On 22-July-1916, a parade in San Francisco called for the United States to be prepared to enter the Great War. During the parade, on Steuart Street near Market, a bomb in a suitcase killed 10 people and wounded 40. Labor leaders Tom Mooney and Warren K Billings were arrested and convicted in an unjust trial. Despite the fact that they obviously did not commit the crime, they remained in prison until 1939 when Democratic Governor Culbert Olson freed them. The article is from the 23-July-1916 Arizona Republican.
Six Slain by Bomb During Preparedness Parade
Timed Infernal Machine Lets Go in Frisco Street Throng Killing Six and Injuring Many
(By Republican Associated Press Leased Wire)
SAN FRANCISCO, July 22. At least six persons were killed and forty-four more were injured by an explosion here today of a timed bomb in the midst of a throng viewing a preparedness parade. The police arrested Frank Josephson, a lodger in a sailors' boarding house, who cried, "I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" and trembled violently when he was being searched at the station house. The police said he had not been accused of anything.
Charles M. Fickert, district attorney, issued a statement attributing the deed to a mind unbalanced by arguments for and against preparedness which have been occupying attention here. The parade was not interrupted.
The list of dead and seriously injured as compiled by the police follows:
Mrs. H. E. Knapp, Alameda, Cal.
Dr. George Painter, Berkeley, Cal.
O. H. Lambert, printer, Alameda.
George Lawler. Mill Valley, Cal.
Adam Fox, Sum Francisco.
Arthur Nelson, 19, Larkspur, Cal.
The seriously injured:
Howard E. Knapp, lacerations both legs and hody.
Mrs. Kingsley Van Loo, Oakland, lacerations both legs, internal injuries.
Harry Turnbull, retired manager, The Family Club fractured skull.
Miss Pearl Seeman, 19, Oakland, leg blown off.
Mrs. L. Wymer, Oakland, leg blown off. the leg amputated.
Henry J. Claussen, Alameda; right leg fractured, body lacerated and bruised.
The explosion occurred at Steuart and Market streets, two blocks from the Ferry building on San Francisco's main thoroughfare. The bomb, concealed in a suitcase packed with cartridges, bullets, gas pipe, glass and scrap iron, blew a gap through the crowd, blasting men, women, children and babies.
The one story brick building against which the suitcase stood was wrecked. The holiday throng, cheering a contingent of Veterans of the First California Infantry of the Spanish American war. became a shambles. The blare of fifty bands and the roar of drums drowned the cries of the injured.
"Two women standing beside me were blown to bits," said one woman, Mrs. Kingslev Von Loo of Oakland, who with her two children was injured. The police said it is possible that some bodies were blown out of existence.
All the newspaper offices in San Francisco yesterday received a communication written in Roman script with an indelible pencil, many of the words being heavily underscored. The communication was signed, "The Determined Exiles from Militarystic government. Italy, Germany. Italy, Russia. Russia." In several instances the writer repeated himself. The communication read:
"Editor: Our protests have been in vain in regards to this preparedness propaganda, we are going to use a little direct action on tne 22nd which will echo around the earth and show that Frisco really knows how and that militarism cannot be forced on us and our children without a violent protest.
"Things are going to happen to show that we will go to any extreme, the same as the controlling classes, to preserve what little democracy we still have. Don't take this as a joke or you will be rudely awakened. Awakened. Awakened. (Sic.) We have sworn to do our duty to the masses and only send warning to those who are wise but who are forced to march to hold their jobs, as we want to give only the hypocritical (sic) patriots who shout for war but never go, a real taste of war. Kindly ask the chamber of commerce to march in a solid body IF 1HM WANT TO PROVE THEY ARE NO COWARDS. A copy has been sent to all the papers. Our duty has been done so far."
Every possible precaution, officials said today was taken but the innocent-looking suit case standing where a country visitor, of whom there were thousands, might have set it down, attracted no attention.
The force of the bomb was astonishing. Hundreds of empty revolvers and rifles, blown through the crowd by the explosion, were picked up in the gutters by souvenir hunters. A piece of lead pipe was blown two blocks into the Northwestern Pacific railroad waiting room in the Ferry building. A woman s gold watch, presumably belonging to one of the victims, was blown through the air, and landed in a fruit stand a block and a half away.
Through this violence the parade wended without a break. The veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic waiting in Steuart street to fall into line, escaped death by a hair, and proceeded with the march. An ambulance summoned to care for a fainting spectator. stood across Steuart street when the explosion occurred. The patient had his leg fractured and a man aiding the attendants fell with a fractured skull but the ambulance steward was uninjured. He packed both men and some other victims into his ambulance and rushed them to a hospital.
The official count of the parade indicated that 51,329 persons were in line. Other counts, made with the aid of mechanical devices, did not run above 25,000. One of these counts was based on an average of 16 men per line across Market street. Some lines ran twenty, and some ran under 16.
District Attorney Charles M. Fickert said he thought the bomb had been placed by a fanatic who had been incited to the act by listening to the speeches and arguments of those opposed to the preparedness parade. He said every effort would be made to apprehend the culprit.
Josephson, the suspect, was arrested while making a speech after the explosion, in which he is said to have lauded anarchy and declared;
"This is nothing."
After his arrest, however, he said that he was not an anarchist and denied having any knowledge of the bomb explosion.
The handle of the suitcase which contained the explosives, together with part of the lock and pieces of the clockwork, were picked up near the scene.
The deaths of two of the bomb victims was due to a chance meeting. Howard Knapp and his wife met G. C. Lawler, a lumber salesman of their acquaintance, at the comer, a few minutes before the explosion. It was their first meeting in several weeks and they paused to chat. Lawler and Mrs. Knapp were killed outright.
"It looked as if the sidewalk went straight up into the air," said Col. Thomas F. E. Neill, former sheriff of San Francisco, who was in the line of marchers. "There was a loud noise, lots of smoke and dust and cries of wounded and shouts."
One police officer was standing alongside his horse 25 feet from the scene. Both were knocked down by the explosion, the man falling on the animal.
Several theories were put forward tonight by the police. One was that the owner of the suitcase had intended to set it out along the line of the parade, but was delayed and, knowing the bomb was timed, left it standing by the side of the saloon.
One of the marchers in the parade who was near the bomb when it exploded, but escaped, said:
"I was standing in a crowd right near the point where the explosion occurred. I whirled with the sound. It was like trying to dive through a tidal wave to get through the mass of men, women and children that surged towards me."
When the parade dispersed the division of California Spanish War Veterans, the division nearest the explosion, marched in a body to the city hall and threats were made in an indignation meeting that a meeting of anarchist speakers against preparedness scheduled for tonight would be broken up.
Many divisions in the fore of the parade knew nothing of the explosion and terrifying scenes behind them until they bought newspaper extras.
POLICE FIND NO TRACE OF CULPRIT
SAN FRANCISCO, July 22. Up to a late hour tonight no trace had been found of the culprit whose bomb, aimed today at the San Francisco preparedness parade, snuffed out the lives of six spectators and injured more than two score. The police were working with the utmost energy to apprehend the fanatic who had placed the death-dealing explosive on the paraders' line of march, but at midnight no definite clue had been discovered. One suspect, taken into custody shortly after the bomb exploded, strenuously asserted he was innocent and the police were inclined to believe him.