Chief James L. Beavers’ Reply to Mayor Woodward

Chief James LAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, May 27th, 1913

“If Beavers and Lanford permitted Febuary, ‘a trusted man,’ to go out and circulate lies about corruption in the police department in an effort to trap someone, they have debauched their officers, and the sooner they are put out the better it will be for the men who work under them.”

Mayor James G. Woodward made the above reply to Chief James L. Beavers in a statement to The Constitution late Monday afternoon. They mayor declared that Febuary’s part in the conspiracy has destroyed his usefulness with the department, and he is not fit to serve with honorable men.

“In my opinion, and I believe every decent citizen of Atlanta will agree with me, Febuary is not fit to serve in the department in any capacity.” Mayor Woodward continued. “How can Beavers or Lanford, or the members of the police commission, place faith in him. He has dragged the department through filth of his own making. He has cast reflection, by his act, on the blue uniform.”

Beavers’ Charge Refuted.

Mayor Woodward scathingly denounced Chief Beavers’ allegations that he (Woodward) urged the reopening of the Manhattan avenue district. He admits telling Beavers that the district would be opened as a result of public demand for the interest of society, because of the scattered conditions.

He declared that he has never placed a straw in the way of Chief Beavers’ vice crusade, and explained that whenever he called the chief to his office it was for the purpose of referring complaints to him—complaints of bad conditions in respectable neighborhoods.

Mayor Woodward said that on one occasion he referred to the chief a letter written by a respectable woman—the mother of little children—who complained that there was an immoral house near her home, and she wanted the police to protect her and her babies.

“This woman told me that she had written Chief Beavers about the house some ten days before she wrote me, and nothing was ever done,” Mayor Woodward said. “All that I have ever heard of the complaint is that the house is quieted down.”

Mayor Woodward says that the only time he has called Beavers to task was when he received complaints of women being insulted in the central portions of the city.

Protect Respectable Women.

“I told him of the conditions as reported to me, and urged him to clean up the central portions of the city so that respectable women might be safe.”

As to the Eva Clark affair, Mayor Woodward said that the women came to him and explained that herself and her mother wanted to move into a house near the Grady hospital—95 Armstrong street—and that he informed her that she had the right to live wherever she pleased, just so long as she conducted a moral house and lived within the law. He says that he laid the whole matter before Beavers just as the Clark women laid it before him.

Mayor Woodward further stated that the whole affair casts a dirty reflection on the heads of the police department, and that the part they played in it branded them as being unfit to guard the lives and property of the people of Atlanta.

“Men who will allow their personal characters and their offices to be dragged through such a mess cannot hope to gain the respect and esteem of the people they serve,” he said. “When Febuary came to me and told me that Beavers and Lanford were protecting disorderly houses and blind tigers, I knew that it was either true or that he was lying.

Gave Him Benefit of Doubt.

“I decided, for the time being, to give him the benefit of the doubt. If I had known that that visit to the Williams house would be the last time I would see him I would have shown him up for the liar that he is. But in the interest of the public I decided to give him leeway. I did not expose him, because I did not want to do the police department an injustice.

“I think I have made my position clear to the people. I am just as anxious now as I was at that time to correct any evils in the city government.”


Chief of Police James L. Beavers issued the following statement Monday morning:

“As for Colyar, I never heard of him until this thing came up. He may be a crook. As far as I know, it seems that Mr. Felder has known him for a long time, but it is no uncommon thing for one crook to turn up another to the police, or turn state’s evidence.

“When I heard of this deal that Mr. Felder was trying to make in the Phagan case, I told Chief Lanford to advise with Solicitor Dorsey and get his advice in the matter. He did this. I did not want anything done that would not be perfectly legitimate.

“G. C. Febuary, who is a trusted man in the detective department, was instructed to carry out the deal with him. Now it appears that Mr. Felder has been closely associated with Colyar for a long time and certainly should have known what manner of man he is.

“If he knew him to be a crook, why did he enter into a deal like this with him if he wanted to do the straight thing? I say that I never heard of this man Colyar, but I would have listened to any report or rumor in hunting for the guilty party in a case like that of the Phagan murder.

“It seems that Mr. Felder in his ramifications through the press tries to get eloquent and undertakes to tell about the government of Scotland and the conditions in Ireland, as if that had anything to do with this case he’s trying to distract attention from.

“What he has done and as far as his evidence he claims to have about my moral turpitude as chief of police or as a citizen, I defy him to show anything wrong. If he is a good, loyal citizen, which he claims to be, why did he not go to the police commission and lay the evidence before them?

Would Be in South Carolina.

“Now, Mr. Felder knows well enough that if he had anything that would have been damaging, against the police department, he would have hurried to bring it to the proper authorities.

“That is what you are hired to do by a gang you are very close to.

“I would say that some one has been misled by Mr. Felder, or no doubt he would be in South Carolina today, where he belongs.

“So much for Mr. Felder.

“I see that Mr. Woodward says he has nothing against me personally. Now I don’t quite understand his connection with the Felder-Colyar affair. He knew that G. C. Febuary was a trusted employee of the police department and if Febuary knew of crookedness or graft in the department he would have forced him to divulge it or seen that he was turned out of the department.

Would Have Been Guilty.

“If Febuary had known anything of the kind and not made it known he would have been equally guilty.

“Mr. Woodward knows that in the frequent talks with me since he has been mayor there has hardly been a time that he did not bring up the question of the red light district, and he gave me to understand in his first talk with me that three women should be allowed to go back to Manhattan avenue where they had previously plied their nefarious trade.

“No longer than last Saturday a week ago he asked me if I was willing for Eva Clark and her mother to move into a house on Armstrong street in front of the Grady hospital, where they had previously lived.

As to Eva Clark.

“I told him I would answer him as I did Alderman McClelland; that it was none of my business as long as she did not violate the law, but that if she did she would have to take the consequences.

“Mr. Woodward also told me the first of the year that if my vice policy continued the police department would be reeking with graft like the New York department.

Graft on Outside.

“I told him that no graft had ever existed and I was satisfied there would never be any.

“I told him that from what I had heard someone outside the police department had been receiving money from the vice traffic that virtually amounted to graft and extortion.

“I am ready and willing to compare my past record both as citizen and as an official with Mr. Woodward as to which is in the right and which is in the wrong.”

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Atlanta Constitution, May 27th 1913, “Chief James L. Beavers’ Reply to Mayor Woodward,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)