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Young Communist Arrested at White House: 1930 # 2 | by Washington Area Spark
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Young Communist Arrested at White House: 1930 # 2

Edith Briscoe is arrested during a demonstration against unemployment March 6, 1930 held in front of the White House.


The view is looking south from the west sidewalk on Madison Place with the Treasury Department annex on the left with the main Treasury building in the background. Lafayette Park is to the right.


The demonstration was part of the first nationwide protest held in many cities across the U.S. (and in a number of countries around the world) in response to the onset of the Great Depression.


Police attacked the picket line of about 100 using clubs and tear gas.


The man who is third from the left (walking with light fedora with dark band) is possibly William Lawrence, DC leader of the Communist Party.


During the brief fighting, the Baltimore Afro-American reports, “Policeman B. J. Beckman particularly got a bit more than he bargained for when he attempted to club one of the colored demonstrators. Rushing to the aid of her dark-skinned comrade, Edith Briscoe, white, 19-year old communist leader, who is well-known here, jumped upon the officer’s back and prevented his blackjack from doing damage to the head of her comrade.”


Briscoe was born Edith Brisker in Gomel, Russia, later married Peter Villastrigo, sometimes known as Peter Chapa. Briscoe served for a time a personal secretary to William Z Foster while he served as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA. Edith Villastrigo was subsequently active for many years in the Women's Strike for Peace and served as its legislative director in Washington, D.C. For a another image of Briscoe (Brisker) (Villastrigo) at this protest, go to


See set description for more information and additional images:


For film clips of the March 6, 1930 unemployed demonstration in front of the White House, see


For a photo of a 1940 Workers Alliance demonstration, see


Image by Harris & Ewing, the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-H2- B-3864 [P&P]

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Taken sometime in 1930