Featured Story, Street Gangs

They Call Themselves the Bebos

Go Against Crews Like Bebo/And Killers Like Pappy Mason, 50 Cent
Ghetto Qu’ran, Guess Who’s Back (2001)  

In the mid-to-late 80s, when the South Jamaican Queens crack wars were in full swing, bodies were dropping like no tomorrow. In one of the most violent narcotics battlegrounds in the city the Bebos forged their legend and became symbols of the New York drug trade and the crack era due to their flagrant disregard of the law and their willingness to target law enforcement officials and witnesses who testified or gave information about their illicit activities. With their leader Howard “Pappy” Mason, they ruled the crack and cocaine business that engulfed working and middle class Queensdriving the homicide rates up to unprecedented levels. Violence was a Bebos trademark and the crew was blamed for the most notorious case ever in the city, a cop killing at the height of the crack epidemic that changed national policy and ushered in legislation on the Drug War and federal drug sentences. Along with Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, Wall Corley, Tommy Mickens and the Supreme Team the Bebos have gone down in gangster lore. To get the real we got with Char “Shocker” Davis, a Bebo soldier under Pappy Mason.

GorillaConvict- What’s up? Where are you from? Give us some history on your self?

Char “Shocker” Davis- I was born and raised in Forty Projects. Our projects name is South JamaicaHouses but its better know as Forty Projects. I burglarized houses, I was so little I could climb through the windows. I stole bikes from the whole neighborhood. My father taught me how to boost. I was already a criminal. I was destined to get down with someone but Pap just happened to be the one. I always knew about Fat Cat cause of Seven Crowns. Seven Crowns was a big known gang in my neighborhood. I wanted to be a gangster, I thought I would get down with the Corleys though because they ran my projects.

GC- Describe the crack era back in the 80s when the drug first hit in Queens and what it was like?

Shocker- When crack first hit it was crazy bananas. Before crack there were some crews getting money but when crack hit the scene all these broke ass motherfuckers started getting rich. Crack is a poor mans drug, its not like heroin. I’ve seen mothers literally selling their baby’s soul for a hit of the pipe. The invention of crack was a curse and a gift to the game. 

GC- What was the block like? Describe the scene and how much money was going through there?

Shocker- The block back then everybody was hustling, hustlers everywhere. You had the crackheads lined up like they were giving out free cheese. There was enough money for everybody.Jamaica had a little order, you had Cat, Supreme, Pap, Corley. They had a thing called the roundtable. They all had rings. They were altogether. Whenever there was a beef among crews they’d come down to the roundtable to settle it. That was Fat Cats idea. We were security for Cat, an extension of him. Cat put Pap on and then Pap went on his own but we were still under Cat to an extent.

GC- Describe Pap’s spot in Forty Projects? How did he get that? What kind of shit was going down?

Shocker- We hustled in the project like outside. I guess you’d say that was the spot. Fat Cat gave Pap the spot. Shit everybody was getting paid.

GC- Describesome of the beefs with the Forty Project dudes and the Corleys when Pap was getting situated there?

Actually we really didn’t have any beef, but there was a beef with the Corley crew and Fat Cat’s crew way before Pappy was hustling in the projects. That was at this skating rink on Jamaica Avenue and the Corleys and Fat Cat got into a shootout. Then after that Wall Corley and Fat Cat came to some kind of agreement cause Fat Cat had a spot in the projects and that spot became Pap’s spot.

Living in the world of the Bebos was unique in the burgeoning hip-hop culture of mid-80s Queens. Pappy was already working as Fat Cats enforcer but when he decided to form his own crew the Southside of Queens fell under the Bebos sway. Pappy had a big influence on the Bebos and his obsession with Jamaican culture was adopted by them. “The Bebos were underneath Pap. He was the head nigga in charge, he was amongst them Bebo niggas from Forty Projects. They used to be like Pap talking Jamaican and the like,” the Queens Hustler says. “Those Bebo niggas they were out there. They had leather jackets with Bebo on it.” But some dudes in the crew disputed that they ever had jackets.

The Bebos hung out at Forty Projects and talked in a Jamaican patios to circumvent police surveillance. They were very involved in creating their own thing and dudes around the way thought they were crazy Uzi-toting gangsters. This was an image they gladly reinforced. “Bebo is a way of life to Rasta man and Jah for real.” Pappy Mason said. Char “Shocker”Davis was part of the crew as were Philip “Marshal” Copeland, Todd Scott, Marty Howell, Scott Cobb, Darry Newby and Ruff. “Todd Scott and them niggas are from Forty Projects,” the Queens Hustler says and Forty Projects became the Bebos base of operations and headquarters. They ruled the projects and became its overlords. They hustled on one end of the projects and Wall Corley’s people hustled at the other end.

GC- What was it like to be a Bebo? What did it mean to you? What type of stature did you all have?

Shocker- It was a really good time in my life cause I didn’t have any brothers. It was like having a bunch of big brothers who would do whatever for me, who had my back against anybody and I had theirs too. We was all brothers from another mother and being a part of something. Our stature that’s for other people to decide.

GC- When did the Bebos originate?

Shocker- I’m an original Bebo, Bebos came about like 84/85. That’s when we started calling each other Bebos. Most of us had dreads, they thought we were Jamaican, a Jamaican gang but we weren’t. There wasn’t that many of us.

GC- For the Bebos what type of clothes were you all rocking? What was your style?

Shocker- We wore what everybody else was wearing who was hustling and getting money. Back in the day hip-hop people was trying to be like us. We all had dreads and rocked what the hustlers of the 80s did.

GC- What type of music were you all into?

Shocker- Hip-hop, Reggae and R & B. We were with the new hip-hop stuff and into all the reggae and dancehall music fromJamaica plus the old school R&B jams.

GC- Looking back what does it all mean to you now?

Shocker- Well, I was young, full of cum and having fun but I didn’t realize that I played a major part in the destruction of my people.

The Bebos were fiercely loyal to Pappy. “They got a thing called ‘one love’ when Pappy say you do, you do. One love mean do or die. We all tight, we family. When Pappy give an order you do.” Scott Cobb said. But Shocker says, “One love don’t mean do or die. One love means peace and love. Just like when people say love is love.” Pappy would be wearing a tan leather suit and sporting a big ring with a map ofAfricaon it and a big diamond. The Bebos were into their heritage, culture and roots even though they sold cocaine and heroin in Forty Projects. They called Pappy, Bebo or Star. “That dude with the dreadlocks, that was Pappy.” The Queens Hustler said. “He was Fat Cat’s enforcer, he was the craziest guy out there.” Pappy and the Bebos had a notorious and mysterious reputation. Everybody thought they were an exotic crew of Jamaican gun-slingers fromBrooklyn, but most of them were homegrown Forty Project kids. Their workers sold $2500 worth of crack a day in the projects, 500 five dollar vials and were paid $700 a day. In the crack era they were getting mad cheddar. And Pappy had numerous workers working multiple shifts. They had a devil may care attitude and did what they wanted in the projects. The Bebos defied police and backed up their street star boss Pappy Mason to the max. They weren’t anything to play with.

GC- What was Pap’s stature in the street back then?

Shocker- He was feared, loved and respected. Looked up to and highly regarded. A lot of people thought he was crazy and not to be fucked with. I met Pap on the strength of Ruff. Almost everyone at my projects got down with Wall Corley. At one time Fat Cat and Wall had a rivalry but they worked it out and Pap started selling in the projects. Pap told me he was opening up a spot on the 7th floor in my building and that I could come up with Ruff, I went up there with Ruff and I’m down. I’m working security I got a walkie-talkie. One time the police run up, I get arrested but I don’t say nothing, so I’m locked in for life.

GC- Give us something, some quality or something you remember about Pap that no one knows?

Shocker- Well, he had an extremely big heart. He was like Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves. He didn’t like people taking advantage of other people, one time when he was on Rikers Island one of the kids that got locked up for beating a black kid to death on Howard Beach was having problems and Pappy protected that white kid with his life. Most people would have fed that kid to the wolves. I first met Pap in my project on160th Street. I see this dude with dreadlocks on a pedal bike. The way he talked, his whole swag, he was like a gangster god.

GC- Why has Pap’s legacy and legend remained alive so long?

He was a man’s man. He was truly a gangster god. Never to be forgotten. He taught us not to sell to pregnant women, kids or old ladies, Pap taught us to have honor. A lot of people didn’t have no honor.

But the Bebos wouldn’t last. A lot of crazy shit was going down in Queens. When crack was king and chaos reigned, the Bebos were at the center of it. Cat got busted and put in jail and Pappy soon followed. Fat Cat allegedly wanted Pappy to kill his probation officer for violating him and sending him back to jail. “That shit was swift.” The Queens Hustler says but Pappy didn’t do it, still dudes on the street said he did and Pappy went to jail. This would only be the first salvo in a battle Pappy Mason and the Bebos started in their war against the police. From prison Pappy told his lieutenant Marshal to “Ice a cop. We lose one they lose one.” His loyal followers drew straws to see who would do it. “We have to kill a police officer,” Todd Scott said. “The boss put an order out to hit a cop, 8 grand a head.” P.O.’s had been killed and rival dealers popped but the Bebos would top it all and kill a cop. On February 26, 1988four Bebos killed rookie officer Edward Byrne who was sitting in his patrol guard guarding a witness’s house. This event shocked the nation.

“We rocked that nigger.” Scott Cobb said after the shooting. “I am the baddest motherfucker around. Nobody can stop me.” But they would soon be caught. The streets were talking, “The Bebos done it, this is the kind of thing they would do.” The killing prompted an inquiry in which 250 police investigators worked 12 hour shifts and blanketed three precincts- the 103rd, 105th and 113th on the Southside of Queens. They conducted more than 200 interviews and questioned more than 300 suspected drug dealers and received over 350 calls. On the home front the Bebos thought they were invincible. They thought law enforcement was too preoccupied with the Italian Mafia but in killing a cop they had stepped over the line. “Pappy said that we had done a good job that it had gone down real smooth.” Scott Cobb said. It was back to business as usual but with one ofNew York City’s finest dead the cops were out for vengence. “The order to ice a cop was transmitted to Philip Copeland by Pappy Mason,” Justice Demakos said. “A cop on duty guarding a witness to a drug trans­action was executed. This arrogant act assaults our society and in turn affects each and every one of us, each and every neighborhood in our city.” The block and Forty Projects were shut down and four Bebos quickly arrested. The Southside of Queens would never be the same.

GC- What happened when the cop was shot?

That was the beginning of the end. I wasn’t home. I was locked up. I just violated. I got lucky I was in work release. I was in a trade school like a halfway house. Perhaps that was a good thing because the cop got killed and I might have been a suspect for that.

GC- Were the Bebos involved?

Shocker- Even to this day they saying that Todd Scott, David McClary, Philip Copeland and Scott Cobb did it. They got convicted for it but nobody knows if they really did it. If I was out there I would have gotten 25 to life too. The crazy thing about this too was Philip Copeland had an airtight alibi. He was laid up with some stunt in a hotel, had proof of that and everything, so how did they put him with them? So imagine what they would have done with me.

GC- What do you think now looking back?

Shocker- I think they all got a raw deal. That shit was political. You know when a police gets killed somebody has to pay for it. I think they got railroaded. They was gonna get convicted no matter what.

Most of the Bebos are serving long prison sentences for the cop killing or for a federal narcotics conspiracy like Shocker, who is doing 405 months. On May 17, 1989, the New York Times headline read, 250 Cheer as Byrne Killers Get 25 to Life. Justice was served but a frightening message was sent. In Queens witnesses were stalked and killed, then a cop was brutally assassinated leaving law enforcement thinking who will be next? Prosecutors and lawyers? Perhaps a judge? The feds reacted quickly declaring the War on Drugs and enacting mandatory minimum sentences for crack offenders, turning our nation into a prison state. This die was cast and all the dealers from the crack era and future generations were severely punished. The actions of the iconic hustlers from Queens changed national policy and turned America into incarceration nation.

Pappy and the Bebos remain strong though. “I am strong, I will never give up on Bebo.” Pappy said. “I refused to cooperate even though my mother faced jail time. She knows about white people.” Pappy Mason was eventually convicted in federal court for ordering the cop killing and directing and issuing orders over jailhouse telephones and in visits. He was sentenced to life. From ADX Florence, the fed supermax, he sent this message out to his crew. “To all Bebos stay up and stay Bebo.”

GC- How did the feds take the Bebos down?

Shocker- The big indictment happened in August 88. That’s when they came for everyone. They came for me at my grandmother’s house but I wasn’t there. They caught me four months later at my baby mother’s house. Pap was in Comstock. Everybody else they got from the street. They locked Pap’s mom up for nothing.

GC- Did you go to trial?

Shocker- Yeah, and Pap’s mom went to trial with me. She got 10 years. Did her eight years and went home. She stood up. She died last year. Pap’s girl Mimi mysteriously left a package of crack in Pap’s mom’s house the day before the feds raided. Pap’s mom didn’t do nothing wrong. Mimi claimed she was on her way to the club and was gonna go back and get the package of crack but she didn’t. The feds don’t play fair. 

GC- Were you with Pappy when you were going to trial?

Shocker- I saw him everyday. They had him and Fat Cat behind the glass in the hole at MCC. Pap was in high security. The only time he could get out of his cell was when they gave him rec one hour a day or when he took a shower. The only time he got out was when he came for our codefendant meetings.

GC- How did the guards treat you?

Shocker- They treated us good. There was a little air of respect. They respected Pap so much. One time I was angry and I was rumbling with three police. They took me to the hole and Pap is in there doing his one hour rec. They was being rough with me but as soon as they saw Pap they started being all nice to me. After that I had my way at MCC. I did what I wanted.

The Bebos have gone down in infamy but they are now paying the ultimate price. Most have life in prison and those who don’t are doing multiple decades like Shocker. They have all been in the prison since the late-80s and most of them are not getting out anytime soon. They have lived on in legend in magazine profiles, Internet chat sites, blog entries, hip-hop’s lyrical lore, DVD’s and documentaries and books on them and their exploits. Check out their story in the upcoming book from Gorilla Convict Publications- Infamous Gangsters- Rayful, Fat Cat and Alpo Legendary Figures from the Black Underworld and Hip-Hop’s Lyrical Lore.




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