Subversive Historian – 07/22/09

The Preparedness Day Parade Bombing

Back in the day on July 22nd, 1916, a suitcase bomb exploded during the Preparedness Day Parade in San Francisco killing ten and wounding forty more. With World War I raging in Europe, the city’s Chamber of Commerce organized the event in support of the United States entering the conflict militarily. With sizable public sentiment against such a move, and with labor strife gripping San Francisco, the parade was criticized as an instrument for self-interested war profiteers. The bomb was detonated about a half-hour into the procession as the investigations that followed were immediately focused on the radical left. Two labor organizers, Thomas Mooney and Warren K. Billings, were arrested and tried in connection with the crime. Despite false testimony and perjury, the two men were found guilty with Mooney sentenced to death. After much protest, an investigative commission was set up and Mooney’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.

With overwhelming evidence of their innocence mounting, the persecuted labor leaders were finally released only after two decades of their lives were spent behind bars.

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