FORT WORTH, TX – Since America’ founding there have always been crime lords. Near the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, it was the Irish, Jews and maybe a few other nationalities. With the continued migration from Europe to the United States the Italians and Sicilians came by the boat loads.
Weather they worked together forming uneasy alliances or fought with one another with names like Bugs Malone, Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Al Capone or Carlo Gambino it was probably the Italians/Sicilians that stood out the most. Back in the old days most tried to keep their heads down, keeping politicians and the cops paid off. They pretended to make like they were upstanding citizens even if they extorted fees for allowing a merchant to stay in business or control construction and most of the trades in New York and New Jersey.
I knew some of the Magaddino Crime Family and walked and talked with a few. After all, my family had its roots in Giuseppe Garibaldi’s army, and most were all Mafia. My grandfather even tried to change his name when he came to this country in 1911.
Regardless of how one thought, they were masters at making money and most with little education. But make no mistake, they were brutal and violent when need be. As the Mafia came into the sixties and seventies, a few started to flaunt their wealth a little too openly. Some couldn’t wait to take power and Gotti, without the permission of the commission took out the boss of the Gambino family, Paul Castellano.
Flaunting his status he tended to talk a little too much and the FBI was able to record him at the Ravenite Social Club.
During this time, the Columbian drug cartels began to rise to power and brought us shows like Miami Vice. The Columbians didn’t play like the Italian Mafia and had no hesitation with killing cops or competitors families. Hence gave rise to people like Pablo Escobar, El Chapo Guzman and Griselda Blanca. Some were reveled and some reviled.
During this time, the gangsters of the Black ghettos were wanting their pound of flesh and proved to be as ruthless and unconcerned about collateral damage as the Columbians but never reached the success of the masters of criminal organization of the Italian Mafia.
One man came remarkably close and that was Frank Lucas portrayed by Denzel Washington in American Gangster. But if there is a story to be told about the Black crime lords, you cannot leave out a young man from Buffalo, NY. He was one Donald “Sly” Green.
Green was a young man when I met him at the Erie County Correction Facility. Allegedly he couldn’t write and signed for his Commissary with an X. Myself and my co-workers never had much of a problem with the young man, but he grew into one of the most violent, feared and biggest heroin dealers in Buffalo. Sly is now serving four life sentences plus four hundred years. He keeps fighting and if I were him I would do the same thing.
But, Mr. Green has a message for the young men that seek to be like what he was or fictional characters on television. He has stepped up and has a message for all young men and ladies that want to be like he was. I have respect for him stepping up and encouraging young men to find another way. More men should take this stance instead of encouraging violence and hatred.
The story appeared in the February 19, 2020 edition of the Challenger Community News, Buffalo and Western New York newspaper that focuses on the African American community. The open letter can be read on its website online or in its entirety using its digital print version.
It is titled, “My Way Was the Wrong Way.”
Please young brothers, don’t waste your lives away killing and murdering each other. Don’t waste your lives in gangs or in gang activity that you know in your heart and souls is worthless, and will only eventually place you in County Jails, State Prisons, and/or Federal Prisons for years of your lives unnecessarily. I beg of you, never ever play yourself to the Penitentiary, County Jail, or State Prison system for street nonsense, such as Neighborhoods, Territories, Blocks and/or for Drugs. It’s not at all worth it!– Donald “Sly” Green
Prison is meant to punish and rehabilitate, and it seems that Donald “Sly” Green not only was punished but also was rehabilitated. Even if he reaches one man just maybe that one man can teach three more.
After all, I’m jus’ sayin’