Kevin Chiles: Penthouse Interview

Article by Seth Ferranti

Selling drugs on a major level was essentially a full-time gig, and when you were committed to everything else that came with the fast pace of living the life, most of us did not see beyond the immediate. We lived our lives in dog years. To say it was fast-paced probably undersells the drama and events one day could hold. Add to that the fact that our lives, our freedom in the streets, had such a short-term expectancy and you could further understand why so many in my generation never planned for the future. This included not buying real estate and establishing legitimate businesses.

All that money, competition, limited turf — what did it do to the scene?

It created anarchy, renegades, and increased drama. Violence, kidnapping, and murders always existed in the drug game, but back in the day, with Nicky Barnes, Guy Fisher, and even my uncle, people knew they were robbing an organization. Within those organizations, the Mafia was usually seen as a party determined to protect its distribution network. So guys had to pick and choose who to rob or they would face immediate consequences.

Once that order was gone, it was a lot easier to rob individuals. There were no rules, and the younger generation and up-and-coming hustlers didn’t really fear the repercussions. It was like Lord of the Flies on steroids.

The increasingly violent environment effectively lead to a type of arms race, where having the most guns, and the biggest guns, along with a big crew, was deemed to serve as a form of deterrence. We took arming ourselves to excessive heights. Our stash houses were stockpiled with so many weapons and body armor you might have thought we were a private militia training to overthrow a Central American nation. Every day, we prepared to fight. The enemy may have even been unknown, but the playing field had become so deadly and unpredictable that you were forced to adapt or fall prey to it.

Can you talk about what happened with your mother?

My mother, Barbara Chiles, along with two other women, Rita Faulk and Sarray Watson, were all tied and bound, before being shot in the head. Sarray was the only survivor. Sarray was visiting Rita Faulk in the Fordham Road section of the Bronx. As she was coming out of a building, she and Rita were accosted by three guys with guns. They took them back into the building and up to the roof and robbed them of all their jewelry and money. But the robbers weren’t done. They piled into Sarray’s car and another car followed them. She directed them to my mother’s place. They waited for my mother to arrive home from work, and once she did, they used Sarray to access my mother’s apartment.

My mother was killed by cowards. If they wanted me, I wasn’t hard to find. I was usually at my store, BOSS Sneakers, on 125th Street in Harlem. There was neither money nor drugs in my mom’s house. These cowards shot three women, murdering two in cold blood. Two beautiful souls died, literally for nothing. My mother’s murder was another loud declaration that we were dealing with a different kind of savage in the crack era, who followed no rules or code of ethics. Maybe I’d watched too many Mafia movies in my life, but civilians — women, children, and families — were supposed to be left out of our affairs. As for my emotions, they were overwhelming and contradictory.

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