Monday, February 14, 2011

Pop History Moment: The St. Valentine's Day Massacre


Possibly the most famous gangland hit in history, the St Valentine's Day Massacre was little more than a skirmish in terms of the ongoing turf war between the South Side of Chicago's Italian mob (run by the notorious Al Capone) and that city's North Side Gang (headed by the less famous but even more dangerous George 'Bugs' Moran). Originally planned by Patrick Leedom as Moran's assassination, in this sense the attack against the SMC Cartage warehouse at 2122 North Clark Street (in the city's Lincoln Park neighbourhood) was a complete and utter failure. Moran was running late and Capone's men, mistaking one of Moran's associates for him, moved in and carried out their orders before they should have.

In total seven men were lined up against a wall and Tommy-gunned to death by four of Capone's thugs that day (probably led by Fred 'Killer' Burke), including Peter Gusenberg and Frank Gusenberg (both Moran goons), Albert Kachalik (Moran's deputy), Adam Heyer (the gang's bookkeeper), Reinhard Schwimmer (a gang follower), Albert Weinshank (an associate of Moran's bearing a remarkable resemblance to the gangster, whose appearance that day likely saved Moran's life), and John May (a mechanic who had worked for Moran but wasn't a member of the gang); when he later found out that none of the men killed was the one he'd been gunning for Capone (vacationing in Florida to provide himself an airtight alibi) was reportedly apoplectic with rage.

In almost every other way as well, the St. Valentine's Day Massacre was a disaster; in public relations terms, it galvanized the citizens of Chicago against organized crime, something the combined atrocities of the first lawless decade of Prohibition had failed to do. Over the next five years law enforcement would step up to address the problem of rampant crime brought about by, and entirely due to, Prohibition; by the event's fifth anniversary not only had Prohibition been repealed but the newly-empowered FBI had managed to neutralize most of the remaining key players, including Capone and Moran themselves...
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TheQuestionMan said...

Nice, short, and informative.

How long you been holding on to this one?


michael sean morris said...

I wrote it today.