Elmer Smith and the Wobblies with Tom Copeland (Untold Stories 2016)

In his book, The Centralia Tragedy of 1919: Elmer Smith and the Wobblies, Tom Copeland, Macalester graduate and lawyer, tells the tale of Elmer Smith, also a Macalester graduate and lawyer. At the end of the Armistice Day Parade of 1919 in Centralia, Washington, Legionnaires, veterans, and others hostile to the Industrial Workers of the World, marched on the IWW union hall intending, again, to run the radicals out of town. The Wobblies knew of the plan and, on the advice of Elmer Smith, defended themselves and their hall. The attack began, the Wobblies fought back, four Legionnaires died, and three others were seriously injured. Later the Legionnaires lynched one of Wobblies. Twelve Fellow Workers and Elmer Smith were indicted for murder for one of the Legionnaire deaths. The jury acquitted Smith, but most of the others went to prison. Elmer Smith spent the rest of his life fighting, both in and out of court, for workers’ rights and for the freedom of his codefendants. Despite being jailed, ostracized, and disbarred, Elmer Smith never gave up the struggle. This is a story not often told but it needs to be heard by all those interested in the struggle to secure the rights of workers. 

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