Organized crime in Minneapolis
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Organized crime in Minneapolis first attracted national attention in 1903, when thug and mayor Doc Ames (1842-1911) was exposed by Lincoln Steffens in the book The Shame of the Cities. Steffens's account and subsequent trials revealed a police department recruited from felons shaking down the Minneapolis underworld on the mayor's behalf. Ames later fled the state, spending a short period as a fugitive before being arrested and extradited to Minnesota. He was convicted of receiving a bribe and sentenced to six years in prison. His sentence was later appealed and overturned.
In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution transformed American crime, shaping small-time hoodlums into major organized crime figures. In Minneapolis, the underworld was dominated by local gangs of the Irish mob, flanked by Jewish gangsters and by corrupt cops and politicians from the Republican, Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties.
Romanian-Jewish immigrant Isadore Blumenfeld, alias Kid Cann (1900-1981), was changed overnight from a nickel-and-dime pimp and bookmaker from Northside, Minneapolis, into a respected godfather with close ties to both the Chicago Outfit and the Genovese crime family. Assisted by his brothers Jacob and Harry, Kid Cann's "Minneapolis Combination" dealt in bootleg booze, trucking distribution routes, illegal gambling and real estate deals throughout the American Sun Belt. He was the most notorious gangster in the city's history.
Rival crime families were run by David Berman, Thomas W. Banks and "Big Ed" Morgan. These gangsters tended to cooperate on business and avoid turf wars by appealing to the mediation of the National Mafia Commission. In the process, Minneapolis became a major center of bootlegged booze, gambling, brothels and unbridled corruption.
Deuce Casper (1936-2003) was a Baldy Street Gang founder and boss. During Casper's time in Minneapolis, more than 1,000 thugs roamed the streets from 1955 to 1975, creating mayhem and fear among the citizens. Casper robbed banks, jewelry stores and armored cars, while his associates robbed commercial businesses and ran large drug-dealing operations.
The most notable Baldy was Perry "The Scholar" Millik (1944 – 2003), who ran commercial burglary rings and drug-manufacturing houses. He was involved in widespread real estate frauds and was the front man for real estate purchases for the infamous Alexander Brothers (porn and prostitution kings).
Currently, the Capra/Patterson syndicate controls all nationally sanctioned crime activities in the Twin Cities. Gambling is their primary source of income, and they are working under the auspices of the Genoveses (2011).
On the corner of 26th Street and 26th Avenue in South Minneapolis exists a historical location, called Hub of Hell, and was home to numerous saloons, bars, nightclubs, and a bowling alley that drew rowdy crowds of steel-workers, factory workers from the old Minneapolis Moline factory, thugs, gangsters, and brawling drunks.
These establishments included the stand-up drinking establishment of Pearsons, The Hexagon, Nibs, Duffy's and the Stardust Bowling Alley. Here, corrupt cops mingled with their presumed rivals (like Duffy's bouncer, "Mush"). The neighborhood was infamous for its bloody brawls fought by colorful characters like Deuce Casper, Tommy "The Bomber" Ogdahl, and Perry "The Scholar" Millik, often for the entertainment of spectators to enjoy and keep the old General Hospital busy on weekends.
Prior to 1900 another location known as Hell's Half Acre was located between 2nd and 3rd Avenues South and 8th and 9th Streets South and had the same rowdy reputation. In the 1890 History of the Fire and Police Departments of Minneapolis, it was described as a "place of utter darkness, wailing and woe. Bloody frays were of nightly occurrence and not infrequently such weapons as hatchets, knives and even revolvers entered into the conflict. The alleys were literally strewn with empty beer kegs and whisky bottles and the latter were often used as missiles of warfare. As a usual thing Sundays were given up entirely to drinking and fighting, and family feuds were as numerous and bitter as those of Kentucky, though not as murderous." (Pg. 280)
- Minneapolis Organized Crime (1900-2000)
- History of the Fire and Police Departments of Minneapolis, 1890