Wednesday January 20, 1915
Roosevelt, New Jersey - Deputized Company Gunthugs Shoot Down Unarmed Strikers
1 KILLED, 20 SHOT BY STRIKE GUARDS
Deputies Drive Off Laborers
at the Liebig Fertilizer Works in Carteret, N. J.
GRAND JURY TO TAKE ACTION
Witnesses Call Attack on Men
Seeking Strikebreakers in Train Unprovoked.
Plant Threatened at Night by Angry Crowd-
Wives in Parade Appeal to Mayor.
The brilliant white "eye" of a searchlight, mounted on the Liebig Fertilizer Works at Carteret, N. J., swept the swampy ground surrounding this plant and that of the Williams & Clark Fertilizing Company, about a mile away, last night with the regularity of a pendulum, and now and then disclosed groups of men, more than 700 persons all told.
The men were strikers formerly employed at the two plants, and they shook fists at the beam of light and muttered threats of what they would do to repay a tragedy of yesterday morning, when one striker was shot dead and more than a score were injured by bullets fired by Deputy Sheriffs employed by the fertilizer companies as guards.
Many of the crowd had relatives, all had friends, among the wounded. They asserted many men were injured whose names did not appear on the official lists made up at hospitals in Elizabeth, because they had crawled away or been helped off by friends. The official lists showed one dead, four on the point of death, seven still unable to leave the hospital, and seven more who were treated and sent home.
ALESANDRO, DESEDERIO. Chrome. N. J.; 28 years old; shot in the leg and back; died at 6 o'clock in Alexian Brothers Hospital, Elizabeth.
BIBICK, PAUL, Chrome, N. J., 49 years old, married; two bullets in left leg and one in left hand.
COCHANTO, ANTON, Carteret, N. J., 52 years old; shot in back of neck; may die.
CUEILO, FRANK, Chrome; shot in leg; treated in hospital and went home.
DODD, STEPHEN, Carteret, 12 years old; buckshot in legs and thighs.
EBDA, STEFAN, Carteret, 44 years old, married; ten buckshot in right leg and three in left.
FURTY, JOSEPH, Chrome, 19 years old, single; two shots in left hip.
GONHOS, ANDREW, Chrome, 35; shot in left leg; treat in hospital and went home.
GORARISKY, JOHN, Chrome, 50, married; four shots in right leg; condition serious.
HECTA, STANISLAUS, Chrome, 28, three shots in body; treated in hospital and went home.
KONIVUSKY, MICHAEL, Chrome, 29; shot in left hip.
KORINVCO, JACOB, Carteret, shot in right foot.
MUSIKA, JOHN, Carteret, 34, married; six shots in right leg; may die.
PATTY, CARMAN, Chrome, 38, married; shot in left arm and abdomen; may die.
PODNER, GEORGE, Carter; shot in hand; treated in hospital and went home.
ROBB, CHARLES, Chrome; shot in thigh; treated in hospital and went home.
SAVETSKY, JOHN, Carteret, 28; buckshot wounds in body; may die.
TRIOTHER, LAUTO, Chrome; shot in thigh; treated in hospital and went home.
YANOS CARLO, Carteret; shot in chest and thigh; treated in hospital and went home.
Cochanto and Savetsky were in the General Hospital in Elizabeth last night. The other wounded, except those who went home after being treated, were in the Alexian Brothers Hospital, in Elizabeth.
Grand Jury to Act.
There were conflicting reports of how the trouble started, but the witnesses examined by Prosecutor W. Edwin Florance of Middlesex County at an inquiry in the Borough Hall at Chrome in the afternoon were all in accord except the Deputy Sheriffs. Policemen and citizens joined the strikers in their declaration that the attack was unprovoked. The deputies asserted the strikers had fired the first shots. Mr. Florance adjourned the meeting after hearing fifty witnesses. He said he already had sufficient evidence to submit tho the Grand Jury in New Brunswick this week.
Several men said they had seen three boats loaded with Deputies put out from the Williams & Clark works immediately after the shooting and cross Staten Island Sound to Staten Island, where they disappeared. A. R. Roosman, Superintendent of the plant, denied that a single guard had left.
The Prosecutor was told in effect that the employes of the two fertilizer plants, together with those employed by Armour & Co. and the consumers' Fertilizer Company, near by, struck on Jan. 4 for a return to the $2 a day wage scale, which was cut to $1.60 last October, when Leonard Frasina, an organizer of the American Federation of Labor, unionized all four plants. The Consumers' Company immediately met the demand, and its men went to work. Liebig and Williams & Clark are part of the American Agricultural Company, and the Armour Company has a working agreement with them, it was testified. They held out.
Piled Ties on Tracks.
The strikers yesterday heard that strikebreakers were to be imported into the Liebig and Williams & Clark plants, and between 300 and 400 of them gathered outside the Liebig plant shortly before 7 o'clock in the morning. The first train from Elizabeth port over the Sound Shore Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey reached the Liebig station, about half way between the towns of Carteret and Chrome, at 6:57 o'clock.
The strikers heaped ties on the tracks and surrounded the train when it halted. Chief of Police Henry Harrington of Roosevelt had been warned of the hold-up and was on the train. He assured the strikers that there were no strikebreakers aboard and suggested that if they would remove the ties and permit the train to proceed unmolested the train crew probably would allow them to pass through the cars and convince themselves there were no strikebreakers there. The strikers moved the ties at once, a committee passed through the train, and it was allowed to proceed.
But in the last four days 100 deputy sheriffs had been stationed in the Liebig plant and forty-odd in the Williams & Clark plant, and the strikers were convinced it was a step toward the introduction of strikebreakers. So they walked the mile between the two plants and again piled ties upon the tracks, this time to halt a train due at the Williams & Clark plant at 8 o'clock. First they telephoned to the railroad so that there might be no accident.
How the Shooting Began.
According to the stories of the witnesses-except the deputies-the train halted, the strikers were permitted to inspect it, and they were leaving it, cheering because they had found no one arriving to take their places, when forty deputies under Thomas Revolinsky of New Brunswick, rushed from the fertilizer plant out on to railroad property, firing revolvers, rifles, and shotguns as they ran.
The strikers stood aghast for a moment. As men among them screamed and fell wounded the others fled into the marsh which surrounded the plant and the deputies, according to witnesses, pursued firing again and again until every striker who could move was 200 or more feet away. There the strikers gathered. Opposite them the guards waited, weapons ready. Between the two groups lay wounded men, some of whom tried to creep toward the strikers, while cries and groans arose from the marsh.
Joseph W. Crane, Commissioner of Street Cleaning in Roosevelt, told Prosecutor Florance at the inquiry that he had seen a guard leap after one striker who tumbled wounded into a ditch, lean over the man, and fire five shots from a revolver into the man's legs. This man was John Gorarisky, and he corroborated M. Crane's story of how his injuries were inflicted.
The Commissioner said he had seen another guard spring upon a wounded striker and club him into unconsciousness with blows on the head. The shooting, he said, was entirely without provocation.
"The sight of that swamp, filled with injured groaning men, was terrible." said Mr. Crane. "The strikers were so maddened that, unarmed as they were, they wanted to charge the deputies. I had difficulty in restraining them for dozens would undoubtedly have been killed."
Wounded in the Back.
The strikers gathered up their wounded, and ambulances arrived from the General Hospital and the Alexian Brothers Hospital. The worst hurt were carried in these, and automobiles were pressed into service to convey the others. At the hospital, Prosecutor Alfred N. Stein of Union county took antemortem statements from the worst hurt, which he afterwards forwarded to Mr. Florance. It was observed at the hospital that most of the injured were wounded in the back or the back of the legs.
The wives of the injured men, escorted by hundreds of other women, paraded at night though the streets of Carteret to the home of Mayor Joseph A. Hermann at 235 Woodbridge Avenue, where they pleaded with the Mayor for help and some action which should prevent another such conflict. Mayor Hermann promised to do what he could and there was talk in town of taking up a subscription for the wives of the wounded who are in straightened circumstances.
Sentiment in Carteret, Roosevelt, and Chrome is universally with the strikers. Walter B. Quinn, Clerk of Carteret, said there had been less trouble and fewer arrests since the strike started than in any similar period through the last few months. Policeman John Dowling said he had seen the trouble start and that the strikers were not armed and gave no provocation for such an attack.
The strikers met in Roosevelt Hall, Roosevelt, in the afternoon, and threats of violence were made freely. One man declared he would build a bomb and dynamite the plants, Fraisina pleaded with the men to keep cool, and calmed them considerably.
"Up to date we have been guilty of no violence." Fraisina said, "Let us keep that record clean, and at the first sign of trouble again I will call on the Governor to send the militia to protect us. We can ask this with clean hands."
Militia May Be Called Out.
The arrival of the militia undoubtedly will follow another outbreak. Sheriff Haughton was in telephone communication with Gov. Fielder, and the Governor was said to have expressed approval of the use of the militia. It will devolve on Haughton to ask for the men if he thinks them needed.
F. C. Champion, General Superintendent of the American Agricultural Chemical company, issued this statement late in the day:
"The strikers tried to prevent the train from continuing on its way. They piled ties on the tracks. They were warned by the Deputies. They not only refused to remove the ties but continued to pile more on. Then the deputies started to remove the ties themselves. They were fired on by the strikers and returned the fire in self-defense only. I am positive the strikers were the first to shoot."
At neither plant could it be learned whether strike breakers actually had been employed or were to be employed. It was said, however, that about 100 strikebreakers had reached the Liebig plant by boat from New York in the morning and that they were now quartered in houses built on the company's property.