May 29, 1940: Tyree Scott

Tyree Scott, 1940-2003

Tyree Scott, 1940-2003

Many of Seattle’s activist icons have been strongly identified with a particular event or era. Anna Louise Strong is most often mentioned in the same breath as the 1919 Seattle General Strike; Edwin T. Pratt with the 1960s Open Housing movement. By contrast, Tyree Scott — although he, too, first made a name for himself in the 1960s — is best identified with an activist career spanning decades.

Scott was best known as a civil rights and labor leader who opened the door to women and minority workers in the construction industry, both locally and nationally. Born in Hearne, Texas, on the date in focus here, Scott moved to Seattle in 1966 to help his father, an electrician, build his construction business. At the time, the trade unions that controlled jobs in Seattle’s construction industry were off-limits to blacks.

In 1969, as Seattle was undergoing a building boom flush with federally-funded projects, Scott became the leader of the Central Contractors Association, a group of black contractors who sought equal opportunity in federal building projects. That summer, Scott led the CCA in shutting down every major federal construction site in Seattle to protest discrimination against black contractors and construction workers.

One protest action shut down the construction of Red Square on the University of Washington campus, while another temporarily halted work on the construction of an airport runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Other such actions led or co-led by Scott included shutdowns at Harborview Medical Center, Medgar Evers Pool, and the King County Administration Building. These actions led to the first federal imposition of affirmative action upon local labor unions.

During the following decade, Scott would go on to lead other local labor struggles, crucially helping found the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office (LELO), which forged international ties among workers in the struggle to gain better job conditions for low-income workers through class-action lawsuits.

During the 1980s, Scott took his activism abroad and helped found organizations to assist laborers in developing countries. In 1997, he led a LELO-sponsored Seattle conference that drew delegates from a dozen countries to discuss leadership of labor and civil rights activism throughout the world. Two years later, in early 1999, Scott was among the activists who laid the early organizational groundwork for the WTO protests.

Scott died in Seattle on June 19, 2003, after a long battle with prostate cancer. His legacy lives on in LELO, which continues to do effective work on social justice and worker rights issues. In addition, the Tyree Scott Freedom School, a nine-day summer educational program sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, teaches young people aged 15 to 21 about social justice issues and the history of community organizing in Seattle.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (www.civilrights.washington.edu); HistoryLink.org; Quintard Taylor, “The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era” (University of Washington Press, 1994).

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November 30, 1917: Louise Olivereau

Louise Olivereau, 1884-1963

Among the crucial decades in Seattle’s political history, the one that began in 1909 was arguably the most pivotal so far. That decade began with the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and ended with the Seattle General Strike. In between, certain lesser-known events also helped define Seattle as a city where radical leftism has constantly been at odds with right-wing reactionary politics.

This was especially so during World War I, when pro-war conformism was at fever pitch nationwide, and anti-sedition laws aimed at silencing antiwar activists were passed by Congress. In Seattle, where the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and anarchists had established a strong political presence, reactionary sentiment led to the Potlatch Riot of July 1913, one year before the war broke out. Four years later, on the date in focus here, the schism between Seattle’s respective progressive and reactionary populations reared its ugly head publicly when antiwar activist Louise Olivereau (1884-1963) was convicted of sedition.

Olivereau, a schoolteacher, poet, and self-described anarchist, first became involved in Seattle’s political left in 1915, when she moved here from Illinois and began working as a stenographer for the IWW’s Seattle offices. The events that led to her arrest and conviction began in August 1917, when she printed and mailed out literature addressed to young men in the Pacific Northwest encouraging them to become conscientious objectors to avoid military service in the war, which the United States had joined in April of that year. Her activity violated the Espionage Act, passed by Congress that June, which made it a crime to cause insubordination in the armed forces, to obstruct the recruitment of soldiers, and to use the U.S. Postal Service to do so.

At the trial, Olivereau conducted her own defense. No other IWW members attended, and her only support came from Anna Louise Strong (1885-1970), the noted radical leader and Seattle School Board member, who sat in the front row during the trial. The IWW chose to distance itself from Olivereau due to her anarchist identity, which was considered dangerous even among the radical left during that politically-charged decade. In her defense, Olivereau recounted her version of the events that had led to her arrest, provided the jury with an explanation of her political views, and argued her case for the ultimate injustice of the war in Europe.

On December 3, Olivereau was sentenced to ten years in prison. She served 28 months in the state penitentiary in Cañon City, Colorado, before being paroled. After her release from prison, she worked at various clerical and sales jobs in Oregon and California. She settled in San Francisco in 1929 and worked there as a stenographer until her death on March 11, 1963.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: “Woman Anarchist Quickly Convicted for Attack on Military Draft Statute,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 1, 1917, p. 1; “Louise Olivereau Convicted Under Espionage Act,” The Seattle Daily Times, December 1, 1917, p. 12; “The Louise Olivereau Case” (pamphlet; New York: Minnie Parkhurst, 1918); Sally Flood, “The search for a cause: Louise Olivereau,” M.A. thesis (University of Washington, 1979); Sarah Ellen Sharbach, “Louise Olivereau and the Seattle radical community 1917-1923,” M.A. thesis (University of Washington, 1986); Sarah E. Sharbach, “A Woman Acting Alone: Louise Olivereau and the First World War,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 78 (January-April 1987); Harvey O’Connor, “Revolution in Seattle: A Memoir” (Monthly Review Press, 1964; Haymarket Books, 2009); Richard C. Berner, “Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration” (Charles Press, 1991, 2009); Paul Avrich, “Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America” (Princeton University Press, 1995; AK Press, 2005).

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August 13, 1936: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Strike

The Heffernan Building at 6th and Pine in downtown Seattle, home to the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer during the 1936 newsroom strike. Photographed circa January 1936.
Museum of History & Industry

Seattle’s reputation as a pro-labor town has mostly been founded on the memory of the General Strike of 1919 and the WTO protests of 1999. But many other such events have occurred here to strengthen that reputation. Chief among these was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newsroom strike of 1936. This event stands out especially for being one of the first significant white-collar strikes in the United States.

The P-I strike began on the date in focus here, when 35 journalists employed by the P-I (half the paper’s newsroom staff at the time) walked off the job in response to the paper’s decision to fire two longtime newsroom employees as punishment for joining the American Newspaper Guild. The Guild, founded in 1933, was new and controversial at the time, since journalists were then considered white-collar workers, and thus not typical union material.

The strike was as much a protest against newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst as it was against the P-I management. The P-I had been owned since 1921 by Hearst, the nation’s most influential publisher, whose publishing empire included major newspapers and magazines across the United States. Hearst’s avid anti-communism, anti-unionism, and vocal opposition to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had made him widely despised by organized labor nationwide. Hearst was especially hostile towards the Guild, and was determined to prevent his employees in Seattle from unionizing his newspaper there. In fact, the striking P-I writers found encouragement from strikers at another Hearst newspaper, the Wisconsin News in Milwaukee, earlier that year.

When two key P-I employees — drama critic Everhardt Armstrong and lead photographer Frank “Slim” Lynch — joined the Guild, the P-I, under Hearst’s orders, manufactured reasons for firing the two journalists. Management accused them of inefficiency and insubordination, but the men claimed the action was taken because they had joined the Guild. At the time, Armstrong had worked at the P-I for 17 years, while Lynch had worked there for 15 years, and both were highly revered by their colleagues.

Other members of the P-I newsroom staff supported the two fired Guild members by walking off the job. The Seattle Central Labor Council then declared the P-I unfair to organized labor and called for a boycott. The strike quickly won the support of all the unions in Seattle, including the Teamsters, then led by the legendary Dave Beck. Longshore workers, lumber workers, metal workers, and Teamsters all joined the picket lines outside the P-I building. Beck provided additional support by threatening that Teamster drivers would refuse to deliver newsprint for the P-I to be printed on.

The firing of Armstrong and Lynch was merely the tip of the iceberg that fomented the strike. During the weeks preceding the strike, many P-I employees had become disgruntled over increasingly harsh management actions. So-called “efficiency” changes by management had resulted in the dismissal of experienced workers who were then replaced by workers who lacked experience but could be paid lower wages.

The strike resulted in the suspension of publication of the P-I for three-and-a-half months. The P-I attempted to get its editions published at The Seattle Times, but the unionized typographers at the Times prevented that from happening. Thus, the P-I did not print from August 19, 1936, until late that November. Meanwhile, the strikers published their own newspaper, The Guild Daily, staffed by striking P-I employees, which quickly became popular among Seattle citizens who supported the strike. By the end of the strike, that paper’s circulation had reached 60,000 copies per day.

The strike coincided with the 1936 national election season. President Roosevelt — Hearst’s ideological adversary — was re-elected on November 3, 1936. After the election, Hearst settled with the American Newspaper Guild, giving the Guild its first victory and cementing Washington state’s reputation as a state where labor had genuine political power.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer strike officially ended on November 25, 1936, and the P-I resumed publication on November 29. Having begun as an upstart fight by a small, local union, the strike ended as a major victory for white-collar labor nationwide.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: “The Right To Publish,” The Seattle Star, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “Statement of P. I.,” The Seattle Star, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “Statement of Guild,” The Seattle Star, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “This Shameful Page” (editorial), The Seattle Daily Times, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “Violence Flares at News Plant as Guild Men Strike,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “A Statement by the Post-Intelligencer,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 14, 1936, p. 1; “P.I.-Guild Strike Is ‘Coasting’,” The Seattle Star, August 15, 1936, p. 1; “Guild Gives Answer To Statement of P.-I.,” The Seattle Star, August 15, 1936, p. 1; “Guild Strikers Hold Blockade on P.-I. Building,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 16, 1936, p. 1; “Publication Of P.-I. Still Is Blocked,” The Seattle Star, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “P-I Blames Beck,” The Seattle Star, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “Says the Guild:,” The Seattle Star, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “Newspaper Management Says Future Activities ‘Up To Community’,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “Guild Issues Own Statement On Merits of Its P.-I. Strike,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “One Picket Arrested as Drunk, One Hurt in Fight in Guild Strike,” The Seattle Daily Times, August 17, 1936, p. 1; “Guild, P.-I. Mediation Proposed,” The Seattle Star, August 18, 1936, p. 1; Archie Binns, “Northwest Gateway: The Story of the Port of Seattle” (Binfords & Mort, 1941); William E. Ames and Roger A. Simpson, “Unionism or Hearst: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Strike of 1936” (Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, 1978).

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July 29, 1968: About That Typewriter . . .

The original Seattle Black Panther Party headquarters in the Central Area

In the heavy political weather of the summer of 1968, a war between the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party was almost inevitable. Tensions between the SPD and the Seattle BPP — barely six months old and already making an openly activist mark on a profoundly passive-aggressive city — were already stark enough without the typewriter business. On the date in focus here, the SPD raided the BPP office in the Central Area and arrested Panther captain Aaron Dixon and defense minister Curtis Harris. While Harris was released the next day, Dixon was charged with alleged possession of — no, not drugs; no, not weapons; get this — a stolen typewriter.

It was a laughable pretext with terrible consequences. Occurring in the midst of tension between Seattle’s black youth and the city government over the latter’s failure to provide adequate social services for minorities — and a summer that had already seen riots break out in the Central Area — the raid and arrests sparked yet another such riot in the neighborhood. This time it was serious: the July 29 riot lasted three days and resulted in further arrests — at least 69, according to one account — along with the wounding of seven police officers and two civilians hit by gunfire and rocks, in addition to property damage throughout the Central Area.

The aftermath was political as well as physical: while the riot itself died down, the resulting war between the SPD and the Panthers would last another two years. The raid was — and still is — believed by many surviving Seattle BPP members and associates to have been part of a nationwide effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to destroy the nationwide BPP, one of a number of FBI terror operations against citizen activist movements in effect at the time.

One last intriguing detail about the events described above deserves mention here. About that typewriter: it may or may not have found its way into the BPP office by means other than theft, judging from the later acquittal of Aaron Dixon in the matter of its possession. Funny how such things happen — especially when “law and order” are involved.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: “4 Wounded In Outburst Of Gunfire,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 30, 1968, p. 1; Don Hannula, “Negroes Criticize Amount of Force in Police Search,” The Seattle Times, July 30, 1968, p. 2; “Panther Leader Charged in Theft,” The Seattle Times, July 30, 1968, p. 2; Mike Wyne, “9 Injured in Gunfire-Marked Outbreak in Central Area,” The Seattle Times, July 30, 1968, p. 3; “Ramon Blames Disturbances on Arrests,” The Seattle Times, July 30, 1968, p. 3; “30 Police-Action Protesters Crowd Into Chief’s Office,” The Seattle Times, July 30, 1968, p. 3; “Leader of Panthers Free on $3,000 Bail,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 31, 1968, p. 4; “Violence Must Be Curbed” (editorial), The Seattle Times, July 31, 1968, p. 10; “Aaron’s Trial,” Helix, August 1, 1968, p. 4; Walt Crowley, “Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle” (University of Washington Press, 1995); Aaron Dixon, “My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain” (Haymarket Books, 2012); Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (www.civilrights.washington.edu).

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June 1, 1961: “Block the Ditch”

Marchers against I-5 construction, downtown Seattle, June 1, 1961
Museum of History & Industry

What would Seattle look like today without Interstate 5 slicing straight through it?

It’s all too easy these days to take for granted the concrete monstrosity that runs through the heart of our city, dividing Seattle into two absurdly disconnected halves like the result of a brain operation gone horribly awry. But there was in fact early opposition to the unfortunate location of I-5 while it was still under construction.

One demonstration of that opposition occurred on the date in focus here, when a group of roughly 100 Seattle residents staged a protest march against the impending construction of I-5 through the city. Since the new freeway was already a done deal at the time, having been previously approved by the Washington State Legislature, the march was aimed at persuading the Seattle city government to construct a lid over the portion of I-5 that would run directly through downtown.

The group consisted mostly of First Hill and downtown neighborhood activists concerned about the negative effects the freeway might have upon the quality of life in the area. Escorted by Seattle police, the group marched along the proposed route of the freeway through a seven-block stretch of downtown, with many carrying placards proclaiming, “Block the Ditch” and “Let’s Have a Lid on It,” among other noteworthy slogans.

Among the organizers of the protest were members of the First Hill Improvement Club and architect Paul Thiry (1904-1993). Best known as the primary architect of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, Thiry was also one of the first Seattle citizens to propose a lid over I-5 where new businesses and apartments could be built. Downtown interests also supported the proposed lid, due mainly to their concerns about the loss of parking spaces and the increase in traffic from the freeway. Among other significant local figures who had publicly opposed the freeway route was former Seattle mayor George Cotterill (1865-1958), who was concerned about the potential dangers of building the freeway through a slide-prone area.

This protest was actually an anomaly, and there was in fact minimal opposition to the I-5 route during the early planning stages, since the freeway was mostly planned through quiet bureaucratic process in Olympia until late in the game. The Seattle portion of I-5 began conceptually as the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma Superhighway in 1951, and was approved by the Washington State Legislature in 1953. Funds for construction were provided by the Federal Defense Highway Act of 1956, signed by President Eisenhower.

The Seattle portion of I-5 was completed on January 31, 1967. Although the opposition to its construction was minimal and moot, the damage done to Seattle’s quality of life by its location would soon motivate much more fervent efforts against future freeway construction within the city limits — specifically, against the R. H. Thomson Expressway. That story, told elsewhere at this blog, ended in success when Seattle voters rejected that project in 1972. The lid desired by the June 1961 marchers was finally realized (albeit only in a limited area) when Freeway Park was dedicated on July 4, 1976.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: Don Duncan, “100 Marchers Call For Freeway Lid,” The Seattle Times, June 1, 1961, p. 1; Sam Angeloff, “Freeway Marchers Advocate Landscaping,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 2, 1961, p. 8; Dan Coughlin, “Council OKs Mall Cover On Freeway,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 6, 1961, p. 1; “Council Backs Mall Over Two Downtown Freeway Sections,” The Seattle Times, June 6, 1961, p. 11; Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy, “Building Washington: A History of Washington State Public Works” (Seattle: Tartu Publications, 1998); Jeffrey Craig Sanders, “Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010).

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November 24, 1985: The Colman School Occupation

The Northwest African American Museum, center left, with Beacon Hill
and Downtown Seattle in the background

Seattle’s Colman School, located in Rainier Valley and built in 1909, stood out for many years as a symbol for the city’s African-American community due to the distinction of being the first school in Seattle attended by black students, as well as having hired many black teachers. When it was closed by the Seattle School District in June 1985 due to the expansion of neighboring Interstate 90, many felt the building should have been converted into a black history museum — an idea which had first been proposed in 1981. When a city government task force formed to discuss the idea went in the direction such endeavors often go — namely, nowhere — a group of African-American community activists began, on the date in focus here, a direct-action occupation of the building as a means of forcing the issue forward.

The activists, numbering roughly forty, entered the building, located at 24th Avenue South and South Atlantic Street, through a window that had been broken earlier by vandals. The building had lights, but no heat and no running water. Charlie James, spokesman for the activists, said, “We understand it’s going to be cold and uncomfortable, but we have a mission to accomplish.”

The main roadblocks to the activists’ stated goal of claiming the Colman School for the proposed museum were much more bureaucratic than ideological in nature. While many in Seattle’s city government, including Mayor Charles Royer, openly supported the museum in principle, the Seattle School District was at the time negotiating with the Washington State Department of Transportation for the transfer of the property from the city to the state. Thus, the acquisition of the building was a much more complicated legal task than it would have been had the land still been simply owned by the city. The immediate goal of the occupation was to let the city know that the activists were serious about claiming the school as the ideal location for the museum.

While the school district warned the group of the illegality of the occupation, it refused to arrest or evict the activists for fear of bad publicity. Four of the activists — Charlie James, Earl Debnam, Michael Greenwood, and Omari Tahir — would continue to occupy the school for eight years, making their action the longest act of civil disobedience in U.S. history to date.

The occupation finally ended in 1993 when the Seattle city government at long last agreed to fund the museum. The dream soon became deferred when the activists found themselves at odds with a group of mainstream local black civic leaders who wanted to use their clout in city hall to carry the project forward. It would thus be another ten years of lawsuits and bad blood before Seattle’s Urban League was able to buy the building from the Seattle School District for $800,000. The final result of the Colman School occupation, the Northwest African American Museum, part of a complex that also contains 36 apartments dedicated as affordable housing, opened on March 8, 2008.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: “African-American Museum Task Force Formed,” The Seattle Medium, February 13, 1985, p. 4; Kathleen Klein and Mary Rothschild, “Goal of sit-in: a black museum,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 26, 1985, p. D1; Charles E. Brown, “Activists move in at old school,” The Seattle Times, November 26, 1985, p. B1; Kathleen Klein, “Museum supporters plan to stay at school,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 27, 1985, p. D1; Chris Bennett and Connie Cameron, “If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When? Says Activist,” The Seattle Medium, December 4, 1985, p. 1; Connie Cameron, “The Takeover At Colman: A Noble Idea And A Just Cause,” The Seattle Medium, December 4, 1985, p. 6; Jack Broom, “School is transformed into museum, housing,” The Seattle Times, January 11, 2008; Trevor Griffey, “A Dream Fulfilled,” Colors Northwest magazine, March 2008, p. 18; Charlie James, “The complete history of Seattle’s newest museum,” The Seattle Times, March 20, 2008.

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July 17, 1913: The Potlatch Riot

IWW hall vandalized by patriotic rioters in Pioneer Square on July 18, 1913 Museum of History & Industry

IWW hall vandalized by patriotic rioters in Pioneer Square on July 18, 1913
Museum of History & Industry

Equally important among events in Seattle during the 1910s was the Potlatch Riot. The story of the Potlatch Riot began on July 17, 1913, during the Potlatch Days festival, a precursor to the modern-day Seafair named after a traditional Pacific Northwest indigenous tribal ceremony. On that evening, during the opening day of the Potlatch, a street-corner fistfight and an allegedly provocative public speech combined to produce a major outbreak of violence in downtown Seattle — as well as an ugly glimpse of the early Red Scare that would engulf Seattle and the nation a few short years later. This event would also demonstrate the potential destructive consequences of irresponsible journalism, as it was ultimately provoked by an inflammatory news article on the front page of The Seattle Daily Times.

The political context of the Potlatch Riot is vastly important for understanding why the riot occurred. Despite its modern reputation as one of America’s most liberal cities, Seattle has in fact always been ideologically complex. This was especially so in the year 1913, when the city had several daily newspapers, each one serving a different point of view on the ideological spectrum, from the pro-labor Seattle Union Record to the pro-business Seattle Daily Times. The various accounts of the Potlatch Riot that appeared in those newspapers differed significantly from one another, creating a daunting “Rashomon effect” for anyone attempting to construct a definitive historical account. Nevertheless, the disparities among the reports from the different papers now vividly illustrate the wide range of political opinion in the Seattle of 1913.

The fistfight in question began when three U.S. Army soldiers and two U.S. Navy sailors in town for the Potlatch Days festival heckled Mrs. Annie Miller, a suffragist who was speaking to a small crowd in Pioneer Square near the offices of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, a.k.a. “the Wobblies”), near the intersection of South Washington Street and Occidental Avenue South. When one soldier threatened to strike Mrs. Miller, a well-dressed and very muscular man in the crowd objected — “You would strike a woman!” — and a fist-fueled melee quickly erupted.

Meanwhile, at the prestigious Rainier Club a few blocks away, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels gave a patriotic speech for local movers and shakers as part of the Potlatch festivities. These two events, seemingly unrelated, would together set the stage for the Potlatch Riot.

The following day, The Seattle Daily Times disingenuously linked the fistfight and the speech in a front-page article titled “I.W.W. Denounced by Head of Navy, Attack Soldiers and Sailors.” The article, uncredited in the paper but in fact written by Times reporter M. M. Mattison, alleged that Daniels had denounced Seattle Mayor George Cotterill in his speech for the latter’s tolerance of local leftists. (The IWW and anarchist groups had already begun to flourish in Seattle by 1913.) Times publisher Alden J. Blethen had previously been publicly critical of Cotterill for the latter’s alleged failure to crack down on Seattle’s “radical elements.”

(Cotterill, though hardly “radical,” was definitely one of Seattle’s more progressive mayors. Among other causes, he fought for public ownership of Seattle’s utilities — another reason why the profoundly capitalist Blethen intensely abhorred him.)

The article also crucially alleged that Mrs. Miller was an IWW member and that several Wobblies among her audience had attacked the soldiers and sailors without provocation. The Times also reported that Miller had “insulted [the servicemen’s] uniforms.”

Given historical hindsight, the article was also clearly based on fabrication. Eyewitness testimonies gathered by Seattle police and later published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer showed that no Wobblies or anarchists had been present during the fistfight in Pioneer Square, and that the soldiers and sailors had in fact instigated the melee. Secretary Josephus, meanwhile, denied having said any unkind words about Cotterill or the IWW that evening.

The inflammatory tone of the article — clearly critical of the IWW — led many local soldiers, sailors, and pro-military citizens to seek retaliation for the previous night’s apocryphal attack in Pioneer Square. Thus, on the evening of July 18, a large crowd of soldiers and sailors, numbering at least a thousand, drunkenly descended upon downtown Seattle and vandalized the IWW and Socialist Party offices located there — all in plain sight of festival-goers who were there to watch the Potlatch Days parade, scheduled that night.

The rioters began their assault while police were busy managing the Potlatch parade crowd. The headquarters of the Socialists at Fifth Avenue and Virginia Street and those of the IWW at South Washington Street and Occidental Avenue South were both vandalized. The rioters also began to trash a Pioneer Square mission in the mistaken belief that it was an IWW office. The mob entered the mission on Occidental Avenue South and began to vandalize it until someone realized it was not IWW-affiliated and called off the attack.

While no one was gravely harmed that night, the political aftermath for local leftists would be damaging indeed, as anti-IWW and pro-war sentiment would only increase within Seattle’s mainstream media and politics over the next several years — especially during World War I.

The morning of July 19 found Seattle under martial law. Meanwhile, a different kind of conflict escalated between Blethen and Cotterill. During the following week, the front pages of the Times would be filled with inflammatory headlines denouncing both Cotterill and the IWW. It was merely the latest episode of a long-running animosity between these two titans of Seattle city politics.

Adding fuel to Blethen’s fire, Cotterill had attempted to stop the Times from publishing during the remainder of Potlatch Days in order to prevent any further riots that might have been provoked by the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that Seattleites had long come to expect on its front pages. In response, the Times repeatedly and flamboyantly attacked Cotterill — one exemplary headline read, “Mayor Cotterill Attempts the Role of Czar.”

While the conflict between the Times and Cotterill would eventually cool down, the Times would continue to misrepresent the politics of Seattle for many years afterwards. The Potlatch Days festival, stained by the memory of the 1913 riot, would be discontinued after 1914. It would then be revived in 1934, canceled again in 1941, and eventually replaced by the annual Seafair festival, which was launched in 1950 and continues to the present day.

–Jeff Stevens. Sources: “Three Soldiers Assailed By Mob, Saved By Police,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 18, 1913, p. 1; “Entire Navy May Soon Pay Seattle Visit,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 18, 1913, p. 2; “I.W.W. Denounced by Head of Navy, Attack Soldiers and Sailors,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 18, 1913, p. 1; “Soldiers and Sailors Mob and Sack Offices of Socialists and I.W.W.,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 19, 1913, p. 1; “Police No Match For Such A Mob,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 19, 1913, p. 2; “Socialist’s View of Riot’s Origin,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 19, 1913, p. 2; “Cotterill Attempts to Suppress Times,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 1; “I.W.W. Talks as Mayor Suppresses Times,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 2; “Anarchy in Seattle Stamped Out When Sailors Get Busy,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 2; “Union Man Plants Stars and Stripes Over Hall of Reds,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 3; “Officers and Men of Fleet Jubilant Over Trouncing of I.W.W.,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 7; “Cotterill Harangues I.W.W. and Socialist Mob From City Auto,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 7; “Tilikum Police Keep Hands Off Strictly Throughout Rioting,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 19, 1913, p. 7; “Mayor Cotterill Attempts the Role of Czar,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 1; “Effort to Throttle Times Causes Court to Score Cotterill,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 1; C. B. Blethen, “I Believe in Free Speech and a Free Press as the Bulwarks of Our Liberty,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 5; “Dearth of Petitions Alone Saves I.W.W. Mayor from Recall,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 5; “500 Men Patrol City Streets, But Citizens Will Not Start Riots,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 5; “Bannick, Humiliated by Executive Order, Threatens to Resign,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 5; “Secretary Daniels Denounces the Red Flag,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 6; “Cotterill Assumes the Part of Autocrat,” The Seattle Sunday Times, July 20, 1913, p. 6; “Night Throngs Cheer Soldiers and Sailors in Closing Carnival,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 20, 1913, p. 1; “Mayor Cotterill Will Abide By Court’s Orders,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 20, 1913, p. 11; “Open Forum To Hear Witnesses of Riotous Outbreak of Sailors,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 20, 1913, p. 11; “Sailor Tried To Strike A Woman,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 20, 1913, p. 11; M. M. Mattison, “Taxpayers Demand Recall of Cotterill!,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; “Cotterill’s Swollen Notions Detriment to Northwest: News Says,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; “Cotterill Lacks Mental Balance, Oregonian Says,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; “No Man Great Enough to Insult American Flag, Daniels Says,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; William A. Simonds, “Discredited Direct Actionists Attack Secretary of Navy,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; Horace McClure, “Cotterill’s Frail Craft: With Flag of Red, on Stormy Sea,” The Seattle Daily Times, July 21, 1913, p. 1; “The Rioters Punished,” Seattle Union Record, July 23, 1913, p. 4; “A Disgraceful Riot,” Seattle Union Record, July 26, 1913, p. 1; Murray Morgan, “Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle” (Viking Press, 1951; Ballantine Books, 1971; University of Washington Press, 1982); Roger Sale, “Seattle, Past to Present” (University of Washington Press, 1976); Richard C. Berner, “Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence, to Restoration” (Charles Press, 1991, 2009); Sharon A. Boswell and Lorraine McConaghy, “Raise Hell and Sell Newspapers: Alden J. Blethen and The Seattle Times” (Washington State University Press, 1996); Nick Bauroth, “Belltown History: A May Tribute to Anarchy in Seattle,” Belltown’s Regrade Dispatch, May 5, 2000, p. 5.

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