Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 5
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 5
 
more than once, at the time when the vile prison was torn down, whether the comic clamor to have the ugly old gates preserved and set up in Central Park had anything to do with the memory of the “martyred” thief, or whether it was in joyful celebration of the fact that others had escaped. His name is even now one to conjure with in the Sixth Ward. He never “squealed,” and he was “so good to the poor”—evidence that the slum is not laid by the heels by merely destroying Five Points and the Mulberry Bend. There are other fights to be fought in that war, other victories to be won, and it is slow work. It was nearly ten years after the Great Robbery before decency got a good upper grip. That was when the civic conscience awoke in 1879.
  And after all that, the Lexow disclosures of inconceivable rottenness of a Tammany police; the woe unto you! of Christian priests calling vainly upon the chief of the city “to save its children from a living hell,” and the contemptuous reply on the witness-stand of the head of the party of organized robbery, at the door of which it was all laid, that he was “in politics, working for his own pocket all the time, same as you and everybody else!”
  Slow work, yes! but be it ever so slow, the battle has got to be fought, and fought out. For it is one thing or the other: either we wipe out the slum, or it wipes out us. Let there be no mistake about

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