Featured Story, Hustling & Hip-Hop

Seven Crowns

According to legend, Seven Crowns started out in 1970 as a street gang of rabble rousers whose members pelted houses and threatened to burn them down. Its members grew to include the future movers and shakers of Queens, including Anthony “Pretty Tony” Feurtado, Fat Cat and James “Wall” Corley. “Seven Crowns was way early-’70s,” Bing says. “I was in Seven Crowns. It was all on the Southside but different areas. It was all one gang.” While the origin of the name, Seven Crowns, was unclear, two people who were arrested wore gold rings with diamonds in the shape of a seven encrusted over a crown. Each gang member was viewed as a jewel in the crown.

“In the early-’70s Queens had a lot of gangs,” Lance said. “We were fools. We went off the chain. At one point we were 1,500 members strong. That was way back in the early-70s. We were just friends. This is how everything came together. It was one love. We unified like ‘77-‘78. Our role models were guys on the street from the hood who sold drugs. Our childhood was like normal kids. We were wild, but we didn’t carry any guns, we believed in a beat down.”

Queens in the ’70s, as in most areas where black folks settled, was filled with young people with radical leanings and no outlet. After the dismantling of black militant groups like the Black Panthers, street gangs emerged, inspired by the militancy but without the political bent. “Everybody wanted to be in a gang then,” Bing says. “It wasn’t wild.  It was comfortable. We had little gang fights but no major killings, little brawls, shit like that, regular shit, no gunplay.”

Michael Mitchell, who everyone called Mr. Black or just plain Black formed the Queens division of the Seven Crowns, a gang originally from the Bronx. His neighbors, Fat Cat and Pretty Tony, joined immediately. “We lived on the same block and we went to the same schools. We knew each other since childhood,” Lance said. “We were trendsetters; we would go out and steal mini-bikes and stuff.”

Seven Crowns broke down into certain divisions and teams. There was the Seven Crowns, Big Crowns, Lil’ Crowns, and Homicide Crowns. When Fat Cat and Lance first joined the Lil’ Crowns, Fat Cat was quickly made war counselor. His primary duty was to represent the Crowns in any dispute requiring a one-on-one confrontation. “Cat was big and strong for his age,” Black said. “Smart kid too, and on top of that he was good with his hands. We were the ones who gave him the name Fat Cat because of his size.” In the Southside of Jamaica, Fat Cat became feared because of his fighting skills. In the ghetto tough guys were admired and respected. Violence was the currency of the streets.

“I first met Fat Cat when we went into the Forties Houses to break up the Seven Crowns. They didn’t call him Fat Cat then. They called him Fat Boy. Any problem in the gang meant a call to Nichols to crush it,” the Queens detective said. “There were only 12 of us in the whole task force, so you got to know the street players pretty well. The Crowns had their drugs, but it was mostly smoke and heroin. No cocaine to speak of. Certainly no crack. Only the white kids were fucking around with angel dust, the same with pills. The Crowns wouldn’t screw around with pills. Fat Cat was just a kid, but he was a big kid. He had a mouth on him too. Still, he had some magnetism. You could see that. If we wanted guys to move, we’d go to Fat Cat. Once the Cat moved, they’d follow.”

When Fat Cat was paroled in 1980 from Spofford, the juvenile facility where he met the young Howard “Pappy” Mason, he walked into a fertile and growing drug market on the Southside. Pretty Tony was doing his thing, so he put Fat Cat on. Fat Cat didn’t just get on though, he locked it down. His ascension to the top of the Queens drug hierarchy was essentially unobstructed. By the time the Supreme Team started hustling, the landscape was changing. They would come to dominate what Pretty Tony and Fat Cat started. They would get deep in the streets and lock the area down just like Fat Cat.

The Cat moved around South Jamaica virtually untouched. He had the occasional riff with dudes from Forty Projects, but for the most part he was just about fun and money. Sixty or so thousand was an average week, and that was just off dope. Fat Cat was doing his thing. He had 20 dudes working for him, and his organization was growing. Pappy Mason held the crew down as enforcer. While everybody played their position, Cat was the shot caller. Together they moved as one, making money and partying.  Everyone was styling in Queens.

The names that started ringing bells in the streets of South Jamaica formed an alliance. They were all coming out of the borough that was once the place to raise a family, not duck for cover. With the coming of the young drug lords, all that would change. Forty Projects started rumbling while Baisley Projects was vibrating. The Southside was bubbling with drug crews and money. The natural order would persevere, but in the chaos of the streets anything could happen. Coke was moving, but crack was on the way, and the numbers would rise. These were the wonder years.

This is an excerpt from The Supreme Team


  • Mark Harper says:

    Homicide crowns came on summer of 76 from van wyck homicides. Any other info u wanna know ask. But this was just as Roscoe.. Cats old partner was murdered on Rockaway blvd. Power to the sevrn4.

    • RICKY l GARDNER says:

      who is this? i am getting tied of reading all this fucking Hear say about My People. The Seven Crowns!!!
      first let me tell yall i am “Nickels”, once Lil Nickels. I was & Still And Always will be The Supreme Vice President of All Lil Crowns. Sneaky is President, Fat Cat Warlord, All Crowns Under Us was really “Honorary Crowns.” Why because they never came to a Real Gang Fight. I am What we call “The Main 21.” That is what i am going to tell everyone the real story about the Seven Crowns. All that bullshit about burning down house’s is Bullshit. we Never did nothing like that. It was another gang Park-house!!! So if you wasn’t there like A lot of people wasn’t, I’m going to let Everyone know real soon. Nickels

  • Michelle says:

    Its so sad alot of people died or got life in jail.
    I miss my uncle pookie. Our black men are smart couldve build legal businesses its like they would rather yall be in gangs hurting each other and your community. Its just sad

  • Juan says:

    My peeps were the Wards. Pink house on the corner of Linden and Van Wyck! Charles Darrel Lorries and Neicy

  • Charles Blount says:

    I need to comply with Ricky Gardner because hes right even though I don’t live in that facility but I remember when I was in the 7 crowns in The Bronx in the seventies the leader was Jerry whose father was a Crown before
    our g enerations at that time as fasr as I remember I’m not gonna go off and name individuals from The Bronx there’s no need what we all know who we are may all of them
    rest in peace. East 168th and vyse Avenue. Jerry, Ralph, Johnny, big herb, me. Hoe ave. , 172nd street, bronx boys club east 173rd street. Herman ridder jhs # 98 on boston road, the old record shop across from 98, the pizza spot on the corner of 173rd across from the school, the Dover movie theater next to 174th train station…number 2 train when the fare was only 20 cents and we still would jump the train go to Harlem, brooklyn, wherever, lol. Ball play playing in Corona park, the handball courts and another basketball court on top of the Plato which is still there, and the midnight rumbles between the charmers and ……I forget their name. The vyse tigers who changed their name to the JAVELINS….RUBEN from off southern Blvd. Was president at that time ….but back then it was straight up rumbles, maybe some switch blade action against a 007 wood blade…big as hell and what do you think if you pulled out your K55 knife and you see that 007….lol…better come out with your broken bicycle chain if your going show forth and prove. Oh, and no one run until the cop comes down. Run back to the spot, laughing, hurting drinking that good ole Gypy Rose, Swiss-up looking like gasoline. Hey, here’s one gang that no one would dear mess with, ever. Now if you are / back in the day I will tell you the name but you would have to tell what street there were on, or maybe I tell you the street and you tell me who that president was. Also, remember the FEASTERS, around boston road and wilkens Avenue over at jhs 136. Talk about those 5 percenter back then…no jokes about that
    Peace old school companions weather we were enemies or not. We are still here and have passed that phase, we are better men. Peace!!

  • Charles Blount says:

    I figured as much that I’m not gonna get the replies I was expecting but then A lot of them guy’s dead and gone. Let’s face it that’s to pass this is the future those who survive during those days is still here to talk about it congratulations because you have moved on with your life there’s nothing wrong with reminiscent and talk about things that happened in the past but it’s not good to dwell on it I just brought this conversation that because that was something that I have gone through in my life during those times as a juvenile delinquent but I have prospered and bypass all that as time went by I didn’t have to go to jail or be incarcerated pre se, to speak the truth about what went on in the bronx. Now I remember some of the bronx 7 crowns going out to queens but not me. I a bx., Harlem type of guy…lol…listen I’m 67 years old… not to many people are around anymore. We are talking 50 years ago, my children are between 40 and 50 years old …my granddaughter is 30 and her baby is 10 years old. Let’s leave this conversation in the pass. So glad to be alive and remember, what we as contemporaries at that time is nothing compared to what is going on now. They can have it ! Oh, some may know me as “FARMER” or SKI…not skitter, hell no…lol skitter lived across the street … same side of the street from TRIED STONE BAPTIST CHURCH which is next to Hermen Ridder jhs # 98. He had 2 older sisters and other siblings but at that tell babies. They lived in the 4th floor. Right across from skitters apartment on Boston Road and Seabury street was the record shop me, dip, wink “the glove” hung out and the A&P supermarket which the bowling also next door was another hangout spot. Now, can anyone tell me where the TURBANS SPOT WAS AT AND WHO THE GANG LEADER WAS… I DOUBT IT…TO FAR BACK. NICE TALKING …PEACE

  • D. Lewis says:

    Reading this article brought back memories of south side in the early seventies. I knew the Mitchell’s pretty well, Black, Raymond who I went to school with, Slaughter and Thomas. Me and Sharon were very close back then. I just lost a friend up there, Sonny, Lance and pretty Tony would know him. If any of them are around let me know. Danny Lewis

  • Michael Mitchell says:

    I was and will always be the President of the Queens Seven Crowns. Lance and Todd have never been in any position of power with us. They wasn’t old enough to be down. Tony yeah.
    The story they are telling is nothing but a pack of lies. Lance was never down. He got his street credit from being Tony’s brother. Todd did become a member of the lil Crowns this was 4 or 5yrs after I started the Crowns. Lance is a wanna b. He put in no work as a Crown because he wasn’t one. Those books “Seven Crowns Hip hop hustling by Herranti something and Ethan Brown’s book when it comes to us (Seven Crowns) is full of bullshit. Fat Cats role and Tony’s role as a Crown is misrepresent by

  • Michael Mitchell says:

    Tony and Cat have been loyal Crowns since they got down and became part of my inner circle (main 21) and we are bonded for life. We have put our lives and freedom in each other’s hands many times. And so have many other loyal Crowns. My book “Power to the Seven will be out in a few months and I challenge anyone
    who disputes the legitimacy of anything that’s in it.
    Mr.Black President of the 11th Division and Supreme President of all Queens Divisions.
    1972 to now.

    • Calvin James says:

      Yes Mr Black you straight up with it I just want to add that we, meaning you and me and others from the south side first started the gang life as the Wild Bunch and soon there after you began classes at a culinary school in the Bronx when one day you came home as president of the seven crowns and began the South Jamaica Queens chapter of the seven crowns. You may not remember me but you and me along with Billy Jose king and others became good friends it’s even funny now to this day that you never did like Lance LOL because he really did talked that BS but it is what it is. One more thing Black you and the other members of the seven crown practically saved my life I wasn’t built for the gang life and you and the other members saw that I thank you for making me realize that I wasn’t gang material.

      Calvin James 40 projects

  • Mr Black says:

    Seth Ferranti and Ethan Brown relied on people who wasn’t down and wasn’t there. The only Crown in that picture you’ll showing was
    Cat. Lance didn’t go to school with none of us. I got my GED on Rikers island. P.S 189. I’m 8 yrs older than him. And Corley wasn’t a Crown. They (Ethan and Seth) went to the wrong people. I talked to Ethan and he didn’t mention nothing I told him. I just got another CD of my book. I lost my copy on the
    Bus (Greyhound) and I just caught up with my publisher after 2yrs. All I need is the cover design and its ready for print.
    PTTS Mr. Black

  • King Sly says:

    I went to elementary school with RICKY L GARDNER (Mr. Nickels). We were good friends. I hung out with Lil Nigger Charlie, Papoose, and Mr. Black’s brother Thomas (Mr. T.). We went to 8 (IS8).
    Had a lot of fun. I went with Lil Nigger Charlie’s sister Shirley for a little while. How I’m in my 60’s. Power to the 7!

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