The former (gang)chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.
The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen
sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As
for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled
down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls]
were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care.
All they wanted to do was get the support.”
But it's honest people who own guns that are the big problem in the city. Right.
• Most alarming, both law enforcement and gang sources say, is that some
politicians ignore the gangs’ criminal activities. Some go so far as to
protect gangs from the police, tipping them off to impending raids or
to surveillance activities—in effect, creating safe havens in their
political districts. And often they chafe at backing tough measures to
stem gang activities, advocating instead for superficial solutions that
may garner good press but have little impact.