In September of 1994, members of the Black Disciples street gang in Chicago decided 11-year-old Robert Sandifer was a little too much even for young men who were putting down rivals, as they would say, on the regular.
Sandifer, who was also called Yummy because he liked cookies, had proven exuberant and conspicuous. The Disciples feared that if they did not rein him in, the prepubescent could become an informant.
Yummy’s tendency to be showy and reckless means the police could grab him. And if they did, they would use the boy to get to the Disciples.
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And so on September 1, the Disciples took out Yummy on the railroad underpass at East 108th Street and South Dauphin Avenue.
He was shot in the back of his head by Cragg and Derrick Hardaway, who were 14 and 16 respectively. The pair had ordered Yummy to go down on his knees.
Indeed, there had been a police manhunt for Yummy due to what Chicago’s head of police at the time, Sgt Ronald Palmer said was an initiation gone wrong.
On August 28 of that year, Yummy opened fire on a group of people, presumably from a rival gang, with a 9mm semiautomatic. He immediately fled the scene.
But Yummy also hit 14-year-old Shavon Dean, an innocent young girl who had been around the scene. Dean later died from the bullet wounds.
When rumors spread nationally that the perpetrator of the crime had been an 11-year-old, the shock of the crime was tripled.
Recent debates about what Chicago means to young black men have their foundations from about this time. The frequency of the terrors left so many with questions.
The Hardaway brothers had been sent by the Disciples on August 31 to deal with the problem Yummy had brought the gang. The brothers were later convicted.
Interestingly, the Black Disciples were founded in 1966 as part of efforts to advance civil rights. Along the way, that noble vision was lost.