On his first night in Chicago, King held an open house, inviting neighbors to visit. He talked for a long time with six members of a local gang, the Vice Lords, about Gandhi and the concept of peaceful protest. Everyone, including King, sat on the floor. “We would say, ‘We respect what you’re saying, but if someone hits me, I’m going to hit him back,’ ” recalled Lawrence Johnson, one of the Vice Lords. King argued that the gang members would never win that way. The police would always have more power. “Hearing this, seeing him, being young, living in a depressive life in America, you couldn’t help but to fall in love with him,” Johnson said.
Despite the admonishment, the Vice Lords believed there was at least one thing they could do better than the police: protect Dr. King.
“I think he thought that, too,” said Johnson. ■