New York Times

Chicago Police Break Up Their Meeting and Delegates Seek Arrest All in Vain.
Convention at Sea or in Washington Discussed

CHICAGO, Sept. 1.— A meeting of the Organizing Committee of the People’s Council of America for Democracy and Peace was dismissed summarily here this afternoon by the police on order from Governor Frank O. Lowden, who thus added Illinois to the forbidden States of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Utah.

Seymour Stedman, the local Socialist leader and former candidate of that party for Governor, who was Chairman of the meeting, counseled the delegates, who numbered about 200, to stay in Chicago, promising that a court order permitting the meeting would be applied for Monday. Later it was decided in secret session of leaders to hold no meeting in Chicago and debate centered on Minneapolis or to go to Washington.

The delegates were still belligerent and some who suggested leasing an excursion boat and holding the meeting on Lake Michigan were scouted as lacking the courage of their convictions.

The council is said to have a large number of local chapters, but no national organization to co-ordinate their efforts. It was to form such a body that Louis P. Lochner, Executive Secretary, sought a meeting place.

Committee Has Disbanded.

The organizing committee disbanded tonight, and Mr. Lochner issued the following formal statement:

“We have formed a permanent organization, which was our purpose, and we are satisfied. This was done before the police stopped the meeting in the West Side Auditorium and we are now disbanded.

What the meeting accomplished before the advent of the police was to appoint a Nominating Committee. This committee was said to have power to act as an Executive Committee. The members of the Nominating Committee are: Professor Robert M. Lovett, University of Chicago. Victor Berger, Milwaukee; James Salutsky, New York; Mary Winsor, Philadelphia; Frank Stevens, Delaware; Sara Bard Field, San Francisco; and L. Maybrick, San Antonio, Texas.

Governor Lowden’s attention was called to the meeting by the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, which alleged that the gathering was “avowedly antagonistic to our national purposes in the present world crisis.”

The Governor order that troops take the situation in hand, but changed his mind and got Chief of Police Schuettler on the long-distance telephone. The latter at once dispatched Wesley H. Westbrook, the Assistant Chief, with twenty men in automobiles to the West Side Auditorium where the session was held.

Mayer Thompson did not see the situation as did the Governor. The Mayor was at his Summer home at the suburb of Lake Forest.

“I can do nothing to prevent them from meeting in Chicago,” he said over the telephone. “Pacifists are law-abiding citizens.”

Chief Schuettler is a Thompson appointee, but he did not hesitate to follow instructions from the Governor.

Had the meeting proceeded with ordinary speed an Executive Committee, such as was contemplated to give the organization permanency, might have been elected before the police arrived, for the delegates were in session three hours before the sudden climax. But the affair moved slowly. Mr. Stedman was chosen temporary Chairman and a Credentials Committee was formed. Stedman was chosen permanent Chairman of the meeting and Louis P. Lochner, Secretary, and a Nominating Committee was chosen to present eleven names for membership on the Executive Committee.

The Nominating Committee, however, was unable to meet because of the police. It was reported that the members met privately elsewhere later. The scene of the meeting, before the

( 4) arrival of the police was in sharp contrast to the disorder which many had expected. The West Side Auditorium is in a neighborhood that was observing Sabbath, according to its Saturday wont. Doors were closed, curtains were down, shops for the most part were idle, and there was scarcely anyone on the street.

The place was provided with plain chairs, and at one end was a stage used for entertainments. It was on this little stage that the police, like actors, brought the meeting to a climax.

Police Entrance Dramatic

There had been rumors that the soldiers were coming, but when they did not appear there was a belief that there would be no interruption. The police made no noise in their approach, nor was there other warning. A delegate was trying to straighten out a parliamentary tangle when Westbrook, followed by his men, suddenly appeared. He marched straight onto the stage, raised his hand for silence, and said:

“On orders of Governor Lowden, the Chief of Police has instructed me to disperse this meeting. You may go peacefully at once. There will be no discussions. If you do not go immediately you will be arrested and charged with holding an unlawful assemblage.”

Stedman smiled grimly and stepped aside without a word. A delegate arose and opened his mouth to speak, but was sternly ordered from the room by Westbrook.

“You can go out orderly and peacefully and we will all be friends,” continued Westbrook. “But if you don’t, you will be arrested.”

“But, officer,” interposed half a dozen occupants of the stage.

“But, nothing, just move along quietly and get out. Take your time, but keep going,” replied the first deputy.

Uniformed policemen, under Sergeant George Lyman, had started some of the delegates out of the hall, which is on the third floor of the building. Most of the crowd was out of the place when someone suggested that “somebody ought to be arrested.”

“Just for the effect of it,” said a delegate.

There were many who wanted to be “martyrs to the cause.” A little woman with a squeaky voice stopped on the stairway.

“I want to be arrested,” she said.

“Now, lady, what would you want to be arrested for? said a good-natured policeman.

The delegate had many reasons, all of which the policeman listened to with attention, proceeding down the stairway just a step ahead of her. When she finished her recital se was standing beside him on the sidewalk outside.

“Well, lady, I’d like to please you by locking you up, but my only order is to see that you folks get out of that hall, and now, you see, we’re outside, both of us.”

In the hall Stedman stopped in the centre of the room.

“I’m not going out,” he said, “unless I’m arrested.”

“Well, com with me,” said a patrolman.

“Am I arrested ?” shouted Stedman to Westbrook.

“Go along with the officer,” was the response.

Flight of the Police.

By the time Stedman got to the sidewalk the policemen were busy elsewhere. The doors of the hall had been closed, and a police guard placed at all entrances and exits.

Westbrook, Sergeant Sloier, and Sergeant Turk had stepped into the police automobile and were started on their way. Stedman stood for a moment. He was in a quandary. He started after the machine on foot, but by the time he had gone half a block decided to give up his attempt to catch the automobile.

“When you live in Russia you do as the Russians do — crawl into the sewer and love your country like h—l,” he said.

The delegates stood about in groups. They seemed to feel that the police had completely outwitted them. They had been ousted from the hall, and wondered what to do.

“Go back to the Ford Dearborn Hotel,” was the general order from those who had been the leaders of the meeting.

“Let us charter a boat and hold a meeting outside the three-mile limit in Lake Michigan,” suggested a young woman in a mannish tailor-made suit.

“No,” advised Stedman. “Somebody might scuttle the ship.”

Officers of the council had said earlier in the day that if the proposed peace conference was barred from Chicago and Washington, D. C., a steamship would be chartered and the deliberations held on the high seas off the New England coast.

“We still have some freedom of the seas, and if necessary we will resort to these rights,” said Charles F. Kruze, President of the International Brotherhood Welfare Association and an active member of the Arrangements Committee.

H. H. Merrick, President of the Chicago branch of the National Security League, today wired Governor Lowden asking him to take steps to prevent the proposed meeting in Chicago or any other unpatriotic “gathering.” Mr. Merrick informed the Governor that it was improbable a quorum of the State Council of Defense could be assembled in time to take action, and urged that immediate action was necessary.

Governor Lowden’s Statement.

A statement issued by Governor Lowden at Springfield, Ill., reads:

“The Governor is charged with the responsibility of preserving peace in the State. If in his judgment disorder and riot are likely to result from this so-called peace meeting it is his duty, and he has the power to prevent the meeting. His understanding is that while the meeting purports to be in the interests of peace, it is really intended to obstruct the Government in the prosecution of the war in which we are now engaged and is calculated to produce disorder and rioting in Illinois. He will not, therefore, permit this meeting to be held in Illinois.”

A telegram disclaiming active participation in the peace propaganda of the People’s Council was received here from Dr. Davis Starr Jordan, President Emeritus of Leland Stanford Jr., University in California, by his sister, Mrs. Mary J. Edwards of this city. The telegram stated that Dr. Jordan consented to the use of his name as Treasurer of the organization without executive responsibility until Sept. 1, when permanent officers were to be chosen.

Lochner Tell Tribulations.

Louis P. Lochner, Secretary of the People’s Council, had a sad tale to relate to the members before their meeting was interrupted today.

“I fear that my statement will lack the interest and the lucidity which it should have,” said Mr. Lochner. “I have been without much sleep for four nights, but I want to tell you of the experiences which some of us have had, and what brings us here.

“I found when I arrived in Minneapolis that the press had prejudiced the community against our convention. We had leased the Mozart Hall there for our meeting. The newspapers printed interviews with every large hall owner in Minneapolis, stating that they would not rent their auditoriums to a lot of disloyal citizens, and were not in the business of harboring a bunch of traitors.

“The owner of the Mozart Hall returned our check. We went from one place to another and were refused. We planned to meet in a tent. Mr. Stockwell, our secretary in Minneapolis, offered us ample space on his land. He got a notice to move.

“In Minneapolis they have the Neighbors’ Loyal Legion, and then this loyal liberty-loving defense organization started a pernicious campaign to stir up trouble.

“Then we planned to get a public auditorium in St. Paul. This is under the charge of the Commissioner of Education, and he replied that it would be incompatible with public policy to allow us to meet there.

“Governor Frazier of North Dakota is true blue and was ready to stand behind us, but the information which I would not like to communicate to you in the presence of newspaper men we again knew the cards were stacked against us.

“Next comes our experience at Hudson, Wis. Hudson is a strong La Follette centre. The Congressman there voted against the war. The leading banker, the Fire Marshall, all of the big people were with us. We planned to hold our meeting in a big prizefighting ring they have there, which has accommodations for 7,500 people. During the day a newspaper man came into town with copies of newspapers in other cities, and showed them the interviews with the people printed in them, and the trouble started.

“Soon, after we arrived the head of the Socialist Party came to us and told us the situation had become dangerous. About that time two Aldermen rapped on my door. One told us to get out of town. I told him we were simply discussing some things.

“Well, there’s no time for argument,” he said. “You’ve got to get out in five minutes.”

“We gathered up our things and marched out through a narrow lane that had been cleared for us amid a sneering jeering, catcalling, hissing mob. There were ropes dangling, but we got the train, which had been held at the station seven minutes to make sure they got rid of us.”


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