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January 17, 2012

Women’s Criminal Work: 1930s-40s Anonymous Female Mugshots From Los Angeles

These women appear to have been accused of just as impressive crimes. Arrested in Los Angeles for crimes as diverse as assault with a deadly weapon (gun), prostitution, procuring, hold up, embezzlement and burglary during the late 1930s and early 1940s, these women were processed by the “mechanism” without dignity–humanity–no longer identified as individuals but solely by their crimes.

The machine had taken over and what didn’t compute became criminal. The tone had been set when LAPD Chief James E. Davis set up the “Red Squad” in 1933 to target strikers, unions, communists–those defined as troublemaking employees. One Police Commissioner said at the time:

“The more the police beat them up and wreck their headquarters, the better. Communists have no Constitutional rights and I won’t listen to anyone who defends them.”



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