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LMUD Presents: This Day in Susanville History – July 12th, 1938

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

The picket line at Westwood in 1938. ~Eastman Studios Collection at UC Davis

Shots Fired Over Labor Dispute in Lumber Town
July 12th, 1938

Striking members of the Committee for Industrial Organization’s Sawmill and Timber Workers’ Union were driven from this northern California lumber town Wednesday after a fierce fight in which one man was shot and 30 others injured less seriously.

Sheriff Olin Johnson of Lassen County and a force of 800 deputized men took over the town as the C. I. O. workers fled to Red Bluff, 35 miles away, to reorganize their forces.

A platoon of 30 National Guardsmen, rushed from Lodi on orders of Governor Frank F. Merriam, was intercepted at Sacramento when Johnson reported the situation was under control.

Two thousand men were involved in the fighting that began shortly after midnight and reached its climax when a signal from the town fire whistle brought a general rush on the C. I. O. picket line and a strikers’ soup kitchen in the town, which houses the mill of the Red River Lumber Company, one of the largest in the state.

“The town seemed to have gone mad,” an eyewitness said. “Men on the streets were carrying guns, clubs, blackjacks and almost every weapon of war. At 6 a.m. the general fire whistle blew.

“Hose was strung out on the streets. C. I. O. men were wetted, clubbed and generally run out.”

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