1930 February 23

ACLU Calls for End to Private, Anti-Union Police in Pennsylvania


The ACLU on this day called for an end to the system of private police in Pennsylvania and also for limits on the role of the Pennsylvania State Police. The state “leads the nation in violations of civil rights,” argued the ACLU, citing “more arrests for strike activities, more violence by state and private police, and more meetings broken up than in any other state of the Union.” The Pennsylvania State Police gained a notorious reputation for its anti-labor union activities in the late 19th century, and in 1914 the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor published an attack on them entitled The American Cossack.

The anti-union activities of private police and the state police in some states was the subject the famous 1936 La Follette Senate committee, which extensively investigated the violations of the rights of workingmen (June 6, 1936).

Learn more: Jerold Auerbach, Labor and Liberty: The La Follette Committee and the New Deal (1966)

Read: Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, The American Cossack [1914] (reprinted 1971)

See the film Matewan about the coal miners’ struggles in West Virginia in the 1920s:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093509/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

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