posted by dnash at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2012


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