January 8, 1912 – This Day In Our Region: The San Diego Free Speech Fight Begins

by on January 8, 2008 · 0 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Organizing

From every corner of the United States the Wobblies began to converge on the cityOn this day in 1912, the San Diego City Council passed an anti-free speech ordinance, banning public speaking in a large section of downtown, in hopes to bar labor, socialist and other organizers from street-corner speaking. The area was bounded by “C” and “F” streets and Fourth and Sixth Streets. And thus began, the infamous San Diego Free Speech Fight, which sparked months long struggle by Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizers and supporters. Hundreds of people were jailed, beaten; fire hoses were turned full-blast onto peaceful crowds including old men, women and children. The brutality of the city’s actions against the free speech fighters caused sympathy for them throughout the nation and world, with many people coming to town to demonstrate solidarity, including Emma Goldman, the famous labor orator and author. The San Diego Tribune, for example, called editorially, for the free-speech prisoners to be shot or hung. (And we wonder today about the U-T’s conservatism.)

Police use water to break up an I.W.W. congregationLearn about this important chapter in our region’s history: see the following links: see here for the modern IWW account, here for Emma Goldman’s version, and here for San Diego Historical Society’s version, the establishment version.

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