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The arrest of Felix Canigianes assumed national proportions yesterday when H. L. Mencken, the editor of the American Mercury, forced J. Frank Chase, secretary of the New England Watch and Ward Society, to secure his arrest. Mencken sold Chase a copy of the April number of the Mercury at the corner of Park and Tremont Streets at 2 o'clock.
Almost a week ago Chase arranged with the Boston police for the arrest of any person selling a copy of the April issue of the Mercury. The proprietor of Felix' newsstand was arrested on a charge preferred following this agreement.
Yesterday morning Mencken arrived in Boston with his attorney Arthur Garfield Hays, who is counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, determined, to force the issue on the suppression. He immediately got in touch with Chase and warned him that at 2 o'clock he would sell a copy of the American Mercury to any purchaser who would meet him in front of the Park Street Church.
After his arrest and release on $500 bail Mr. Mencken granted an interview to the CRIMSON in which he outlined the issues at stake. "This Chase," said Mr. Mencken, "has had the publishers and booksellers of this vicinity right where he wanted them for years. When that unfortunate fellow, Felix, got into his net he suffered to a blow aimed at me.
Grants Crimson Interview
"And Chase has been after me ever since last September when I ran an article exposing the machine which he has built up here to keep the Puritans pure. He felt that his chance had come when the April number appeared with a story to which he took exception.
"I am up here to see that such a machine with such unlimited powers shall be unable to continue under cover. Whether or not my trial tomorrow goes against me I intend that the whole organization and at its workings shall be aired.
"I have arranged a suit against the Watch and Ward Society and against the agents who sell my magazines to the news dealers. I intend that the suits shall establish the principles upon which Chase shall be permitted to operate in the future, or I intend that he shall be shown to have no ground to stand on. If he wins, I shall at least have the satisfaction of the knowledge that his activities are opened to public gaze."
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