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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Turner Hall threatened with charges of ‘criminal syndicalism’ for radical assemblies

After Spokane city officials ousted radical speakers from Turner Hall, one radical leader threatened to revive the Free Speech Fight, reported The Spokane Daily Chronicle on April 17, 1919. (The Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
After Spokane city officials ousted radical speakers from Turner Hall, one radical leader threatened to revive the Free Speech Fight, reported The Spokane Daily Chronicle on April 17, 1919. (The Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Editor’s note: Due to an editor’s error, the wrong file for Jim Kershner’s “100 Years Ago Today” ran in Tuesday’s paper. Instead, the newspaper printed the file meant to run today. Below is the file for 100 years ago on April 16.

Spokane city officials warned the owners of Turner Hall, a radical gathering place in Spokane, that they will be charged with “criminal syndicalism” if they continue to allow radical and “bolshevik” assemblies there.

The city’s lawyer sent a message to the owners that “the violent speeches made there cannot have escaped” the attention of the owners.

The hall was formerly known as the Deutsches Haus, controlled by a local German society.

The city’s lawyer said the constitutional guarantee of free speech does not extend to “fomenting revolution and the violent overthrow of the government.”

From the court beat: Harry M. Wicks, 30, noted “bolshevist” organizer, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for violating the criminal syndicalism ordinance. Wicks, in recent Spokane speeches, advocated a general strike on May 1 and the release of all political prisoners.

The city’s “criminal syndicalism” statute was a relatively recent one, aimed directly at Wobblies and other radicals.

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