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 independence of Puerto Rico 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-Chicago) 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 decades-long 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.