“Felder is the Mouthpiece of the Vice Gang,” Declares Chief of Police Jas. L. Beavers

Felder is the MouthpieceAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, May 25th, 1913

“This is the First Gun in a Fight to Oust Me From Office,” Says the Chief in an Interview Given Out Saturday Afternoon — “This Issue Is Between the Decent People and the Allies of Vice Who Have Controlled the City Politically for Years”


Says He Differs With the Chief on Policy, Not Personally. The Mayor Says Recent Dictograph Episode Has Destroyed His Belief in the Efficacy of That Ingenious Instrument — Charles C. Jones Denies Any Part in Fight to Remove Chief

As one of the many outgrowths of the alleged dictographed conversations of Colonel Thomas B. Felder, Mayor Woodward, Charlie C. Jones and E. O. Miles, in which they are quoted as seeking evidence to impeach Police Chief James L. Beavers and Detective Chief N. A. Lanford, Chief Beavers late Saturday afternoon gave out a red-hot statement in which he charged that the vice gangsters were conspiring to oust him from office because of his activity in closing up Atlanta’s restricted district.

The chief declared that Colonel Felder was the mouthpiece and agent of the gang which seeks his scalp. He said this gang was endeavoring to get him in a corner and that the fight now on and that it would be a fight to the finish.

According to Chief Beavers he has been informed that checks aggregating $1,500 have been deposited to be given over to any woman who could get him into a room with her.

“The houses have been closed eight months and they will remain closed as long as I am chief,” he says. “Those fighting me will resort to any political trick to bring my undoing. I am fully advised as to what they are doing and all I ask is that the decent people of this city continue to give me their support.”


Following is the statement issued by Chief Beavers:

“It’s a fight to the finish. The battle is on. I am going to force the vice gangsters into the open. This is the first gun in an attempt to get me out of office. I have shot into their hole so hot that they’ve got to come out.

“Felder was hit first and it was so warm for the others that they had to show their hand. The issue is now between the decent people of the city and the allies of vice, who have controlled the city politically for years.

“I know that the majority of the people of Atlanta are with me in the fight, and all I want is their continued support.

“This has outgrown a personal issue and any issue which may have developed in connection with the Phagan case, and has assumed the proportions of the hottest fight in the political history of Atlanta.

“I will fight them to a finish if I die in my tracks. They are trying to back me in a corner, and I fight when they try that. Even a rat will to back me in a corner, and I fight when they try that. I do not propose to wait until I am forced too far back into a corner before defending myself.


“Felder is the mouthpiece of the gang and an agent to get me out of office. The vice gangsters are losing money because of the closing of the restricted district and, while I do not believe they will do anyone bodily harm, I am satisfied they will not hesitate at political trickery.

“I have heard it rumored that three $500 cheeks [sic] have been deposited by three different men interested in houses in the former restricted district for any woman who could get me into a room with her.

“The Atlanta Constitution has never been in sympathy with me in my efforts to eliminate vice. It has done much to hinder and hamper my work. This paper seems to have made a personal fight on me, never losing an opportunity to embarrass my efforts.

“Shortly after the houses were closed I had a talk with Mr. Clark Howell, editor of the Constitution, in his office. During the conversation the question of suppressing vice came up and Mr. Howell remarked that there was no doubt that the houses were then closed, but asked whether I would be able to keep them closed. I replied that they will remain closed as long as I am in office.

“Mr. Howell never commended nor condemned my reply, but ever since that time the Constitution has indirectly used its influence against me.”


Mayor Woodward last night was interviewed by a Journal reporter in regard to Chief Beavers statement.

Among other things, they mayor said:

“I haven’t read the chief’s statement; but if he charges or intimates that I am connected with or in sympathy with any conspiracy to throw him out of his job, then he is simply mistaken.

“I have not been a supporter of Chief Beavers since I became mayor, but everybody’s known that. There’s been no secret about it so far as I was concerned. I’ve got nothing personal against him. I simply differ with his policy in reference to the vice question. And I must say that neither he nor Chief Lanford have elevated the standard of the police department in the way they have handled the situation.

“Now, understand me. I don’t want to get into any controversy with Chief Beavers. As I said, I’ve got nothing against him personally at all. And I have not hampered him or interfered with him in his management of the police department, and don’t intend to.

“As for the conspiracy which you say he speaks of, there is no such thing so far as I know. I think about all the conspiracy that exists, is what Lanford and his detectives have tried to create.

“It looks like the detectives fixed up what they thought was a nice little trap, and then went to work to catch everybody they had it in for—myself included.

“Of course if I had it to do over again I probably wouldn’t go to the Williams House. I shouldn’t have gone when I did, I reckon, but should have made them see me in my office if they had anything in the way of graft evidence. But I went, and there was absolutely nothing said by me that I am ashamed of or want to conceal from the public.


“This much I will say, though, and that is if the dictograph record purporting to show what was said is a fair sample of the dictograph, then it is one of the biggest fakes that ever came down the pike. I used to think it was fine thing in detecting criminals and such like, but I think now that it must be used by very honest, high-toned men or else it becomes an instrument of crookedness and blackamil [sic].

“Ed Miles simply came to me and said he thought he had found some evidence of graft in the police department and asked me if I would mind going with him over to the Williams House. I couldn’t go right then, but went over later.

“My motive was simply this, and no more: If there was evidence of graft in the police department—real evidence—I wanted it. Certainly I did. A man would be a poor mayor if he wouldn’t want to unearth graft, if such existed. I told them if they had anything that would be of value, that is, something that could convince, I thought they needn’t be uneasy about Febuary losing his job, or about being paid for their trouble. And by that I didn’t mean they’d be paid in a way that was improper. That was all there was to it. They promised to deliver the goods, but I never heard from them any more.”


Further than to deny that he is involved in a fifght [sic] against Chief of Police Beavers or harbors any enmity against that official. Charlie C. Jones, proprietor of the Rex near-beer saloon and a participant in one of the alleged conversations overheard by the police with the dictograph, refused to make any statement Saturday night.

“I have no statement to make,” he said.

“They only thing I want to say,” he added, “is that I am not in any conspiracy to overthrow Chief Beavers.

“I went to the room in the Williams house No. 2, as calimed [sic]. I was invited there by Miles, but I wasn’t in the place more than five minutes.”

Jones also asserts that the record of the dictograph is faulty. He declares that certain parts of his conversation which would explain most of the apparently embarrassing remarks accredited to him have been left out.

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Atlanta Journal, May 25th 1913, “‘Felder is the Mouthpiece of the Vice Gang,’ Declares Chief of Police Jas. L. Beavers,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)