Hellraisers Journal: Will Colorado Taxpayers Finally Revolt Against Continued Persecution of Miners?
to keep the workers in slavery.
Friday March 31, 1916
From the United Mine Workers Journal: The High Cost of "Colorado Justice"
This week's miners' Journal reprints and article from the Trinidad Free Press on the cost to taxpayers of the ongoing persecution of the union coal miners of Colorado:
Will Persecution Continue?
-----Will the Taxpayers Unite and Protest
Against the Anarchists?
(Trinidad (Colo.) Free Press.)
The question is being asked by many of the taxpayers of the counties of the State where charges of crime and indictments have grown out of the industrial struggle that took place between miners and operators, as to how long the courts will be occupied with the litigation, and how much farther the persecuting syndicate will go, in the hope that it may be able to send some miner to the penitentiary or to the scaffold?
The striking miners of La Veta, who were tried at Pueblo on a change of venue taken from Huerfano county, were acquitted on the first ballot by a jury, whose deliberations on the guilt or innocence of the accused miners lasted but twenty minutes.
The four striking miners who were charged with the murder of Major Lester and who were tried at Castle Rock, Douglas county, were acquitted on the first ballot.
The syndicate of persecutors declared prior to the trials of Quinn, Muir, Garcia and Salvage at Castle Rock, that there could be no question as to the guilt of the defendants, that there was a clear case against them, and that no jury could bring in any other verdict, save a verdict of "guilty."
The persecutors brought more than seventy witnesses to Castle Rock to give testimony against the defendants, but after such witnesses were grilled by the attorneys of the defense, it became apparent to the jury at Castle Rock, that "hand-picked" witnesses were about as fashionable in Huerfano and Las Animas counties as "hand-picked" juries.
The "hand-picked" witnesses related plausible stories, and their testimony had in it some semblance of truth, until the defense put their well-learned and rehearsed statements under the microscope and then, it was discovered that "no chain is stronger than its weakest link."
A number of the members of the "gunmen's union," or rather, to be more polite, members of the Peace Officers' Association of Southern Colorado, were summoned to tell the truth at Castle Rock, and as each one left the witness stand after being subjected to a rigid examination by the defense, it was noticeable that each one felt that his plumage had been somewhat ruffled, and there was manifested an external symptom on each face, that he feared that he had failed to convince a jury of the accuracy of his statements or that he had impressed the jury with a conviction that he was "telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
The fact that the striking miners of La Veta, tried on a change of venue at Pueblo were acquitted on the first ballot, and the fact that the Walsenburg miners tried at Castle Rock on a change of venue were acquitted on the first ballot, should convince the taxpayers who must pay the bills, that there must be something rotten on the part of the persecution, when juries on the first ballot bring in a vindication for striking miners, whom law and order has stigmatzed as "murderers," "dynamiters," "anarchists" and "red necks."
If the striking miners have been red-handed criminals, then why is it that no convictions can be secured when a change of venue is taken beyond the realms of the domain where coal is king?
Is it not about time that the taxpayer should have something to say about how far coal corporations and hungry lawyers should be permitted to go in the persecution of miners, who have been far more sined against than sinning?
It is not denied, nor will it be denied, that miners, many of them, fearing for their lives and the safety of their families, secured possession of weapons to defend themselves against the lawlessness of imported thugs. They were justified by every law of self-preservation, and not even the constitution of the State or nation denies a man the right to bear arms. How much more so is he justified, when the sheriff of a county admitted on the witness stand that he had clothed with authority more than 300 importations with the legal right of carrying weapons, and that he had made no inquiries as to where they came from, nor did he request that any of them should furnish any references, but turned them over to coal corporations, equipped with commission as deputy sheriffs, to be used by said corporations to create a reign of terror, and who, during the strenuous days of the strike, had learned to shoot for "law and order," while they executed the damnable dictums of their paymasters. Outlaws, licensed to kill, have not been brought before the courts and commissioned man-killers, who fired upon women and children and who put the torch to Ludlow, have not been called upon to answer for their crimes.
Because the taxpayers have lost control of government, and because the taxpayers have remained silent, while conspirators have schemed to loot the treasuries of coal mining counties to feed favorite pettifoggers on corpulent fees through a prolonged continuation of litigation in the courts, in the hope that public sentiment would be so poisoned against the miners that unionism would be stamped out in the coal fields of Colorado and that some convictions could be secured through "hand-picked" juries that would bolster up the dying slogan of "law and order," whose death-rattle can be even heard on the corporation-owned reservation, where human rights, robed in the garb of labor, received but the sneers and the contempt of every hireling that was mortgaged to privilege and every lickspittle that pandered to Mammon.
The taxpayer has some rights which even coal corporations can be forced to respect, and a few mass meetings called to voice a protest against the expenditure of public funds to persecute miners, would have a wholesome effect upon the broad cloth anarchists, whose hunger for dividends have made them blind to justice.
More from United Mine Workers Journal of March 30, 1916:
(By John Ramsey.)
Everyone now concedes that Colorado could enjoy a period of industrial peace if the powers that be would only handle the situation fairly. All that prevents peace is the silly attempts to railroad miners to the gallows or the penitentiary, such as are still being made. The attempts in this direction have already cost the State and the counties where such attempts have been made vast sums of money. It is about time that the people woke up to the fact that these persecutions are being handled in the interest of a few of the most disreputable operators by a few of the most incompetent and equally disreputable conundrums that call themselves lawyers.
Louis Zancanelli has at last been released on bond, but that he should have had to lay in jail for over two years by the order of a court presided over by a man of the type of Judge Hillyer will not inspire the ordinary man with any great respect for the Las Animas County brand of justice. Compare the treatment accorded Zancanelli in that court to that accorded the murderer of General [Gerald] Lippiatt in the same court-the former convicted in the flimsiest testimony and the latter acquitted on the most conclusive evidence—and you will have a better conception of Colorado justice as administered in Las Animas County than we can give you.
The utter rottenness of the whole sale prosecutions of the miners is a disgrace to the State, and for the men who are responsible for it to talk about "law and order" is rank blasphemy. With men like West, Northcutt and Hillyer, we suppose nothing better could be expected, and the pity of it is, that men of such piebald reputations should be allowed to use the courts of the State in their attempts to climb into positions they are not competent to fill and which they do not deserve...
The United Mine Workers Journal, Volume 25
Executive Board of the United Mine Workers of America,
Nov 11, 1915 to May 25, 1916
UMWJ of Mar 30, 1916
Editorial from the Trinidad Free Press
Colorado Notes by John Ramsey
John M O'Neill, Editor of Trinidad Free Press
(Former editor of Miners Magazine.
Note: ELF has his name incorrectly stated as James.)
Miners on Trial at Castle Rock, CO, UMWJ Feb 17, 1916
Re: Trinidad Free Press-
I believe that this editorial was written by John M. O'Neill, former editor of the Miners Magazine of the Western Federation of Miners, and now editor of the Trinidad Free Press. See The Railway Conductor of June 1916:
Also from UMW Convention of Jan 1916-
John M. O'Neill, now editor of the Trinidad Free Press, has been identified with every movement of recent years, in the State of Colorado, that has for its object the betterment of the conditions of the toilers of that state.
And from Hellraisers of Jan 8, 1914 (scroll down to sources.)
Hellraisers Journal: Persecution of Colorado Miners Continued by Coal Owned State Government
Hellraisers Journal: Gunthugs Kill U.M.W. Organizer [Gerald Lippiatt] on Streets of Trinidad, Colorado
Hellraisers Journal: Baldwin-Felts Gunthug George W Belcher Shot and Killed on Trinidad Street
Walter Belk found not guilty of murder of Gerald Lippiatt:
UMW Convention, 10th Day, Jan 28, 1916
For more on Colorado Justice re the coal miners-
Coast Seamen's Journal of Oct 6, 1915:
"The Lawson Case"
"Trial of Zancanelli"