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Hugo Oehler

Kincaid Miners Trial Starts

(April 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 22, 8 April 1933, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Taylorville, Ill. – The trial of the 22 Kincaid miners, charged with murder, is under way in the Christian County Circuit Court. Its sessions occur with a packed hall of miners from all parts of the Illinois coal fields. The first two up for trial, whom the Peabody coal company intends to burn in the electric chair are Emil Dupire, coal miner, and Mattozzo, chief of police in Kincaid and supporter of the P.M.A.

The trial so far clearly reveals the frame-up evidence given by the Peabody Coal Company and the danger of conviction due to the legalistic position taken by the officials of the P.M.A. conducting the case. All strategical vantage points are in the hands of the Peabody Coal Company. The P.M.A. officials do not seem to realize the significance of this.

John Hogan, Peabody attorney, has been drafted by the state attorney and is leading the prosecution. The jury consists of eleven farmers and one clerk – an ideal reactionary jury that can easily ignore all contradictory evidence and frame-up material. A far greater danger than this is the position of the PMA officials that has put the damper on mass pressure. They are leaving the case in the hands of their attorneys. The bulletin of the Progressive Miner (March 31) speaks of the opening of the case as follows: “The flimsiness of the state’s case has been well shattered in the first stage of the trial.” Yes, to the workers, but we are not deciding the case. Eleven farmers and one clerk and the Peabody Coal Company are deciding the case. The bulletin, in referring to the clear-cut frame-up evidence, says the defendants are “virtually cleared of all charges by the testimony of the prosecution”. These are dangerous statements because the cards are stacked against us. We cannot talk as though miners are trying the case and not farmers and the Peabody Coal Company, and their law and order. Whereever there are Peabody miners the militia or the sheriffs forces are holding down the miners and imported gunmen carry on a reign of terror against the PMA miners, killing, raping, kidnapping, smashing the union’s relief stations, bombing workers’ homes, beating up progressive miners.

Evidence Proves Frame-Up

The three main witnesses of the state are Peabody men and the evidence consists of contradictory and frame-up material. But this does not mean we have “practically won” the case. Two doctors testifying for the state contradict each other on the shooting of the mine boss who was killed. One says the bullet came for the rear and the other said the shot was fired from the front. Another Peabody witness says he saw Mattozzo with a sub-machine gun while another says the defendant had a rifle. Further contradictions in the testimony of the Peabody witnesses were brought to the surface. One says that Smith who was in the car with the mine boss, fired at the relief station over his left shoulder while Smith says he fired ahead. The mine boss who was killed, was seated in the back seat of the same car.

It is a clear case of frame-up but this does not prove that Peabody is losing. They had a flimsy case against Mooney and countless other class war prisoners and yet these men were sentenced. The workers must not leave the case in the hands of the courts controlled by the Peabody Coal Company.

We must use all legal means at our disposal but under and around these necessary defense measures a powerful mass movement of the American workers must be organized to light for the release of the frame-up Kincaid miners on trial at Taylorville.

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