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Thorndale Jarvis Organization | Joe Ganci

Thorndale-Jarvis Organization

Joe Ganci North Siders

Joe Ganci Pencil Drawing

Joe Ganci by a former TJO who served with him

According to his friend, Joe Ganci started out with a mother who suffered from MS, and uncle who was mean and despised him, and Joe spent a lot of time sleeping in laundry mats.  This environment helped produce the Joe Ganci who eventually became one of the most influential TJO’s. He wasn’t the president, and was described as being a behind the scenes guy in the organization.  Joe Ganci had natural leadership qualities and was highly intelligent.  Unfortunately, Joe Ganci’s intelligence went in the direction of the street instead of the way of academics. Had Joe been raised in a different environment he might have been a lawyer or a manager of a company.

Joe Ganci ended up serving a long prison term when he and his crew were busted by the Chicago Police.  While in Cook County Jail, Joe Ganci and another TJO were part of a spectacular prison escape which made headlines in the local Chicago New Media.  Joe was sentenced to Pontiac and then was transferred to Menards and then Dixon. Joe got into a few fights with the prison guards and gained a reputation for himself. His natural leadership qualities prevailed, and he became leader of a prison gang called the North Siders.

North Siders Prison Gang

The North Siders were made up of white gang members who ended up in the system. It provided them with protection against the black and Latino gangs serving time in the same prison. Joe Ganci opened the North Siders up to all gang members who ended up serving with him. The North Siders had members from, the Gaylords, Chi-West, Playboys, and numerous other city gangs. He would tell the young guys: “You are not going to get brutalized, but if I ever call on you to back us up in a fight, I expect you to fight!” This was back in the time when inmates wrapped their bodies and forearms in newspaper as vests and fought with shanks. A lot of gang members owe a lot to Joe Ganci for the protection he and his North Siders gave them in the prison system.

Joe Ganci at Pontiac

While in Pontiac Prison, he filed several law suits one against the ILL.D.O.C. regarding law libraries. He won that one. Also he got a cash award, when he filed a Federal action. Also he fought additional criminal charges when he got in a fight with Capt. Of Police in the visiting room at Pontiac and  beat the case.  All cases were tried in Pontiac the home town! No change of Venue he beat them at their own game and in their own town.

Joe Ganci and Rising Up Angry

Joe Ganci gave a speech to business leaders in Uptown about RISING UP ANGRY - W. Clement Stone (he owned COMBINED INSURANCE they were located at Lawrence & Broadway and at Broadway and Ainslie. He got $33,000 from them for youth programs.

Joe Ganci Upon Death

Joe Ganci spent a lot of time reading and educating himself. He lifted weights and got up to 350 lbs on the bench press. He never went against code of “no drugs” even when he was dying of stomach cancer, after serving 28 years. He was an inspiration to guys on the outside as well as inside the prison.  Upon his death, many people on the outside thought about what a waste of a great mind – if only he would have been raised in an environment where he could have been a productive citizen.

Joe Ganci, Devon and Lakewood Shooting, 1974

One man was shot to death and his companion was critically wounded when a car pulled up and a man got out and opened fire. One man was hit in the abdomen and died; the other was hit in the shoulder.  The man got back into the car and drove off. The police were looking for two TJO members in a 1973 Thunderbird, possibly on their way to Third Lake.

Joe Ganci, and Five Inmates, Escape Cook County Jail

Among the five inmates who escaped from Cook County Jail in July, 1975, was Joe Ganci, thought to be a member of the Thorndale-Javis Organization gang. He was captured early Saturday at a Bridgeview motel. Although police found weapons in the motel room, they had not been fired.

Ganci was rousted after tear gas canisters were fired into his room.

Ganci and the five other prisoners fled the Cook County Jail in an early morning breakout.

Two of the five escapees were Playboys. Lil Satan of the Playboys PVP Gangs, was in Cook County Jail at the same time as Joe Ganci.

The Escapees

Most of the inmates were members of North Side gangs. They were arrested on charges ranging from aggravated assault to murder.

They jammed their cell doors open and sawed a hole in the wall which they climbed through to the ventilation system to the roof of the building to escape.

TJO and Gang History

The North Siders gave white gang members a level of protection in the prison system. When the North Siders ceased to exist - large white gangs like the Gaylords, Insane Popes, and the Simon City Royals joined the People and Folk alliances which successfully placed all city gangs under one of the alliances.


“A Woman’s Crusade against Gang Terror” Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); October 31, 1977. Proquest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) page A1.

Beat rep program breaks the barriers; Bonita Brodt; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); August 16, 1979; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849-1986) Page N1

“Gang’s big to block actions denied:” Carol Oppenheim; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); Nov  3, 1973; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849-1986) page 12

Senn Parents Meet to Curb Race Strife; Casey Banas; Philip Caputo; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); January 25, 1970; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page 1.

Racial Fray Erupts at Senn High School; Chicago Tribune (1963 – Current file); April 15, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986)

4 Hurt, 18 arrested in Senn High Melee;  Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); April 21, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page 10

Gang members Beat Loyola. Soph with Bat; Chicago Tribune (1963 – Current file); May 16, 1972; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page C14

2 Held in $50,000 Bonds After Beating;  ; Chicago Tribune (1963 – Current file); November 9, 1969; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page 20

Arrest 4 Dropouts for Fires in School; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current files); May 3, 1966; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page A2

Edgewater Area Wrestles with Delinquency Problem; Charles Mount; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current files); July 19, 1964; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago tribune(1849 – 1986) Page N_A3

3 arrested in sting, shootout; Philip Wattley; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); October 17, 1984; ProQuest Historical Newspaper Chicago Tribune (1984 – 1986) Page A3

“There’s no sport at all to a gunfight”; Chicago Sun-Times; Bill Brasher; June 16, 1986: 33 Section 2

1 slain, 2d shot walking on N. Side; David Satter; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); June 9, 1974; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) Page 28

Jail escapers manhunt widens; Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file); July 13, 1975; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 - 1986) Page 18

Thorndale Jag Offs

Demographics of Edgewater - 1964

The demographics of Edgewater in 1964, according to Youth Workers: Of the 3500 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18, some 400 of them are classified as potential juvenile delinquents. The demographics of income range from wealthy North Shore families to low income poor single parent apartment dwellers. The programs that are in place to help at risk  kids only seem to help the kids who haven’t been in trouble, but fail to help the ones who have already turned to the streets.

Demographics of the TJO: Swedes, Germans, Irish and Appalacian whites.

Swift Elementary School vandalism, 1969

Four members of the TJO were arrested after admitting that they were involved in breaking into the school, ransacking desks, swimming in the basement pool, tagging their names on the walls, then setting fire to five rooms.

Two Held in Ice Cream Parking Lot Beating on Clark Street, 1969

Two TJO gang members were being held on $50,000 bond after being accused of beating a 37 year old in the parking lot of a Clark Street Ice Cream drive-in parking lot with a car antenna and a bottle in front of his wife and kids. The store owner was arrested for keeping a disorderly house. The wife ran to the bar across the street to ask them to call the police. She was told to use the laundry mat’s phone across the street.

Senn High School Riots 1972

In the early 70s, Senn High School was reporting that 9 out of 10 graduates went on to college. At the same time, if had a very diverse student body ranging from very poor students who live in decaying Uptown to very rich students who live on Marine Drive in the Luxury apartments.  The student population was as diverse as the household economics in that it was made up of Appalachian whites, Orientals, Lebanese, American Indians,  and Spanish speaking students.

At the same time, a Chicago School District transfer program started which allowed black students from the far South Side to attend Senn High School. When the black students entered Senn High School for the school year starting in 1971, fights between the white and the black students broke out.  The Thorndale Jarvis Organization (TJO) was involved in these riots. The black students called the TJO a North Side version of the Blackstone Rangers with numbers at 200 members. The TJO claimed that they were not fighting with black students, but Blackstone Ranger members who came from as far as 103rd Street.

On April 15, 1972, riots between the TJO and the black students broke out. Bob’s Restaurant, at 5863 North Glennwood Avenue was where the white students hung out. Chubby’s Carry Out Restaurant on Glenwood and Ardmore was where the black students hung out. On this day, the black students broke the windows of Bob’s Restaurant and tried to storm the restaurant when there were about 200 hundred white students in the restaurant at the time. The two groups started fighting with bottle throwing, chains, and other weapons outside the restaurant.  Then the older TJO members arrived and joined in the fight. Police broke that fight up, but after school a group of black students were attacked by whites on their way to the EL stop.

Senn High Melee, April 1972

18 Arrested and 4 students were hurt in a Melee at Senn High at 8:15 a.m. when a false fire alarm was pulled. The acting principle at the school blamed the white students for starting the fight. At the same time – four students were beaten with chains by blacks and ended up in Edgewater Hospital. Chicago Police in riot gear quelled the fighting.

Senn High School reopens After Riots, May 1972

The Thorndale-Jarvis Organization was blamed to the racial fighting going on at Senn High school prior to Spring break, but after further investigation of the student body it was concluded the hostility between white and black students already existed prior to the riots. Nearly 30 students and non-students were arrested during the fighting. There were another dozen students who were injured. The Asian students stayed out of the riots completely, but Latino students joined in and sided with the blacks.

Loyola Student Beaten by TJO members, 1972

A Loyola Sophomore was playing baseball with five of his friends when he was attacked by some TJO gang members and beaten with a bat. He was in the hospital with a fractured jaw and a possible concussion. Two TJO gang members were arrested and charged in the assault.

T.J.O. Verses the Foster Avenue District Police, 1973

A Judge refused to grant the T.J.O. gang members an injunction against the Foster Avenue District Police. The T.J.O. had filed a $1 million in damages on the grounds that the police had violated their civil rights. This lawsuit was part of the case brought against the Early-Ardmore-Victoria Association.

Early-Ardmore-Victoria Neighbors Association, 1979

After a TJO member assaulted a neighborhood man, kicking his eye out of his socket, the Early-Ardmore-Victoria neighborhood group was formed to fight the TJO gang. The group was able to get some arrests protecting each other when the TJO declared themselves a social club, “a formal group,” and filed suit against the residence charging them with infringing on their rights. The case was dismissed but, the residents spent $2,000.00 on legal fees which really hurt the group.  

The group did not let up on the TJO, and kept on the reporting, but after the leadership of the gang received life sentences for an ambush shotgun slaying, the TJO was a shell of its original gang.

The organizers of the Early-Armore-Victoria Association were given awards for their effort in fighting crime in the Edgewater community and contributing to the “Beat Rep Program” started by the city.

October  16, 1984 at 1:30 p.m, Carson's The Rib Place

Members of the TJO set up some supposed Cocaine dealers to make a drug deal with the intention of robbing them, in the parking lot of Carson (The Place For) Ribs on North Ridge at 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon.  At this time – the TJO thought that they were dealing with some dealers wanting to buy cocaine and had no idea that this was an uncover sting.

When the blue Trans Am pulled into the alley facing Carson’s Restaurant, the informant making the buy approached the car. At that time – a member of the TJO got out with a semiautomatic, Israeli-made UZI. The TJO said, “Give me your money or I’ll kill you!”  The informants hands went up, and at that time the uncover police called in; “It’s a rip!”

The uncover van started to get shot at. Then the TJO members jumped back into the van and screamed out of the alley down Paulina. One undercover officer took aim in the street and started firing at the Trans Am.  The back window of the Trans Am blew out and returned fire. The undercover officers gave chase and eventually arrested the TJO members. Three TJO members went to trial and were convicted on armed robbery and attempted murder charges.

Joe Ganci Court Cases

Ganci V. Washington: January 17, 2001

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. -163 F.3d 430: September 18, 1998

Bob Rehak: TJO Photo from the 1970s

Thorndale Jag Off's in Uptown Chicago

Thorndale Jag Off with bat in Uptown Chicago