A History of Brutality, Racism,
and Corruption in the

Chicago Police, the Machine, Organized Crime, Repression, Racism, Corruption, and the Illusion of Reform

Police in the 19th and early 20th centuries worked hand in glove with local gamblers and prostitution in the Levee and vice areas.

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Reports on corruption of the CPD from the 19th to the middle of the 20th centuries are so numerous that these pages could not possibly do them justice. Below are just a few links of early scandals which will prepare the groundwork for the beginning of our modern dark side history, the Summerdale Scandal of the 1960s.

In the 1919 Race Riots, police openly sided with Irish gangs. Already by 1900, half of all Chicago police were Irish.

Al Capone made "daily trips" to city hall and enjoyed widespred support among police and city officials. Capone takes over Cicero in 1924.

The Irish North Side Gang of Dion O'Banion (1892-1933 was a rival to Capone but enjoyed even more police protection.

From the earliest days, police functioned as protection for gamblers, houses of prostitution, and bootleggers. In Drake and Cayton's Black Metropolis, the relationship between city hall, police, and vice was graphically immortalized.




"Hinky Dink" Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin











HInky Dink Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin ran Chicago's First Ward as their private fiefdom. Their power flowed from their control over vice in the district, and the protection gambling and prostitution were given by police.

Corruption and racism within the CPD continued in the 1940s and 1950s.