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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

Wed., Dec. 22, 2010, midnight

From our archives, 100 years ago

The headlines screamed, “Santa Claus May Be Arrested and Locked Up in City Jail.”

Well … not exactly.

It was true that 16 warrants had been issued for the arrest of “John Doe Santa Claus,” meaning the city’s Salvation Army kettle Santas. But Spokane’s police chief refused to serve the warrants.

This entire controversy was the doing of Sister Bilkiss, described as a “militant” Spokane street evangelist. She was angry that the Salvation Army was allowed to “beg” on the streets, while Spokane’s truly needy beggars were arrested and locked up when they tried the same thing. Earlier in the week, Bilkiss got so angry that she dumped over a Salvation Army kettle and was arrested for disorderly conduct.

A sympathetic judge let her off on that charge, but now she was escalating her assault by issuing a formal complaint against the 16 “Santas.”

“I’ll put this Salvation Army on the bum yet,” she said.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1910: A fire lasting more than 26 hours broke out at the Chicago Union Stock Yards; 21 firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning building.

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