The New York Times/Meeting of Reds Traps Slackers

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Meeting of Reds Traps Slackers
The New York Times, June 12, 1917
MEETING OF REDS TRAPS SLACKERS

U.S. Marshal Arrests Thirty at 'Protest Against Draft' Without Registration Cards.

WARNS AGAINST DISLOYALTY

"I Will Arrest This Goldman Woman," He Says, "if She Organizes More Such Meetings."

Leon Samson, a pale-faced Columbia University Student, who when asked if he had a registration card replied meekly: "I am only 20 years old," and Emma Goldman, the anarchist agitator, staged a mass meeting which they styled a "protest against the selective draft law by the Collegiate League for Peace and Harmony," at 10 West 114th Street last night, and by so doing made it possible for United States Marshal Thomas D. McCarthy to round up a number of men of conscript age who had defied the law by refusing to register last Tuesday. The round-up came at the end of the meeting and took the anarchists and their youthful dupes, among them a score of girls still in their teens, entirely by surprise. The result was a wild scramble for the exits, but at every door stood one or two policemen and several National Guardsmen. Every man who was of draft age had to show his card and those that could not were taken into custody.

In all thirty men were detained pending an investigation of their status by the proper Federal authorities. At midnight two had confessed that they had willfully disobeyed the law and were ordered locked up. The other twenty-eight, who during the meeting had shouted and applauded when President Wilson was sneered at, the Liberty Loan denounced, and the army and navy referred to in jeering terms, were meek as lambs and pitifully begged for permission to go home. Some said they had left their cards at home, others said they had lost them, while still others insisted that they had given them to relatives for safe keeping. Seventeen were finally let go, but eleven were detained until their cards are produced.

"We are sick and tired of these disloyal meetings in New York," said Marshal McCarthy as he surveyed the line of frightened men lined up in single file against the wall in the hall where the meetings at which all things American were denounced was held. "And, furthermore," the Marshal added, "I want it clearly understood that in the future we are not going to permit these unpatriotic and disloyal gatherings. We can't stop free speech as contemplated by the Constitution, but we can put an end to disloyalty, and we are going to do it.

"We would have been entirely justified in arresting every man who attended this meeting, and they can be thankful that we did not. The United States is at war, and the people who attend and applaud anti-American utterances are not good Americans. They are not friends of the United States. I have informed this Goldman woman that in the future we will not permit her to organize such meetings. If she does she will be arrested if I have to do it myself. This goes for all of her kind, too."

Hates "the American Kaiser."

The meeting place was a small hall on the second floor of Lenox Hall on 114th Street, near Lenox Avenue. Some other organization had used the hall for a meeting Sunday night, and those who attended happened to be of the kind who think the United States is a pretty good country and is worth fighting for, and they had put some American flags on the wall. The result was that the meeting was held under the Stars and Stripes, a fact that proved a matter of chagrin to those who applauded like wild Indians when Samson shouted that "as much as we hate the German Kaiser, we hate still more the American Kaiser." Everybody present realized whom he had in mind.

As was the case at the anarchist gathering in the Bronx, a week ago the police were prepared to handle any sort of a demonstration last night. The four little searchlight automobiles were on hand early. Two hundred uniformed men were in reserve nearby, while an equal number were scattered in and about the hall. The police lines were established a block on either side of the meeting place and inside those lines only authorized persons were permitted to go. The hall will hold 1,000 persons when crowded, but the police did not permit more than 500 to enter.

At 8 o'clock Samson, who was then defiant of attitude and utterance, arose to open the meeting. On one side of him sat a young man named Rabinovich, who said he represented the College of the City of New York. Charles Francis Phillips, the former Columbia student, who goes on trial tomorrow for conspiracy to dissuade men from registering, was listed among the speakers, but Phillips, who has had a change of heart, did not appear. Owen Cattell, son of Professor Cattell of Columbia, under indictment with Phillips, showed up, however, but he took the advice of the police and negotiated a speedy exit. Miss Grace Grumbecker of Hunter College was also scheduled for a speech, but she was not there or she did not make her presence known. Daniel Cooper of Harvard, the other speaker, also failed to make his scheduled utterance.

Samson, in his opening harangue, devoted much of his time to the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council of Russia. He announced that he was about to organize such a council to run things in the United States, and when he said that the young girls and the young men of conscript age applauded for a full minute. He said the time had come when "we are going to refuse to stand up and shoot down our brothers." The war, he declared, with great solemnity, is "a dollar war," and he reached his climax by prophesying a draft riot which, he added, would be more than a riot. "It's going to be a draft revolution," he said. It was about this time that he mentioned the "American Kaiser." He was careful not to mention President Wilson by name.

After him came Emma Goldman, who was so excited that her face looked like a prize red poppy at a flower show. She denounced everything in sight. She said the anarchists now on trial for conspiracy to defeat the purposes of the draft law are being rushed to prison "by perjured testimony." The Home Guard she dubbed "a lot of parasites and police scabs." The State is taking a census, she added, to draft men into the militia to shoot down the laboring men.

When the Goldman woman stopped speaking, as much from exhaustion as anything else, young Samson stood up and started a plea for funds. A tall, square shouldered man then walked down the aisle. He was Lieutenant Barnitz of the New York police force, who has devoted all of his time since the war started to running down and arresting persons who think more of Germany than the United States. Barnitz motioned Samson to stop speaking.

"How old are you?" demanded Barnitz. The young man's face turned as white as a newly laundered sheet.

"Twenty, only twenty," he murmured in a voice so low that only Barnitz heard it. Barnitz returned to the rear of the hall and had a conference with Marshal McCarthy, Assistant United States District Attorney Harold A. Content, and Inspector Ryan of the police.

"I don't know of a better place than this to begin the roundup of slackers," said Marshal McCarthy, as he looked about the room. Samson in the meantime was making a heroic effort to resume speaking, but he was very nervous, and his words were uttered with difficulty. Men turned in their seats and looked at the Federal officials in conference. Two or three started to leave.

"Return to your seats," said a policeman at the door.

"I want to go home, I promised my wife I would be back at 9:30 o'clock," one of the men said.

"Well, maybe you can telephone her that you are detained," the policeman answered, and the men sheepishly returned to their seats.

"The meeting's over," shouted Samson suddenly and the crowd started for the exits.

"Women and girls may go, but all men of conscript age must show their registration cards," Marshal McCarthy announced. A young fellow tried to edge himself out between two girls. A guardsman pulled him back.

"Where's your card?" the guardsmen asked.

"I haven't got it now, my mother's keeping it for me," the frightened man answered. He was escorted to a deserted corner of the room. More than 100 men were in that corner by the time the room had been cleared. Just one woman remained. Emma Goldman. Marshal McCarthy ordered her put out. She shouted her defiance, but policemen got behind her and gave her a push. A guardsman gave her another and she went out at express speed. Then began the census of the prisoners.

Samson was among those detained. He is said to have admitted being in doubt as to how old he is, but the police mean to be sure about it.

Herman Woskow, 21 years old, of 128 Second Avenue, said he was born in Russia, and had taken out citizen papers, but added that he had no intention of registering. He will be arraigned in the Federal Building this morning. Philip Levine, 2[?] years old, of 79 Division Street, also admitted he had not registered and said he had no intention of doing so. He will be arraigned with Woskow.

Hyman Bessner of 1,062 Southern Boulevard, had a card unlike any other seen by Marshal McCarthy. He said he received it from the official registrar last Tuesday, and is held while his story is investigated.

The anarchists announced last night that they will hold a mass meeting in Madison Square Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock. There is reason to believe that the meeting will not take place.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).