Then the members of the American Legion, encouraged by this applause, and instigated by Guffey’s ex-army officer, proceeded to invade and wreck every radical meeting-place in the city. They smashed the “Clarion” office and the Socialist Party headquarters again, and confiscated more tons of literature. They wrecked a couple of book-stores, and then, breaking up into small groups, they inspected all the news-stands in the city, and wherever they found Red magazines like the Nation or the New Republic, they tore up the copies and threatened the agents with arrest. They invaded the rooms of a literary society called the Ruskin Club, frequented mostly by amiable old ladies, and sent some of these elderly dames into hysterics. They discovered the “Russian Peoples’ Club,” which had hitherto been overlooked because it was an educational organization. But of course no Russian could be trusted these days—all of them were Bolsheviks, or on the way to becoming Bolsheviks, which was the same thing; so Guffey organized a raid on this building, and some two hundred Russians were clubbed and thrown downstairs or out of windows, and an elderly teacher of mathematics had his skull cracked, and a teacher of music had some teeth knocked out.
There were several million young Americans who had been put into military uniform, and had guns put into their hands, and been put thru target practice and bayonet drill, and then had not seen any fighting. These fellows were, as the phrase has it, “spoiling for a fight;” and here was their chance. It was just as much fun as trench warfare, and had the advantage of not being dangerous. When the raiding parties came back, there were no missing members, and no casualties to be telegraphed to heartbroken parents. Some fool women got together and tried to organize a procession to protest against the blockade of Russia; the raiders fell upon these women, and wrecked their banners, and tore their clothing to bits, and the police hustled what was left of them off to jail. It happened that a well-known “sporting man,” that is to say a race-track frequenter, came along wearing a red necktie, and the raiders, taking him for a Bolshevik, fell upon him and pretty nearly mauled the life out of him. After that there was protest from people who thought it unwise to break too many laws while defending law and order, so the district attorney’s office arranged to take on the young soldier boys as deputy sheriffs, and give them all badges, legal and proper.