“I had been working up on a project that supplies water to San Francisco. If you ever get a drink of water there, remember I helped dig the hole it comes through. I got fired on that job for distributing Wobbly papers. Then I heard there was a free press fight in Oroville. One of the people there said, ‘Somebody ought to distribute papers in Marysville.’ I went down to the skid road in Marysville, where out-of-town migratory workers hired out for jobs, and passed out a few papers. I was arrested right away. The first charge against me was having in my possession papers that advocated criminal syndicalism”
1923. Criminal syndicalism was defined as the commission of a crime in order to effect any change in industrial ownership or control, or any political change. Persons who became members of organizations that were said to advocate criminal syndicalism, or were charged with speaking, publishing or circulating such ideas were liable for lengthy jail terms. The laws attached harsh penalties to what the Supreme Court only later said was “mere advocacy.” Fred Thompson, arrested in California, spent three years four months in San Quentin with over one hundred other Wobblies arrested on similar charges. He later became editor of the IWW paper.
Part of the set: "Social Activists of the Last Century."