January 31, 2012 in City

Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web: spokesman.com/topics/local-history

By Correspondent
 

From our archives, 100 years ago

A crowd of hundreds of Wobblies (members of the Industrial Workers of the World) confronted Spokane police in a tense confrontation that recalled the Free Speech Fight two years earlier.

It began when laborer John Larson, 45, was ordered to “move on” by Officer Roff and Sgt. Bunker. Larson was on the edges of a crowd listening to a Wobbly orator on a soap box at Main Avenue and Stevens Street. 

Larson refused. Roff tried to arrest him and a scuffle ensued. The crowd, about 100 strong, turned its attention to Larson, “jeering and hissing at the two uniformed men.”

Then the Wobblies “gave their old-time cheer, ringing out three times, and charged the officers.” Larson slipped away briefly. Sgt. Bunker drew his revolver and fired three times in the air, which “had a quieting effect on the crowd.” 

Larson was grabbed again by Roff, and a standoff ensued. The crowd swelled to 300, including plenty of bystanders. 

Then, the entire night police detail of 26 men rushed to the scene from the nearby police headquarters. The Wobblies were “beaten back.”

Larson was taken to the station and locked up on a disorderly conduct charge.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1944: During World War II, U.S. forces began a successful invasion of Kwajalein Atoll and other parts of the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.


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