The Jousters are probably the only modern street gang that can trace its roots back to Al Capone’s south side Italian mafia. At the time, poor Italian immigrants started gangs to hustle and control their neighborhoods. One of these gangs was the Taylor Street Dukes. After Capone left this world, his organization began using the Italian wanna-be gangsters as street soldiers and as their own minor league team to draw new recruits from. During the 50’s, that minor league team was the Taylor Dukes.
By 1960, the Taylor Dukes had mutated into a new gang calling itself the Taylor Street Jousters. The Jousters were located on the same corners as the Dukes, they were all Italian like the Dukes and they even incorporated many of the Dukes’ older members. That instantly put the Jousters on the map and gave them serious credibility on the streets. They literally had current and former mafia hit men in their ranks.
By 1970, the Jousters had spread out to numerous locations. Knight’s helmets, swastikas and jousting lances could be seen painted on walls all over the west side. Their slogan, ‘Blue on blue will always be proud and true’ was well known. They became cousins with gangs like the Gaylords, Freaks and Playboys. But as the 70’s came to an end, Taylor St. changed from Italian to Mexican and the Jousters had to fall back to some of their newer branches.
As the 80’s started, the Jousters still had large branches at Hansen Park and Riis Park. They were also still fighting the losing war for Humboldt Park and Logan Square from their branches at Sawyer & Belden, Sawyer & Altgeld and Fullerton & St. Louis. The Latin Disciples, Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Cobras and Latin Kings would soon push the Jousters and Gaylords out of both neighborhoods. The branch of Belden & Lorel had just closed down. But the Jousters still had small branches at Honor & Bloomingdale and two blocks from the LAGL’s at Sawyer & Altgeld. Unfortunately, they were in the process of losing control of the last two.
The Jousters’ last branch of Hansen Park was a war zone and they were outnumbered and outgunned. The Imperial Gangsters, C-Notes, Orchestra Albany, Latin Disciples, Spanish Cobras, Insane Popes and Simon City Royals were making hits on the Jousters on a nightly basis. The only allies they had that they could count on were the Playboys at Cragin Park, the Lawndale and Kilbourn Gaylords and the Freaks from Kilbourn, Kelvyn, and Keeler.
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