SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has discovered a high-ranking member of the violent Latin Kings street gang was recently employed as the In-School-Suspension Paraprofessional at a South Bend middle school. And, it turns out, he is also affiliated with two other employees of the school who happen to be leaders of the South Bend Black Lives Matter movement. One of them is listed as the school’s principal.
According to school records, Eli Cantu was employed as the In-School-Suspension Paraprofessional at Jackson Middle School as recently as 2019. Cantu is an open member of the Latin Kings.
“I’m a very proud member of the Latin King and Queen Nation.” Cantu told RNM’s Clifton French.
Below are just a couple of examples of Cantu talking about the Latin Kings on social media.
Cantu, a former MMA fighter, says he started working with South Bend schools by starting boxing clubs. His first club was at Marshall in 2017 or 2018.
“Did it for about a season, then the next year… I was working at Jackson. Also, I started with boxing. Then the position opened up for me to do the ISS, so I did that. And, throughout my stay, I was able to coach wrestling and track.” Cantu said.
The Latin Kings are a highly structured gang headquartered out of Chicago where the top leaders are located. However, each city with a chapter has it’s own leadership that members typically answer to. But, there is one special rank known as a “Nation Man” that answers directly to top leadership in Chicago. Cantu is a Nation Man.
“Their objective is to get into a community and infiltrate some sort of law enforcement, community group, corrections, whatever it may be. It’s what that person’s sole goal is to do.” Jason Wilke, a retired police officer and Latin King expert said while speaking about the Latin Kings in general.
Wilke expressed concerns about any Latin King member being put into a position to influence children. Especially troubled youth as would typically be seen in an in-school suspension setting.
“Any group is going to go after your troubled youth. They’re very susceptible. It doesn’t matter what race they are. Part of the ideology of Kingism is to overcome racial prejudice.” Wilke said. “Any type of criminal enterprise that you can think of, they’re going to be involved in. Fraud is a big one especially for the younger kids who have a solid knowledge of the internet. Gambling, prostitution, human trafficking; any type of criminal enterprise that’s going to turn a dollar, they’re going to be involved in it.”
It turns out, Cantu has also built support from South Bend Black Lives Matter leadership. Below is a picture of Cantu with South Bend BLM leader Jorden Giger and activist/convicted domestic batterer, Wayne Hubbard (read more about Hubbard’s criminal history and activism here). RNM has learned Giger was also employed at Jackson Middle School and is still currently employed by SBCSC.
Giger was hired as a Special Education Paraprofessional at Jackson Middle School in 2020. As one of the main leaders of the South Bend BLM organization, he has organized marches and protests against the police. He is also facing multiple criminal charges for attempting to disarm a police officer and drunk driving. You can read details about those arrests here.
Giger is also vocal in his support of the Latin Kings. He posted “Latin Kings Lives Matter” on his Facebook page as seen below.
Tiana Batiste-Waddell, principal of Jackson Middle School, is also a leader in the South Bend BLM movement. And, has had an obvious close relationship with Giger. The two were even featured together in the New York Times when the national media focused on South Bend during Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential run. Below she is pictured with Giger and convicted domestic batterer, Wayne Hubbard, during an anti-police march in South Bend.
Batiste-Waddell is also known for attacking local grocery store workers for wearing American flag facemasks.
RNM reached out to the SBCSC for comment regarding all of the people mentioned above. RNM also asked if there were concerns about gang recruitment and radical teachings. Below is their full response.
“Eli Cantu was employed by the SBCSC from 10/30/2018 to 4/23/2019 and served as an In-School Suspension Paraprofessional at Jackson Middle School. During his employment, SBCSC received no allegations of gang activity related to Mr. Cantu.
Tiana Batiste Waddell is currently employed as an administrator on assignment. For the remainder of the year, her assignment is at Rise Up Academy. The board has approved a new principal for Jackson Middle School for the 2021-22 school year.
Jordan Giger is employed as a teacher on a one-year contract that expires on June 30, 2021. He is currently on leave and will have no duties once the school year ends on June 2, 2021.
Other than overlapping employment at Jackson Middle School, SBCSC is unaware of any relationship between the three named individuals.
SBCSC takes student safety very seriously. We work with community organizations and law enforcement to ensure that our schools maintain a safe environment that supports student learning, achievement, and growth. When the district receives credible threats of criminal activity or concerns about student safety, we report them to local law enforcement and work with community partners to support affected students as appropriate.”
RNM is also in possession of an email chain between a concerned citizen and school district leadership regarding Cantu’s involvement in South Bend schools. The email chain shows leadership was made aware of Cantu’s gang affiliation in 2019. However, dates on the emails appear to be from after Cantu was no longer employed by the district.
All of this comes to light as South Bend BLM leadership pressure the SBCSC to remove police officers out of schools. Earlier this month, BLM leadership held a news conference and rally to demand police officers be removed from all schools.
One of the speakers at the BLM anti-police rally was Regina Williams-Preston, who happens to be a school administrator with the South Bend Empowerment Zone. Earlier this month, another administrator with the Empowerment Zone kicked an officer out of an elementary school the day after a school shooting threat. You can see bodycam video of the incident and read more about that story here.
Below is a post from South Bend BLM’s Facebook page demanding police officers be taken out of schools.
The SBCSC seems to be cowering to the activists at the moment. This week the district sent out a survey about the “police in schools” issue. You can view the entire survey by visiting the link below.
This story has been updated to change “organization” to “movement” in the first paragraph.