Throughout much of the 2000s, Saginaw, Michigan, a crime-infested, working-class town 90 miles north of Detroit, was besieged by gang warfare, as the city’s then-preeminent street gang, the Sunny Side Gang, representing the city’s south side, fought it out with the North Side Gang for turf and bragging rights in the local drug game. The Sunny Side Gang was started by Stanley (South Side Stan) Brazil in the late 1990s.

The Sunny Siders have been back in the news in recent months, first with the indictment of Brazil’s former main muscle and his reputed successor as leader of the gang, Damarlin (Bleed) Beavers in October 2016 and last week’s brazen slaying of gang member DeMarlon Thomas – seen above – inside a Saginaw halfway house, just weeks after having his 20-year sentence for drug-dealing commuted by departing U.S. President Barak Obama. The 31-year old Thomas, a one-time football star at Saginaw High School in the early 2000s, had served nine years behind bars.

Below is a list of notable red-letter days in Sunny Side Gang history:

1998 – The Sunny Side Gang is founded by Stanley (South Side Stan) Brazil. The gang’s handle comes from an intentionally-ironic nickname the city of Saginaw’s South Side has had for decades.

June 11, 2005 – North Side Gang member Demario Reed is shot and killed in retaliation for an altercation at a bar with Sunny Side Gang members the previous month.

June 14, 2005 – Sunny Side Gang member Chuckie Robinson is executed allegedly in retaliation for the Reed slaying. The 16-year old Robinson was chased through his neighborhood by gun-toting assassins and finally delivered a kill-shot to the head blocks from his home.

November 17, 2005 – Federal witness and former Sunny Side Gang member Ed Calhoun is found dead. Calhoun had testified against “OG” Sunny Side gang section leader Brent Crittendon in a drug case five years earlier. Crittendon was charged with a 2013 murder of Trayvon Doster back in the fall. He’s currently serving a 15-year prison term for armed robbery in a Georgia state penitentiary.

December 10, 2005 – Sunny Side Gang crew chief Roy (Fat Daddy) Blair is killed in a shootout that erupts at Wiseguys Smokehouse, a Saginaw area bar and BBQ joint.

July 26, 2006 – Almost 20 Sunny Side Gang lieutenants are indicted on federal drug and weapons charges, led by resident enforcers Damarlin (Bleed) Beavers and Gerald (Turk) Walker.

October 26, 2007 – Another-near 20 Sunny Side Gang members are brought down in Operation Sunset, a two-year, multi-agency undercover operation involving the FBI, DEA, ATF, Saginaw Police and Michigan State Police. Among those busted in the drug and racketeering probe, Sunny Side drug lord “South Side Stan” Brazil and DeMarlon Thomas, just four years removed from getting a scholarship to a junior college in Minnesota to play football.

April 17, 2009 – Sunny Side Gang boss “South Side Stan” Brazil is sentenced to 31 years in federal prison. Brazil lost his teenage brother to gang violence in the late 1990s. DeMarlon Thomas gets a 20-year term.

October 14, 2016 – More than a dozen Sunny Side Gang members are indicted on federal drug charges. The lead defendant in the case is “Bleed” Beavers, the man the government believes replaced Stan Brazil at the top of the Sunny Side Gang food chain. Beavers has pled not guilty.

January 23, 2017 – Former Sunny Side Gang lieutenant DeMarlon Thomas is killed in the Bannum Place halfway house. The 31-year old Thomas had his 20-year prison sentence commuted late last year. He arrived at Bannum Place in December and was scheduled for full release in March. Last Tuesday, two masked assassins carrying assault rifles stormed the Saginaw halfway house, kept two dozen terrified occupants at bay as they searched out, found and executed Thomas with several shots to the head, neck and face at close range.

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