Chicago Tribune

J. L. Hamery of Des Moines Declares Town Free of Vice and Crime
Women at Vigilance Meeting Plan Further Discussion of Mayor.

Elimination of the segregated vice district in Chicago is practically possible, means for its accomplishment are simple, and the result would improve the moral status of the community and have a radical effect on the political situation.

This is according to assertions made by J. L. Hamery, commissioner of public safety in Des Moines, Ia., in an address delivered at the annual meeting of the Illinois Vigilance association in the Y.M.C.A. auditorium yesterday afternoon.

Hamery said he bundled up segregated vice in the Iowa capital and shipped it all to Chicago in less than a month.

The Des Moines commissioner — he is head of the fire, police and health departments under a commission from of government — is a lanky, loose jointed individual with a voice that wouldn’t frighten a field mouse and a well defined hatred for municipal corruption and his personal political enemies.

Points the Way He Won Out.

He told about his fight on the dives, punctuating the path to victory by frequent references to how he "soaked" his political opponents and taking the Chicago audience into his confidence to the length of imparting his belief he would be re-elected.

"I just decided I’d clean up the town," he said, after displaying a bulky typewritten speech and then declaring he didn’t think he’d use it — "guess I’ll just sort of talk to you awhile.

"Lots of folk around there who liked my style thought I could do it. My enemies put me in the job just ‘cause they thought I’d fall down.

"Well, I found that the saloonkeepers were back of a lot of these resorts. I noticed they were selling a lot of drink in them. So I issued an order saying that there should be no liquor sold on their premises.

Bring Them to Their Knees

"Some of the landlords of those places had been getting $150 a month rent. They cut the rent down to $100, then to $75, afterwards to $50, and then came to me and got down on their knees and begged. They said the girls couldn’t pay the rent. That’s what I was wanting.

"Next I issued an order cutting out the dance halls and all the music, and when that went into effect the segregated vice districts of Des Moines just dried up. The women nearly all went to Chicago, and as fast as we spotted the men hangerson we fired them out of town, too.

"Now folks will tell you that when the red light district is eliminated the decent women will not be safe on the street — bunk! Pure, unadulterated rot!

"Last month we had fewer arrests in Des Moinses than in any January for ten years. We had only one or two holdups the entire winter through. We used to have dozens of them. The yeggmen have increased the church attendance.


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