If gang leader were freed, he’d bring ‘fear of God’ to streets, ad­vo­cate says

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY FRANK MAIN, STAFF RE­PORTER fmain@sun­times.com | @FrankMainNews TURN THE PAGE FOR MARY MITCHELL’S TAKE

One of Larry Hoover’s loud­est ad­vo­cates be­lieves the im­pris­oned Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples leader would be a voice for peace in Chicago if he were freed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Hoover would urge gang mem­bers to “stop the killing,” ac­cord­ing to Wal­lace “Gator” Bradley, a for­mer GD.

“Maybe what they need is the fear of God,” Bradley said Thurs­day. “I am not say­ing Larry Hoover is God, but when they took the lead­ers off the street, they took the street dis­ci­plinar­ian away.”

Bradley noted Pres­i­dent Barack Obama granted clemency in 2017 to Os­car Lopez Rivera, who was sen­tenced to 55 years in prison for his in­volve­ment with FALN, which claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for more than 100 bomb­ings in a fight for Puerto Ri­can in­de­pen­dence in the ’70s and ’80s. Also in 2017, Obama cut the life sen­tence of for­mer GD “gov­er­nor” Eric Wil­son to 35 years. U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., en­cour­aged Obama to give Wil­son a break for good be­hav­ior in prison.

“Why not Larry?” Bradley said.

But Ron­ald Safer, the for­mer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor who put Hoover away for life, said Trump shouldn’t be fooled.

“Larry Hoover ran the largest mono­lithic gang that’s ever ex­isted in our coun­try,” Safer said. “It was a gang that was re­spon­si­ble for over $100 mil­lion in drug sales in Illi­nois alone and op­er­ated in 28 states. It was sin­gle-hand­edly re­spon­si­ble for hun­dreds of mur­ders in the city of Chicago.”

Safer said Hoover was in state prison on a mur­der con­vic­tion in the early 1990s when he got com­mu­nity awards for re­brand­ing the GDs as an or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to “Growth and De­vel­op­ment.”

“He was say­ing, ‘I can reach your kids. Let me out of jail.’ ”

Mean­while, Hoover was se­cretly over­heard in prison plot­ting vi­o­lence to sup­port his drug sales, Safer said.

“Those who don’t learn from his­tory are con­demned to re­peat it,” he said.

In 1997, Hoover was con­victed in fed­eral court of run­ning a drug en­ter­prise from state prison. He’s be­ing held in the fed­eral “su­per­max” in Colorado, which also houses no­to­ri­ous crim­i­nals such as Un­abomber Ted Kaczyn­ski.

Hoover was “chair­man” of the GDs, which had 30,000 mem­bers in its hey­day. He ran the gang like a cor­po­ra­tion with a board of di­rec­tors that con­trolled thou­sands of “soldiers.” In the early 1990s, some can­di­dates ran for of­fice un­der the “Growth and De­vel­op­ment” ban­ner. Hoover sup­ported the ef­fort through an or­ga­ni­za­tion called “21st Cen­tury VOTE.”

Mau­rice Perkins, a can­di­date sup­ported by 21st Cen­tury VOTE, ran un­suc­cess­fully in 1995 against then-Ald. Toni Preck­win­kle (4th), who’s now the County Board pres­i­dent and is run­ning for mayor. Bradley, who also un­suc­cess­fully ran for al­der­man, was one of Hoover’s “en­forcers,” car­ry­ing out the chair­man’s will. He’s now a be­hind-the-scenes fix­ture in pol­i­tics, get­ting out the vote and help­ing to free in­mates who say they were wrong­fully con­victed.

All the while, Bradley has re­mained stead­fast in his decades­long cam­paign to win a par­don for Hoover. Bradley said he be­lieves Kanye West is “work­ing through God” to free Hoover.

Bradley said he last spoke to Hoover on the phone in 2014.

“He said he ap­pre­ci­ated the peo­ple that signed a pe­ti­tion for him to be par­doned. He also said we got to stop those in­di­vid­u­als from killing one an­other.”

But would any­one in the GDs lis­ten to the 63-year-old Hoover?

Bradley in­sists they would.

Yet a se­ries of fed­eral cases against the GDs over the last two decades dec­i­mated the gang’s hi­er­ar­chy. Small groups of GDs op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently these days — and, the po­lice say, they an­swer to no one.

SUN-TIMES FILES

Larry Hoover was ‘‘chair­man’’ of the Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples, which had 30,000 mem­bers in its hey­day.

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