Radical Labor History Walking Tour in San Pedro this Saturday!

The South Bay town of San Pedro is more than just Ports O'Call, messy
shrimp, and tasty garlic bread. The place where 'the ghetto meets the
sea' is also, more importantly, home to some of Southern California's
most radical labor history dating back to the early 20th century. Famed rebel crooner Joe Hill made the city his stomping grounds for working, organizing, and writing songs before being executed on trumped up charges in Utah on November 19, 1915.

keeping the roots of resistance traditions alive for the movements of the present, the Black Rose Society will be
highlighting key sites on Saturday as they guide a walking tour through
anarchist battlegrounds of yesteryear and historical markers
commemorating the 'One Big Union' efforts of the Industrial Workers of
the World
– or as they were (and are) popularly known as “the Wobblies.”

The fun begins 11 a.m. at James S. Gibson Jr. Park with a $5
requested donation going towards marking the unmarked grave of Wobbly member
Mortimer Downing who was active in harbor history back in the day.


For readers of the Weekly, here's a digital tour of three key stops including brief historical synopses and photographs courtesy of the Black Rose

1. 291 12th Street (Corner of 12th and Center)

“This is the location of the only standing IWW hall in Los Angeles. It was the site in 1924 of several raids against the IWW. On March 1, 1924 while police were raiding the IWW defense office in downtown LA, 1,200 KKK members in robes led by 3 horsemen paraded several times around the block. The people in the IWW hall maintained their courage by singing “Solidarity Forever.” On the evening of June 14, 300 Wobblies and friends gathered to raise money for 2 Wobblies accidentally killed on the job. A well organized mob of sailors and citizens raided the hall. Men, women, and children were all beaten. Lizzie Sunstedt was beaten so badly that 2 weeks later she would die of her injuries. In addition, several men were kidnapped and taken in an 18-vehicle convoy to Santa Ana Canyon where they were stripped naked, beaten, tarred and feathered.”

2. Liberty Hill Site

“Liberty Hill was owned by a wealthy Wobbly sympathizer who allowed the IWW to use the hill as a site for rallies and meetings. In the spring of 1923, the IWW led a strike against the company hiring halls (where workers were often forced to pay a bribe to get work) and LA County's grand jury hearings regarding violations of the Criminal Syndicalist Act. During the strike, local members of the Wobbly Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union hung a banner saying “Join the M.I.W.I.U. 510″ on a structure on the hill. The hill was also the location where Upton Sinclair was arrested for disturbing the peace and reading the U.S. Constitution. A few days following his arrest, 71 Wobblies were arrested at this spot and jailed.”

3. 329 Beacon Street and 341 Beacon Street

“Joe Hill, one of the most famous Wobbly organizers and songwriters, is listed as living at 329 Beacon Street on the 1910 census. While in San Pedro, Hill was the secretary of the local IWW. Down the block was 341 Beacon Street, the Sailors Rest Mission. Joe Hill spent a good deal of time here when he was in town and was allowed to use the piano to write and play songs. According to Ralph Chaplin, in 1912 Joe Hill wrote “Casey Jones” at the Sailors Rest in response to the national walkout of railroad employees. Joe Hill's presence in San Pedro did not go unnoticed and prior to his arraignment in Salt Lake City in 1914, the Salt Lake City police contacted the police in San Pedro. The response they received [referring to Hill and his supposed accomplice] included the line: “They are a bad pair.”

For the full tour, including more sites and history, head out to San Pedro on Saturday!

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