The LOE members that currently brag about “Loyalty Over Everything” and flash money, drugs and guns actually hijacked the name over a decade ago, according to a local professional who helped create the initials.
LOE was supposed to stand for “Leaders of Encouragement.”
But now, the LOE has become so poisonous and connected to crime that one of the original founders is scared to even reveal their name.
In December, four wanted members of the LOE gang were captured inside a Gordon Highway bar and caught with handguns, drugs and cash, including the heavily-tattooed John Turner (pictured below.)
This month, Sheriff Richard Roundtree tied the LOE gang to the drive-by killing of 8-year-old Arbrie Anthony, who was buried Wednesday afternoon.
And while the original LOE founder wants to keep their identity anonymous out of fear, they did want the original 2010 vision to be shared.
“It was designed for people that come to jail and they are trying to snatch them into the gangs. It was designed for them to remain loyal to the people their grandmother raised them to be,” the founder said in an interview this week.
A grandmother is referenced since most gang members are raised by them to be respectable people and do the right thing.
Of course, “Loyalty Over Everything” was initially the idea. The founder took a T-shirt and put that phrase on the back and the initials LOE on the front. But a local law enforcement veteran told them the name suggested that members were supposed to be loyal to other members and not snitch on them.
“So I went back, and I said that name will not work,” said the founder, who describes themselves as a radical solution-based activist.
It was changed to “Leaders of Encouragement,” complete with a new logo. And it was designed to be shared with people going into prison, a message to stand strong and resist the gang culture.
But then something happened. The founder believes one person came out of prison and moved back to Shirley Avenue, where the “Shirley Avenue Boys” were well-known. That’s where that person pushed an expansion of the group as LOE, or Loyalty Over Everything. Soon, there were hand gestures, gang graffiti, tattoos and crime.
“That is when it got outrageous,” the founder said. “It really got in the wrong hands, and the kids really didn’t understand the message.”
It only went downhill from there. In 2017, the sheriff’s office announced the indictment of 17 members of the LOE street gang following a two-year investigation. The gang was connected to murder, robbery, shootings, drugs, firearms violations, witness tampering, and bribery. At the time, the gang was estimated to have around 50 members and associates.
Authorities said LOE members used “12-15-5,” which corresponds to the position of the letters in the alphabet. Also, their stamp is 32, which is 12+15+5 added together. They also use other signs depicting 3 on one hand and 2 on the other, as well as the letter L.
After things spun out of control, the original founder reached out to their best friend from 2010.
“(They) said, I am seeing what’s going on, and it might be best to let it go and start over,” the founder said.
The founder said community members who were sold on the original vision began turning their noses and not communicating with them anymore. That is why the creator wants the history explained.
“People need to know the truth,” they said. “There is nothing I can do with loyalty over everything. That sounds like a gang.”
The founder said they want the killing and violence to stop. But what can they do now?
“We want to do something for the kids,” the creator said. “Talking ain’t working. But I don’t know what to do. … Gang activity needs to stop. And as leaders of encouragement, that is what we are saying. It needs to stop.”