Local news

Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane police Chief John Sullivan issued a stunning order: Every “house of ill repute” in the city would be shut down at once.

Stunning, because there were so many of them.

Within an hour or two of the order, police shut down five houses on Front Avenue alone (now Spokane Falls Boulevard) and had ordered 100 inhabitants of those homes to leave immediately. Police were busy notifying many more.

This sudden crackdown came about because the police department didn’t want to be accused of collusion.

“The state law makes every officer wearing a star an accessory to the violation of the law when these places are permitted to operate,” said Sullivan. “I found this was the only way I could vindicate the police department.”

The next day, however, the city’s police judge scoffed at the plan. He said passing a law prohibiting brothels “sounds farcical to me.”

“What we want in this city is regulation, not prohibition, for the latter is impossible,” said the judge.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1789: Thomas Jefferson was confirmed to be the first U.S. secretary of state. … 1991: Four men and four women began a two-year stay inside a sealed-off structure in Oracle, Ariz., called Biosphere 2.

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