‘Richmond, California: A New Communist Unit in Action’ by W. Gelles from Party Organizer. Vol. 5 No. 3-4. March-April, 1932.

Standard Oil’s massive Richmond facilities.

A report for the Communist Party’s internal bulletin from Richmond, California on how the unit grew in reaction to the arrest of three new comrades from 6 to 24 members in the campaign.

‘Richmond, California: A New Communist Unit in Action’ by W. Gelles from Party Organizer. Vol. 5 No. 3-4. March-April, 1932.

Richmond (Cal.) Unit has been in existence for the last three years. It was typical of stagnation, passivity, and opportunism and was kept alive only through the aggressiveness of one shop worker, who continually bombarded the section and district committees insisting that some attention be paid to the highly industrialized shipping and industrial center. But it was not until recently that the unit, with the assistance and guidance of the section committee, made the turn to mass work.

Western Worker. March 1, 1932.

The night of February 6th was a critical night for our small unit. Its membership has grown from six to twelve, and six of these new members were to be initiated at this meeting. Before the meeting started we were informed that three of our comrades were arrested. Surprisingly enough for the old members the new ones accepted this arrest in a real Communist way. On the suggestion of the section representative, the question of freeing our comrades came first on the agenda. After considerable discussion the following line of action was proposed and voted upon by all members.

  1. Three successive committees demanding the release of our comrades, each larger than the previous one to be sent to the police department.
  2. All personal contacts and organizations were instructed to send protest wires demanding immediate release of the defendants.
  3. Proposed 2,000 leaflets, mimeographed the same night and distributed under cover.
  4. Proposed that 12 protest meetings be held in various industrial towns throughout the whole section.
  5. Petition forms to be circulated all over the county and in the city proper demanding the repeal of the Vagrancy and Hand Bill Laws, under which our comrades were arrested.
  6. Special form of appeal to all workers in basic industries, (Oil, R.R. Steel and Chemical) and to all unemployed, to pack the court room in the first hearing, demanding the unconditional release of the prisoners and the repeal of the Hand Bill Law.
  7. Proposed that joint committees of the I.L.D., Workers Ex-Service League, and the Unemployed Council keep up sending committees to the police department and the city council and the presiding judge to further demand the release of our comrades.
  8. That we stage a demonstration of protest in front of the court room in event the case was not dismissed.
  9. New comrade proposed that we stay up all night to carry out the whole program of action.

Immediate results: In the first hearing the court room was packed and it was evident that our mass pressure brought concrete results already. The bail on the motion of the I.L.D. representative was reduced from $1,000 to $25, and the trial set for a week later. During this week the defense campaign assumed its highest stage by putting into practice each and every one of the above proposals.

Western Worker. April 1, 1932.

Results: an overflowing court room with a real proletarian composition, and a good number of Negro, women and children. Five hundred and fifty workers were present determined to voice their protests, forced the judge and prosecuting attorney to dismiss all cases, after which the workers marched down to the hall where an appeal was made for the Daily Worker and membership in the I.L.D.

Organizational results:

  1. Increase in C.P. unit from six to 24 members.
  2. Forty-two new members for the I.L.D.
  3. Thirty-one new members for the Pioneers.
  4. Four new members for the Y.C.L.
  5. Twelve new members for the F.S.U.
  6. Five Unemployed Block Committees (One in Negro section with 20 members.)
  7. One shop unit in the Pullman Co. and contacts in the largest oil refinery in the world (Standard Oil) and the Santa Fe shops. 8. Opening of headquarters (Workers Center) to further crystalize our activities.
  8. Basis for an extensive election campaign in the coming election for the Board of Education.

Ideological gains:

  1. Tremendous influence of the Party in Richmond and all industrial towns in vicinity, such as, increase in charity relief,
    b. Increase in attendance at street and indoor meetings.
    c. Police release arrested speaker in Pittsburgh (nearby steel town) under threat of repetition of the same type of mass pressure used in Richmond.

Methods used to develop the campaign:

  1. 10,000 leaflets distributed, 3 special shop bulletins. 1500 copies.
  2. 60 protest wires.
  3. Resolution adopted in 20 open air meetings protesting the arrest.
  4. 1,500 Daily and Western Workers distributed mainly among shop workers.
  5. Between 15 and 20 organizations mobilized to assist in the defense.
  6. Twelve street meetings and 3 shop gate meetings held, reaching about 5,000 workers.
  7. Special shock brigade to canvass all towns (10 in number) in the vicinity.
  8. Basis laid for new units in those towns.

W. GELLES, Richmond, Calif.

The Party Organizer was the internal bulletin of the Communist Party published by its Central Committee beginning in 1927. First published irregularly, than bi-monthly, and then monthly, the Organizer was primarily meant for the Party’s unit, district, and shop organizers. The Organizer offers a much different view of the CP than the Daily Worker, including a much higher proportion of women writers than almost any other CP publication. Its pages are often full of the mundane problems of Party organizing, complaints about resources, debates over policy and personalities, as well as official numbers and information on Party campaigns, locals, organizations, and periodicals making the Party Organizer an important resource for the study and understanding of the Party in its most important years.

PDF of issue (large file): https://files.libcom.org/files/Party%20Organizer%205.pdf

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