The Black Guerrilla Family gang was started by former Black Panther George Jackson in 1966, in San Quentin Prison in California. The Marxist-Leninist group was created to preserve the dignity of black prisoners and to overthrow the U.S. government. At the time, prisons were becoming desegregated, and many inmates sought the security of racially-divided gangs for protection. The Black Guerrilla Family was a product of that and the radicalism sweeping college campuses at the time, particularly in California.
This gang has continued to be a criminal enterprise for decades, primarily making their money off selling drugs. The group also took part in the 2015 riots in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Black Guerrilla Family gang is a radical political group with ties to other gangs such as the Symbionese Liberation Army, Weather Underground, Chicano Liberation Front, and Prison Collective. The founder, Jackson, was killed trying to escape from prison in 1971 and was replaced by James “Doc” Holliday.
The Black Guerrilla Family gang’s symbols include a dragon climbing a tower (at San Quentin), and a crossed machete and rifle. Gang members may also have the numbers “2-7-6” tattooed on them.
The Black Guerrilla Family uses two books (Soledad Brother and The Black Book) authored by gang leaders to recruit new members. The former being a radical manifesto and the latter being an outline of the BGF philosophy and how to run factions of the organization.
The Black Guerrilla Family gang is affiliated with the Black August Organizing Committee which is an umbrella group for the gang and other organizations. BGF members are allowed to form affiliations with other gangs as long as they swear allegiance to BGF and keep their oath secret.
The Black Guerrilla Family has several hundred members in prison and tens of thousands of associates outside prison that help the organization flourish through drug smuggling and sales as well as the corruption of police and correctional officers. It is assumed that most of Maryland’s prisons are under the control of the Black Guerrilla Family gang; many guards were indicted for working with the gang in 2013. Guards and police were bribed for special treatment and even for help smuggling contraband to prisoners. During Jackson’s attempted escape it is believed he used guns smuggled into the prison by attorneys. One member interviewed by Vice said that the gang leaders in Maryland were having sex with female prison guards in exchange for gifts like new cars.
The Black Guerrilla Family gang’s rivals include the Aryan Brotherhood and the Mexican Mafia.
In 1979, Fay Stender, an attorney who worked for BGF was accused of selling out the group’s founder, George Jackson, and was shot by a gang member.
In 2015 during the riots in Baltimore, police accused BGF of targeting them, but the gang surprised everyone by denying it, advocating for calm in the community, and working with other community organizations to encourage people to observe a curfew and for the protection of black-owned businesses from looters.