Ever since the I. W. W. was organized in June, 1905, there has been an inquisitorial campaign against its life and growth, inaugurated by the Chambers of Commerce, Profiteers, large and small, and authorities of State and Nation in temporary power.
The Industrial Workers of the World is a Labor organization composed of sober, honest, industrious men and women. Its chief purposes are to abolish the system of wage slavery and to improve the conditions of those who toil.
This organization has been foully dealt with; drops of blood, bitter tears of anguish, frightful heart pains have marked its every step in its onward march of progress.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been murdered.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been imprisoned.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been tarred and feathered.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been deported
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been starved.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been beaten.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the right of citizenship.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been exiled.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have had their homes invaded.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have had their private property and papers seized.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the privilege of defense.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been held in exorbitant bail.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been subjected to involuntary servitude.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been kidnapped.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been "framed" and unjustly accused.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been excessively fined.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have died in jail waiting for trial.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been driven insane through persecution.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the use of the mails.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the right to organize.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the right of free speech.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the right of free press.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the right of free assembly.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied every privilege guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
I. W. W. MEMBERS have been denied the inherent rights proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence—Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
I. W. W. Halls, Offices and Headquarters have been raided.
I. W. W. property, books, pamphlets, stamps, literature, office fixtures have been unlawfully seized.
I. W. W. as an organization and its membership have been viciously maligned, vilified and persecuted.
The charges set forth in this indictment would count for nothing unless evidence and proof were at hand to sustain them. A record of every charge can be found in the annals of the press, the court records of the land, the report of the Commission on Industrial Relations, and other reports of the Government of the United States.
We charge that I. W. W. MEMBERS have been murdered, and mention here a few of those who have lost their lives:
Joseph Michalish was shot to death by a mob of so-called citizens.
Michael Hoey was beaten to death in San Diego.
Samuel Chinn was so brutally beaten in the county jail at Spokane, Washington, that he died from the injuries.
Joseph Hillstrom was judicially murdered within the walls of the penitentiary at Salt Lake City, Utah.
Anna Lopeza, a textile worker, was shot and killed, and two other Fellow Workers were murdered during the strike at Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Frank Little, a cripple, was lynched by hirelings of the Copper Trust at Butte, Montana.
John Looney, A. Robinowitz, Hugo Gerlot, Gustav Johnson, Felix Baron, and others were killed by a mob of Lumber Trust gunmen on the Steamer Verona at the dock at Everett, Washington.
J. A. Kelly was arrested and re-arrested at Seattle, Washington; finally died from the effects of the frightful treatment he received. Four members of the I. W. W. were killed at Grabow, Louisiana, where thirty were shot and seriously wounded.
Two members were nearly dragged to death behind an automobile at Ketchikan, Alaska.
These are but a few of the many who have given up their lives on the altar of Greed, sacrificed in the ages-long struggle for Industrial Freedom.
We charge that many thousands of members of this organization have been imprisoned, on most occasions arrested without warrant and held without charge. To verify this statement it is but necessary that you read the report of the Commission on Industrial Relations wherein is given testimony of those who know of conditions at Lawrence, Massachusetts, where nearly 900 men and women were thrown into prison during the Textile Workers’ Strike at that place. This same report recites the fact that during the Silk Workers’ Strike at Paterson, New Jersey, nearly 1,900 men and women were cast into jail without charge or reason. Throughout the northwest these kinds of outrages have been continually perpetrated against members of the I. W. W. County jails and city prisons in nearly every state in the Union have held or are holding members of this organization.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been tarred and feathered. Frank H. Meyers was tarred and feathered by a gang of prominent citizens at North Yakima, Washington. D. S. Dietz was tarred and feathered by a mob led by representatives of the Lumber Trust at Sedro Wooley, Washington. John L. Metzen, attorney for the Industrial Workers of the World, was tarred and feathered and severely beaten by a mob of citizens at Staunton, Illinois. At Tulsa, Oklahoma, a mob of bankers and other business men gathered up seventeen members of the I. W. W., loaded them in automobiles, carried them out of town to a patch of woods, and there tarred and feathered and beat them with rope.
We charge that members of the Industrial Workers of the World have been deported, and cite the cases of Bisbee, Arizona, where 1,164 miners, many of them members of the I. W. W., and their friends, were dragged out of their homes, loaded upon box cars, and sent out of the camp. They were confined for months at Columbus, New Mexico. Many cases are now pending against the copper companies and business men of Bisbee. A large number of members were deported from Jerome, Arizona. Seven members of the I. W. W. were deported from Florence, Oregon, and were lost for days in the woods. Tom Lassiter, a crippled news vender, was taken out in the middle of the night and badly beaten by a mob for selling the Liberator and other radical papers.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been cruelly and inhumanly beaten. Hundreds of members can show scars upon their lacerated bodies that were inflicted upon them when they were compelled to run the gauntlet. Joe Marko and many others were treated in this fashion at San Diego, California. James Rowan was nearly beaten to death at Everett, Washington. At Lawrence, Massachusetts, the thugs of the Textile Trust beat men and women who had been forced to go on strike to get a little more of the good things of life. The shock and cruel whipping which they gave one little Italian woman caused her to give premature birth to a child. At Red Lodge, Montana, a member’s home was invaded and he was hung by the neck before his screaming wife and children. At Franklin, New Jersey, August 29, 1917, John Avila, an I. W. W., was taken in broad daylight by the chief of police and an auto-load of business men to a woods near the town and there hung to a tree. He was cut down before death ensued, and badly beaten. It was five hours before Avila regained consciousness, after which the town "judge" sentenced him to three months at hard labor.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been starved. This statement can be verified by the conditions existing in most any county jail where members of the I. W. W. are confined. A very recent instance is at Topeka, Kansas, where members were compelled to go on a hunger strike as a means of securing food for themselves that would sustain life. Members have been forced to resort to the hunger strike as a means of getting better food in many places. You are requested to read the story written by Winthrop D. Lane, which appears in the Sept. 6, 1919, number of "The Survey." This story is a graphic description of the county jails of Kansas.
We charge that I. W. W. members have been denied the right of citizenship, and in each instance the judge frankly told the applicants that they were refused on account of membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, accompanying this with abusive remarks; members were denied their citizenship papers by Judge Hanford at Seattle, Washington, and Judge Paul O’Boyle at Scranton, Pennsylvania.
We charge that members of this organization have been exiled from the shores of this land for no other reason than because of their membership in the I. W. W., and we give as proof these several instances: William Field, Thomas Rimmer, Donald McPherson, Fritz Holm, Olaf Finnstad, James Cully, Joseph Kennedy, two young Scotch girls—Margaret and Janet Roy; others have been slipped through without a chance of communicating with friends or conferring with counsel.
We charge that the homes of members which are supposed to be sacred have been invaded. Their private and personal property has been rummaged and seized. In some cases these invasions have taken place in the night time without warrant.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been denied the privilege of defense. This being an organization of working men who had little or no funds of their own, it was necessary to appeal to the membership and the working class generally for funds to provide a proper defense. The postal authorities, acting under orders from the Postmaster-General at Washington, D. C., have deliberately prevented the transportation of our appeals, our subscription lists, our newspapers. These have been piled up in the postoffices and we have never received a return of the stamps affixed for mailing.
We charge that the members of the I. W. W. have been held in exorbitant bail. As an instance there is the case of Pietro Pierre held in the county jail at Topeka, Kansas. His bond was fixed at $5,000, and when the amount was tendered it was immediately raised to $10,000. This is only one of the many instances that could be recorded.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been compelled to submit to involuntary servitude. This does not refer to members confined in the penitentiaries, but would recall the reader’s attention to an I. W. W. member under arrest at Birmingham, Alabama, taken from the prison and placed on exhibition at a fair given in that city where admission of twenty-five cents was charged to see the I. W. W.
We charge that members of the Industrial Workers of the World have died in prison while waiting for trial; and mention the names of R. J. Blaine, Ed Burns, H. C. Evans, James Nolan and Frank Travis, all of whom died of the dreadful disease influenza while imprisoned in the terrible county jail at Sacramento, California. These young men were confined in cramped quarters and left to die without the aid of physicians or nurses.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been driven insane while awaiting trial. In the Paula revolving jail at Wichita, Kansas, after months of torture, Stephen Shurin, in delirium, cut his throat. On Sept. 18, 1919, in the Spokane county jail, Spokane, Washington, Carl Swanson committed suicide by strangling himself with a necktie, and Carl Swenson, held in the same jail awaiting trial, hung himself with a leather belt.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have been kidnapped. To prove this assertion Wm. D. Haywood was carried from his home in Denver, Colorado, to Boise, Idaho, where he was held in prison 18 months until finally acquitted of the charge of murder preferred against him. Frank Little was taken out of the jail at Iron River, Michigan, thrown into an automobile which drove out of town. He was lashed with ropes and left in a storm to die. Geo. Speed and Wm. Thorne were kidnapped at Aberdeen, Washington. Many other similar cases have occurred.
We charge that members of the I. W. W. have suffered cruel and unusual punishment. At Fresno, California, where the jail was crowded with members, the Fire Department was called and a stream of water was turned upon the helpless men. Their only protection was mattresses and blankets—one man had his eye torn out by the water. This method of treatment was also adopted at San Diego, California.
We charge that members of this organization have been unjustly accused and framed. This statement is proved by the present case against Pietro Pierre and R. J. Bobba, the latter out on bond, the former now confined in Topeka, Kansas, jail. Charles Krieger has been held for months in jail at Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is guiltless of any crime except that of being a member of the I. W. W.
Our literature, our letters and telegrams, pamphlets and songs have been misinterpreted and used against us.
We ask the reader how long these terrible persecutions are going to be permitted to continue?
This communication is addressed to the working class of the world. This is a voice from the men and women employed in the industries. It is a demand for a square deal. The outrages that have been imposed upon us will yet be suffered by you, if you do not help us in our need. Our fight is your fight. We want you to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. Funds are necessary. Checks and money orders can be made out to the General Defense Committee, 1001 West Madison Street, Chicago, Ill.
Transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield. Many typographical errors silently corrected.
Last updated 10 March 2004.
Last updated 5 November 2004 by David Walters for the MIA’s I.W.W. Collection. We extend our heartfelt thanks to J. D. Crutchfied for granting us permission to use his collection of online pamphlets.