Bill Haywood's Book: The Autobiography of William D. Haywood

By William D. Haywood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
THE I.W.W. TRIALS

WHEN the Criminal Syndicalism Law was passed in California, Jack Gaveel, a Hollander, and one of the Fly-By-Night organizers, signed a call to take action on the infamous legislation. The slogan was: "Fill the jails." Gaveel was one of the first to be sent to the penitentiary for from one to fourteen years. The possession of an I.W.W. membership book or song book was sufficient evidence to send a man to the state prisons, either to Folsom or San Quentin. Persecution sent more than one hundred men and one or more women to the prisons of California.

Andrew Furuseth, President of the International Seamen's Union, and other leaders of the A. F. of L. joined with the other reactionaries to exterminate the I.W.W., which they called a "red menace." The authorities paid some traveling witnesses who went from place to place to testify against the I.W.W. One of these was named Jack Diamond, another was Ralph Coutes. These agent provocateurs testified at many trials; though they were criminals with long records, their evidence has been used to send I.W.W.'s to the penitentiary.

In some instances no evidence was necessary. Men were called to testify in behalf of their fellow workers on trial. When they acknowledged on the witness stand that they were members of the I.W.W. their arrest and conviction immediately followed on the ground that mere membership in the I.W.W. violated the criminal Syndicalist Law. Their persecution did not end when they reached the prison doors with sentences of from one to fourteen years, and some with a double sentence of from two to twenty-eight years. The Warden gave them the hardest and dirtiest work that he could find. This treatment resulted in many revolts and hunger strikes, which were punished by imprisonment in the Black Hole on bread and water.

There was the case of Tom Connors, secretary of the California

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