Bishops on Church Street

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.


A few months ago I wrote a page called “Bishops Invade Flatbush.”  I would suggest you read that page for the following to make sense.  Click here to read that article.

One of the questions was why would the Bishops – so far away from Flatbush – take the time and energy to fight against boys in a neighborhood not known for delinquency.  Was it jealousy?  Or perhaps friction at school?  As mentioned, boys attended schools that weren’t necessarily in their neighborhood, sometimes traveling many miles to attend a strange school with people they wouldn’t know.  Was it that?

Well, I don’t have a full answer to this mystery, but I believe I found some more information that explains what happened prior to that day in 1960 when the Flatbush boys were arrested by the police.  As you will recall, they were arrested on July 12, 1960.  The new information I found is one year prior to that, taking place on July 28, 1959.

It was a Tuesday afternoon around lunch time when a group of Bishops’ were found “cowering” on Church avenue by the police (ironic that Bishops were on Church Avenue).  Church avenue was only a few blocks from the rumble that never happened a year later in 1960.  In fact, Church Avenue is right where Erasmus Hall High School is.  That’s the school the Bishops threatened the Flatbush boys with bodily harm with if they attended summer school there.  Eight members of the Bishops were arrested: Gordon  Stanchel, Richard Sinott, Jimmie Pitts, William Mack and Ralph Hanson and three others unnamed.  Found on their possession were four bottles filled with gasoline, two kitchen knives, a pen knife, and a zip gun with .22 caliber bullets.  Everything pointed to the  Bishops preparing for a gang fight.  When they were taken to Court the next day, this was reported of Stanchel:

The defendant explained that he went to visit a friend at Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush.  While riding home on the Rogers Avenue bus, a white boy in the street called him a “black n__r”.  The angry defendant told the boy he would be back with some friends.  The defendant returned to his neighborhood and told his friends of the incident.  They all got together and after the defendant purchased the gasoline and obtained two kitchen knives, they returned to the scene of the insult, Church Avenue near Bedford Avenue and were getting ready to engage in a race fight when the police fortunately intervened.  The defendant acknowledged that, at the time, he was a member of the “Bishops”, a Bedford-Stuyvesant gang, that he had been a member for about a year and a half but quit after the above-described incident.”

Now another question comes up.  The Bishops were black and so were the boys who were arrested in 1960.  Why would the Bishops be attacking black kids from Flatbush?  Perhaps these incidents weren’t even related at all.  The search continues.

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Erasmus Hall High School

Erasmus Hall High School