“We’re going to clean house,” he stated. “And we start right here.”
A Squared Account
The housecleaning began at the building diagonally opposite the assembled posse. In a squalid room upstairs they found the man who had fired upon them. He was dead. Papers found upon him disclosed his identity as an I.W.W. leader. He had evidently rented the room across from the court-house that he might watch the movements of “The Hundred.” A cheap, inaccurate revolver was found beside him. Possibly he had fired, thinking to momentarily disorganize the posse; that they would not know from where the shot had come until he had had time to make his escape and warn his fellows.
The posse moved from building to building. Each tenement, private rooming-house, and shack was entered and searched. Union men who chanced to be at home were warned that any man seen on the street that day was in danger of being killed. Several members of the I.W.W. were routed out in different parts of the town and taken to the jail.
Saloons were ordered to close. Saloon-keepers who argued their right to keep open were promptly arrested. An I.W.W. agitator, defying the posse, was handcuffed, loaded into a machine, and taken out of town. Groups of strikers gathered at the street corners and jeered the armed posse. One group, cornered in a side street, showed fight.
“We’ll burn your dam’ town!” cried a voice.
The sheriff swung from his horse and shouldered through the crowd. As he did so, a light-haired, weasel-faced youth, with a cigarette dangling from the corner of his loose mouth, backed away. The sheriff followed and pressed him against a building.
“I know you!” said the sheriff. “You never made or spent an honest dollar in this town. Boys,” he continued, turning to the strikers, “are you proud of this skunk who wants to burn your town?”
A workman laughed.
“You said it!” asserted the sheriff. “When somebody tells you what he is, you laugh. Why don’t you laugh at him when he’s telling you of the buildings he has dynamited and how many deaths he is responsible for? Did he ever sweat alongside of any of you doing a day’s work? Do you know him? Does he know anything about your work or conditions? Not a damned thing! Just think it over. And, boys, remember he is paid easy money to get you into trouble. Who pays him? Is there any decent American paying him to do that sort of thing? Stop and think about it.”
The weasel-faced youth raised his arm and pointed at the sheriff. “Who pays you to shoot down women and kids?” he snarled.
“I’m taking orders from the Governor of this State.”
“To hell with the Governor! And there’s where he’ll wake up one of these fine days.”
“Because he’s enforcing the law and trying to keep the flag from being insulted by whelps like you, eh?”