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Edward R. Frank

Protests Hounding of S.W.P.
Literature Salesmen by Police

(July 1939)


From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 51, 18 July 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Protesting the continued police hounding of persons selling literature for the Socialist Workers Party, Edward R. Frank, Local New York organizer of the S.W.P., on July 13, demanded that Police Commissioner Valentine investigate these actions and put a stop to them. Comrade Frank’s letter reads:

Commissioner Valentine
Police Department
New York, N.Y.

Dear Sir:

On May 25th I communicated with Mayor LaGuardia, requesting that the Police Department refrain from arresting people who were selling literature for the Socialist Workers Party, while at the same time allowing followers of Father Coughlin to sell his magazine without the slightest interference from your Department.

I was assured, by representatives of your department, that no discrimination would be made against people selling literature for the Socialist Workers Party, and that the civil rights of our people would be respected. Nevertheless, last Monday, July 10, 1939, two persons who were selling pamphlets for the Socialist Workers Party in front of Macy’s Department Store and who were standing side by side with three other people selling Social Justice, Father Coughlin’s magazine, were arrested and booked on charges of “disorderly conduct” and “violating the anti-noise ordinance.” Not a finger was laid on the vendors of Social Justice. On Tuesday, July 11, 1939, another arrest was made under the same circumstances and at the same place.

Deliberate Policy

Obviously, these arrests are the result of a deliberate policy of discrimination against the Socialist Workers Party and in favor of the followers of Father Coughlin. I do not know how true might be the assertion of Father Coughlin that 5,000 of his followers are members of various police departments, but in view of the open discrimination against the Socialist Workers Party in favor of Father Coughlin’s followers in these arrests, and the violation of the civil rights of our people, our attorney has asked a postponement of the case involving Tuesday’s arrest until August, pending an investigation into the policy governing these arrests.

This letter merely confirms my conversation with Patrolman Boles concerning this matter and my request that an investigation be initiated.

For your further information, these cases were booked at the Magistrates Court of the Second District, 6th Avenue and 103rd Street; Judge Thomas A. Aurelio presiding.

Trusting that you will make an immediate and complete investigation into this matter, and awaiting your early reply, I am,


Yours truly,
Edward R. Frank,
Socialist Workers Party,
Local New York

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