'There is a set of men nay, beasts for you! Pinkerton detectives! They would do anything.' — Labor organizer Lucy Parsons
Shoot, we were supposed to run this yesterday to actually mark the date of the anti-labor atrocity in the first paragraph, but since the Pinkerton Agency's brutal history of strikebreaking is a timeless stain on US history, today works too. — Dok Zoom
On January 18, 1887, Pinkerton detectives killed a 14-year-old boy in Jersey City, New Jersey, during a coal wharves strike. This murder, like so many of the period by the Pinkertons and other agencies developed to protect employer interests from workers, is a sign of the murderous attitude of business, police, and politicians toward American workers during the Gilded Age. Nothing is more emblematic of these attitudes than the hated Pinkertons.
The Early Days
Allan Pinkerton immigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1841. Ironically, given his future, he left because of British repression of the Chartists, which Pinkerton was involved in. However, his concern for workers dissipated as he established himself in the United States, although he remained a strong abolitionist who directly assisted John Brown with $500 when Brown freed 11 slaves in Missouri in 1858 and needed to get them to Canada.
He began his detective career somewhat by chance, stumbling across a group of counterfeiters in 1847. With the police not paying much attention to this incredibly common problem in this era, local merchants paid him to start patrolling for counterfeiters. A career began. He soon rose to prominence while protecting Abraham Lincoln from assassination on his rail journey from Springfield to Washington after the 1860 election. He then served as General George McClellan’s chief of intelligence, although quite poorly given his overstatement of Confederate forces.
Most importantly for labor history, Pinkerton started a firm that supplemented Chicago’s meager police force, with Pinkerton himself given the power to arrest.
Strikebreaking For Fun And Profit
The Pinkertons started working as thugs for companies against organized labor in 1866, during a miner’s strike in Braidwood, Illinois. A more serious action took place in the same town in 1874, when miners walked out over wage cuts. Allan Pinkerton and 20 armed guards came to Braidwood in response. But in this case, Braidwood’s mayor sided with the miners, took away the guards' guns, and would not allow the Pinkertons to march in the street. When one hit an old woman, the police arrested him and fined him $100. Once a group of women attacked Allan Pinkerton, forcing him to flee. This experience led Pinkerton to not hire his forces out for labor strikes for a decade. However, Pinkerton undercover agents were used frequently by capitalists, particularly against the Molly Maguires.
Allan Pinkerton died in 1884. His sons William and Robert took over the agency and recommitted it to defending industrial facilities during strikes. This would lead to the Pinkertons’ most notorious period, where it became the agency of choice for capitalists to not only defend their facilities but undermine workplace organization by any means necessary.
Visits From The Goon Squads
This did not mean it was particularly effective. That’s because the agency soon acquired such a nasty reputation that its arrival would send local residents into an uproar and often lead to more problems for employers than it was worth. Local authorities not infrequently arrested Pinkerton agents upon arrival, such as in New Braidsville, Ohio, where 25 Pinkertons were arrested for carrying concealed weapons. Of course, corporations had a lot of power in the Gilded Age and the Pinkertons were quickly freed and allowed to do what they wanted. But the level of local hostility, including from local law enforcement, was often stark. In 1885, workers at a McCormick’s Harvester Company plant went on strike. The Pinkertons arrived. Fights happened daily. At one point, strikers stopped a group of Pinkerton men and beat them severely, stealing all their weapons. When the Pinkertons shot an old man, McCormick had to give in entirely to the strikers and they won their demands.
No small part of the problem was the undisciplined nature of the Pinkertons. They often did not act as a professional police force. They acted as thugs. They often drank and harassed people with their guns. Many people commented that the men the Pinkertons hired were bad characters to begin with.
In early January 1887, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad announced a 2 1/2 cent per hour pay cut for its coal handlers. They walked off the job. Railroad officials brought in hundreds of strikebreakers and hired the Pinkertons. On January 17, the secretary of the Jersey City police board issued more than 100 badges to Pinkertons. Two hundred more were sworn in by the courts to fight strikers in Bayonne.
Violence followed in both cities. The mayor of Jersey City immediately demanded the removal of the Pinkertons, fearing this violence. The next day, a Pinkerton shot 14-year-old Thomas Hogan, who was not involved in the strike. Police arrested four Pinkertons for it. The murder solidified labor sentiment around the region. Coal handlers on the other side of the Hudson refused to handle this non-union coal. Jersey City courts indicted three of the four Pinkertons for the murder, although only one went to trial and he was found not guilty But by this time, the Pinkertons were too afraid to go into Jersey City.
Homestead And After
The most notorious Pinkerton action of course came in 1892 at Homestead, Pennsylvania, when Henry Clay Frick sent the Pinkertons on a boat to attack strikers, an action that led to an all-day shootout between the two sides, eventually forcing the Pinkertons to surrender after three of them and ten civilians died, and making the name of the company synonymous with unionbusting to the present.
Even before this, politicians such as Tom Watson and William Jennings Bryan were speaking publicly against private guards. The actions at Homestead only raised the level of criticism. The Populists, meeting at the same time in 1892, incorporated an anti-Pinkerton plank into its platform. The day after Homestead, the House announced it would investigate the action of the agency. The Senate followed suit. These investigations weren’t all that serious – this was the Gilded Age after all and concerns about private property far outweighed any concern about dead strikers – but once again, the logical conclusion for many employers should have been that hiring Pinkertons was not worth the hassle.
Pinkertons Not Welcome
States went farther than Congress, with Montana, Wyoming, Georgia, and Missouri banning the importation of private police from out of state. By 1900, 26 states had similar laws on the books, including Pennsylvania. Many of these laws specifically banned the Pinkertons.
After Homestead the Pinkertons began moving out of the corporate thug business, feeling the damage to the company’s reputation not worth the business. After all, the company’s main business was always catching criminals, not serving as shock forces for capitalists. Still, the Pinkertons remained involved in union-busting by sending its agents out as spies. The Coeur D’Alene strike in Idaho that summer is a key example of Pinkerton spies undermining unions.
But corporations continued to find ways to bust unions, including through private police forces. New agencies popped up, including twenty in Chicago alone. Most notorious of all the Pinkerton replacements was the vile Baldwin-Felts Agency, murderers of the West Virginia coal country and whose actions helped lead to the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest domestic insurrection since the Civil War.
Why it Matters
The Pinkertons are notorious not only for their actions, but for what they stood for—private police forces for capitalists. That still resonates today. Our rights at work are so tenuous and they are declining seemingly every day. While at this time, the forces of American capital don’t need violent private police to enforce their will, it’s not as if this couldn’t happen again. We’ve seen private security agencies in recent years defending various sites of capital against protestors, especially environmentalists. We’ve also seen how the new form of Pinkertons — anti-labor law firms — can use sophisticated measures to ensure that companies remain union-free. The use of these companies in the Amazon organizing campaign in Alabama last year is a great example of this. The more we know about this history, the more we can prepare ourselves for a future that does not replicate the mistakes of the past.
Robert Michael Smith, From Blackjacks to Briefcases: A History of Commercialized Strikebreaking and Unionbusting in the United States, (2003)
Stephen Norwood, Strikebreaking and Intimidation: Mercenaries and Masculinity in Twentieth-Century America, (2002)
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They should be thankful to be alive, for starters.
The sheriff of eastern Idaho's Bingham County has been charged with a load of felonies after a November 9 incident in which he waved a gun at a group of girls and their youth group leader, pulling the leader out of a car by her hair, then cursing and threatening to shoot the lot of them. The girls were on a pre-Thanksgiving crime spree in which they left paper turkey cutouts on people's doors, then knocked and ran away giggling like the 12- to 16-year-olds they are. Sheriff Craig Rowland was charged Tuesday by the Idaho Attorney General's office with "aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and exhibition of a deadly weapon."
Well damn. You hold a gun in the face of one Mormon youth group leader ...
Boise teevee station KTVB describes the incident that provoked Rowland to spring into action, ready to bring down deadly vengeance upon the marauding band of wilding LDS girls:
According to a probable cause affidavit, the seven girls, ages 12 to 16, were delivering paper "thankful turkeys" to people around the neighborhood as part of a youth group activity.
The girls would deliver the turkey thank-you notes by taping them to a recipient's door, ringing the doorbell, and running away before the person inside could see who had left the note.
The girls apparently thought that maybe Blackfoot, Idaho (population not quite 12,000), is a safe place for youthful high jinks and japery, but the sheriff, no doubt keenly aware that crime is out of control everywhere, went immediately into Cop Freakout Mode when his Yorkie started barking s bit after 8 p.m. and he saw two suspicious figures running from his house into the inky darkness.
According to the affidavit, the girls returned to their youth leader's car giggling, and told her they had tried to leave the turkey, but had nearly been caught by Craig Rowland so had been unable to deliver it. The group delivered another "thankful turkey" to a house nearby, then returned to the sheriff's home to try again.
Rowland told police that a few minutes after he had seen people running away from his house, his Ring doorbell activated and he heard his front door rattle.
The sheriff said he got his gun, and stepped outside wearing long johns and socks.
In Ring doorbell footage, Rowland is shown looking at the turkey and can be heard saying, “Thank you,” and “That’s frickin bulls***.”
Rowland said he saw a vehicle driving down the road, which he stopped. Rowland said the car did not look familiar and the driver of the car stopped and opened the driver’s side door.
“I reach in and pull the driver out by the hair,” Rowland told investigators, according to court documents. “I say, ‘Who the f*** are you?’ And I do have a gun in my hand, but I still have my finger on the slide.”
Rowland told investigators he pointed the gun at the woman’s head. The woman later identified herself as a neighbor and family friend for over three decades.
To be fair, it is a well-known fact that Antifa terrorists can be anyone, even a neighbor who thinks they've known you for years.
Rowland said he didn't recognize her, but that after holding his gun on the woman for a while, he ascertained that the danger had subsided and he allowed the suspicious individuals to continue on their way (we are assuming he framed it that way, at least).
And because "Rural Idaho," yes, there was alcohol and gratuitous racism, too!
Rowland told investigators that he had had a single alcoholic drink that night, but he was clear-headed. He told investigators about several threats that had been made against him and his wife in recent months that caused them to be concerned about people at their home.
“I have been doing this job for 36 years,” Rowland said. “I have had drunk Indians drive down my cul-de-sac. I’ve had drunk Indians come to my door. I live just off the reservation, we have a lot of reservation people around us that are not good people.”
Oh, yes, he also told investigators that the recent switch from daylight savings to standard time had "really messed me up," which is perhaps a point in favor of discontinuing the time shift, since apparently it turns some people into raving racist assholes.
The statements from the youth group leader and the girls differed only slightly from Rowland's account:
The woman said when Rowland pulled her out of the car, he reportedly lifted his gun then pointed it inches from her forehead, according to court documents. The woman said Rowland told her to never do this again, that he could shoot her, and that she needed to “get the f*** out of here.”
The girls who were in the car described Rowland getting upset, having a gun and saying the “f-bomb” multiple times. Several of them recall Rowland pointing the gun at the leader’s head and saying “I will f***ing shoot you.”
Rowland has taken a leave of absence from his job, but remains the elected county sheriff, at least for now.
Devon Boyer, spokesperson for the Shoshone-Bannock tribe, called Rowland's comments about Native people "extremely offensive" and called on Rowland to resign and issue a public apology to members of the Fort Hall reservation community.
We hope the woman and the children involved will be able to heal from this traumatic incident. This incident should not have occurred but proves racism still exists. We need major relationship building between our communities.
The tribe noted (pointedly, we hope) that no tribal members were involved in the incident. We'd like to think Boyer's comments might trigger some kind of review of his office's handling of past cases involving Bannock-Shoshone people, but then we remember we are in Idaho. Still, sounds like a really eager civil rights attorney might want to look at some records, huh?
This isn't Rowland's first brush with infamy for general assholishness; KTVB notes that in 2016, he said a state bill aimed at more efficient processing of rape kits, and of tracking possible matches, wasn't needed because he believed most reports of sexual assault are made up.
Under Idaho law, Rowland could face up to five years in prison on the count of aggravated assault, and/or 15 years on the aggravated battery charge. Also under Idaho politics, he was able to get reelected with 85 percent of the vote last fall, even after those 2016 comments about rape.
We're going to assume that coming close to shooting a nice LDS lady and some cheery teen girls may be a bridge too far for Bingham County residents, even for a manly man who might have gotten away with it if he'd claimed he was standing his ground against a less sympathetic victim.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please help us keep bringing you news of America's Finest Lawpersons with a $5 or $10 monthly donation. Dok isn't planning any visits to Bingham County, either.
No punches pulled here.
Former DC National Guard leaders are coming out swinging against a November 16 Inspector General Report that appeared to exonerate top Army staff and blame the slow deployment of guardsmen to the Capitol on January 6 on DCNG commanders. Politico got its hands on a memo written by Army Colonel Earl G. Matthews summarizing his own recollections of the day and those of Major General (Retired) William J. Walker, U.S. Army, who served as commanding general of the DCNG, and it is blistering.
Matthews begins: "The purpose of this memorandum is to outline and detail the myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis contained in a recent publicly released Department of Defense Inspector General (DoDIG) report of its investigation into the Department of Defense’s actions leading up to and in response to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol which occurred on 6 January 2021." He then tears into the IG for relying on anonymous, self-serving accounts, full of obvious contradictions, to produce a report "replete with factual inaccuracies, discrepancies and faulty analysis" resting on "demonstrably false testimony or statements."
Walker and Matthews say they begged to deploy the National Guard troops from 2:30 in the afternoon on. According to Walker, who is now the House Sergeant at Arms, the IG Report incorrectly states that Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Mayor Muriel Bowser were on that call, but they were not
McCarthy has said he authorized the DCNG to deploy within the hour. But this memo tells a different story, much more like the one Walker told Congress way back in March. It recounts that Mike Flynn's brother Gen. Charles Flynn, who served as deputy chief of staff for operations on Jan. 6, and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of Army staff, were against deploying the guard because of "optics," and counseled Walker to have the guardsmen replace DC cops directing traffic so that only DC police would respond to the riot.
LTG Piatt stated that it would not be his best military advice to recommend to the Secretary of the Army that the D.C. National Guard be allowed to deploy to the Capitol at that time. LTG Piatt stated that the presence of uniformed military personnel could inflame the situation and that the police were best suited to handle the situation. Both LTGs Piatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having uniformed military personnel deployed to the U.S. Capitol would not be good.
Chief Contee then stated that he would inform the Mayor (D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser) that the Army was refusing to send the National Guard to the Capitol and that he would ask her to convene a press conference to make this refusal known. LTG Piatt then asked Chief Contee to please not do this. Piatt stated that the request for Guard presence was not being refused and he had no power to deny or approve the request, only that he would not recommend approval to his civilian leadership. Piatt and Flynn recommended that Contee identify locations away from the Capitol where D.C. National Guard personnel could relieve MPD personnel of traffic duties, allowing more MPD personnel to surge to the Capitol.
Your Wonkette is not qualified to opine on military deployment, but we'd note that the DCNG was in fact trained and equipped to put down a riot. And according to Walker and Matthews, the DCNG guys were kitted out in riot year and ready to leave the Armory on 30 minutes notice from the time of the original 2:30 call. So Walker and Matthews were positively incensed that Flynn and Piatt testified that the DCNG was so incompetent that it needed some Army guys to come and hold their hands and lead them over to the Capitol building.
In his sworn testimony, Flynn claims, a team under his direction of “40 officers and noncommissioned officers, immediately worked to recall the 154 D.C. National Guard personnel from their current missions, reorganize them, reacquaint them, and begin to redeploy them to the Capitol.” Flynn’s sworn statement is so astounding on its face that it defies reason. If it does not constitute the willful and deliberate misleading of Congress, than nothing does. Flynn was referring to 154 D.C. Guardsmen who were already on duty, were trained in civil disturbance response, already had area familiarization with Washington, DC, were properly kitted and were delayed only because of inaction and inertia at the Pentagon. Why would the DCNG need the assistance of “40 officers and noncommisioned officers” from the Army Staff to “organize and acquaint” these Guardsmen?
In fact, the memo states that the DCNG was left sitting in its buses waiting to deploy while Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy developed "a plan" for the guardsmen and got it approved by acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.
Adding insult to injury, the army witnesses allege Walker got his order to deploy at 4:35, but that the order had to be reissued at 5 p.m., during a press conference McCarthy had with DC Mayor Bowser. Walker and Matthews insist they never got any call at 4:35 telling them to move out.
The DoDIG timeline states that at 4:35 PM Secretary McCarthy called MG Walker to inform him that Acting Secretary of Defense Miller had approved the DCNG request to re-mission the DCNG to support the U.S. Capitol Police at the Capitol. MG Walker denies that Secretary McCarthy called him at 4:35PM or that any such discussion took place at that time. As he stated in sworn testimony, MG Walker became aware of the approval to deploy DCNG personnel during a video teleconference with senior Army officials at 5:08 PM. The decision of civilian leadership was conveyed by the CSA, General James McConville. The DoDIG timeline also states the McCarthy had to “reissue” his direction for the DCNG to move to the Capitol at 5PM. This is an outrageous assertion given that Walker would have began deploying DCNG to the Capitol when he first received USCP Chief Steve Sund’s urgent requests if he had been given authority to do so. The notion that MG Walker had to be told twice to deploy forces to the Capitol is as insulting as it is false.
We may never get a full and complete accounting of what went on that terrible day, but Walker and Matthews aren't the first to note glaring discrepancies in the military's version of events. Over at Just Security, editors Kate Brannen and Ryan Goodman noted contradictions and gaps in the record back in May. And, as Matthews points out, the DOD IG appears to have relied on "some of the same 'Army witnesses' who, according to open press reporting, repeatedly and strenuously denied to the press for days that Flynn was even a participant on the 2:30PM conference call which occurred on 6 January."
And so he can hardly be blamed for calling out Flynn and Piatt for alleged "perjured testimony" and describing them as "absolute and unmitigated liars" for their efforts to cast him as incompetent and leave him holding the bag.
It's ugly, whichever way you look at it.
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Don't talk about your dick at dinner. Just don't.
YIKES! The Daily Mail got its hands on the police report filed by Trump donor Trashelle Odom in which she alleges she was sexually harassed by a shitfaced Corey Lewandowski at a fundraiser, and it is WOW.
Odom and her husband John are major Republican donors, having contributed $100,000 to Trump's super PAC, Make America Great Again Action. Lewandowski headed the PAC until last week, when he got yeeted out after Odom's story broke. Because apparently you can be alllllll kinds of disgusting, but the one unpardonable sin in Trumpland is to mess with the money.
Just kidding, he'll probably get put in time out for ten minutes, then wind up in the inner circle again when Trump thinks nobody's looking. Take that one to the bank.
Anyway, with all due respect for sexual assault and harassment survivors, and without in any way diminishing what this woman went through, we present the Ten Most WTF Moments from Trashelle Odom's Police Report Regarding Corey Lewandowski's Conduct at a Las Vegas Benihana on September 16.
Obviously this is all "allegedly," whether we remembered to type "allegedly" after every horrifying allegation or not.
1. 'Cheese Dick.'
Due to space constraints at a fundraiser for a private foundation, Odom was attending the event alone, without her family. She duly reported to the Benihana at 5:30, only to find herself seated between Lewandowski and a real estate construction guy named Bubba Saulsbury.
"Almost immediately there were amicable jokes between Bubba Saulsbury and GOP operative Chris DeWitt (present and across the table) where they referred to one another as 'Cheese Dick.'"
You know, in case you were wondering whether it's just Corey Lewandowski who would allegedly joke about his cock at a dinner in front of a woman he barely knew.
2. Want to hear about Corey Lewandowski's dick? No? Too bad.
"Lewandowski entered the conversation with the comment that his 'dick is four inches bigger than a normal dick.'"
Very normal conversation at the Benihana. Keep that shit off the table when those knives are flying, though.
3. Corey Lewandowski: Man of Steel.
"From there Lewandowski began to come on to me aggressively by first stating that he works out twice a day, that he runs 400 miles a week, and that's why he can last for 8 hours in bed," Odom alleges.
Ummmm, we have questions. Such as, how would Corey have time to run 57 miles a day and still do sex for eight hours? Good thing he's got more time on his hands now that he's out on his ass from the Trump PAC.
4. Corey Lewandowski is DTF with all the ladies who are not his wife, allegedly!
"Trying to change the subject, I asked Lewandowski about his wife and kids, as I am very proud of the fact that I am happily married with children. Mr. Lewandowski replied that, 'he doesn't do anything with his wife — he gets his sex elsewhere.' Around that time he commented that Gov. [Kristi] Noem is hot," she wrote.
O RLLY? And Noem was in the room, too? Cool, cool.
5. Corey Lewandowski shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
Odom reports that when she finally managed to steer the conversation off of Lewandowski's penis and where he wants to put it, she mentioned that she was from "a bad area of California near where he was traveling." Naturally this prompted Lewandowski to brag about committing multiple murders, including once when he was 10 years old and reportedly said he stabbed someone to death.
6. ASSAULT, NBD, ALLEGEDLY
Odom alleges that Lewandowski touched her ten times, including on her back and buttocks, despite her protests that she was married, and that he threw a drink at her when she rebuffed his advances. All of which took place in a room packed with Republican grandees, who reportedly shrugged his behavior off, saying "Corey is always like this" and "Corey does this a lot."
Party of family values FTW.
7. He even molested her dinner?
"He began ordering me drinks, that I wasn't drinking, so he ultimately drank them. He also ate directly from my plate and used my utensils."
8. Corey and Kristi Noem seem pretty chummy.
When Odom approached Gov. Noem to introduce her to her family, the South Dakota governor said that she had "texted Corey to stop touching [Odom.]" But apparently that had exactly zero effect, since Lewandowski walked up to her shortly afterward demanding a "private tour."
9. Lewandowski was reportedly waiting outside Odom's hotel room when she came upstairs.
"As I walked to the elevator, Rick Kofoed was coming off the elevator. He said he was so sorry. Stacey was talking to Corey. I took the elevator to my room, which I knew was next to Lewandowski. He was in the hall. He looked angry and terrifying. It was very clear he was not sorry for his actions but mad."
So Lewandowski was getting chewed out by the organizers of the fundraiser for his appalling behavior, and he blamed Odom.
10. Odom wasn't the only person he is alleged to have assaulted/harassed that night.
"I received a call from Mina Lu stating that Lewandowski grabbed her rear end and that she yelled at Lewandowski [in] the morning. She added that he was leaving the hotel in 30 minutes. I intentionally waited approximately an hour with the hope I could avoid him. I then left the hotel in the morning."
BONUS: Looks like Lewandowski may have pissed off more than the Odom family.
Remember back in 2012 there was that wacko documentary about the "Timeshare King" David Siegel, who was building a 90,000-square-foot mega-mansion for his wife Jackie and their kids, but it didn't go well?
Well, you'll never guess who was hosting that party at the Westgate Hotel the 16th!
Do you think Mr. and Mrs. Siegel were pleased to see the event honoring their daughter who died of an opiate overdose hijacked by Lewandowski and his antics? And do you think Lewandowski would have been You're Fired for assaulting Mrs. Odom if he hadn't managed to piss off the guy who owns the entire Westgate hotel chain at the same time?
These people, man, I don't know.
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