American Gangster Facts – Get Them Straight

 Click Here for more info Frank Lucas didn’t just snitch on the dirty cops? Richie Roberts was not responsible for making the arrest on Frank Lucas? Bumpy Johnson didn’t die in Frank Lucas’ arms? Richie Roberts never even had children?WTF?My only question is, did Richie Roberts really turn in $1,000,000 of unmarked cash? If so then that deserves a WTF?MTV news has scoured the many publications that have covered this movie and consolidated many of the facts for us.

Here, we take a look at the disputes and attempt to offer a reality check:Frank LucasIn the film, the Denzel Washington character is an illiterate but dapper man of conviction who is eternally loyal to Bumpy Johnson. According to Lucas, Johnson died in his arms one night, and as the next-in-line to run the Harlem dope business, the North Carolina transplant took charge of Uptown before Roberts took him down. Lucas received a sentence of 70 years to life, but ended up serving four years … or was it seven?Lucas On His Literacy: “Lemme set this straight,” he told MTV News recently. “I can set this straight for once and all. I went to pharmacy school way back when, I think in the ’50s. I couldn’t read a letter [they gave me], and I cried all night. I had to get somebody to read the letter for me. I got up the next morning, and I knocked the school door down to tell them to let me in there: ‘I got to learn how to read.’ They took me in, and [eventually] I got my diploma.”Barnes On Lucas’ Threads: In the documentary “Mr. Untouchable,” Barnes mocks Lucas’ unrefined ways and claims he was more elegantly dressed than the “country boy.”Mayme Johnson On Lucas’ Relationship With Her Husband: In her upcoming memoir, “Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth ‘Bumpy’ Johnson,” Mayme says that her beau suffered a heart attack while dining at a Harlem, New York, restaurant and died in the arms of his childhood friend, Junie Byrd; she says Bumpy was not with Lucas in an appliance store when he passed, as the movie recounts.Roberts On Lucas’ Cooperation: In interviews, Lucas has grumpily avoided follow-up questions on exactly who he turned against: cops or colleagues. He’s only stated that the movie’s representation, in which his character turns on crooked police officers in return for a lenient sentence, is correct. Lucas told MTV News that he served only four years of that sentence. Upon his release, however, Lucas was again sentenced and served seven years but was released early in exchange for information. In an interview with The Associated Press, when Roberts was asked if Lucas only turned on cops and not fellow dope dealers, he responded: “Absolutely not. He gets mad every time I tell the truth.”Richie RobertsThe Russell Crowe character is portrayed in the film as a driven, compulsive law man who doggedly pursues Lucas — in spite of his failing marriage and adulterous ways — across the state line from New Jersey to New York and single-handily drives the investigation as he collects a team of rogue detectives for the big takedown. After knocking over Lucas, Crowe’s Roberts becomes an attorney and represents Lucas, and eventually the two become friends from working together.Three Former New Jersey Cops On Roberts As The Leading Hero: “We spent nearly two years risking our lives on that case, and then we see a guy who had no interest before we made the arrests take the credit,” Ed Jones sneered in an interview with the New York Daily News. “We’re angry.” According to Jones, he and Al Spearman and Ben Abruzzo led the investigation while Roberts was already a prosecutor. In the same interview, Roberts conceded that the movie blurred the lines regarding the timeline between his days on the beat and his later time behind the desk. “Sure, they used a little literary license,” he said. Said Lucas: “I’m not going to credit them with getting me. Those three cops couldn’t catch a cold.”Lucas On Roberts’ Pursuit: “Richie Roberts couldn’t arrest his mother,” he told MTV News.High School Friend And Roberts’ Best Man On Roberts’ Personal Life: In an interview with a local New Jersey newspaper, Marty Shumsky said Roberts’ portrayal in the movie was on the up and up and that his former football teammate was someone to look up to. As far as his marital woes in the film? According to Shumsky’s wife, it’s a case of fiction trumping fact. “Richie and his first wife never had children, so there was no custody battle,” Paula Shumsky told the Reno Gazette Journal. “And, to the best of our knowledge, I don’t think Richie was ever a womanizer.”

My opinion, it doesn’t matter because it’s still a great movie. No movie based on fact is entirely factual. Frank probably embellished a lot of his end of the story as well. Who knows what really happened in Thailand? It is great to let people know once again not to believe everything they see on TV or the movies. That seems to be the theme today huh? Tomorrow I’ll try and focus on music. Sometimes I can’t resist dropping knowledge though….


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2 Responses to “American Gangster Facts – Get Them Straight”

  1. GodSta Says:

    COMMENTARY: Drug Dealer Frank Lucas, Denzel and Dad

    My Father as a kid delivered groceries to the first drug kingpin “Bumpy” Johnson, who at the time, lived in the corner building on 120th street and 5th Avenue, across the street from Mount Morris Park. He use to tell me these colorful stories with admiration, about this man. Bumpy was an employee and conduit for the mafia, helping to orchestrate the distribution of heroin into Harlem and surrounding communities in the 1940’s, an epidemic that would later spread and engulf the entire country for generations to come.

    The street gangs of the 40’s would become some of the first addicts, their members would ultimately form the first ruthless drug-gangs of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Families were destroyed individual lives ruined, violence and crime across the board increased at staggering rates. In spite the gains from the Civil Rights Movement, as a community we never fully recovered from the initial impact of the flooding of drugs into our communities.

    Frank Lucas, portrayed by academy Award winner Denzel Washington in “American Gangster”, was the driver for Bumpy Johnson until his death by heart attack in 1968. By the time Mr. Lucas took power- the Harlem community had been decimated by this epidemic and the second generation of addicts already overwhelmed the streets. Like the Hip Hop culture violent movies have a tremendous impact on our children. Our young-people are continually bombarded with negative messages that unfortunately help shape and mold their character, Al Pacino’s as Scareface is still a popular image on T-Shirts.

    The moral of the story is not that the bad guy gets it in the end. Too many hopeless kids who are engaged in criminal activity, view the demise of these individuals in a fatalistic and morbidly glamorous way. Enlighten by our past history and current events we have to be careful not to glorify criminals. Mr. Lucas has the right to have his story told but as parents, mentors, big brothers and sisters, we must always monitor the messages and more important the response to the message portrayed in media.

    Dad’s discussions about Bumpy, were a small part of the rich history of the community that he shared with me. He gave me, as I did my son, Claude Brown’s definitive book on life in Harlem, “Manchild in the Promise Land”, when I was a teenager. He also talked about Malcolm X and Dr. King, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. Together we watched, Gil Noble’s informative program “Like It Is”. My love of history and current events came from my dads talks about the Bumpy Johnson’s as well as the Dr. King’s of this world. He taught me to discern the messages that would bombarded me in my life-time. He knew then that no matter what, there would always be plenty of people like Bumpy Johnson and Frank Lucas around to share theirs.


  2. Black Mamba Says:

    I agree with the previous gentleman………I am always apalled at the glorification of lawlessness. I am a 33 year old black man from the south side of Chicago. I have been a criminal, a gang member, a liar a thief and an overall unsavory individual. I have also been a national science fair winner, president of a chess club, member of a national literary merit society, CEO of a buyout Firm, a husband, a father and a loyal friend. Where does the story begin and where does it end? I have seen the ravishings of drugs on a community and a family first hand. There is no glorious side to the drug trade. Someone is going to die and someone is going to prison and that is the entire tale. The only questions are who and when.

    I had no father growing up and I stated, proudly, in my youth that my fathers were Al Pacino in the ‘Godfather’, ‘Lucky Luciano’, ‘SunTzu’, ‘Myomoto Musashi’ and a blend of Dr. King, Malcolm X and Henry Ford (?). As a young man I had almost accepted that I could only hope to experience a rise, some success (regardless of the means and only financially based) and a fall that would be the remainder of my days. I had almost accepted this because it was the dominant story that I had witnessed. From the neighborhood drug dealer/gang leader to the black male characters portrayed on television and in films, we never had a long and productive life. We have ‘Runs’. Like Frank Lucas, like Jeff Fort, Like Larry Hoover, Like Dr. King, like Malcolm X, like Medgar Evers, like Huey and the panthers we have a quick rise, some short lived fame and the memories thereof. I do not compare Dr. King and Malcolm X to criminals beyond their charisma and their unnatural magnetism to people who other wise had no hope.

    At some point we are going to have to recognize that we are able to write the tale of our existence. We are who we think we are. THat thought can not be determined by a movie studio or a rap song. I do not have to choose to either relinquish my membership to the black community or accept baggy jeans and a life with the crack of my ass showing. I also do not have to learn how to step and fetch in the presence of my white counterparts. I look good in a suit and tie. I feel strong sitting in a board room explaining the complexities of a merger or acquisition using the latest merger doctrine as my guide. I enjoy donning my timbs and pelle jeans and jacket and taking my wife to the movies or the casino or just out and about. I love the sound of Jill Scott or Pac on a good sound system. But I also love the rifts in ‘Let the Bodies HIt the Floor’ (Rob Zombie). Who does that make me? We, as black men, accept the glorification of criminals because we are devoid of the types of role models that we are willing to accept. IN this era of the super rich, so many of my brothers (who are over the age of 27) are able to quote the latest sales stats on 50’s new album but have no knowledge of the platform upon which Mr. Obama is running for president. The mention of Condi Rice brings about jokes and shameless suggestions about her sexuality, but the discussion about Frank Lucas almost forced my wife and I to see the movie. That is who we have become! Ms. Rice is arguably the most powerful African American EVER and she is laughed at by her people. Mr. Lucas was a drug dealer who orchestrated the continued destruction of an entire community and he receives the respect of a fallen hero.

    Where does the story begin and where will it end?

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