Archive for October, 2009

Oct. 20, 1909: Flynn and Jones Recount Free Speech Fight

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2009 by egflynn2009


The I.W.W. in Missoula, Mont., has practically won its fight for free speech, as we are now speaking on the streets without being molested. We didn’t appeal to justice, but the taxpayers felt the pressure on their pocketbooks and capitulated. About 40 members have seen the inside of the Missoula jails during the last two weeks, giving this town a forcible example of the motto, “An injury to one, is an injury to all.” Eight men served time; two women, Mrs. Frenette and myself, have each inhabited a cell in the county jail over night; the rest of the boys are all “enthusiastic defenders” of the city jail. At first the police were very full of fight, “blue moldin’ for a batin’,” and every man was arrested and tried to who attempted to speak. But when the night and day force had to get out night after night and the number of arrests increased by leaps and bounds, they began to lose interest in the fun. The last night there were 30 men in jail and the next night we had a list of 60 volunteers, when the police lay down and let our speakers continue. The 30 arrested demanded a jury trial each, and the judge said to me, “A little town like Missoula can not stand the expense.” The mayor got out of town to let the acting mayor settle the thing for the taxpayers, who have a steel bridge and a new court house a-building, and they began to howl about the expense. One breakfast for the I.W.W. boys alone cost the city $6.

The populace were very much in sympathy with the I.W.W. Our membership is growing steadily in spite of the A.F. of L. carpenters ordering their membership not to attend the I.W.W. meetings. One little newsboy stopped me on the street and gave me half a dozen papers “for the boys.” When we found that eating in restaurants was too expensive for the boys we put up Knust’s tent, appointed a cook and steward, and started co-operative “Mulligan” stews. Bread was given freely by some socialist bakers, and even though the city government refused to feed its visitors we could have held out for a year, feeding them ourselves.

The chief of police himself arrested me on the charge of causing trouble, inciting riot, etc. I was taken to the county jail and given an individual cell, designed for witnesses, I understand. It had a pile of old papers in one corner, an old slop-pail in another, some dirty food left from several days before, and during the time I was there, from 8 o’clock Sunday until 5 o’clock Monday, the jailer kept promising to clean it out, but the cleaning never materialized. The bonds for all the others were placed at $10 each, but bonds for me were placed at $50, so I must be quite a dangerous criminal.

When Mrs. Frenette was arrested there was an enormous crowd followed her to the jail, and while not riotous, were certainly indignant. She was arrested for speaking. I was arrested for standing on the street corner asking a man to come to the hall meeting of the I.W.W. The arrest of us two women aroused the town all right

 –Elizabeth G. Flynn

 (As Fellow Worker Flynn seems too worn out I’ll cut in here, as I as well was the other convicted criminals are free.)  

 Lecture by Sheriff.

Fellow Worker Little and I were arrested Tuesday, received a lecture from the sheriff Wednesday morning in regard to Fellow Worker Flynn bawling out Parsons, the Labor Day speaker (A. F. of Hell), whose political wings she clipped by her roast of the dope he had handed out, also a criticism of our line of stuff, and advised us to talk temperance. Wednesday evening I spoke for a few minutes and was pulled. Little got out the title of his lecture , “A Talk on Temperance,” when pinched. Appleby got out “Fellow workers”; Tucker, a forestry service C. E., told how people had fought and won this fight in Seattle and he intended to fight for it here. That settled him. Next day we were tried (?). We conducted our own cases. In the talk before sentence we told the court its relation to the working class without any polish, the result was 15 days, four arrested were turned loose and came back in we held an educational meeting in jail, the result was me being thrown into the cage, the sheriff following me in and beating me up. [sic-sentence confusing] The four arrested were turned loose and came back that evening. I was taken to the city jail., where I could get a chance to sing. In there it was a continual round of drunks for a couple of days until the boys crowded them for room. The hose was brought out, but the crowd looked ugly and they were afraid to make their bluff good. Thursday the boys refused to leave the jail and demanded trial. I was transferred back to the county jail, the doors of the city jail being left open. The boys sent out four speakers, who were not arrested; at night they were rearrested. Friday they insisted on being fed and tried. The cases came up yesterday and were dismissed.

A committee from the policing organization of the capitalist class waited on the ex-committee with two or three propositions at different times, which were turned down, and they were notified that our terms were “unconditional surrender and the release of all prisoners.”

 We were all turned loose at 4 o’clock today. Some of us had two days to serve, and four had seven days.

             I am a dog that gnaws a bone,

            I crouch and gnaw it all alone.

            The time will come—it comes not yet—

            When I’ll bite those by whom I’m bit.

 –J. A. Jones

 –Industrial Worker, Oct. 20, 1909


Oct. 8, 1909: No Liberty Left to Lose

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 by egflynn2009


An I.W.W. man can now go to Missoula, Mont., and talk on any street in town. This is not because the bosses and police of Missoula are liking the I.W.W. any better than ever, but they are learning to respect us. The Missoula papers have been telling that it would be a “heavy disappointment” to the I.W.W. “hoboes” that they would no longer have a nice comfortable jail for the winter, etc. The jail is under a stable and is the filthiest place even in Missoula. However, none of the I.W.W. members have yet died of grief that they were turned out of this hole. The taxpayers of Missoula did not want to pay for the expense of this senseless fight of the police, which was fostered by the lumber companies to prevent organization by the I.W.W. For the time being, at least, there is no more interference by the police of sheriff of Missoula. The more decent residents of Missoula are disgusted with this attempt to apply the American gag-law. But no one can tell what will be the next move of the enemy. There is a military detachment at Missoula, and it is not that the enemy has not sufficient force, and guns to boot. It is evidently thought to be poor policy to begin shooting at this time. But the liberty of the workers is only temporary, while there is still one member of the employing class under the sun, and it is up to the membership of the I.W.W., and all the revolutionists of all kinds, to watch the next move of the enemy and prepare for a long-continued, bitter struggle, not only in Missoula, but elsewhere. Fellow Worker Jones was terribly beaten by the Missoula sheriff, but no one of our members was shot. The last causalities of this kind were at McKees Rocks, but how long will it be till we have another dose of the same thing?

There is one good thing about this gag-law business: it is causing all thinking working people to see that the “liberties” of the United States constitution do not exist, and that a working  man or woman has no rights that his employer need respect, unless the workers have the power to enforce respect.  It may seem a small thing to the tame slave that a few “agitators” are not allowed to open their mouths, and it worries a broken-down plug but little that he is driven all day in a harness. But the appeal of the I.W.W. is to those men and women who are still able to stand up straight and who are not afraid to fight. The employment agents are the ones who have passed the Spokane gag-law, and it is, of course, the employing class generally who are responsible for this tyranny. The American workingman has practically no liberty left to lose. Let’s fight!

–Industrial Worker, Oct. 20, 1909

Oct. 8, 1909: Free Speech Fight Over!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 by egflynn2009


Special to the news.

Missoula, Oct. 9—Meeting especially for the purpose, the City Council last night declared that the I.W.W. orators might speak where and when they pleased on the streets of Missoula, provided only that they do not impede traffic.

When this announcement was made, a crowd gathered and the I.W.W. orators began to speak, but without a fight . . . keep things  . . . , the interest faded and,  . . . the night was cold, the assemblage adjourned to their hall.

–Butte Evening News, Oct. 9, 1909

Oct. 8, 1909: Free Speech Won!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 by egflynn2009


(Special Dispatch to the Miner.)

Missoula, Oct. 8—At a special meeting of the city council tonight the decision was reached to permit the members of the I.W.W. to make public addresses anywhere on the street so long as they did not interfere with regular traffic or pedestrianism. The crowds assembled early but interest in the oratory waned rapidly and before 9 o’clock the assemblage adjourned to the warmer and more comfortable quarters in their hall. Orders have been issued to the police to refrain from any attempt to prevent the orators of the I.W.W. from addressing the crowds and the truce seemed to be a most effective means of campaign.

–Butte Miner, Oct. 9, 1909

Oct. 8, 1909: Five Refuse to Plead

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 by egflynn2009


Special Dispatch to the Standard.

Missoula, Oct. 8—In the court of Police Magistrate Small the city attorney filed complaints today against 30 speakers of the Industrial workers of the World, who were arrested last night by the police for attempting to speak and hold meetings in the business section of the city. Of this number 25 pleaded not guilty, but the remaining five refused to plead one way or the other, declaring they did not have to plead anything, but demanding separate trials by jury. All were released on their own recognizance until tomorrow at 2 p.m. when Judge Small will attempt to set their cases for trial.

–Anaconda Standard, Oct. 9, 1909

Oct. 8, 1909: I.W.W. Demands Food & Trial

Posted in Uncategorized on October 8, 2009 by egflynn2009


Thirty-five members of the Industrial Workers refuse to leave the jail. They demand food and a jury trial. Won’t abide by ordinance.

–Butte Evening News, Oct. 8, 1909

Oct. 7, 1909: No Demonstrations So Far

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2009 by egflynn2009


Twenty-four Industrial Workers Land in Jail – No Date Set for Their Trials

Missoula, Oct. 7—Twenty-four Industrial Workers of the World enthusiasts who were arrested by the police last night for making a demonstration on the street, are in the city jail awaiting trial on charges of disturbing the peace. Their hearings have not been set as yet. There has been no demonstration today so far.

–Butte Inter Mountain, Oct. 7, 1909

Photo: Missoula 1908, courtesy MTGenWebProject