Deadly Gangsta “1” is the autobiography of Lorenzo Petty, Sr., proclaimed by local law enforcement and the news media as one of the most dangerous gangsters to prowl the streets of St. Louis during the 1970s. Former local newsman John Auble included the Petty brothers in his book, A History of St. Louis Gangsters. Lorenzo grew up during a time in St. Louis when poverty, degradation, hate, and crime were woven into the landscape of black ghettos. He decided early in life how he would survive: he would employ the laws of the jungle and demand respect. Lorenzo’s life was not unlike that of the multitude of young black males who were trapped in a bottomless pit, and who resorted to criminal behaviors in order to survive and obtain material possessions. At an early age he became locked into the criminal justice system. He became King of the Jungle.
“Lorenzo is one mean dude and just about everybody is scared to death of him. Maybe, just maybe, with him being locked up, things will cool down.”
– Detective Pete Gober St. Louis Times, December 4, 1978.
Lorenzo relives the unnatural and degrading years of incarceration in most of the prisons in Missouri and others outside Missouri, illuminating what he refers to as the “Black Man’s Agony.” Yet he became a revolutionary of significant importance. His relationships with H. Rap Brown, Angela Davis, and the Black Stone Rangers, and as founder of the St. Louis-based Black Liberators, speaks volumes regarding his beliefs and feelings regarding the American system, and his actions regarding those beliefs as they relate to the treatment of “Black Folk.” Leaving prison for the final time at age 57, he has found peace and resolution and ends Deadly Gangsta “1” with a penetrating message for those who may be in danger of following a similar path. Today, in 2018, he and a group of contemporaries are engaged in a grass-roots effort to educate and bring hope to a new generation.