014 - PTB discusses their (new) patron saint, the meticulousness of the mob and Stephanie St. Clair
What actually happened during Stephanie St Clair’s early life is up for debate. Most records suggest that she was born on 12/24 in 1897 on the island of Guadeloupe and that she travelled to the US when she was 13. Others suggest that she was actually 23 when she arrive and that she was born in 1887. Still others say she went to Canada first and served as a maid.
All of this uncertainty may have been on purpose. She was educated so she would have known her age and the year she was born.
All the records agree that she eventually moved to Harlem, arriving a few years before the Great Migration.
She became the leader of a gang called the 40 thieves that ran extortion and theft rackets.
She also invested ten thousand dollars of her own money to develop a money racket and become a policy banker. It’s a combination of investing, gambling and the lottery. Became the most successful numbers game in Harlem.
She used her position and wealth to become an activist and inform people of their legal and voting rights. She tried to complain to the authorities about police brutality but was ignored. So she used her existing relationship with the newspaper and took out ads accusing senior officers of corruption.
This lead to her being arrested and spending 8 months in a workhouse. Once she was released she testified to the Seabury commission which investigated police corruption, telling them about kickbacks she had played and giving them a list of officers that had played her numbers game.
Once Prohibition ended the mobs tried to move in on her territory. The Jewish mob tried to move in on her game by beating up and killing her number operators. She refused to pay them money and had the store fronts attacked, the police raided his operation and seized 12 million dollars.
After that she left the numbers game to her associate Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson.
Later, the leader of the Jewish mob was ordered to be taken out. St Clair sent him a telegram while he was in the hospital that said ‘As ye sow so shall ye reap’.
In her retirement she took on more of a role in social activism. She later met her husband, Sufi Abdul Hamid, who was known as Black Hitler for his anti-Semitic views. He started cheating on her with a fortune teller and tried to open a business with her money. St Clair shot him and spent 10 years in prison for it.
Once she was released she continued to work on her activism. She died at 83, living with Bumpy.