Black Hand

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Related to Crna Ruka: Francis Ferdinand, The Black Hand, Unification or Death

Black Hand,

symbol and name for a criminal and terroristic secret society, and especially associated with the MafiaMafia
, name given to a number of organized groups of Sicilian brigands in the 19th and 20th cent. Unlike the Camorra in Naples, the Mafia had no hierarchic organization; each group operated on its own.
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 and the CamorraCamorra
, Italian secret criminal association in Naples. Of controversial origin, it first came to light in 1830. Its activities spread by intimidation, blackmail, and bribery until Naples was controlled by it.
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. The Black Hand flourished in Sicily in the late 19th cent., and in the United States it was especially active in New York City at the beginning of the 20th cent. It is estimated that at one time 90% of New York City's Italian population was blackmailed by letters threatening death and marked with a black hand. Famous incidents associated with the Black Hand include the murder (1890) in New Orleans of chief of police Daniel Hennessy and the shooting (1909), in Palermo, Italy, of Lt. Joseph Petrosino of the New York City police.

Black Hand,

the sobriquet for the Mafia. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1657]