Should ATF HQ Be Named For Eliot Ness? Some In Chicago Say No


Now that three senators have proposed naming a federal building in Washington after Eliot Ness, some Chicago aldermen are pushing back, saying that Ness's achievements have been exaggerated and that he does not deserve the glory for capturing Al Capone, who was found guilty of tax evasion, reports the New York Times. Critics say a divide between the real Ness and the legendary Ness started over Scotch-fueled conversations with a journalist who expanded his stories into a book that sold 1.5 million copies. Ness died in 1957. “The book was mostly fiction,” said Jonathan Eig, author of “Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster.” Eig has called Ness little more than a “nuisance” to Capone.

“Chicago should be on record telling what really happened,” said Alderman Edward Burke, whose resolution opposing putting the name of this city's most famous Prohibition G-man on the headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is to be voted on today. Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Richard Durbin of Illinois have introduced a resolution to honor “the legendary law enforcement agent who fought to bring Chicago mob boss Al Capone to justice” by naming the building after Ness. Ginger Colbrun, an ATF spokeswoman, said Ness was a pioneer of targeted law enforcement techniques, including surveillance and public relations tactics that are still used today.

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