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Kincaid Miners Up for Trial

(March 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 20, 25 March 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Chicago. – The famous Kincaid battle between Peabody’s company thugs, scab miners, all armed for battle and. the pickets of the Progressive Miners Union has been shifted to the court struggle for the moment. The result of this fight in which fifty pickets were attacked by two hundred thugs and scabs, has been the indictment of 54 members of the PMA and the Women’s Auxiliary charged with law violations of various kinds.

Twenty-two of the indicted miners are under charges of murder or double murder.

The first trial scheduled for Mar. 13, has been continued to March 25. It becomes increasingly clear that the Peabody Coal Company in alliance with the UMWA and the state forces are intent upon gaining convictions in this case. For this reason a mere court struggle would be playing into the hands of the forces of reaction. In the interest of the indicted miners and the PMA it is of paramount importance to prevent this struggle from being sealed within the four walls of a capitalist court that is bound up hand and foot with the Peabody Coal Company, the Lewis machine and similar interests. What additional examples are needed to prove this, than the refusal of the Sheriff in Christian County to accept the warrant sworn out for the arrest of one of the thugs who shot and killed the wife of the striking miner, Cumerlatto? It is also significant that in the arrests following the fight at Kincaid only members of the PMA and the Women’s Auxiliary were rounded up. So, it becomes obvious, that this affair is another attempt to railroad a group of militant workers engaged in struggle.

That briefly is the background to the meeting called by the Civil Liberties Union of Chicago on March 14, and participated in by some of the leading organizations in the city. The aim of this meeting to build a broad united front defense movement in the interests of the Taylorville miners. Present on that night were representatives of the Chicago Workers Committee on Unemployment, the International Labor Defense, the League for Industrial Democracy, the Socialist Party, the Chicago branch of the Communist League of America (Opposition) represented by Joe Giganti and Albert Glotzer, and the Chicago Civil Liberties Union. Although not presented in person, the General Defense Committee, signified its intention to participate in the provisional committee that would be composed of the above-mentioned organizations.

The meeting opened with reports on the case by Tom MacKenna of the Civil Liberties Union and Glotzer of the Communist League. An interesting discussion followed, where agreement was reached upon the calling of another meeting of the provisional committee which would plan the enlarged conference on as broad a basis as possible. The discussion centered around the character of the united front primarily. It is of particular importance to the members of the Left Opposition to know the position of the International Labor Defense which was represented by Andy Newhoff. When asked what the position of the ILD was in relation to the united front he said in effect: The ILD is prepared to participate in any united front effecting the interests of the workers. We are prepared to unite with anybody, no matter who they are, on any minimum basis, except of course, that we shall have the right to our independence. On such a basis, we are prepared to participate in this movement. That has always been our position.

This has not always been the position of the ILD as is known to everyone. Quite the contrary, it is a decided departure from the previously known position of the ILD and as such marks a positive step forward. How far the ILD will go in arriving at a correct position on the vital question of the united front remains yet to be seen, and this conference will be a test for the organization. But if it is really prepared to follow a correct position, it will be a decisive force in this movement. If not, if it will continue its previously disastrous line, it will only continue to lose prestige in the eyes of the working class.

The real work of the conference still lies ahead. There are excellent possibilities for the creation of a mass movement that will struggle in the interests of the indicted miners who run the danger of being railroaded to jail or to the electric chair by the allied interests of reaction. The working class of Chicago, as everywhere, must be made acquainted with the Taylorville case. They must be mobilized into action to prevent a deliberate attempt to cut into a movement of militant worker’s in struggle for their bread and butter. Silence will only help to defeat the miners.

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