Note: This is an encore post from 2005 and originally appeared on the 1947project.
Gov. Warren is justified in his concern over the growth of gangsterism in California, dramatized by the effective and efficient taking-off of the charming but unlamented Bugsie Siegel.
The governor notes that the arrival in a community of one criminal is a relatively small matter. Likewise, the assassination of a crook is of no particular importance to a community, and grief at his passing is restricted to a minor and unselect circle. Gang wars have a way of settling themselves, and if the murderer of Siegel is caught, law enforcement officers are apt to express, in a mild manner, their gratitude.
It’s a rare metropolitan paper that endorses gang warfare as long as no one else is affected. But here you have it. This isn’t the most stunning editorial from this period (“we don’t need a federal lynching law” is hard to top), but I’d have to rank it among my favorites.
Here’s the rest of the editorial:
As the governor points out, however, the evidence indicates a serious and unhealthy condition in the state. When criminals establish themselves in a community and engage in narcotics peddling, gambling, theft, hijacking and bookmaking in a big way the situation becomes dangerous and the public is justified in suspecting that arrangements have been made and “protection” afforded.
Especially in this community liable to criminal coups, with its many potential victims of robbery and kidnapping in the motion picture colony and among wealthy tourists and residents. The means of escape, by sea or into Mexico, are handy.
The recent wave of gangster killings in California—Big Greenie Greenberg, or Schachter, Paulie Gibbons, Meatball Gamson, Levinson, Siegel and Turkin here, Nick de John in San Francisco and Buffa in Lodi—reveal a conflict over control of territory.
Gov. Warren is well equipped to wage warfare against gangsterism on his own account. For many years he was district attorney of Alameda County and he rejoined in a very unfavorable reputation in the underworld.
Among other services to the state, Gov. Warren played an active part in the Crime Commission, which wrestled with criminals and revised the penal code during the boom which came to California after World War I.
The governor is empowered by an act of the Legislature to create another Crime Commission and he says he will establish it.
“It is time to take an inventory of the crime situation,” the governor states. With this, law-abiding citizens will agree.