SLP-WIIU members arrested for 'criminal syndicalism'(1922)

THE PEOPLE
JUNE 1997
Vol. 107 No. 3

75 YEARS AGO

EDITOR'S NOTE: During the summer of 1922, almost every member of Section Los Angeles, SLP, and Local 103, WIIU, was arrested for alleged violations of California's infamous and reactionary "Criminal Syndicalist Act." The WIIU, or Workers International Industrial Union, was, after 1908, the legitimate continuation of the original Industrial Workers of the World.

The charges brought against the SLP and WIIU members were later dropped. However, the incident (and others we could cite) attests to capitalism's readiness to use official terrorism whenever the suppression of constitutional liberties is deemed expedient. Indeed, there was reason to believe that the indictments brought against members of the WIIU local, a UNION, were, in truth, aimed at destroying the SLP section, a POLITICAL organization. The effort failed to destroy the section, but it did serious damage to the local.

The following account of the police raid on SLP-WIIU headquarters is from a letter written to THE PEOPLE by one of the members who was arrested.

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(WEEKLY PEOPLE, June 3, 1922)

To the WEEKLY PEOPLE:

For the information of the party and all PEOPLE readers, I herewith forward you an account of the raid on the joint SLP- WIIU headquarters in Los Angeles, and some comment thereon.

On May 9, at 8 p.m., Local 103, WIIU, was conducting its regular business meeting when a squad of city police and three "investigators" of the district attorney's office filed into the hall, and silently listened to our proceedings.

When asked what was their business, the one in charge, Luke Lane, of the district attorney's office, replied that they came to look around and make a search. When asked if he had a warrant, he showed his badge and said he didn't need a warrant.

We proceeded with our business, and after adjournment we waited while the three "investigators" scanned and confiscated stacks of our leaflets, the financial secretary's books, etc. When they had terminated their investigation they took into custody E. Pfister, organizer Section Los Angeles, SLP, and literature agent of Local 103, WIIU, and H.S. Carroll, financial secretary of the same Local, taking with them also three good sized boxes of leaflets. We were lodged in a cold tank in the city jail for two nights and a day, and then were arraigned on the charge of "criminal syndicalism -- a felony," and afterwards transferred to the county jail, being released on $1,000 bail each on Friday, May 12.

The preliminary hearing was set for May 17, but by request of our attorney it was postponed to May 25, at 2 p.m.

Just what lies at the bottom of this peculiar move, I personally have no inkling.

Local 103 has been in existence here since 1911, and has, I believe, never before been molested in any manner.

The entire history, attitude and pronouncements of the organization is the best refutation or answer to such a libelous charge, and to charge members of the WIIU, who also are, in general, members of the Socialist Labor Party, with criminal syndicalism is tantamount to charging both these organizations with the same offense.