The Hustlers, the Police, the Hobo News and the Church
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
Amendments. Article I.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press, or of the Right of the People peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI.
Bill of Rights. Article II. No. 11.
Freedom of Speech. Libel. Truth in Justification.
That no law shall be passed impairing the Freedom of Speech; that every person shall be free to say, write, or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for any abuse of that liberty.
In this old City of St. Louis there is a building called the Old Court House. It is a beautiful building, graceful in its lines, wonderful in its architecture, pure Greek throughout except for its Roman dome. This building is the Mecca for thousands of visitors every year, standing in all its majesty on the most brilliantly lighted street in the Middle West and known as the Great White Way.
From the steps of this building slaves were sold in the good old days before the war. It is fit and meet that those same steps should be used now as a stumping ground for the great work of the emancipation of the Wageslaves.
The sidewalk is very wide at this point and the steps themselves are very capacious and will accommodate several hundreds of people. It is an ideal place for street speaking. In this, the business end of the city, the streets special western organizer, are almost deserted at night as is often remarked by visitors, St. Louis citizens work in this neighborhood, but 6 o’clock they are gone north, south and west. None are left but the poorer class of workers who live in the neighborhood and the floating element.
Therefore we decided to hold in behalf of the Brotherhood Welfare Association a series of meetings there during June. On Saturday evening, June 12th, our Comrades Frank Halllatt, Will J. Quirke and Albert Beckwith were arrested there on a trumped up charge. This was Saturday about 9 o’clock. For doing no wrong whatever, making no loud or vulgar talk, teaching nothing but the principles of Brotherhood to the Workers, these Comrades were locked up in the holdover from Saturday night till Monday morning. This is police persecution, pure and simple. The authorities allow the church folks to hold their meetings there, which is as it should be. We think it right for the eloquent ministers with their beautiful women singers to come down, and preach their Gospel as they see it. We have nothing for them but god-speed and the glad hand. But why this discrimination?
If we go to the Mayor and ask for a permit to speak, we are told that none is necessary. But we are told that the police have instructions to see that the sidewalk is not blocked. Well and good.
Now the police in this town are run on the circumlocution principle. The citizens have no control over their actions, and this leads to such disgraceful persecution as outlined. The Governor of the State appoints Police Commissioners, and they in turn appoint the Chief and the Captains who boss the Sergeants and Patrolmen. We do not expect the august Governor to come to St. Louis and boss things. We do expect him to call the attention of the Commissioners to the fact that there is such a thing as a Constitution in the United States and such a thing as a Bill of Rights in the state of Missouri. These matters should not be left for wooden headed patrolmen to decide.
A ruling should be made and the whole matter cleared up, once and for all, whether we citizens of Missouri have that God-given Right of Free Speech guaranteed by the Constitution, or whether we shall be persecuted at the whim of ignorant men.
Luckily, we have a just and humane judge in the Police Court who has no patience with such doings. But the police themselves punish our brothers before the courts know anything about it. We have this same trouble all over. We ask the citizens of the whole United States to read up their Constitution and find out by what right the police treat the Constitution as a “Scrap of Paper.”
To the Governor,
The Police Commissioners,
The Chief of Police,
The Captains of Police,
The Sergeants and
C O N S T I T U T I O N
BILL OF RIGHTS
We are tired of Persecution.