Why Was Al Capone Known As a Modern Day Robin Hood?

al-capone-known-modern-day-robin-hood Credit: Photo 12 / Contributor/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Al Capone was referred to as a "Robin Hood" figure because he gave so much money to charities before he went to jail. The public's fascination with and, at times, admiration of Capone is part of the complex story of one of America's first famous criminals, who, despite his well-known participation in illicit activities, was widely respected.

Even though Capone was admired for his financial generosity and for his bootlegging activities, making alcohol more widely available during Prohibition, he was also a violent criminal who was unable to permanently hold on to public favor.

Capone's participation in the St. Valentine's Day massacre of 1929, which involved seven victims being brutally gunned down in a fake police raid, was a major negative turning point in the public's feelings toward Capone. The gunmen involved in the massacre had dressed as police, allowing them to disarm their victims. Graphic photos of the aftermath circulated through public newspapers, creating public outrage. Though Capone himself couldn't be directly tied to the crime, public assumption pointed to him as the overseer of the operation. This turned the tide of popular opinion against him, and some influential people began to call for his arrest. Capone was eventually arrested on charges of tax evasion.