Latin Kings

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Latin Kings

The Almighty Latin King Nation first emerged in Chicago during the 1940s when several young Puerto Rican males organized into a club. Their goal was to help each other overcome the problems of racism and prejudice that newly arriving Puerto Rican immigrants were experiencing.

Their slogan was to rise above the racism and to form an organization of "Kings" to better serve themselves and their communities. As time progressed, the group took a criminal path as it's members became involved in violent crimes including murders, drug sales and robberies.

The Latin Kings are Chicago's largest gang and have been involved in numerous violent acts. Although the original members were of Puerto Rican decent, most members are now Mexican-America. They now allow members of all races to join, yet they are mostly composed of Spanish, Caribbean, Latvian, Italian, Portuguese, Mexican or South American members.

In terms of identification, the Latin Kings tend to use 5-pointed crowns. To the older member, the 5-points represent love, respect, sacrifice, honor and obedience. Their graffiti may have a picture of a crown accompanied by the initials "LK" and often will have some sort of inflammatory symbolism aimed at an opposing gang. A lion or a lion wearing a crown with a variety of inscriptions may also be seen. Members identify with the colors yellow or gold.

Males in the organization are known as Kings. Several years ago there were separate female chapters known as the Latin Queens. Now, very few original Latin Queens remain and most females involved in the group are more of a subservient role.

The Chicago Police Department estimates they have over 25,000 Latin King members residing within their city alone. The gang also has organized chapters in numerous states across the country. These gang sets are referred as to as "Chapters" among members with each reporting to a leader. The head of the entire criminal organization is known as the Inca.

Some of the characteristics that sets the Latin Kings apart from other gangs is they consider themselves to be a community-based organization. They preach Hispanic pride and some King chapters even have formed their own religion called Kingdism. During these meetings members may recite the Latin King pledge, prayer and continually pledge to be prepared to rise to the call for their King or Inca. These meetings are often used by members to discuss retaliating against other gangs, drug disciplined for breaking gang rules.

A violation of the gangs rules could occur for showing fear, cooperating with the police or a crime against a fellow Latin King. Punishment is handed out by fellow members of the gang, which occurs by the violator victim being beaten by the gang for several minutes and not being able to defend himself or hit back. It is by this same method that members are able to quit the gang.

A past leader of the New York chapter of the Latin Kings, Antonio Fernandez, known as "King Tone" once claimed he was changing the Kings from a criminal orientation to that of a self-help group dedicated to helping Latino youth. It was rumored that Fernandez traveled to Chicago to share his views with Chicago Kings, who responded by assaulting him and sending him back to New York.

As Fernandez was preaching to the gang to stay away from crime, he was under federal investigation for drug sales. After his arrest, he accepted a 12-year federal prison term.

When compared to most street gangs, the Latin Kings are generally more structured and organized. The gangs rules are strictly enforce and some members celebrate January 6th as "King's Holy Day" and the first week in March as "King's Week."