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Commemorating the 1919 Centralia tragedy

IWW Centralia tragedy monument will be dedicated on June 23

The following is from the IWW Centralia Monument Committee:

CENTRALIA, WA (June 20, 2024) — The monument commemorating the “Union Victims of the Centralia Tragedy of 1919” will be dedicated in a public ceremony at 12:30 PM on June 23 in Centralia, Washington. The Industrial Workers of the World will hand off the newly installed monument to the City of Centralia.  The public and all union brothers and sisters are invited to attend. The monument consists of a bronze plaque mounted on a 2 ½ ton granite pedestal in George Washington Park in the center of Centralia.

The “Union Victims” monument honors the men who were lynched or sentenced to prison for defending their union hall from attack on November 11, 1919. All of them were IWW members though several were also coal miners in the United Mine Workers. The monument was designed by the IWW’s Centralia Monument Committee, and paid for by contributions from several AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils, the Firefighters State Council, Firefighters District Council 7, union locals, the IWW’s administration and branches, and over 200 individual workers from around the US. Members of Labors Union Local 252 apprentice program made the massive concrete foundation. The Centralia City Council approved the design unanimously in October 2022.

On November 11, 1919, members of the American Legion, acting on behalf of the employers association, stormed the IWW union hall in Centralia, following a previous destructive assault a year earlier. The planned attack was public knowledge, but city officials did nothing to prevent it. The union men armed themselves and opened fire on the mob when the doors and windows were broken in. Four Legion men died. IWW member Wesley Everest was taken from the jail that night and lynched. Eight union men were sentenced to long terms in prison following a widely-acknowledged unfair trial, in which 5 of the jurors later recanted their verdicts of ‘guilty’ and said they were intimidated by the prosecution. A ‘labor jury’ appointed by regional Central Labor Councils voted for acquittal, and unions across the country condemned the trial as manifestly unfair and prejudicial.

The ‘Union Victims’ monument is next to ‘The Sentinel’ a monument to the American Legion men who were killed during the assault on the union hall. That statue has stood undisturbed since 1924, though it includes an inaccurate description of the events of the Centralia Tragedy.

For information or interviews, contact members of the Monument Committee:

Dave Tucker, or 360-927-4276

Mike Garrison,

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