Cops Vow Crackdown on SUWU Gang After Hadiya's Alleged Killers Charged

By Geoff Ziezulewicz on February 15, 2013 6:41pm 

 Kenneth Williams (left) and Michael Ward were charged in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton.
Kenneth Williams (left) and Michael Ward were charged in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton.
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Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — Chicago police are planning to make life very uncomfortable for the gang claimed by two men charged in the Jan. 29 killing of Hadiya Pendleton.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, are reportedly members of the SUWU gang.

Hadiya, 15, was hit in a gang retalition gone wrong, authorities said.

Ward's family said this week that he is a "good kid," while Williams' lawyer questioned the evidence against his client.

Now, police are looking to clamp down on the SUWU gang in any way possible.

“They’re going to get basically zero tolerance,” Nick Roti, chief of the organized crime division, said Friday. “They’re doing anything illegal, they’re going to be stopped and confronted by police officers.”

The tactic is based on group accountability, he said.

“If a gang member commits a particularly heinous act, we’re holding the whole gang responsible," Roti said.

That means officers will be looking to stop and arrest the 30 to 40 largely juvenile members on any and all infractions, Roti said.

“The SUWU crew killed this innocent girl, who by all accounts was a very upstanding girl with a lot of potential, and the kind of young lady that we all want our children in this city to aspire to be,” he said. “Now the rest of the people that are in this SUWU clique or gang are going to pay some of the consequences for it.”

SUWU has been around for the past 12 to 18 months, Roti said, with many living at or around the Oakwood Shores apartments on the 3800 block of South Vincennes Avenue.

The gang’s genesis also sprouted up after demolition of the Ida B. Wells projects in recent years, he said. It takes its name from a song by rapper Lil Wayne.

“Due to the proximity of each other, they formed their own clique,” Roti said. “They all hang together and have adopted this gang.”

Unlike other Chicago gangs, SUWU is mainly a “lifestyle gang” and are not involved in any large-scale criminal enterprises, Roti said.

 Chicago organized crimes head Nick Roti said Friday that police will be clamping down on members of the SUWU gang. Two of their alleged members were charged this week in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton.
Chicago organized crimes head Nick Roti said Friday that police will be clamping down on members of the SUWU gang. Two of their alleged members were charged this week in the murder of Hadiya Pendleton.
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Chicago Police Department

“They’re not doing their gang banging to protect their dope spot,” he said. “They’re doing it because they espouse the lifestyle. Our culture has in some ways, I guess through music and videos and some TV shows, glamorized it.”

Chicago police deployed a similar zero tolerance tactic in response to the 2011 shooting of a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old on the Northwest side.

A member of the Maniac Latin Disciples was reportedly firing at a Latin Kings gang member when the children were struck and injured.

“We’ve locked up 700 or 800 of them since the time they shot those two little girls,” Roti said.

Roti said he did not have numbers available regarding how many SUWU members have been picked up under the tactic, but said the clampdown began after they realized Ward and Williams pledged allegiance to the gang.

Roti is dismissive of the staying power of SUWU, named after a lyric by rapper Lil Wayne.

“Gangs like these come and go,” he said.

Twitter is full of alleged SUWU members, some of whom have Williams and Ward’s mug shots as their profile avatar.

A tweeter named SuWuFreeDemBloods had a photo of the two suspects on the profile as of Friday night, as well as a picture of a man brandishing a handgun.

Guys claiming SUWU on Twitter often post #FOA for “Family Over All.”

“A family self-polices itself too,” Roti said. “Obviously they didn’t. So now they will be a target of the police department.”

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