Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 418
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 418
 
question of enforcement of law means in the life of the poor was illustrated by testimony given before the Police Board under oath. A captain was on trial for allowing the policy swindle to go unchecked in his precinct. Policy is a kind of penny lottery, with alleged daily drawings which never take place. The whole thing is a pestilent fraud, which is allowed to exist only because it pays heavy blackmail to the police and the politicians. Expert witnesses testified that eight policy shops in the Twenty-first Ward, which they had visited, did a business averaging about thirty-two dollars a day each. The Twenty-first is a poor Irish tenement ward. The policy sharks were getting two hundred and fifty dollars or more a day of the hard-earned wages of those poor people, in sums of from one and two cents to a quarter, without making any return for it. The thing would seem incredible were it not too sadly familiar. The saloon keeper got his share of what was left, and rewarded his customer by posing as the “friend of the poor man” whenever his business was under scrutiny; I have yet in my office the record of a single week during the hottest of the fight between Roosevelt and the saloons, as showing of what kind that friendship is. It embraces the destruction of eight homes by the demon of drunkenness; the suicide of four wives, the murder of two others by

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