Chicago is attempting the first major gang trial in recent memory

Could things finally be about to change in Chicago? We’ve observed with considerable despair the spiraling mayhem in the Windy City which has led to their record breaking murder rate this year. The cause, of course, is gang violence which is completely out of control and appears to be beyond the ability of the police to tamp down. The situation has led community leaders to plead for help, declaring their city to be in a state of emergency. Long time local columnist John Kass recently observed that the root cause for all this evil is the fact that the gangs in Chicago no longer know or fear the police.

Now it seems as if law enforcement is fighting back on the scale required to handle such a catastrophe. This month they are kicking off a trial which will see multiple leaders and executioners from one of the city’s biggest, most violent gangs put on trial in a process which echos federal programs designed to bring down the mob decades ago. (AT&T Live News)

The biggest street-gang trial in recent Chicago history starts in earnest with opening statements Wednesday, with months of testimony expected to provide a rare inside look at the kind of gangland activity that’s helped fuel deadly gun violence in the nation’s third largest city.

On trial for federal racketeering charges are six purported leaders of the Hobos street gang who prosecutors say murdered, maimed and tortured their way into controlling the most lucrative drug markets on the city’s South Side.

Among the defendants is alleged Hobos hit man Paris Poe, who prosecutors say killed a government witness in 2013, shooting the man 25 times at close range while his horrified step-kids, aged 4 and 6 at the time, screamed in the back seat of a car. The 4-year-old later told investigators the “Boogie Man” had attacked them, according to court filings.

This trial is seeking to take down six leading figures in the Hobos gang and potentially put them away for life. Their hit man, Paris Poe, is only one of them, though he’s accused of leaving a horrific, bloody trail in his wake. They’ve also got the alleged gang leader, Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester and four other senior gang members. (These guys really need to work on their nicknames.) The parallels between this trial and the efforts to bring down gangs like Angelo Bruno’s Philadelphia family in the 70s and 80s is hard to ignore. If the cops can bust up their organization and take out their leaders, perhaps they can begin making a real difference.

But unlike the mob in the bad old days, beating the city’s drug gangs may be a lot harder. The demand for illegal drugs and other “services” offered by the gangs won’t disappear just because these six men are removed from action. Even if the Hobos are broken up entirely there are plenty more gangs ready to take their place. What’s needed is a change of culture starting at the street level, with families, churches and community leaders rejecting gang culture entirely. But in the meantime, this may be the best that law enforcement can do, and if nothing else it might send a message that the long arm of the law is still in business and will be taking gang activity seriously. If you can’t make the gangs behave lawfully we at least need to put a healthy fear of the cops back into them.


David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022