Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chit-Chat Over Coffee Swirls (14)

Monk Eastman (1873-1920)

Some authorities on Crime consider Monk Eastman, as the greatest gangster this country ever produced. Who was he? They say that Eastman was the boss of the last great primarily Jewish street gang in New York City. He was able to get together on short notice at least 1,200 to 1,500 vicious gangsters. He actually looked like a gangster shoud, bullet-headed, with a busted nose and a pair of cauliflower ears. Eastman , son of a respectable Jewish restaurateur father, lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

In the early 1890s Eastman was a bouncer at a rough dance hall, by the name of New Irving hall. He always carried a huge bludgeon, a blackjack in his hip pocket and brass knuckles on each hand. Everytime he clubbed a victim he would put a notch on his club. Other young bloods on the East side took to imitating him in speech and manner. He had great magnetism, gathering hoodlums that were eager to do his bidding. He and his gang took over much of the crime in the lower East side. They were involved in robberies, burglaries, assault, muggings and especially murders. Eastman seized control of all the gambling dens and houses of prostitution where they all had to pay him for protection. Eastman ingratiated himself with Tammany Hall, where his services were useful during election time in exchange for protection . Anytime he or one of his men would get into trouble with the law, Tammany Hall lawyers would appear in court for them.

In a confrontation with the Five Pointers, Eastman got shot in the stomach, hovering near death. When he survived from his wound, he went to seek out the Five Pointer who shot him, and killed him throwing his body in the gutter. . After getting caught from one of his criminal acts, Eastman was sent to Sing Sing for 10 years. Then in 1920 he was shot dead by a corrupt Prohibition agent .


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