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Gang Profile: The Black Disciples

NCJ Number
Journal of Gang Research Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: (Spring 1996) Pages: 45- 65
G W Knox
Date Published
21 pages
The Black Disciples (BDs) are the Chicago "folks" gang that is structured more like a religion than a corporate enterprise and that gained international publicity in 1994 by executing an 11-year-old member.
Like many other gangs in the United States, the BDs are able to exist over time only by the criminal exploitation of children. The BDs arose from the splintering of a larger gang, the Black Gangster's Disciples. The process began with the death of the Devils Disciples leader in 1974 and the resulting formation of the Black Gangster Disciples. Currently, the BDs has as many as 300 sets, each with 30-40 members and a similar organizational structure. In each set or dynasty, the lowest-ranking members are soldiers or representatives. The permanent leadership ranks include Minister, Assistant Co-Minister, and the Demetrius. The top living boss is King Shorty, also known as the crowned king. The BDs sponsor drug selling and syndicated gambling. Ritualized violence maintains internal discipline. Gang members use hand signs and tattoos. The BDs pose less of a threat than more centralized gangs due to their nature and their inability to keep many older members. However, its top leadership makes a good living off its type of youth slavery and by opening up new operations in new geographical areas. Suppression of the BDs and similar gangs should include enacting both civil and criminal penalties against adult gang leaders who use children to do their dirty work, eliminate the costs to the adult gang leaders in the criminal exploitation of children, eliminating any social benefits the gang claims to provide a leadership, educating community leaders and parents about gang profiles, and allowing natural conflict in gang leadership to produce the gang splintering effect. Photographs and figures presenting BD gang symbols and rules.