The Stars Are Right: The Irish Rose: Purple Gang

From RPGnet
Jump to: navigation, search

Return to The Stars Are Right: The Irish Rose: Factions.

Purple Gang[edit]

The Purple Gang

The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, is a mob with predominantly Jewish members of bootleggers and hijackers operating out of Detroit.

Like most major cities at the beginning of the 20th-century, Detroit was stricken with poverty and became a birthplace for crime and violence. From the Hasting Street neighborhood known as Paradise Valley in Detroit's lower east side, most of its core members went to Bishop School where each were placed in the division for problem children. The gangs' members were the children of immigrants from eastern Europe, primarily Russia and Poland, who had come to the United States in the great immigration wave from 1881 to 1914. The gang of boys were led by four brothers: Abe, Joe, Raymond and (Isadore) Izzy Bernstein, who had emigrated to Detroit from New York. They started off as petty thieves and shakedown artists, the young men soon progressed to more lucrative areas of crime like armed robbery, extortion, and hijacking under the tutelage of older neighborhood gangsters Charles Leiter and Henry Shorr. They soon gained notoriety for their operations and savagery, and began to import gangsters from other American cities to work as "muscle" for the gang. There are numerous theories as to the origin of the name "Purple Gang". One explanation is that a member of the gang was a boxer who wore purple shorts during his bouts. Another explanation is that the name came from a conversation between two shopkeepers:

"These boys are not like other children of their age, they're tainted, off color."
"Yes," replied the other shopkeeper. "They're rotten, purple like the color of bad meat, they're a Purple Gang."

The Purples soon became hijackers and gained a reputation for stealing the booze cargoes of the older and more established gangs. As their reputation of "terror" grew people began to fear them; Al Capone was against expanding his rackets in Detroit and began a business accommodation with the Purples in order to prevent a bloody war. For several years, the Purples managed the prosperous business of supplying Canadian whisky, Old Log Cabin, to the Capone organization in Chicago. In the early 1920s, the Purples reputedly had a feud with Joseph Kennedy. During Prohibition, Kennedy was smuggling liquor through Canada, England, and Ireland. Kennedy ran afoul of the Purple Gang by shipping liquor through their turf without permission. Kennedy turned to Chicago mobster "Diamond Joe" Esposito, who had intervened and lifted the contract on Kennedy's life. The Purples were involved in various criminal enterprises. They were also involved in kidnapping other gangsters for ransoms, which had become very popular during this era. They were reportedly suspected by the FBI to have been involved with the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.