When growing in America children are taught that anything is possible with an adroit combination of hard work and determination. As a society we [Americans] believe that dreams can come true, no matter the dream, it is possible. No matter how rich or poor a person is there are always aspirations to be something greater. Even for children born in the slums, there is hope. These children can become lawyers, doctors or even astronauts. A little boy named Lester Gillis grew up on the poor side of Chicago. Gillis had different aspirations than his peers, he did not desire to be a doctor nor an astronaut.
How did a child born in the slums of Chicago change Illinois? He wanted to be something he thought was better, public enemy number one. A dream that would change Gillis’ life for the worst, a toxic mixture of negative influence and poverty. Lester Gillis was raised in the 2Os an era of immorality and looseness. The 1920s was a new era for Chicagoans, there was booze, short skirts, and parties galore! The parties were lead by reckless behavior and disregard for ethics. Due to the an outcry from Protestants alike there was a ban placed on all selling and distribution of alcohol. This act was called the Prohibition or the “Thirsty-First”.
This tactic was successful in lowering the consumption of alcohol but it had its drawbacks. Despite the fact that less people were drinking, there was a drastic rise in underground organized crime! Criminals become infamous celebrities. Al Capone found himself on the cover of many magazines and newspapers. For ten years, a newly formed FBI began to prepare for the new waves of criminals. The FBI spent what is nowadays equivalent to millions to reform their arsenal, technique, and forensic technology. During the 1930s the FBI reated a list of the most dangerous and antisocial criminals lending the name “Public Enemy”.
The Public Enemies included notorious criminals such as John Dillinger, Lester “Baby Face Nelson”, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Lester Gillis was a boy with a PhD for getting into mischief. His encounters with other children was very odd. Even as a child on the playground he had a goal in mind, a goal to get the best deal for himself. It didn’t matter if he had to push twenty girls, he would get the seat on the swings. The slums provided an animalistic school for Lester. He had already formed a gang by he fourth grade and had an infamous reputation for carrying a switchblade.
At the tender age of 14 Lester had his first encounter with the Illinois government. He was arrested for stealing a car and possession of weapons. Lester’s criminal resume was quite impressive for a 14 year old. His resume included stealing tires, running stills, bootlegging, and last but not least, armed robbery. As a response to Lester and people like him the government became more involved in juvenile crime, changing the way they looked at juvenile violence, restructuring how trials were to be handled, how evidence was resented, and even methods of rehabilitation.
As the years passed his record brought him great attention from friends, gangs and the FBI. Once Lester was released from a juvenile boy home for the troubled he walked a straight path… for five months. After being arrested on a similar charge of theft, Lester was sent to prison for a year in the Illinois State Penitentiary. Nelson was sentenced to a prison term of one year to life for his January, 1931 bank robbery in Chicago, Illinois. This step in Lester’s life was analyzed by the FBI, changing the way the Illinois government looked at their “changed” system.
Illinois soon began to realize that their modified juvenile system had little effect on these modern gangsters. The FBI with assistance from Illinois’s government, began a massive crackdown on crime. However, Lester began to pick up steam quickly, he began going by a nickname he had earned by his fellow ruffians; Baby Face Nelson. The world would no longer call him Lester Gillis, Lester was a thing of the past but Baby Face Nelson was the topic of many articles. criminals began to surface. Considering Chicago had 35 million people in the 1930s the numbers of criminals were as stounding as the population itself.
The criminals ranged from the College Kidnappers to Al Capone. These criminals increased by 13%. Policemen all over Illinois were insufficient in number, poorly trained, possessed little equipment and poorly paid. Laws prohibited Illinois police from chasing a criminal from state to state. In 1925 J. Edgar Hoover began to clean up the agency, Despite Illinois’s efforts, many other the effect was similar to a trickle down. Once Hoover cracked people at the top, people at the bottom began to crack as well. Every person in the FBI began to organize themselves; from the eek secretaries to the head of the department.
The FBI and other Illinois Government were determined to stomp out criminals that plagued America and great city of Chicago. This task was easier said than done,loans were taken out to keep a crumbling law enforcement up to date. Millions of dollars were spent buying firearms, extensive training, and more policemen. This new code of terror was to be eliminated with extreme prejudice. The FBI and local chicagoans made criminals targets; Public Enemies. There were about 25 people on that list. Baby face Nelson became Public Enemy number one when nother infamous public enemy; John Dillinger, was shot in Chicago by Illinois police.
Despite John and Nelson’s close friendship, Nelson was all too eager to replace Dillinger as public enemy number one. Nelson felt he got the credit he deserved when Dillinger was out of the way. Nelson wanted trophies for his malicious acts cruelty. He wanted people to kneel at his feet and worship his criminal resume. Nelson took the title of public enemy with honor. Baby Face Nelson was soon to be “pinched” , however he threw all caution to the wind and began to celebrate. The celebration of his new job promotion was ery discreet for a hardcore gangster.
Nelson with his wife by his side proceeded to go on a nice evening drive. This evening cruise turned into a shootout with two FBI agents in Barrington, Illinois. Barrington was shocked that it housed some of the most hated people in the nation, considering Barrington is a small town. The shootout resulted in the death of Baby Face Nelson; 17 bullets in Nelson’s body accompanied by two dead policemen accomplished the job. This was a great day for the FBI but a bad gangsters everywhere. havens of crime slowly began to crumble.
Nearly every public nemy was either imprisoned or exterminated with extreme prejudice. Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down, John Dillinger was shot, Pretty Boy Floyd was shot as well and others quickly followed. The true high collared Mafios watched from judges, senators, and policemen chairs as gangsters were dragged into jail. The Illinois Mafia still exist to this day but had gone “underground” for decades. They buy everyone policemen, judges, etc. and watch from the sidelines. Illinois was successful in stopping the wild gangsters but still has more work to do to draw out the everlasting Mafia.
Baby Face Nelson changed Illinois’s government and society for the better. People finally began to understand that gangsters are not friendly like seen in Hollywood’s sugar coated films. They are not “Robin Hood’s”, they are dangerous predators with no respect for authority or morals. Illinois’s government was made stronger because the government finally realized that if one person can do it, many can too. The government learned that animalistic mindsets, poor parenting, and little morals can not only affect a person but a whole society and cause a reign of chaos and fear.