by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff, deep qt:dossier 62
February 12, 2007: In 2006 Philadelphia became the top spot for murder among America’s ten largest cities. Victims numbered 406. The majority were inner city residents. Among the dead were drug turf rivals, innocents caught in the crossfire, and witnesses who made the mistake of talking. Witness intimidation of the fatal variety is big in Philly. It’s why many murders go unsolved, or can’t be prosecuted. Some think “snitch and die” is a new trend. But for those familiar with Philadelphia’s criminal history in the 1960’s and 70’s, it’s deja vu all over again.
That history is laid out by Sean Patrick Griffin in “Black Brothers, Inc.” Subtitled “The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia”. (Milo Books, 2005.) Griffin is a former Philadelphia police officer turned university professor. His book reflects both his experience as a cop and criminal justice academic. “Brothers” is a crisply written true crime story enhanced by Griffin’s eye for detail and time lines. It’s also a deeply researched examination of how a well organized group of brutal career criminals rose to power, while staying below the radar of law enforcement and exploiting the social and political milieu of Philadelphia in the 1970’s.
“Brothers” moves into Philly’s present with coverage of recent federal investigations of municipal corruption and its connection, via several figures, to the bygone Black Mafia. Related probes of development deals involving Philadelphia International Airport and the city’s Delaware River waterfront (an area stretching from Penn’s Landing south of the city to the Philadelphia Naval Yard) are discussed in an appendix. “Black Brothers, Inc” is due to be re-issued soon. Updates will be included.
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