By Jim Johnson

If you’re a fan of the history of Detroit, you might be interested in a documentary about The Purple Gang:  The rise and fall of America’s most ruthless and brutal Prohibition gangs, from writer/director/producer H.G. Manos.

The screening takes place next Tuesday, Feruary 12th at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield Township.

The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, was a mob of bootleggers and hijackers, with predominantly Jewish members. They operated out of Detroit, Michigan in the 1920s. The Purple Gang reigned supreme over the Detroit underworld, controlling the city’s vice, gambling, liquor, and drug trade. They also ran the local wire service, providing horse racing information to local horse betting parlors and handbooks. The gang members cavorted with some more infamous mobsters, branching out into other cities, as well. Abe Bernstein was a friend of Meyer Lansky and Joe Adonis, with whom he owned several Miami gambling casinos in his later years. The gang hijacked prizefight films and forced movie theaters to show the films for a high fee. They also defrauded insurance companies by staging fake accidents. The Purple Gang controlled and operated most of the illicit and semi-illicit activities in the area as there was no known gangs or mobs in Detroit.

Writer and producer H.G. Manos will be attending the screening of his documentary.


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