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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

In most of these cases, notably in Carroll's, there was no suspicion on the record that the person held had any unortho- dox political or economic views. To be suspected of being a radical, however, is a much more serious matter in Jersey City than appearing in an old hat or using a straight-edge razor. The possession of communistic pamphlets may mean ninety days in jail. In 1932 two men, Alfred Butel and Joseph Bloom, driving to New York, stopped to ask a Jersey City police officer for road directions. Like Carroll, they found to their sorrow that asking directions is more dangerous than being lost in Jersey City. The officer searched their car and found some communistic literature; they were held from November 7 to November 15 charged with `suspicion of having stolen an automobile.' That charge could not be sustained, for Butel owned the automobile; so he was sentenced to thirty days for driving without his license. Bloom did not get off so lightly in spite of the fact that he testified (and the officer did not contradict) that he was not driving the car, and had not driven it.

Upon the testimony of a police officer that they had searched Bloom and discovered that he was a member of the Communist Party he was sentenced to 90 days in the Hudson County Penitentiary. When it was called to the attention of the court that there was no testimony of any kind, nor even an attempt to offer testimony or evidence of any act committed by Bloom, the court [Judge Barison] made a statement to the effect: `If you don't like my decision, you know what your remedy is. I don't care what any other court may do. I think that this is for the best interests of the community, and I am giving him 90 days.' (Reports on the Denial of Labor and Civil Rights in Hudson County, New Jersey (1937), pp. 35-36. Italics in the original.)


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