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The CHAIRMAN. You justify it. You say none of it is true.
If it isn't true, those who have testified this way ought to go to the penitentiary. And if you are lying about it, the converse is true, that is where you belong, and not under a cloak of the cloth.
Reverend FRY. Yes, sir.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT L. PIERSON-Resumed
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Pierson
The CHAIRMAN. No, sir. This next witness has a very ill child, and I am taking him a bit out of line, so he can return home.
Is that right?
We are having a difficult job in running these hearings. We have a difficult task in even trying to schedule the witnesses to move it along in orderly fashion and keep it on schedule.
Here is a situation where the next witness child has had an operation, and he wants to get home. We are taking his testimony out of turn.
State your name.
AFFIDAVIT I, Robert L. Pierson, who reside at 1810 West 96th Street, Chicago, Illinois, freely and voluntarily make the following statement to La Vern J. Duffy who has identified himself to me as a member of the staff of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations. No threats, force or duress have been used to induce me to make this statement, nor have I received any promise of immunity from any consequences which may result from submission of this statement to the aforementioned Senate Permanent Subcommittee.
“My name is Robert L. Pierson and I have been an investigator in the State's Attorney's Office, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, since 1966. I was also with that Office during the period 1961-63. Since October 1967, I have worked exclusively on the activities of the Blackstone Rangers and the East Side Disciples, two Negro gangs on Chicago's southside.
STRUCTURE OF THE RANGERS
"The Blackstone Rangers were well organized and deeply involved in criminal activity. The Rangers are structured and organized on a basis similar to the Mafia. In the Rangers, you have the "Main 21.” This is the executive board that
is the decision-making body and also disciplines the Ranger Nation. The Rangers, in my judgment, are the beginning of a 'Black Mafia.'
"In the beginning, the Rangers, in conducting their illegal activities, were rather crude in their operations, but they have become over a period of time more sophisticated in conducting their illegal activities. For example, in shootings and killings that definitely involve members of the Rangers, the guns used in the commission of these crimes in rare instances have been recovered by the police.
"The Ranger leaders are using younger members to do their killing. This fact was made crystal clear in a recent murder trial in Chicago where Eugene Hairston, leader of the Rangers, was convicted of directing the murder of Leo MeClure. The murder was committed by young Rangers (age 13-15 years) at the direction of Hairston. As a payoff for the killing, the youths were given, by Hairston, $1 apiece, some baloney, cheese, and orange juice.
RANGERS INVOLVED IN EXTORTION FROM MERCHANTS IN WOODLAWN AREA
"The Blackstone Rangers have been extorting money from the merchants in the Woodlawn area since 1966. However, the merchants have not come forward and signed complaints because they have been intimidated in many instances and are in fear that their places of business will be burned out if they cooperate with the authorities.
“Numerous businessmen along 63rd and Stoney Island, Cottage Grove, and other areas of 69th, 71st, 75th, and 76th Streets have complained that the Blackstone Rangers and the Disciples have confronted them with monthly payments of protection money varying from $50 to $150.
"During the recent civil disorders in Chicago after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Rangers continued their extortion in the Woodlawn area. The Rangers placed signs in the windows of certain merchants. The signs read "Do Not Touch" signed “Jeff Fort.” These signs were placed in the store windows in order to notify the Ranger members that these merchants should not be touched. These signs were sold to merchants in the Woodlawn area for a sum of $50. I would like to submit to the Subcommittee exhibits (A), (B), and (C) which are photostatic copies of three signs that were found in merchants' windows in the Woodlawn area during the April disorders in Chicago.
“I would also like to submit as exhibit (D) to my affidavit a report prepared by the Chicago Police Department dated April 22, 1968, signed by Lieutenant John Corless, Commanding Officer of the License Section, Vice Control Division, Bureau of Inspectional Services, Chicago Police Department. This report deals with extortion in the Woodlawn area by the Rangers and the Disciples. The following is a quote from page 2 of this report, point 4:
“ 'It is the opinion of the undersigned, though there is considerable evidence of shakedowns of business people, their lack of cooperation plus lack of concrete identification of persons involved precludes any prosecution at this time. However, the situation warrants a continuing investigation, compiling evidence that may result in their prosecution in the future.'
LACK OF SUPERVISION AND ILLEGAL ACTIVITY IN GANG CENTERS FINANCED BY OEO "Concerning the four gang centers financed by Federal funds, I would like to state that I personally visited these four centers and at no time did I ever observe anything that could be construed to be educational. At no time did I see any semblance of a classroom atmosphere. Nothing was being taught during my visits. I visited the centers at various hours during the day and in the evening. While visiting these centers, I witnessed various incidents of gambling going on in the centers. At first, the boys would seem hesitant about continuing but if we paid no attention to them, they would just go on as usual. I would say that I and other members of our staff visited each of the four centers a minimum of 12 times. However, Center No. 4, located at 866 East 63rd Street, was visited at least 20 or 30 times at a minimum.
"One of the gang centers of the Rangers is located at the First Presbyterian Church, 6400 S. Kimbark Avenue, Chicago. Information has been obtained by our office that improper activities have taken place in the church, namely, that narcotics had been in the church and, also, there had been various weapons, including automatic weapons, in the church. This information was supplied to our office by George Rose, a member of the Rangers. Since that time, we have obtained the same information from a number of other sources. The people that have given us this information also hold high positions in the Rangers. They talked to us for various reasons, ranging from fear to just plain wanting to get out of the Ranger organization.
INVOLVEMENT OF RANGERS IN NARCOTICS
"The Blackstone Rangers are deeply involved in narcotics. I have made prior references in this affidavit to narcotics being in the First Presbyterian Church in Woodlawn, the headquarters of the Blackstone Rangers. The information supplied by George Rose tying the Rangers into narcotics has been corroborated by various other sources who are highly reliable informants. Their names cannot be disclosed for their protection. We know that La Fayette Watts, a well-known narcotics peddler in Chicago, was paying protection money to the Rangers for his being able to maintain a monopoly of narcotics in the territory controlled by the Rangers.
"The murder of Leo McClure was ordered by Eugene Hairston because of an attempt by an outsider to cut into the narcotics traffic controlled by Watts in Ranger territory. Actually, in the McClure case, the juvenile Rangers that were carrying out the orders of Hairston killed the wrong man. McClure at the time of the killing was accompanied by a known narcotics pusher and user named Durocher "Duke" Berrian. It was Berrian who was marked for death. He was only wounded in the encounter that killed McClure.
"Robert Lee Straughter, who was murdered in Chicago in November 1967, was also involved in narcotics and a "runner” for Watts in territory on Chicago's southside controlled by the Blackstone Rangers. One of Straughter's duties for Watts was to keep out any competition in the area. Concerning Straughter's murder, reports came in from various sources that Straughter was killed by Rangers because he had failed to turn over money to Watts that he had taken off an individual that had been selling drugs in territory controlled by the Rangers.
"Paul Martin, one of the top leaders of the Blackstone Rangers and their religious leader, has been arrested on two occasions for the possession of narcotics. His most recent arrest on narcotics took place on April 22, 1968, in Chicago. His case is still pending.
WITNESS REFUSED TO TESTIFY AGAINST RANGERS BECAUSE OF FEAR AND INTIMIDATION
"Threats and intimidation have frequently been used by the Blackstone Rangers against witnesses that have testified or are about to testify in criminal court cases. The most recent case involved the Leo McClure murder when Eugene Hairston, Ranger leader, was convicted on May 29, 1968, for soliciting teenage Rangers to commit murder. One of the witnesses under subpoena to testify in the McClure case was Durocher ‘D ke' Berrian. Berrian was in the auto and wounded when McClure was killed. Berrian received a telephone call before he was to testify advising him that on the last occasion they had missed killing him, but they would not miss the next time and he should think of this when he testified. The caller did not identify himself, but Berrain knew it was a member of the Blackstone Rangers.
“Also in the McClure murder trial, Mrs. Annabelle Martin received threats and attempted bribes to withhold her two sons from testifying in the trial against Eugene Hairston. One of her sons, Sanford Martin, age 14, was one of the Rangers hired by Hairston to commit the killing. Subsequently, Sanford Martin did testify that Hairston instructed the Ranger teenagers to 'burn the car and hit the driver.'
"Mrs. Martin until recently was close to Eugene Hairston and other members of the 'Main 21,' the ruling body of the Rangers. She was a frequent visitor to the Blackstone Ranger headquarters located at Reverend Fry's First Presbyterian Church, 6100 S. Kimbark Avenue, Chicago. Incidentally, Mrs. Martin corroborated the information we received from George Rose, a top Ranger leader, concerning the extortion by the Rangers, narcotics and guns in the church, and also various sex crimes having been committed in the First Presbyterian Church. She also told us that Reverend Fry, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, was aware of these events taking place in the church.
"Concerning threats and intimidation of witnesses, the State's Attorney's Office, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, has a number of pending indictments involving Ranger members that have been indicted for intimidation of witnesses. These pending cases cannot be discussed further at this time."
I have read the above statement and the same is true to my own knowledge, except for those matters which are alleged on information and belief and to these matters I believe them to be true.
I have stated above much of the information that I have received has been relayed to me by reliable informants whose veracity and reliability has been tested by me and whose statements I believe to be true.
RORERT L. PIERSON. Sworn and subscribed before me this 26th day of June, 1968.
WM. R. LEWIS,
Notary Public, District of Columbia. My Commission Expires Dec. 14, 1968.
April 22, 1968.
BUREAU OF INSPECTIONAL SERVICES, VICE CONTROL DIVISION, LICENSE SECTION,
1. The solicitation of funds by, or in behalf of youthful gangs, has not been limited to one small geographical area. It is widespread and gives every indication of continuing to grow. The following list indicates the present scope of this practice but, by no means, can it be considered complete. 2. Area :
Rangers Social Club.
Disciples. (A brief summary of each of the above follows, reports are in folders designated by the corresponding numeral used above.)
I. On April 16, 1968, one Johnny Houston, M/N, 18 years old, was arrested at 4007 W. Lake St., when he threatened plastics firm manager with arson and battery after his attempts to solicit money were frustrated. Arrestee had in his possession a list of contributors and claimed he represented the Rangers Social Club.
II. Interviewed approximately 80 businessmen, about half of which had placed signs in their windows that read, "Do Not Touch-Blackstone Rangers." Eight merchants report being solicited for funds, five of these eight report they were solicited by Paul Occhino, M/W of 6225 W. Grand Ave. An officer in the Fairfax Corporation, doing business at 6727 Stony Island Ave. (clothing store), stated the businessmen should show their appreciation to the Rangers for not suffering damage during the recent civil disorders. One of the latter five contributed $50.00 in the form of a check made payable to Jeff Fort, Blackstone Rangers and drawn on the Guarantee National Bank. This donor, Lou Rosenberg, operates Jack's Mens Store at 6707–09 S. Stony Island Ave. Mr. Occhino has a lengthy criminal history sheet.
III. Interviewed approximately twenty businessmen on East 71st St. Three admitted being solicited by Rangers and one of the two felt an implied threat, Another one donated five dollars, but did not think the solicitor was a Ranger nor did he infer he was. This situation is being investigated by G.A. Area #2, Det. Mahoney assigned.
IV. Approximately one hundred fifty business people from 800 to 1600 East on 63rd St. were interviewed; ninety received no signs and denied being solicited ; eighteen claimed signs were placed in their windows but no solicitation followed ; twenty-three persons reported various solicitations by various groups, some alleging to be Blackstone Rangers. These groups included the T.W.O. solicitation of $10.80 for an ad in their publication. Amounts paid varied from $100 to $25.00, many reported they contributed out of fear. Three men who participated in this shakedown were arrested by the 3rd District (report is in folder).
V. Signs were placed in windows of business establishments by youths alleging to be members of the Cobra Stones, these signs read, “Do Not Touch, Cobra Stones Chief Committee 53rd St." While no actual solicitations are mentioned, reports indicate that at least one recipient of a sign believed there was to be money paid at a later date. There was no canvass of this area by License Section officers.
VI. An individual, tentatively identified as T. Boysen, owner of an AfroAmerican garb shop located at 1310 W. 79th St., approached a Mr. Karvis, owner of Jax-Drive-In, 1338 W. 79th St., and offered protection from neighbor. hood teens, in exchange for a payment of money. Boysen alleged he could manage to keep the Rangers and Disciples from burning and looting for the sum of $25.00 per week, Boysen was arrested. This area was not canvassed by License Section officers and the above information was obtained from an information report submitted by Lt. John Collins, 006th District.
VII. An information report, received 21 April 1968, states that a Mr. Murray Kaplan of 6338 S. Halsted St., operator of B & S Discount Store was approached by two MXN on 17 April 1968, warning him that his store could be damaged if he failed to make a contribution to the Disciples. There has been no canvass of this area to determine the extent of this shakedown.
4. In the opinion of the undersigned, though there is considerable evidence of shakedowns of business people, their lack of cooperation plus lack of concrete identification of persons involved precludes any prosecution at this time. However, the situation warrants a continuing investigation and compiling of evidence that may result in prosecution in the near future. 5. Respectfully submitted.
JOHN J. CORLESS,
Commanding Officer, License Section, V. C. D. The CHAIRMAN. I see on page 2 you start off with: The Blackstone Rangers have been extorting money from the merchants in the Woodlawn area since 1966.
That is your opening statement. Proceed to tell us how you know it, and why.
Mr. PIERSON. Do you wish that I read from the affidavit ? The CHAIRMAN. Whatever you want to say about it. If you want to read it and be cross examined on it, that is all right. You might read to the next title. Mr. PIERSON. All right, sir. The Blackston Rangers have been extorting money from the merchants in the Woodlawn area since 1966.
The CHAIRMAN. You understand you are swearing here to a crime? You are under oath?
Mr. PIERSON. Yes, sir, I understand.
Mr. PIERSON. However, the merchants have not come forward and signed complaints because they have been intimidated in many instances and are in fear that their places of business will be burned out if they cooperate with the authorities.
Numerous businessmen along 63d and Stoney Island, Cottage Grove, and other areas of 69th, 71st, 75th, and 76th Streets have complained that the Blackstone Rangers and the Disciples have confronted them with monthly payments of protection money varying from $50 to $150.
During the recent civil disorders in Chicago after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Rangers continued their extortion in the Woodlawn area. The Rangers placed signs in the windows of certain merchants. The signs read “Do Not Touch" signed "Jeff Fort.”