A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 21, 2011
Protection Racket

Entry in progress --B.P

Wikipedia: Protection racket
A protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a criminal group or individual coerces a victim (usually a business) to pay money, supposedly for protection services against violence or property damage. Racketeers coerce reticent potential victims into buying “protection” by demonstrating what will happen if they don’t—they damage the victims’ property. In most cases, the racketeers do not actually protect their client from anything but the racketeers themselves, and their “protection” is merely extortion. However, if their victim is seriously threatened by a third party, sometimes gangsters will protect their source of revenue.

Legitimate businesses are not the only victims of protection racketeers. Other criminals are also targeted, since they cannot ask police to stop the extortion. However, for that same reason, criminals sometimes actively seek to buy this “protection”. Paradoxically, in a parasitic relationship, the parasite both damages the host and prefers that the host remain healthy. Thus, when criminals are cheated or abused (e.g., a cocaine dealer is swindled by his supplier) they cannot turn to the police and instead rely on powerful gangsters to protect the gangsters’ income.

The person who periodically visits the victim to collect protection payments is called a “bag man”.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
protection racket n. orig. U.S.  †(a) the electoral strategy of seeking to attract voters by offering the prospect of protection (sense 4) for their businesses (obs.); (b) an illegal scheme involving the extortion of money in return for protection (sense 1c).
1893 Atlanta Constit. 15 June 2/4 The speaker [sc. William J. Bryant] drew a striking illustration of how the republicans worked the protection racket.
1901 Anaconda (Montana) Standard 17 Mar. 1/7 The leaders in that party had felt well assured that in a national campaign they would never again be able to work the protection racket.
1930 Chicago Daily Tribune 5 Mar. 8/3 He‥would visit another place and collect a bribe for leaving its proprietor in peace‥. Lapham‥was at one time his partner in the protection racket.

Chronicling America
9 October 1886, Ohio Democrat (Logan, OH), pg. 1, col. 7:
These timberland owners are shrewd fellows. They work this protection racket at both ends. They make every man who buys a thousand feet of lumber pay this tax on it under the claim that it is done to protect us from the product of cheap labor in the provinces.
(Also titled “Mr. Pillsbury’s Lewiston Speech” in the Arkansas Gazette, September 16, 1886—ed.)

Chronicling America
2 March 1887, Salt Lake Evening Democrat (Salt Lake City, UT), pg. 2, col. 2:
THE Republicans have already carried Virginia on paper at the next Presidential election. This is a fair sample of the figuring by which the Republicans are working out the result of success. One of the main factors relied on in this visionary ciphering, as far as Virginia is concerned, is the protection racket. The desire of Virginia for protection of her growing mining interests is to drive her into the arms of the Republican party as the only protectionist haven.

19 September 1888, New York (NY) Herald, “Moulders of Politics: Party Workers of All Shades of Opinion,” pg. 3:
The longshoremen have organized a club which meets in Hudson street, near Christopher. “Jimmy” Snodgrass’ republicans got after them and actually pulled them into camp on the protection racket. They now claim to be anti-Cleveland.

Chronicling America
27 September 1890, Pittsburg (PA) Dispatch, pg. 4, col. 4:
“James G. Blaine couldn’t have worked the protection racket better, I flattered myself.”

Google Books
The Farmers’ Yariff Manual, By a Farmer
By Daniel Strange
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
1892
Pg. 47:
I see his scheme cannot work, so I go on to tell you how they have worked the protection racket.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, August 21, 2011 • Permalink