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James T. Farrell

Farrell Demands Mayor Explain Protecting Nazis

(February 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 11, 28 February 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed by Joe Allen.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

James T. Farrell, noted novelist, who was present as an observer at the Madison Square Garden counter-demonstration, has sent to the press and to several prominent individuals in New York, the following letter of protest against police brutality which he sent to Mayor LaGuardia and other city officials:

To Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia:

Why was an anti-Fascist demonstration broken up in front of the Rivoli Theater at Forty-Ninth and Broadway between ten-thirty and eleven o’clock last night while the Fascist meeting of the German-American Bund at Madison Square Garden was protected by cordons of policemen, not to mention as of uniformed stormtroopers who did police duty inside of the meeting?

In front of the Rivoli Theater, after the anti-Fascist demonstrators had been dispersed, I saw policemen slugging to helpless demonstrators who were at their mercy. Witnesses of this were herded off by the police officers with all the necessary efficiency. One of these men was lying helpless on the sidewalk, crying out that his leg was injured, an expression of pain on his face. The other one, trapped by several policemen, and obviously only trying to defend himself was brutally punched by detective. On Forty-Ninth Street, around the corner and just east of Broadway, there were other demonstrators, most of them youths, with bruised heads and faces, and young girls screaming hysterically.

Why was this? What principle of democracy was upheld when one group was permitted to meet at Forty Ninth Street and Eighth Avenue, and another suppressed by force at Forty Ninth and Broadway?

Citizens of New York were treated to the following policy by the authorities: police protection for Fascists, police clubs for anti-Fascists. Why?

These events are reminiscent of the pre-Fascist Italy and pre-Fascist Germany. In these countries, the democratic authorities also conferred the benefits of police protection on Fascists, and the benefits of police power on anti-Fascists. I quote from what Miss Dorothy Thompson, who attended the Madison Square Garden meeting, stated in this morning’s Herald Tribune:

“The entire meeting was familiar to me. I saw an exact duplicate of it in the Berlin Sports Palast in 1931. That meeting was also ‘protected’ by the police of the German Republic. Three years later the people who had been in charge of that meeting were in charge of the government of Germany, and the German citizens against whom, in 1931, exactly the same statements had been made as were being made tonight by Mr. Kunse, were being beaten, expropriated, and murdered.”

Is this policy to continue? Or is the conduct of the police on the streets of New York last evening going to be investigated? Or do the taxpayers of this city support the police department in order that these men can herd the public like sheep, attack anti-Fascist pickets, tear their banners from them, and slug them?

Why was this, Mr. Mayor? Who is responsible?


Sincerely yours,
James T. Farrell

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