You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
Saturday June 20, 1903
From The Outlook: "Forced Labor in West Virgina"
Mr Speranza tells the story of 23 Italian laborers who were shipped (and he uses that word advisedly) from New York to Raleigh County, West Virginia last March. The men had been told that they were not going far away from New York, so they sensed a betrayal when they arrived in Beckley two days later. They were then driven to the isolated Harmon Camp and began working under the watchful eye of a contractor with a revolver stuck ostentatiously in his breast pocket. They were surrounded by armed guards. The work of drilling and grading was nothing like it had been represented.
They arrived in debt due to the cost of their transportation, and they were forced to incur more debt through the exorbitant prices at the camp commissary. They had not yet been paid, but decided that conditions were unbearable, and they made up their minds to leave. Little did they realize that through the "Boarding-House Law" of West Virginia, they had been turned into debt slaves.
Never mind that the so-called "Boarding-Houses" were actually shanty shacks, and that the men had money coming to them, an arrest warrant was, never-the-less, soon issued. They were arrested in Beckley and charged with non-payment of board.
Mr Speranza describes the amazing events which followed their arrest:
The next morning enters the contractor; he is a private citizen, he is not an officer, he is not even a party of record to the proceedings. What right has he in that Grand Jury room used as a jail? And when the prisoners, in the actual custody of the law, refuse to go back to his camp, he and his henchman, in that room set apart for what has been called "the Bulwark of Anglo-Saxon liberty," proceed to bind six of the prisoners with ropes. I cite from the sworn statement of one of the men:
"He had tied my wrists and had thrown the rope around my neck, when I shouted to the storekeeper, who was present and spoke Italian, 'Not this, not this! It is Holy Week and I know Christ's hands were tied, but there was no rope around his Neck."
Thereupon the contractor, convinced that the binding of the arms was sufficient, bunched together six of the bound men and marched them out into the public street. There, before "the whole town," not, excluding certain sworn officers of the law, seeing that the prisoners still refused to march back to camp, the contractor hitched the rope by which they were tied to a mule, urging it on. The squire who had issued the warrant of arrest fortunately appeared then and cut the men free. Praise be to him for this act!
This story will continue tomorrow.
-of June 13, 1903
Friday June 20, 1913
Charleston, West Virginia - The Brutality of the Company Gun Thugs Described
As the Senate Investigating Committee holds the last of its hearings in Charleston today, we would like to review the testimony given by the miners and their wives. On Saturday, about a dozen men and women from the Holly Grove Camp gave their testimony about the late-night attack on their little village. The miners refer to the "Bull Moose Special" with its armor-siding and mounted machine guns as the "Death Special."
Mrs. Annie Hall came into the room still limping from the injury she received that night. She told how she held her three little children and tried to shield them from the bullets. They hid in the chimney corner as the bullets flew through the house. The bullet which struck Mrs. Hall in the foot passed first through the family Bible and the hymn book.
Miners described the brutality of mine guard: how they arrest men at random, how they lock the men into box cars like cattle, how they stand their prisoners in front of Gatling guns to terrorize them. One miner stated:
I never thought that I'd get home no more. My wife begged them not to take me and they took a hold of me. They took a hold of my wife, too, because she hung on me.SOURCE
The New York Times
-of June 15, 1913
Thursday June 20, 2013
From Working In These Times: "Labor Protestors Arrested at Giants Game"
"No justice, no garlic fries!” That was the message Unite Here Local 2 members and their supporters wanted to send to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday as they sat down and blocked access to a food stand inside AT&T Park, while hundreds of people took part in a demonstration outside the stadium. Ten of the indoor protestors were arrested. The demonstration comes three weeks after a day-long strike by concessions workers at the park who are seeking a new contract....Read the full article by George Lavender here:
Workers from the ballpark did not take part in the blockade. Some were surprised it was happening, but many said they appreciated the support from fellow union members and community organizations. ...
All of those arrested were cited for misdemeanor trespass and released. Among them was Alex Tom, executive director the Chinese Progressive Association. He said support from community groups like his was important in putting pressure on the company. “Centerplate has made a lot of money off the backs of these workers,” he said outside the ballpark after being released, “and it’s time for them to give back.”
UNITE HERE Local 2
Chinese Progressive Association
You're Going Home in the Back of Divi Van!
Painters and Dockers-In the Back of a Divi Van