The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall, and Resurgence of an American Gang

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Overview

In gangster lore, the Almighty Black P Stone Nation stands out among the most notorious street gangs. But how did teens from a poverty–stricken Chicago neighborhood build a powerful organization that united 21 individual gangs into a virtual nation?

 

Natalie Y. Moore and Lance Williams answer this and other questions in a provocative tale that features a colorful cast of characters from white do-gooders, black nationalists, and community organizers to overzealous law ...

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Overview

In gangster lore, the Almighty Black P Stone Nation stands out among the most notorious street gangs. But how did teens from a poverty–stricken Chicago neighborhood build a powerful organization that united 21 individual gangs into a virtual nation?

 

Natalie Y. Moore and Lance Williams answer this and other questions in a provocative tale that features a colorful cast of characters from white do-gooders, black nationalists, and community organizers to overzealous law enforcement. The U.S. government funded the Nation. Louis Farrakahn hired the gang—renamed the El Rukns in a tribute to Islam—as his Angels of Death. Fifteen years before 9/11, the government convicted the gang of plotting terrorist acts with Libyan leader Mu’ammar Gadhafi; currently, founding member Jeff Fort is serving a triple life sentence.

 

An exciting story about the evolution of a gang, the book is an exposé of how minority crime is targeted as well as a timely look at urban violence

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This fascinating account of the notorious Chicago gang dissects not only gang culture but America's convoluted approach to the "war on terror." Moore (Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation) and Williams, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University and youth advocate, trace the gang's history from its earliest incarnation as the Blackstone Rangers, organized in the early 1960s by Jeff Fort and Eugene "Bull" Hairston in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. The gang was drawn to black nationalism and courted by the Black Panthers and members of the civil rights movement, but refused to adhere to others' agenda. After a 1976 prison stint, Fort discovered Islam, restructured the Stones into the El Ruckns, and became linked with the Nation of Islam. The FBI, —which had long been on the gang's tail, pounced on an opportunity to arrest Fort on domestic terrorism charges. He was convicted and sentenced to 80 years. Moore and Williams present a compelling account of the evolution of one of America's largest gangs as an illustration of the dangers of government efforts to frame gang activity as terrorism. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews

Evenhanded account of a legendary Chicago street gang.

Chicago Public Radio reporter Moore (co-author: Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation, 2006) and Williams (Sociology/Northeastern Illinois Univ.) began this collaboration "out of sheer curiosity" about the storied Blackstone Rangers, which evolved into the titular "nation" and then the Islamist El Rukns. Scant history existed of the gang, which began in the 1960s in the impoverished Woodlawn neighborhood. By the '80s, they were pursued by authorities for conspiring with Libya to commit terrorism. The authors create a valuable panorama of urban decline, demonstrating how the well-intentioned "Great Society" programs of the '60s were replaced by punitive policies that both demonized and isolated African-American males.The narrative revolves around Rangers co-founder Jeff Fort, a fascinatingly contradictory individual described as compassionate, ruthless and shrewd. Early on, his innovation was to work with older criminals while insisting that all other South Side youth gangs form an allegiance with the Rangers. While the group expanded, they benefited from alliances with well-intentioned churches and the social services spurred by Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." Predictably, this enraged the Chicago police and the FBI, who by 1968 were convinced the Rangers would be the armed vanguard of revolutionary terrorism. When Fort was released from federal prison in 1976, he took his gang in an unexpected direction. Developing an interest in the Moorish Temple of Science movement, he renamed the group "El Rukns." However, they remained involved in drug dealing, and law enforcement remained predictably hostile, leading to Fort's notorious terror indictment (and a life sentence). Although documentation of the gang's audacious criminal brutality remains blurry, this is a well-executed narrative that clarifies little-understood elements of both the War on Terror and the violence and isolation still haunting black America.

A powerful exposé of disturbing realities underlying enduringly misunderstood urban legends.

From the Publisher

"Moore and Williams demystify the gang—and bring out the quirks of charismatic founder Jeff Fort—in this well-researched book that digs out the truth, finds the humanity in urban legend and shows how church, state and community together created the most powerful, and contradictory, of street organizations."  —Ebony (April 2011)

"A rigorous mixture of scholarship and journalism that is rendered with a contextual empathy that's rare in other literature on street gangs." —Salim Muwakkil, senior editor, In These Times, and host of The Salim Muwakkil Show, WVON, Chicago

"A provocative tale."  —Chicago Citizen

"Filled with amazing and little known details and framed within Chicago African American history. The best and most accurate book on a contemporary Chicago gang ever written."  —John Hagedorn, author, People & Folks: Gangs, Crime, and the Underclass in a Rustbelt City

"A stunning book."  —StreetWise (March 2, 2011)

"A must-read for anyone interested in the history of Chicago."  —Chicago Crusader

"A powerful exposé of disturbing realities underlying enduringly misunderstood urban legends." —Kirkus Reviews

"A valuable addition to a serious library about crime, shedding light on the overlooked world of black Chicago gangs."  —Foxhill Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556528453
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/6/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 470,606
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Natalie Y. Moore reports on issues of race for Chicago Public Radio. Her work has appeared in Essence, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. She is coauthor of Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation. The son of a former Vice Lords gang member, Lance Williams is an assistant professor at Northeastern Illinois University, the assistant director of the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, and a youth advocate and activist.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Introduction 1

1 Big Chief and Little Chief 7

2 Birth of the Blackstone Rangers 31

3 Presbyterian Patrons 49

4 1968 69

5 Things Fall Apart 107

6 Ushering in Islam 131

7 Angels of Death 155

8 Qaddafi and the Domestic Terrorism Trial 179

9 Prosecutorial Misconduct 203

10 The Legacy of Terrorism On Street Gangs 215

11 The 8-Tray Stones 233

Sources 261

Index 287

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