The Shooting of a Senator…By the Cops!

I am currently out of town for the weekend, so my post will be a bit shorter than usual but it is about an interesting little story from history I encountered.

In the 1910s, support for Prohibition was rising thanks to the influence of Wayne Wheeler, a tireless, zealous, and revolutionary political activist. On December 17, 1917, the House voted to ratify the Prohibition Amendment to the Constitution. One of the votes against was from Republican Congressman Frank L. Greene of Vermont, who did so out of his opposition to expanding the reach of the federal government and likewise voted against the 19th Amendment. Little did he know that his opposition to the former would turn out to be justified on much more than on an ideological level.

Frank Greene

Frank L. Greene

On February 15, 1924, Greene, by this time a senator, was walking down the streets of Washington D.C. with his wife when a gunfight broke out between Prohibition agents and moonshine bootleggers during a raid. He promptly shielded his wife and seconds after was accidentally shot in the head by a Prohibition agent. Despite this, Greene barely survived and was paralyzed on the right side for the rest of his life. He would not be the only innocent who would be harmed by the zealousness of Prohibition agents: at least 200 bystanders were killed by them in the course of enforcing the law. Despite his condition, Greene stayed in office until his death in 1930 at 60 from complications of a hernia operation. Imagine the outrage today if a senator was accidentally shot by law enforcement in the course of a drug bust!

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