1920 February 29

Fiorello La Guardia, NYC Alderman, Sharply Criticizes “Red Scare”


Fiorello La Guardia, President of the NYC Board of Alderman, in an interview on this day sharply criticized the “Red Scare” hysteria, in which “reactionaries” were using allegations of “Bolshevism” to attack workingmen, people protesting business profiteers, and community people who criticized “rotten political leaders.”

Fiorello went on to a distinguished career as a member of Congress (1923-1933) and then mayor of New York City (1934-1945). As a member of Congress he was one of only a handful of pro-civil liberties at the time. He is best remembered as co-author of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (March 23, 1932), which curtailed the use of court-issued injunctions against unions and union organizers. As mayor of New York, however, he was good on some civil liberties issues, but bad on other. On the positive side, he appointed a commission to study the 1935 race riot in Harlem (March 20, 1935). But on the bad side, he refused to release the report.

On this occasion, La Guardia declared that “if danger there were of a revolution, it lay in the ranks of the reactionary groups.”

Learn more about LaGuardia: H. Paul Jeffers, The Napoleon of New York: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia  (2002)

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