Museum of the City of San Francisco
By Subject
By Year
The Gift Shop

Police Arrest More than 265 in Attacks on Hangouts of Radicals

Men in Autos Swoop Down on Offices, Then Dash Away

Gangs of roughly dressed men, armed with rocks, clubs and heavy gloves, were raiding radical centers this afternoon.

Operating swiftly and mysteriously, the men invaded and wrecked the offices of the Western Worker, Communist newspaper headquarters at 37 Grove st., then sped in autos to the Workers' School, distribution center for Communist literature, at 121 Haight st.

Windows and furnishings in both places were battered to pieces.

Police Jail 85

Earlier in the day police had started a drive to round up Communists, raiding an asserted headquarters at 65 Jackson, with the assistance of the National Guard, and arresting 85 persons.

The vigilante raiders were not identified. They numbered between 30 and 40, and each wore a heavy leather jacket.

In each civilian raid the same procedure was followed. One auto- load of men drove past the radical hang-out and hurled bricks through the windows. Other cars filled with men drove up and mop- up squads rushed in. They wasted no time. Clubs and bricks were hurled, desks overturned and furniture smashed.

Carefully Planned

By the time police radio cars arrived, the destruction had been completed and the gangs went to the next place. The campaign apparently had been carefully prepared.

The places raided were virtually deserted after the first barrage of bricks.

A few persons, however, failed to escape and were treated roughly. Elmer Barry, 851 Van Ness ave., and Mark Thornton, 30, Fresno, suffered scalp cuts at 1223 Fillmore st., asserted Communists meeting place. Herbert Lord, 27, of 45 Farallones ave., suffered cuts in the Grove st. raid, and Policeman Mervin Pratt, 794 Ashbury st., suffered a cut hand at 121 Haight st. while picking up glass.

A crowd stood across the street from 37 Grove st. and cheered as the place was attacked.

At the Haight st. "Workers' School," police took into custody Vic Evans, who said he was an unemployed clerk living at 1545 Page st., David Merrihew, a student and J. Bishop, caretaker, were questioned, but not arrested.

Many Arrested

Evans, police were told, was one of the vigilantes. Although he gave a local address, police said "he didn't even seem to know which direction Van Ness ave. runs." He declined to give any information regarding his companions.

At 3 p.m. police had arrested 265 asserted Communists and there were indications many more would be in custody before night.

The entire block from Third to Fourth sts. on Howard was raided by police after crowds had gathered around curbstone speakers who were exhorting their hearers to "meet violence with violence. Police rounded up 150 persons and took them to jail.

The Jackson sts place was headquarters of the Marine Workers' Industrial Union, a strike group, said to be led by Communists. The National Guard blocked both ends of the block, Jackson at Drumm st., and Jackson at Front st., with machine guns on four trucks, while the police closed in.

Yield to Arrest

The asserted Communists yielded to arrest without resistance.

Police said the prisoners would be required to produce union cards and tell why they are striking. Those without union cards would be held for further investigation, police said, and possibly all would be questioned by federal authorities. Capt. DeGuire said the Jackson st. address was a headquarters for distribution of Communist literature.

This was to be the first of a series of raids on all asserted Communist headquarters in San Francisco, he said.

U.S. in Check

If anything was found indicating this group was plotting the overthrow of the government, they would all be charged with the violation of the criminal syndicalism law, declared Capt. John J. O'Meara, in charge of the crime prevention and anti-radical detail. Otherwise, they would probably be released on $25 bail, he declared.

A letter of introduction from the Marine Workers' Industrial Union to the Bayside garage was found at 65 Jackson st., introducing George Spelts as a member of the union, asking for assistance of them with which to fix a relief car.

Police said Spelts was one of Harry Bridges' right-hand men when the June 16 agreement was rejected by the strikers. Mr. Bridges is the I.L.A. strike leader.

Alarmed by a "disturbance in the hall," a riot call was sent in from the Spartacus Club, 1171 Market st., headquarters of the Women's Auxiliary of the International Longshoremen's Association. Scores of police responded, but the disturbers had fled before they arrived. A crowd of several hundred persons, which gathered in Market sts., was dispersed.

Mrs. Rose Cherson, 50, of 128 Third st. was sentenced to 60 days in the county jail for disturbing the peace by Municipal Judge Daniel F. O'Brien. She was charged with slapping the face of Special Officer Harry Gurthe and shouting "Kill the scabs," on July 3.

Judge Sylvian Lazarus fined Sam Kekuloco, Tony Severdea and Jose Beovich $5 each for distributing Communist literature. The case of George Nelson, striking dishwasher who picketed a restaurant, was dismissed when Nick Kaddis, who caused his arrest, bailed him out and refused to prosecute.

Man is Fined $50

Manuel Roliceakis was fined $50 or 10 days in jail for disturbing the peace, on a complaint of P.B. Freely, 150 Brentwood ave.

Sam Davis, 35, striking pile driver, was given a 10-day suspended sentence for assertedly ordering Martin Mullivich to close his lunch counter at 1572 California st. Steve Hanrock was given a 10-day sentence for throwing rocks at Second and Harrison sts. during the "Bloody Thursday" riots.

"We made up our minds to start our raids with the Jackson st. place because everybody coming into the country without a job and with radical ideas joins that union," said Capt. O'Meara.

Based on Reports

Capt. DeGuire said reports of agitators coming here from all parts of the country started the campaign to suppress Communists.

Arrested in the raid was Emiliana Yanca, 49, who said he was organizer for the International Labor Defense, a member of the Marine Workers' Industrial Union. He listed himself as a laborer living at 456 Third st. Harry Anderson was engaged to defend him. He was held on a $1000 vagrancy charge for investigation.

In Oakland, a five-pound aerial bomb, similar to those used in army bombers, was found near a cannery at 57th ave., and San Leandro st. Previously, two youths, asserted Communists, had been arrested for distributing propaganda pamphlets.

Trucks overturned: Parcel post light delivery truck, in financial district; two small delivery trucks, moving foodstuffs.

Rocks were thrown through the windows of the Akron Market, 3315 20th st., a tailor shop, 4242 18th st., a cigaret factory, 71 Bryant st., the home of Hugh Valdez, 4130 Third st.; a bakery at 853 Divisadero st., an auto dealer at 1691 Mission st., a restaurant at 3394 26th st., a barber shop at 3394 1/2 26th st., and a restaurant at 3308 26th st., a White Log Tavern at 1101 Polk st., and Sears Roebuck store at Mission and Army sts.

The Daily News
July 17, 1934

Return to the Museum's General Strike Page.

Return to top of page