Part 20 - The Two Raids
In the fall of 1918, the I.W.W. had a hall two blocks and a half from this hall, at the corner of First and B streets. There was a Red Cross parade, and that hall was wrecked, just as was this hall. These profiteering gentlemen never overlook an opportunity to capitalize on a patriotic event, and so they capitalized the Red Cross parade that day just as they capitalized the Armistice Day parade on November 11, and in exactly the same way as on November 11.
And that day, when the tail-end of the parade of the Red Cross passed the main avenue, it broke off and went a block out of its way and attacked the I.W.W. hall, a good two-story building. And they broke it into splinters. The furniture, records, the literature that belongs to these boys, everything was taken out into the street and burned.
Now, what was contemplated on Armistice Day? The I.W.W. did as you would do; it judged from experience.
PATIENCE NO LONGER A VIRTUE
When the paraders smashed the door in, the I.W.W.'s, as every lover of free speech and every respecter of his person--they had appealed to the citizens, they had appealed to the officers, and some of their members had been tarred and feathered, beaten up and hung--they said in thought: "Patience has ceased to be a virtue." And if the law will not protect us, and the people won't protect us, we will protect ourselves. And they did.
And in deciding this case, I want each of you, members of the jury, to ask yourself what would you have done?
There had been discussions of this character in the I.W.W. hall, and so have there been discussions everywhere. There had never been a plot laid to murder anybody, nor to shoot anybody in any parade. I want you to ask yourself: "Why would anybody want to shoot anybody in a parade," and to particularly ask yourself why anyone would want to shoot upon soldiers?
He who was a soldier himself, Wesley Everest, the man who did most of the shooting, and the man whom they beat until he was unconscious and whom they grabbed from the street and put a rope around his neck, the man whom they nearly shot to pieces, and the man whom they hung, once dropping him ten feet, and when what didn't kill him lengthened the rope to 15 feet and dropped him again--why would one soldier want to kill another soldier, or soldiers, who had never done him nor his fellows any harm?
I exonerate the American Legion as an organization of the responsibility of this. For I say they didn't know about it. The day will come when they will realize that they have been mere catspaws in the hands of the Centralia commercial interests. That is the story. I don't know what the verdict will be today, but the verdict ten years hence will be the verdict in the Lovejoy case; that these men were within their rights and that they fought for a cause, that these men fought for liberty. They fought for these things for which we stand and for which all true lovers of liberty stand, and those who smashed them up are the real enemies of our country.
This is a big case, counsel says, the biggest case that has ever been tried in this country, but the biggest thing about these big things is from beginning to end it has been a struggle on the one side for ideals and on the other side to suppress those ideals. This thing was started with Hubbard at its head. It is being started today with Hubbard at its head in this courtroom, and I don't believe you will fall for it.
VANDERVEER'S CLOSING ARGUMENT
There are only two real issues in this case. One is the question: Who was the aggressor in the Armistice Day affray? The other is: Was Eugene Barnett in the Avalon hotel window when that affray occurred?
We have proven by unimpeachable witnesses that there was a raid on the I.W.W. hall in Centralia on November 11--a raid, in which the business interests of the city used members of the American Legion as catspaws. We have shown that Warren O. Grimm, for the killing of whom these defendants are on trial, actually took park in that raid, and was in the very doorway of the hall when the attack was made, despite the attempts of the prosecution to place Grimm 100 feet away when he was shot.
We have proven a complete alibi for Eugene Barnett through unshaken and undisputable witnesses. He was not in the Avalon hotel during the riot; he was in the Roderick hotel lobby; he had no gun and he took no part in the shooting.
In my opening statement, I said I would stand or fall on the issue of: Who was the aggressor on Armistice Day? I have stood by that promise, and stand by it now.
Mr. Abel, specially hired prosecutor in this trial, made the same promise. So did Herman Allen, the official Lewis county prosecutor, who has been so ingloriously shoved aside by Mr. Abel and his colleague, Mr. Cunningham, ever since the beginning here. But a few days ago, when the defense was piling up evidence showing that there was a raid on the I.W.W. hall by the paraders, Mr. Abel backed down.
Next page: Part 21 - Why Were the Shots Fired?