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Vincent R. Dunne

The Minneapolis Meetings

(February 1929)

From The Militant, Vol. II No. 3, 1 February 1929, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

One of the largest and most rousing Communist meetings in years here was held last night at I.W.W. Hall under the auspices of the Opposition Communists with James P. Cannon speaking on The Truth about Trotsky and the Platform of the Opposition. Over 250 workers packed the hall to the doors and listened with the closest attention to Cannon’s two-hour exposition of the Opposition cause. Thanks to the presence of a strong and well organized Workers’ Guard the meeting was protected from all interference and the gangster tactics which brought the police to Thursday’s meeting and resulted in it being broken up by them were not attempted.

At Wednesday’s meeting held at A.O.U.W. Hall a gang of thirty or more hooligans organized by the Party leadership rushed the hall early in the evening before the crowd arrived. Comrades Skoglund and Coover who were alone, handling tickets at the door, were attacked by the entire gang and badly beaten by black-jacks and brass knuckles. The slugging of these two prominent militants was accomplished by a division of labor between the members of the Lovestone and Foster factions. The latter held the arms of Coover and Skoglund from behind while the former wielded the black-jacks over their heads.

The attempt of the hoodlums to prevent comrade Cannon from speaking resulted in a fight which brought the Police who broke up the meeting, pulling Cannon down from the platform and driving the crowd from the hall. This collaboration of the police and gangsters in the suppression of the workers’ right of free speech aroused violent resentment among the radical workers throughout the city who have seen the Minneapolis Oppositionists in the vanguard of every struggle of the militant workers for years past.

The I.W.W. cancelled a forum program of their own and rented their hall to us for the Saturday meeting “as a demonstration against violation of the workers’ right of free speech.” They also offered to help in protecting the meeting from disruption by the gangsters. The latter however failed to show up. They were brave enough to fight with thirty against two but lacked the courage to show up at the Saturday meeting where a larger group of militants were on hand early and prepared to meet them.

Comrade Cannon’s speech, his array of arguments, suppressed facts and documents, made a profound impression and won many completely over to our side. Thirty-five workers in the audience handed in their names and addresses for notification of other meetings and activities of the Opposition.

On the invitation of the I.W.W., comrade Cannon remained over for Sunday night and gave a lecture at their forum on Free Speech in the Labor Movement to the great satisfaction of another packed hall.

Extensive meetings of the Opposition group were held with the participation of comrade Cannon during his visit which resulted in the clearing up of a number of tactical questions and the unanimous agreement of the entire group on the line of action for the future. The group passed a resolution demanding the weekly publication of The Militant and pledged $25 a week toward its maintenance.

Gangsterism has defeated and discredited itself completely in Minneapolis. The Opposition has won a great moral and political victory over fascist methods. It has won the support of the great majority of the sympathizing workers and has strengthened its own morale and conviction. Our work in the coming period will be animated by a move determined and militant spirit than before.

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