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Organized Crime in Chicago

Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia

ROBERT M. LOMBARDO
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt2tt9mc
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  • Book Info
    Organized Crime in Chicago
    Book Description:

    This book provides a comprehensive sociological explanation for the emergence and continuation of organized crime in Chicago. Tracing the roots of political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in Chicago and other large American cities, Robert M. Lombardo challenges the dominant belief that organized crime in America descended directly from the Sicilian Mafia. According to this widespread "alien conspiracy" theory, organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the Black Hand in America's immigrant colonies, and culminating in the development of the Cosa Nostra in America's urban centers._x000B__x000B_Looking beyond this Mafia paradigm, this volume argues that the development of organized crime in Chicago and other large American cities was rooted in the social structure of American society. Specifically, Lombardo ties organized crime to the emergence of machine politics in America's urban centers. From nineteenth-century vice syndicates to the modern-day Outfit, Chicago's criminal underworld could not have existed without the blessing of those who controlled municipal, county, and state government. These practices were not imported from Sicily, Lombardo contends, but were bred in the socially disorganized slums of America where elected officials routinely franchised vice and crime in exchange for money and votes. This book also traces the history of the African-American community's participation in traditional organized crime in Chicago and offers new perspectives on the organizational structure of the Chicago Outfit, the traditional organized crime group in Chicago._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09448-4
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)

    This book examines organized crime in the city of Chicago from a sociological perspective. The term organized crime is used to define the political corruption that afforded protection to gambling, prostitution, and other vice activity in large American cities from the second half of the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century. The dominant belief is that organized crime in Chicago, and other American cities, is descendent of the Sicilian Mafia. In fact, the alien conspiracy theory argues that organized crime evolved in a linear fashion beginning with the Mafia in Sicily, emerging in the form of the...

  5. 1 EXPLAINING ORGANIZED CRIME
    (pp. 15-36)

    The competing alien conspiracy and ethnic succession explanations for the emergence of organized crime in America are based upon two separate but related theories of crime: cultural deviance and social disorganization. Although they are both mainstream theories, their classification is often a difficult task. Cultural deviance theory, for example, has been explained at both the micro and macro levels, and there are two variants of social disorganization theory. To add to the confusion, there is also what has come to be known as Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay’s “mixed” model of delinquency, combining both social disorganization and cultural deviance.¹ All...

  6. 2 THE GEM OF THE PRAIRIE
    (pp. 37-56)

    In 1670 French trader Pierre Moreau built a cabin on the site where the Chicago River empties into Lake Michigan.¹ The area was called chickagou (bad smell) by the Potawatomi Indians because of the aroma of the skunk cabbage that choked the bogs draining into the river. It was not until one hundred years later that Chicago’s first permanent settler arrived. In 1779 Jean Baptiste Point du Sable established residency at the intersection of the north and south branches of the Chicago River. The area, however, continued to be controlled by local Indians until 1794, when army general “Mad Anthony”...

  7. 3 THE BLACK MAFIA
    (pp. 57-78)

    This chapter studies the participation of African Americans in organized crime in Chicago. The history of African American involvement in organized crime is confusing, to say the least. Although a number of authors have recognized black participation in the policy (lottery) gambling racket, they also argue that African Americans lacked the political associations and organizational skills necessary to participate in criminal activity on the same level as the once-prominent Italian American crime syndicates. For example, St. Claire Drake and Horace Clayton reported in 1945 that Negroes never got more than “petty cuts” from gambling and vice protection. In their more...

  8. 4 THE SYNDICATE
    (pp. 79-100)

    The National Prohibition Enforcement Act ended the sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. The enactment of Prohibition in 1920 was the result of a one-hundred-year struggle to curtail the use of alcohol by the American public. At the time of the American Revolution, alcohol was seen as the “good creature of god,” an indispensable part of clean and healthy living. It was a regular part of the daily diet and was thought to prevent many diseases. In fact, workmen often received part of their pay in rum or other spirits, and alcohol consumption was common at business and...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 THE FORTY-TWO GANG
    (pp. 101-118)

    This chapter reviews the history of the Forty-two Gang and its significance for the continued development of organized crime in Chicago. The Forty-two Gang was a group of teenage boys and young men who committed an endless series of crimes in Chicago’s Near West Side during the years between 1925 and 1934. Although they concentrated on auto theft, the Forty-two Gang engaged in nearly every other form of crime, from coin-box looting and smash-and-grab burglary to armed robbery and murder. During Prohibition the gang also furnished cars for their elders in the alcohol and bootleg rackets. They even robbed Mrs....

  11. 6 THE OUTFIT
    (pp. 119-148)

    The 1950s brought new leadership to the Capone syndicate. Things were changing. The old-timers who had known Al Capone were dead, in prison, or living in lavish suburban homes, and a new group of younger men was taking their place. These new gangsters weren’t born in Sicily, nor did they grow up running beer during Prohibition. They were former delinquents who had terrorized the streets of Chicago’s river wards. Among them were many members of the Forty-two Gang. The entrance of the Forty-two Gang had marked a turning point in organized crime in Chicago. Until this time the Capone syndicate...

  12. 7 THE OUTFIT AS A COMPLEX ORGANIZATION
    (pp. 149-166)

    Since the 1950s, sociologists have debated the structure of organized crime in American society. Two basic positions have emerged. The first portrays a nationwide association of Italian American criminals bound together by a rigid code of conduct within a rational, bureaucratic structure with an elaborate division of labor and detailed general rules of conduct. The second presents a system of Italian American criminal units tied together by a patrimonial network of social relationships within a structure that is not rational, but traditional.

    This debate places organized crime somewhere on a continuum between a rationally defined formal organization and a naturally...

  13. 8 STREET CREW NEIGHBORHOODS
    (pp. 167-194)

    The connection between neighborhood areas and organized crime is well established in the criminology literature. Delinquency areas, racket subcultures, and defended neighborhoods have all been found to contribute to the continuation of traditional organized crime in American society. In the Chicago metropolitan area five communities have historically been associated with organized crime. These neighborhoods have served as racket subcultures in Chicago. This chapter tests the hypothesis that members of traditional organized crime come from select community areas by determining the communities of origin of a sample of 191 members of the Chicago Outfit. If the works reviewed in chapter 1...

  14. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 195-210)

    This study has demonstrated that traditional organized crime in America is not the result of a transplanted Sicilian Mafia but is directly related to the social conditions that were found in American society during the early years of the twentieth century. This argument is supported by the fact that Italian-dominated organized crime does not exist in Brazil or Argentina, other countries that experienced major southern Italian immigration, nor did it exist in the north of Italy until the advent of the nuova mafia after World War II. This difference can be attributed to the fact that in the United States...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 211-246)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 247-258)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-263)