The Story of the Liberty Hill Strike & the San Pedro IWW
In the early evening of May 15, 1923, one of the nation's foremost writers, Upton Sinclair, rose to speak on behalf of 3,000 striking longshoreman at Liberty Hill in San Pedro. Sinclair began his address by reading the U.S. Constitution. Within moments, he was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department. For the next four days, Sinclair and three other speakers were held incommunicado.
Despite police efforts to squelch the strike, Sinclair's cause and the cause of the workers he championed was ultimately victorious. Shortly after Sinclair's arrest, hundreds of striking workers were released from jail, the longshoremen gained the right to organize and the Chief of Police was forced to resign. The demonstration at Liberty Hill came to be seen as a pivotal moment signaling the rebirth of the labor movement in Southern California.
Today, California State Historical Landmark #1021 commemorates the Liberty Hill Site near 5th Street and Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro, California.
However, the state's complicity in the massacre lead one IWW web designer to bitterly comment,
Capitalist Justice? (I guess that means they're sorry).
State, Capitalist, and Racist repression:
- Scenes of Centralia Re-enacted in San Pedro; the Ku Klux Klan Tried Intimidation - Harry Fisher, Industrial Pioneer, April 1924.
- Images of the Liberty Hill Strike - From California Historian, a publication of the Conference of California Historical Societies, Vol. 44, #3, Spring 1998, University of Pacific, Stockton, California.