Saturday, 23 July 2016

Workers, Know Your History. San Francisco 1916.

      Across the centuries states have knowingly been the perpetrators of miscarriages of justice, some come to light, others never see the light of day, they just become statistics in some judiciary report. What is today considered by some, to be a modern phenomenon, "acts of terrorism" have often been grasp by the state as an opportunity to strengthen its grip on society, and to rid itself of those it considers a problem. 100 years ago, what was San Francisco's worst act of "terrorism" was one such event that brought about one of America's worst "miscarriage of justice" 
     A brutal bomb attack on a crowded street on a day of war triumphalism, saw two innocent men spend years in prison, one under the sentence of death. The usual ingredients were there, corrupt officials, compliant lacks serving those officials, lying witnesses and a bitter anti trade union and anti socialist/anarchist bias. That was 100 years ago, how many such cases of this type of "miscarriage of justice" can you recall, and how much do you think things have changed?

         As members of the Grand Army of the Republic assembled at the Ferry Building, awaiting the start of San Francisco's lavish Preparedness Day parade, one elderly veteran fainted. Just as an ambulance reached the fallen man, a explosion shook Market Street.
        When the dust settled, a bloody scene painted the street. The sidewalks ran red and "all around the bodies of men and women, almost stripped of their clothes, lay in horrible grotesque heaps," wrote the Chronicle. Windows blocks away were shattered. Ten were dead, including one child, and another 40 injured.
        It remains the only terrorist attack in San Francisco history.-------
And so the sham of justice moves into action:

       Despite the shocking blast, the parade went on as scheduled. Bodies were still on the street when the parade continued on over the broken, bloody ground. Among the rubble, police found the bomb on Steuart and Market: a suitcase packed with bullets and shrapnel and set off with a timed explosion. Without a scrap of evidence, they knew who to blame.
         "A man who would commit so dastardly and cowardly an outrage must be a man with anarchistic principles," San Francisco police chief D.A. White said.
          When district attorney Charles Flickert arrived at the scene, he told reporters, "You know, men, I already think I know who did this."
        Five days later, police arrested William K. Billings, 22, and Thomas J. Mooney, 33, without warrants. Billings, a shoe cutter from New York, was already well-known to police. He'd been arrested for the assault of the foreman at a shoe company in 1913 and had recently been found carrying explosives on a street car in Sacramento. But he was just the lackey, prosecutors argued. Mooney was the true mastermind.
         Mooney had been on the police radar for years despite having no criminal record. He was one of the city's foremost radical leaders, a well-known socialist in the labor community. With the country roiling in anti-socialist sentiment, it's perhaps no surprise Billings and Mooney were singled out.
        And the willing public had no qualms playing along, despite a complete lack of evidence.-------
Read the full article HERE: 
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