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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archive, 100 years ago

A group of prisoners at the Spokane City Jail were on the third day of a hunger strike because, ironically, they were demanding three meals a day instead of two.

The striking prisoners were all men who performed various manual labor jobs for the city: Some did janitorial work in City Hall; others washed police autos and did other chores. They asserted that they deserved three meals a day because of the work they did.

City authorities announced a compromise deal. They would give all prisoners double credit on their sentences for each day they worked, thus enabling them to cut their jail time in half.

However, Torgier Gillebo, one of the leaders of the striking prisoners, rejected that compromise. He wanted three meals a day, and he planned to tell the city police commissioner exactly what he thought of this new plan.

Meanwhile, the head custodian of City Hall stood up for the prisoners who have worked for him, saying that “they have always been willing to work for me without complaint and we never abused them by overwork or harsh treatment.”

He absolutely denied a quote erroneously attributed to him that the “prisoners be placed on bread and water and made to sleep on the floor.”

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