A hundred years ago today, supporters of reformer John Parker met in Harahan to decry the corrupt political machine of local boss, Lucien Marrero.
For decades, public toleration of corruption had allowed gambling to flourish in the parishes of Jefferson and St. Bernard. Gambling was often something that both parties could benefit from, and as long as they contributed to the politicians, gamblers operated as they pleased without any repercussions. If they didn’t provide such benefits to politicians, police would be sent out to rain on their parade. Given the city’s history, the prevalence of bettors and bookies is not surprising. Frank Clancy, the sheriff of Jefferson Parish from 1928 to 1956, was known as King Clancy, largely because, for a price, he allowed gambling houses to operate with impunity for much of his tenure. This eventually grew old and annoying to the people who sought of this activity as sinful which also added to the already against sinful reputation of southern Louisiana.
Many corrupt officials took part in the gambling as well, which included bookmaking, horses racing,etc. Often times the line between politics and gambling were so entangled that it was unclear how many parties were connected to such activities. Even New Orleans mayor Martin Behrman had ties to betting on horses at the race track.
However many people did not approve of such activities and often times tried voicing their concerns on both the matter of illegal and legal gambling. Many organizations banned together to voice how gambling was taking away money from legitimate businesses. After a while there was an effortless attempt to open a space where anyone with information on the illegal gambling could come forth to speak up yet none did and things went about the way they were.
“Clashes Result From Jefferson Political Meets Conditions Under Marrero Flayed at Gathering of Parkerites.”
Edward John Appel Jr., “‘The Free State of New Orleans’: Local Law Enforcement and Illegal Gambling in the 1920s.”