Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Massacre of the Innocents

Today we remember The Italian Hall Disaster, December 24th 1913.

Striking copper miners and their children are having a Christmas celebration; strike-breakers outside barred the doors then raised a false fire alarm. In the ensuing stampede, 73 (roughly half are children) are crushed or suffocated.

Eight witnesses swore that the man who first raised the cry of "fire" was wearing a Citizens' Alliance button on his coat.  The Alliance was funded by mine management and actively opposed the union and the strike.  It offered money to the union on the condition that that Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, publicly exonerate the Alliance of all fault in the tragedy. Moyer refused. Rather than provide such an exoneration, Moyer announced that the Alliance was responsible for the catastrophe, claiming that an Alliance agent yelled the word “fire”. Members of The Alliance subsequently assaulted Moyer in nearby Hancock, then shot and kidnapped him. They placed him on a train with instructions to leave the state and never return. After getting medical attention in Chicago he returned to Michigan to continue the work of the WFM.

Woody Guthrie - The 1913 Massacre

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