1959 Village Dope Raid!
Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
November 11, 1959, Vol. V, No. 3
Village Dope Raid
Last week-end Greenwich Village was treated to one of the most spectacular off-Broadway theatricals it has seen in years. The producer was the Police Department, which supplied a cast of detectives decked out as beatniks. The final act was played on Saturday night when the sleuths rang down the curtain on 13 of their erstwhile marijuana-smoking buddies.
Between Harlem and the Village, the enterprise had absorbed the energies of the entire narcotics squad for one month.
Inspector Edward F. Carey, narcotics-squad commander, who must be the envy of the whole publicity-hungry off-Broadway movement for having his production front-paged in every metropolitan paper, declared himself delighted with the results. "Carey's crusaders will strike again," he told reporters.
The men booked at Charles Street station apparently took their arrests in the prevailing spirit of good fun, and put on an impromptu bongo party. None of the Village contingent was picked up for heroin; they were all charged with possession of marijuana.
Among those arrested were Stanley Gould, 32, of First Avenue, who was held in $1,000 bail; George McKee, 30, and Michael J. Scott, 35, both musicians; and Joseph Gaffney, 22, who said he had no home and is known as "The Mad Mongolian of Bleecker Street."
The Bleecker Street "leather jackets" were generally unimpressed by the turn-of-events, but one admitted to The Voice on Monday that "the cops put on a real cool show - I didn't know it was in them."
A middle-aged artist who had been making the Bleecker Street scene since the end of the war was a little more sardonic about the whole business: "A few more raids like that and the big operators won't have a thing to worry about. Everybody will figure the dope problem's been cracked."
"There wasn't an honest-to-God racketeer in that whole Village mob of characters they picked up - not even a minor one," he told the Voice.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]
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