This article describes the history and activities of a Chicago gang that began in the early 1960's on the South Side of Chicago, the Blackstone Rangers.
The Blackstone Rangers emerged in an area of urban decay and public housing projects. The area was 99 percent African- American, and over 90 percent were public aid recipients. Another 95 percent of all births were out of wedlock, and it was a place where crime and violence were normal. The Blackstone Rangers (Stones) were founded by Jeff Fort, and his leadership and organizational skills have been instrumental in the criminal successes of the gang. By 1965, the Stones had nearly 1,000 members. Members were recruited through the threat of death, and members of opposition gangs were murdered. Recruitment expanded into every part of the city where black street gangs functioned. By late 1965, the Stones had become the Black P Stone Nation. At this stage Jeff Fort had complete and total control of over 7,000 of the most dangerous gangsters in Chicago. The Black P Stone Nation had an annual income of $4,114,000 by 1972, obtained primarily through the extortion of money from school children, prostitutes, and heroin dealers. Most of the money went to the gang leaders. At the outset of his second prison term in 1982, Fort became Prince Malik, and the Black P. Stone Nation was transformed into the El Rukns, a purportedly religious organization that was intended to afford the organization a tax exemption for its sizeable real estate holdings. The Stones met all of the criteria of an organized crime enterprise, in that they had excellent direction, an elaborate hierarchy, and enforcement of its will through terror based on violence. No other criminal enterprise has ever influenced the quality of life in neighborhoods to the extent of the Stones, largely due to the intelligence, leadership, and ruthlessness of Jeff Fort.