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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Butte, Montana: Wobbly lynched by masked mob

Frank Little, an official of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), was kidnapped from his boarding house in Butte, Montana by masked men and lynched from a railroad trestle, The Spokesman-Review reported on Aug. 2, 1917. (Brandon Brown / The Spokesman-Review)
Frank Little, an official of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), was kidnapped from his boarding house in Butte, Montana by masked men and lynched from a railroad trestle, The Spokesman-Review reported on Aug. 2, 1917. (Brandon Brown / The Spokesman-Review)

The anti-Wobbly sentiment in the Northwest took a murderous turn. Frank Little, an official of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), was kidnapped from his Butte boarding house by masked men and lynched from a railroad trestle.

The situation in Butte had already been tense because of a mine strike. Little had arrived in Butte to support the strike and to publicly urge miners to shut down all the mines in Butte. He had also made speeches attacking the U.S. government.

The striking miners blamed the lynching on company gunmen. Some miners vowed retaliation by saying, “We will get every member of the lynching party and 10 men for every one of us taken.”

From the robbery beat: The two gunmen who robbed the First National Bank of Medical Lake were still at large. Only one witness, a barber down the block, saw the getaway car. He said it was a dark green roadster, but could offer few other details.

The sheriff suggested that people in small towns could help police by organizing a posse ready to “jump into a car” at a moment’s notice and pursue bank robbers.

“A man could be let out of the car at intervals to give directions to such officials as did not know the direction the robbers were taking,” said the sheriff.

In Medical Lake, no one had followed the getaway car and the sheriff said “we could only make a guess” as to where they went.

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