Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, July 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 56° Clear
News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Wobbly leader arrested after seeking picnic permit

Being a Wobbly – that is, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World – had been declared illegal in Spokane and in many other American cities as well.  (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
Being a Wobbly – that is, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World – had been declared illegal in Spokane and in many other American cities as well. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Joe McDonald showed up at Spokane City Hall to try to get a permit for a Worker’s Parade and Picnic to be held at Audubon Park on July 4.

He did not get the permit, and then he got arrested as soon as he walked out of City Hall.

Why?

Because McDonald was “known to be a Wobbly leader,” and being a Wobbly – that is, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World – had been declared illegal in Spokane and in many other American cities. Police had suspected that the Worker’s Parade and Picnic was in reality a Wobbly affair, and McDonald’s status as the organizer apparently confirmed that to their satisfaction.

“Neither the picnic nor the parade will be held now that we are convinced it is purely an I.W.W. affair,” Spokane’s commissioner of public safety said. “Our stand on the question is firm, and we will enforce the rule that we have decided upon.”

The “rule” was a controversial Superior Court injunction that made it contempt of court to be a member of the Wobblies, to mingle with the Wobblies or even to wear Wobbly insignia.

The constitutionality of this injunction was questionable, but the injunction remained in effect pending various court tests.

Officers searched McDonald’s room and found 2,000 tickets to the picnic concealed in his stove, as well as the minutes of an organizational meeting in which the group invited famed labor firebrand Big Bill Haywood to be the speaker.

The Wobblies had apparently gone underground in Spokane since the injunction. Until McDonald’s arrest, police did not know if Wobblies were still active in Spokane.

Now, Spokane police said they planned to conduct “a roundup” of all “radicals” if they arrived in Spokane expecting to attend the picnic.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.


Swedish Thoracic Surgery: Partners in patient care

 (Courtesy Bergman Draper Oslund Udo)
Sponsored

Matt Bergman knows the pain and anger that patients with mesothelioma feel.