top of page

Some Italian-Americans Resent Spotlight on Valachi

Oct. 3, 1963 - Italian-Americans in New York expressed resentment today over the national spotlight that is being given the story of Italian gangsterism being told by Joseph M. Valachi (pictured). A number contended the Kennedy Administration was seeking political advantage and diversion of attention from other problems. The Grand Council of Columbia Associations in Civil Service, which says it represents 80,000 memebers of Italian extraction throughout the state, last night heard its president, Mario Biaggi, label the Valachi hearings “a grim circus.” Mr. Biaggi, a much-decorated police lieutenant now on leave as a State Housing Division community relations specialist, charged that the effect of the two dozen names mentioned by Valachi was to attribute the nation’s crimes to Italians. “This is convenient politics,” Biaggi said at the organization’s monthly delegate meeting in the Commodore Hotel, “especially for those whose policy it is to deny Americans their just due because of a heritage different from those who happen to be in political power because of their own — and different — ancestry.” Throughout thearea known as Little Italy — around Canal Street and south of Police Headquarters at 240 Centre Street — Valachi was denounced as “a scum.” One musician declared: “It would be better if Americans would be taught that people like Toscanini, Puccini, and Italian scientists were more representative of the Italian people. Most Italians carry violins in their cases.” In an Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn — centering on Union and President Streets between Third and Fourth Avenues — 10 out of 25 persons refused to comment. Several residents charged that the chairman of the Senate hearings, John McClellan, an Arkansas Democrat, was serving his own publicity interests. “He ought to go and clean up things in his own state,” one man declared.


bottom of page