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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Attorney fails to secure release of Wobblies arrested in military raid

A judge ruled against request to release of 20-plus Wobblies detained after a military raid, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Aug. 24, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A judge ruled against request to release of 20-plus Wobblies detained after a military raid, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Aug. 24, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Attorney James L. Wallace, of Missoula, argued in court for the release of the 20-plus Wobblies detained after a military raid of their Spokane headquarters.

He argued that “no authority for their arrest has been shown.”

Maj. Clement Wilkins of Fort George Wright, who conducted the raid, responded by saying that he did indeed have authority.

In fact, the major claimed that it came from the highest authority in the land. President Woodrow Wilson, “acting through Col. Dentler of Portland, commander of the northwest division of the army, caused orders to be issued” to Maj. Wilkins.

Those orders said that he was “to prevent by force if necessary any interference by the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) with industrial conditions; that he was to employ troops of the United States under his command to prevent unlawful acts of the I.W.W. in Spokane.”

Maj. Wilkins produced a telegram from Col. Dentler that authorized the raid because the Wobblies’ “want of loyalty” and “unrestrained propaganda” was, in essence, “a direct attack upon the government of the United States.”

The judge agreed with Maj. Wilkins and dismissed Wallace’s pro-Wobbly petition.

Maj. Wilkins then hinted that the Wobbly leader, James Rowan, “probably would be court-martialed,” along with some of the other prisoners.

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