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Saturday, August 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Businessman beaten after he plows car through crowd of Wobblies

W.D. Plough, of Plough Investment Co.,  plowed through a crowd of union members after they refused to move when he honked his horn, The Spokesman-Review reported on July 25, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
W.D. Plough, of Plough Investment Co., plowed through a crowd of union members after they refused to move when he honked his horn, The Spokesman-Review reported on July 25, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Police briefly feared that the long-rumored Wobbly uprising was taking place on the streets of Spokane.

It turned out to be nothing that momentous – but it was dangerous enough. It was a violent ruckus that left several people injured.

It began as a large street meeting of several hundred members of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies). They filled Stevens Street between Trent (now Spokane Falls) and Main avenues.

W.D. Plough, of Plough Investment Co., was driving in his car with two other men when they were blocked by the crowd. He honked his horn several times, but the crowd ignored him.

Plough decided to plow ahead anyway.

His car knocked down three men, which angered the crowd. They jumped on the car, tore off the roof and “swarmed over the hood and running boards.”

When two Spokane police detectives ran to the scene, they found men all over the car, punching Plough “unmercifully.”

“One of them was holding his head back over the seat, while others were using their fists on him,” reported one of the detectives. “We jumped into the car, which traveled along Trent to Washington, before we could release Plough. He was in pretty bad shape before we got the car stopped.”

Plough was booked for reckless driving and apparently did not require hospitalization. One member of the crowd, a railroad construction-gang worker, was taken to the hospital with a badly bruised back and side.

The crowd dispersed after police arrived in force.

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