A Case to Watch, July 26, 1912



Readers of the Woman's Journal have heard of the great strike of the Textile workers last winter at Lawrence, Mass. Throughout the United States that strike was followed with eager interest by all classes. All knew that the scale of wages was terribly inadequate to keep any family in tolerable comfort. All knew that many children were employed in the mills, all knew that starvation was general. The whole country heard of the outrages committed by the police when the strikers attempted to send their children to friends in New York and elsewhere.

The whole country read of the testimony of a committee that appeared before Congress at Washington. Everyone was glad when Congress undertook an investigation. But [today] the strike is over, [today] Lawrence is more or less forgotten, that is our American way, we are easily interested, but we easily forget. Only the vigilant few know that never is there a time when the friends of justice may sleep, that there can be no relaxing of interest if we wish to see Massachusetts give fair treatment to two of the leaders of that Textile workers strike.

The facts are simple and have been often told. On January 29th. 1912, a woman striker named Anna [LoPizzo] was shot to death by a stray bullet during a brief disorder that occurred near the mills at Lawrence. Shortly after this two strike leaders, Joseph E. Ettor and Arthur Giovannitti were arrested on charge of being accessories to the murder. They were in fact miles away at the time of the shooting and they are not accused of having taken any part in the actual tragedy. They were arrested and are [page 2] now held in jail because as Industrial Workers of the World they had been active in the strike and because they have been invariably and unflinchingly true to the interests of the working class.

These two men are held under the illuminating charge of being "accessories before the fact" of the murder of Anna [LoPizzo]. They are in jail, have been held in jail all these months, they are deprived of liberty, of usefulness, and are in danger of their lives, because they dared to tell the workers of Lawrence that they should keep up the strike until they won, that they should act as "One", until they had gained what they asked for. They told them "not to go back to work". That was their crime, that was their violence.

But the big mill interests fear the Industrial Workers of the World, Ettor and Giovannitti are members of the I.W.W. that is enough. These are the facts. What we must do is clear. We must understand that there is a great prejudice against these men in and about Salem where the trial will take place. Prejudice against I.W.W., prejudice against foreigners, race prejudice, class prejudice. There is a fierce determination to give a "lesson" to the Textile Workers and to keep them from further efforts to better their condition by thoroughly cowing them. There are great corporation interests involved. The winning of the Textile strike meant many thousands of dollars added to the earnings of the workers. (though pitifully little to earnings of each worker)

If the people of this country are not awakened to the situation, a very serious thing may happen in Massachusetts. The right of free speech may receive such a blow that it will be thereafter very hard to recover lost [page 3] ground. If these men can be railroaded to the electric chair for their speeches to the workers during that strike, anyone anywhere who speaks against any evil condition, and if any disturbance follow for any cause whatever, and anyone be killed, then the speaker may be charged with inciting to riot and with being accessory to the crime and sent promptly to the electric chair "according to the Massachusetts case of Ettor and Giovannitti.

This is a real danger in Massachusetts [today]. Everyone who loves justice and who believes in free speech, above all everyone who is interested in the working class and particularly in the betterment of conditions for working women and children, must take an immediate and active part in protesting against the arrest and detention of Ettor and Giovannitti, must demand their release or at least their acquittal. It is important that the case be given wide publicity. Let all the world know what is darkly going on in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Talk about it. Send in letters of protest to Governor Foss and President Taft. Get resolutions passed. Do your utmost to make this a celebrated case.

In this space will appear from time to time a report of what things are being done in Lawrence, and of how the trial is proceeding.