Al Capone-Sinner and Saint

Gangster Al Capone Smoking Cigar

Al Capone was one of the most brutal criminals ever , there is no denying that. But as sometimes is the case that good men can do bad thing, the reverse is also true,bad men can do good things.

Al Capone started one of the first soup kitchens. The kitchen employed a few people, but fed many more. In fact, preceding the passage of the Social Security Act, “soup kitchens” like the one Al Capone founded, provided the only meals that some unemployed Americans had. They rose to prominence in the U.S. during the Great Depression. One of the first and obvious benefits of a soup kitchen was to provide a place where the homeless and poor could get free food and a brief rest from the struggles of surviving on the streets.

Al Capone's soup kitchen during the Great Depression, Chicago, 1931

Al Capone was a gangster who made a fortune during the prohibition though bootlegging. He had a bit of the Robin Hood mystique by being charitable from some of the money he made running his criminal enterprise. Being a bootlegger (made/distributed illegal alcohol) during Prohibition (the period in the USA from 1920-1933 when alcohol was illegal) was seen as an acceptable, glamorous, even brave thing to do by the public. But it’s well-known that he had brutal methods murdering enemies, extorting local businesses, bribing public officials, intimidating witnesses.

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Al Capone’s intentions were an effort to clean up his image. “120 000 meals are served by Capone Free Soup Kitchen” the Chicago Tribune headlined on December 1931. Al Capone’s soup kitchen became one of the strangest sight Chicagoans had ever seen. An army of ragged, starving men assembled three times a day beside a storefront at 935 South State Street, feasting on the largesse of Al Capone. Toasting his health. Telling the newspapers that Capone was doing more for the poor than the entire U.S. government. He was even offering some of them jobs. Capone milked his good works for all the favorable publicity they were worth. He came down and walked among the men, the wretched of the earth, offering a handshake, a hearty smile, and words of encouragement from the great Al Capone.

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During November and December, Al Capone’s soup kitchen kept regular hours, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thanksgiving Day 1930 was a particular public relations triumph for Capone. On that day he could boast that he fed more than 5,000 hungry men, women, and children with a hearty beef stew. The kitchen was demolished in the 1950s, but used to be located at the corner of 9th and State Street. The site is now a parking lot.

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Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre

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The St. Valentine’s Day massacre—the most spectacular gangland slaying in mob history—was actually somewhat of a failure.

Al Capone had arranged for Chicago mobster George “Bugs” Moran and most of his North Side Gang to be eliminated on February 14, 1929. The plan, probably devised by Capone’s henchman “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, was simple and deviously clever, but Capone’s primary target escaped.

 

 

The Plan

A bootlegger loyal to Capone would draw Moran and his gang to a warehouse under the pretense that they would be receiving a shipment of smuggled whiskey for a price that proved too good to be true. The delivery was set for a red brick warehouse at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago at 10:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day.

Capone arranged to distance himself from the assassinations by spending time at his home in Miami while the heinous act was committed.

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The Morning of February 14, 1929

That snowy morning, a group of Moran’s men waited for Bugs Moran at the warehouse. Among them were Jon May, an auto mechanic hired by Moran; Frank and Pete Gusenburg, who had previously tried to murder Machine Gun Jack McGurn; James Clark, Moran’s brother-in-law; and Reinhardt Schwimmer, a young optometrist who often hung around for the thrill of sharing company with gangsters. Moran happened to be running a bit late.

When Moran’s car turned the corner onto North Clarke, he and his lackeys, Willy Marks and Ted Newbury, spotted a police wagon rolling up to the warehouse. Figuring it was a bust he watched as five men—including three dressed in police uniforms—entered the warehouse. With the arrival of the “cops,” Moran and Co. scrammed.

The Massacre

Inside the warehouse, Moran’s men were confronted by the hit men disguised as policemen. Assuming it was a routine bust, they followed instructions as they were ordered to line up against the wall. The hit men then opened fire with Thompson submachine guns, killing six of the seven men immediately. Despite 22 bullet wounds, Frank Gusenberg survived the attack but died after arriving at Alexian Brothers Hospital.

 

 

After the attack, the uniformed perpetrators marched their plain-clothed accomplices out the front door with their hands raised, just in case anyone was watching. Capone’s hit men piled into the police wagon and drove away.

The Aftermath

The newspapers instantly picked up on the crime, dubbing it the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” The story appeared on front pages around the country, making Capone a nationwide celebrity. While Capone seemed to revel in his new fame, he also had to deal with the new level of attention from federal law enforcement officials.

George “Bugs” Moran knew Capone wanted him killed and pegged the crime on him right away. “Only Capone kills like that,” he said, though authorities had no concrete evidence. Capone was in Florida and his henchman McGurn had an alibi of his own. No one was ever tried for this most spectacular slaying in mob history.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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