This being the United States, there have been several ‘Columbine Massacres’.’ On November 21, 1927 in the small town of Serene, Colorado, site of the Columbine Mine, during the Industrial Workers of the World strike against the Rocky Mountain Fuel Company, I.W.W. members Jerry Davis, John Eastenes, Rene Jacques, Frank Kovitch, Nick Spanudakhis, and Mike Vidovitch were murdered by state police and mine guards opening fire into a crowd of strikers. Dozens were wounded. Not forgotten. Not forgiven.
‘The Colorado Battle Line’ by George J. Saul from Labor Defender. Vol. 2 No. 12. December, 1927.
THE first to die at the hands of the coal operators of Colorado, headed by Rockefeller’s Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, have now fallen at the Columbine mine, filled with the bullets of the state officers for the enforcement of “law.” It is absolutely certain that five were murdered: Jerry Davis of Frederick, George Kovitch of Erie, Rene Jacques of Louisville, John Eastenes of the Morrison mine, and Nick Spanudakhis of Lafayette. Many were wounded, and some few so badly beat that other deaths are expected any moment. Adam Bell, who at first was reported dead, was simply badly beaten with pick handles…
It was a massacre just a brutal massacre. And a framed one. That violence was used against the miners both at Aguilar and at Serene the same morning; that Thomas Annear, chairman of the Industrial Commission, Sterling B. Lacy, State Budget Commissioner, and Colonel Newlon of the National Guard were there to witness the scene so as to testify falsely about what happened; and that the Governor Nasso ready to believe what they falsely stated and respond in the way of calling out the Guards, causes the whole situation to appear as having been premeditated.
The miners, not one of whom was armed, were marching toward the post office. Louis Scherf, a former lieutenant of the infamous Pat Hamrock who made a “name” for himself at Ludlow 13 years ago, was in charge of the uniformed thugs who were guarding the Columbine mine. Scherf gave the order to fire into the throng of men and their wives and daughters. Tear gas bombs had already been thrown and the massacre was begun with rifle and pistol shots.
Three of the men died instantly; two died that evening in the hospital; more than a score of others, including women, were wounded, one of them being shot while attempting to care for the injured.
The coal camps are now a number of battlefields. Governor Adams has called out the Colorado National Guard and martial law has been authorized. Tanks and airplanes, infantry and cavalry are being rushed to the mining towns. Troops are being sent from Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Greely, Golden Longmont and Loveland. Students of the State Agricultural College and the University of California are contributing in the dirty scab work. A new wave of arrests have been made and scores of miners have been added to the long list of jailed workers. A virtual reign of terror exists. The iron hand of the Rockefeller dynasty has descended heavily upon these workers who presume to fight for decent conditions enjoyed by others.
The miners are fighting for recognition of their union, for a $7.75 day wage, for the establishment of checkweighmen and an end to the vicious company union, the first one to be established in this country in 1915. The company’s president controls the nomination and election of workers’ representatives. The company furnishes the ballot boxes and ballots. Meetings must not interfere with operations and can consider only such matters as are referred to them by the president, who has disputed questions appealed to him for final decision…
The strikers are fighting a heroic battle. They have a history and a heritage of fights. They have not forgotten Cripple Creek and Ludlow.
Remember that only a few month ago thousands of Colorado mine struck in solidarity with their brothers Sacco and Vanzetti. They need some of that solidarity now from the workers of the rest of the country. The memory of Ludlow stares them in the face. The blood of the strikers at the Columbine mine has served only to strengthen their determination, and their angry resistance to the slave standards of the coal operators.
Labor Defender was published monthly from 1926 until 1937 by the International Labor Defense (ILD), a Workers Party of America, and later Communist Party-led, non-partisan defense organization founded by James Cannon and William Haywood while in Moscow, 1925 to support prisoners of the class war, victims of racism and imperialism, and the struggle against fascism. It included, poetry, letters from prisoners, and was heavily illustrated with photos, images, and cartoons. Labor Defender was the central organ of the Scottsboro and Sacco and Vanzetti defense campaigns. Editors included T. J. O’ Flaherty, Max Shactman, Karl Reeve, J. Louis Engdahl, William L. Patterson, Sasha Small, and Sender Garlin.
PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/labordefender/1927/v02n12-dec-1927-LD.pdf