Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Centralia Conspiracy by Ralph Chaplin

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

movement. They had eyes to see through a maze of red tape and legal
mummery to the simple truth that was being hidden or obscured. The Lumber
Trust did not fool these men and it could not intimidate them. They had
the courage to give the truth to the world just as they saw it. They were
convinced in their hearts and minds that the loggers on trial were
innocent. And they would have been just as honest and just as fearless had
their convictions been otherwise.

It cannot be said that the Labor Jury was biased in favor of the
defendants or of the I.W.W. If anything, they were predisposed to believe
the defendants guilty and their union an outlaw organization. It must be
remembered that all the labor jury knew of the case was what it had read
in the capitalist newspapers prior to their arrival at the scene of the
trial. These men were not radicals but representative working men--members
of conservative unions--who had been instructed by their organizations to
observe impartially the progress of the trial and to report back to their
unions the result of their observations. Read their report:

Labor's Verdict

Labor Temple, Tacoma, March 15, 1920, 1:40 p.m.

The Labor Jury met in the rooms of the Labor Temple and organized,
electing P. K. Mohr as foreman.

Present: J.A. Craft, W.J. Beard, Otto Newman, Theodore Mayer, E.W. Thrall
and P.K. Mohr.

1. On motion a secret ballot of guilty or not guilty was taken, the count
resulting in a unanimous "Not Guilty!"

2. Shall we give our report to the press? Verdict, "Yes."

[Illustration: Labor's Silent Jury

W.J. Beard, Central Labor Council, Tacoma: Paul K. Mohr, Central Labor
Council, Seattle: Theodore Meyer, Central Labor Council, Everett: E.W.
Thrall, Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, Centralia: John A. Craft, Metal
Trades Council, Seattle.]

3. Was there a conspiracy to raid the I.W.W. hall on the part of the
business interests of Centralia? Verdict, "Yes."

There was evidence offered by the defense to show that the business
interests held a meeting at the Elk's Club on October 20, 1919, at which
ways and means to deal with the I.W.W. situation were discussed. F.B.
Hubbard, Chief of Police Hughes and William Scales, commander of the
American Legion at Centralia, were present. Prosecuting Attorney Allen was
quoted as having said, "There is no law that would let you run the I.W.W.
out of town." Chief of Police Hughes said, "You cannot run the I.W.W. out
of town; they have violated no law." F.G. Hubbard said, "It's a damn
shame; if I was chief I would have them out of town in 24 hours." William
Scales, presiding at the meeting, said that although he was not in favor
of a raid, there was no American jury that would convict them if they did,
or words to that effect. He then announced that he would appoint a secret
committee to deal with the I.W.W. situation.

4. Was the I.W.W. hall unlawfully raided? Verdict, "Yes." The evidence
introduced convinces us that an attack was made before a shot was fired.

5. Had the defendants a right to defend their hall. Verdict, "yes." On a
former occasion the I.W.W. hall was raided, furniture destroyed and
stolen, ropes placed around their necks and they were otherwise abused and
driven out of town by citizens, armed with pick handles.

6. Was Warren O. Grimm a party to the conspiracy of raiding the I.W.W.
hall? Verdict, "Yes." The evidence introduced convinces us that Warren O.
Grimm participated in the raid of the I.W.W. hall.

7. To our minds the most convincing evidence that Grimm was in front of
and raiding the I.W.W. hall with others, is the evidence of State Witness
Van Gilder who testified that he stood at the side of Grimm at the
intersection of Second street and Tower avenue, when, according to his
testimony, Grimm was shot. This testimony was refuted by five witnesses
who testified that they saw Grimm coming wounded from the direction of the
I.W.W. hall. It is not credible that Van Gilder, who was a personal and
intimate friend of Grimm, would leave him when he was mortally wounded, to
walk half a block alone and unaided.

8. Did the defendants get a fair and impartial trial? Verdict, "No." The
most damaging evidence of a conspiracy by the business men of Centralia,
of a raid on the I.W.W. hall, was ruled out by the court and not permitted
to go to the jury. This was one of the principal issues that the defense
sought to establish.

Also the calling of the federal troops by Prosecuting Attorney Allen was
for no other reason than to create atmosphere. On interviewing the judge,
sheriff and prosecuting attorney, the judge and the sheriff informed us
that in their opinion the troops were not needed and that they were
brought there without their consent or knowledge. In the interview Mr.
Allen promised to furnish the substance of the evidence which in his
opinion necessitated the presence of the troops the next morning, but on
the following day he declined the information. He, however, did say that
he did not fear the I.W.W., but was afraid of violence by the American
Legion. This confession came after he was shown by us the fallacy of the
I.W.W. coming armed to interfere with the verdict. Also the presence of
the American Legion in large numbers in court.

Theodore Meyer, Everett Central Labor Council; John O. Craft, Seattle
Metal Trades Council; E.W. Thrall, Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen,
Centralia; W.J. Beard, Tacoma Central Labor Council; Otto Newman, Portland
Central Labor Council; P.K. Mohr, Seattle Central Labor Council.

The above report speaks for itself. It was received with great enthusiasm
by the organizations of each of the jurymen when the verdict was
submitted. On March 17th, the Seattle Central Labor Council voted
unanimously to send the verdict to all of the Central Labor Assemblies of
the United States and Canada.

Not only are the loggers vindicated in defending their property and lives
from the felonious assault of the Armistice Day mob, but the conspiracy of
the business interests to raid the hall and the raid itself were
established. The participation of Warren O. Grimm is also accepted as
proved beyond doubt. Doubly significant is the statement about the "fair
and impartial trial" that is supposed to be guaranteed all men under our

Nothing could more effectively stamp the seal of infamy upon the whole
sickening rape of justice than the manly outspoken statements of these six
labor jurors. Perhaps the personalities of these men might prove of

E. W. Thrall, of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, Centralia, is an old
time and trusted member of his union. As will be noticed, he comes from
Centralia, the scene of the tragedy.

Otto Newman, of the Central Labor Council, Portland, Oregon, has ably
represented his union in the C.L.C. for some time.

W.J. Beard is organizer for the Central Labor Council in Tacoma,
Washington. He is an old member of the Western Federation of Miners and
remembers the terrible times during the strikes at Tulluride.

John O. Craft is president of Local 40, International Union of Steam
Operating Engineers, of which union he has been a member for the last ten
years. Mr. Craft has been actively connected with unions affiliated with
the A.F. of L. since 1898.

Theodore Meyer was sent by the Longshoremen of Everett, Washington. Since
1903 he has been a member of the A.F. of L.; prior to that time being a
member of the National Sailors and Firemen's Union of Great Britain and
Ireland, and of the Sailors' Union of Australia.

P. K. Mohr represents the Central Labor Council of Seattle and is one of
the oldest active members in the Seattle unions. Mr. Mohr became a charter
member of the first Bakers' Union in 1889 and was its first presiding
officer. He was elected delegate to the old Western Central Labor Council
in 1890. At one time Mr. Mohr was president of the Seattle Labor Council.
At the present time he is president of the Bakers' Union.

Such are the men who have studied the travesty on justice in the great
labor trial at Montesano. "Not Guilty" is their verdict. Does it mean
anything to you?

Wesley Everest

Torn and defiant as a wind-lashed reed,
Wounded, he faced you as he stood at bay;
You dared not lynch him in the light of day,
But on your dungeon stones you let him bleed;
Night came ... and you black vigilants of Greed,...
Like human wolves, seized hand upon your prey,
Tortured and killed ... and, silent, slunk away
Without one qualm of horror at the deed.

Once ... long ago ... do you remember how
You hailed Him king for soldiers to deride--
You placed a scroll above His bleeding brow
And spat upon Him, scourged Him, crucified...?
A rebel unto Caesar--then as now--
Alone, thorn-crowned, a spear wound in His side!

--R.C. in "N.Y. Call."

Book of the day: