by fw Phil
Thanks to four years of intense effort by Fellow Worker Mike Garrison, the Centralia City Council has approved the IWW design for a monument to the 1919 assault on the Centralia, Washington IWW Hall.
In the 1910’s and ‘20’s, the combination of mining, logging, fishing, and railroads made Centralia a major industrial hub. The IWW had been organizing in the city for years. In 2019, the local chapter of the American Legion openly threatened to burn the IWW out of their hall, as the Elks had done in 2018. The attack of November 11, 1919 resulted in the lynching of fellow worker Wesley Everest and the death of five Legionnaires. A subsequent sham trial resulted in almost a dozen Wobblies going to prison for decades with one dying there. We now have a unique opportunity to honor these long fallen Fellow Workers.
The IWW monument is planned to go up next to the current monument, The Sentinel. That statue was erected in 1924 to honor the perpetrators of the Tragedy. The city council had shot down our ideas over and over again, resisting a more balanced public telling of the history. However, fellow worker Mike finally prevailed. As he says, “I think what broke the log jam was our focus on the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the dedication of the Sentinel. They, up till now, had hoped that with the 2019 anniversary past, we would just fade away.” The 2019 Centennial was commemorated by hundreds of Wobs over a long weekend with lectures, shows, discussions, tours, solidarity, and food.
Every November, rain or shine, Wobs journey to Centralia. We sing, tell stories, and show reverence for lost fellow workers. Come join us.
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