Gang boys’ relationship with their fathers

Before you get to the article…

On February 23, 2018, my book on the Mau Maus and Sand Street Angels, who were two Brooklyn youth gangs from the 1950s, has been completed.  It took 15 years of research and writing to complete Brooklyn Rumble: Mau Maus, Sand Street Angels, and the End of an Era.  This book is roughly 6″x9″ and has 370 pages and includes a look at the characters in the Mau Maus and the details of a gang killing that happened in February 1959 in front of the iconic Brooklyn Paramount Theater (now Long Island University).  If you want to buy a copy, click here and this link will take you to an online ordering page.


There are many reasons for juvenile delinquency and the formation of youth gangs in New York City in the 1950s, and experts still talk about those reasons today.  One of the aspects of juvenile delinquency that has always interested me is the relationship between individual gang members and their fathers.  It is in my opinion that an engaged father or consistent, positive male role model is a very good prevention measure against boys’ joining gangs.  Of course by no means is this a silver bullet to preventing boys from forming gangs, but just the same it is something that interests me personally.

Below is a list of 40 gang members from Manhattan and Brooklyn and their relationship with their fathers.  Not all the boys had bad relationships with their Dads, but in this narrow sampling, many did.  It is something I will continue to look out for as my research uncovers more data.

Gang Parents’ Relationship Outcome Relationship with Father
Seven Saints Common-law Breakup – father left home No relationship
Dragons & Latin Aces Married Father deserted in infancy No relationship
Viceroys Married -mother died Father remarried Father disinterested
Viceroys Common-law Together Unknown
Viceroys Married Together Father was alcoholic and described as
shiftless and abusive, relationship with
defendant unknown
Python Knights Married Father left for another woman and
died when defendant was 9
No relationship
Red Wings Married Father moved out when defendant
was 15
Cruel to mother and not
interested in his children
Red Wings Married Together Father beat the children, was unfaithful
to wife, drank excessively disappeared
Red Wings Married Together Both parents inattentive to the needs of
their family and were focused on their
own needs, father had cancer
Chaplains Married Together Unknown
Elko Vans Common-law Father deported, never heard from
again, mother remarried
Defendant did not get along with his step-
father who he said was a “mean old
Mau Maus Married Divorced, remarried No relationship
Mau Maus Married Together Father severely abused children, molested
Mau Maus Married Mother died, lived with father Father interested somewhat in children
Mau Maus Married Father abandoned family, divorce No relationship
Immortal Sinners Married Together Father was rigid and over-demanding but
was described as being concerned about
his sons difficulties with the law
Musketeers Married Broke up, but got back together Father had warm relationship with son
Jesters Common-law Together Seemed to have good relationship, at the
minimum, he helped his father with his
Apaches Married, husband died New husband abandoned her No relationship
Chaplains Married Divorced No relationship
Phantom Lords Married Together Father showed concern for his son
Hellburners Married Divorced, died, mother remarried Stepfather had warm relationship with son
Hellburners Married Together Seems to have had a good relationship
Frenchmen Married Together, but separated for 6 years Relationship unknown, described as a
heavy drinker
Forsyth Boys Married Together Good relationship with father
Sand Street Angels Married Together Devoted father, no marital issues
Chaplains Married Husband deserted No relationship
Vagabonds Married Together Unsure about relationship, father had
mental illness and was an alcoholic
Fort Greene Chaplains Married Divorced, remarried Had good relationship with both his father
and step-father
Fort Greene Chaplains Married Divorced No relationship
Fort Greene Chaplains Married Separated No relationship
4th Ave. Devils Married Divorced Good relationship with father
El Quintos Married Together Unknown
Hawks Married Father died when 16 No relationship, prior to father’s death he
was described as strict and whipped the kids
Elko Vans Married Together Good relationship with father
Buccaneers Married Together Described as good father, but would desert
family occasionally because of the stress of
providing for a large family
Jokers Married Father died when defendant was 8 No Relationship
Bishops Common-law Separated Beat mother, gambled, drank – no relationship
Bishops Married Husband died, mother remarried Husband was alcoholic and irresponsible, but
defendant got along with him well.  Did not
get along with step-father who beat his Mom
Seropians Married Together Father was alcoholic, deserted the family
numerous times, but expressed concern
about his son’s trouble with the law.
Leonard Street Boys Married Together Good relationship with father