Home  »  Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen  »  Page 137

Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914). Theodore Roosevelt, the Citizen. 1904.

Page 137

to which the monthly blackmail paid to the police should be discontinued in return for political support.” The strange thing is that they did not put it on the books at headquarters in regular form. Probably they did not think of it.
  But the agreement was kept only with those who had “pull.” It did not hurt them to see their smaller, helpless rivals bullied and blackmailed by the police. As for the police, they were taking no chances. They had bought appointment, or promotion, of Tammany with the understanding that they were to reimburse themselves for the outlay. Their hunger only grew as they fed, until they blackmailed everything in sight, from the push-cart peddler in the street, who had bought his license to sell, but was clubbed from post to post until he “gave up,” to the brothel, the gambling-house, and the policy-shop, for which they had regular rates: so much for “initiation” every time a new captain came to the precinct, and so much per month for permission to run. The total ran up in the millions. New York was a wide-open town. The bosses at “the Hall” fairly rolled in wealth; the police had lost all decency