1919 January 21

NY Lusk Committee Seeks to Drive Out “Red Periodicals”


New York state Senator Clayton R. Lusk, Chair of the Lusk Committee created to investigate “Revolutionary Radicalism” in the state and the U.S., declared today the goal of driving out “Red Periodicals,” which he claimed disseminated “radical propaganda.”

Samuel Berger, New York Deputy Attorney General, claimed that the Lusk Committee was already responsible for closing ten radical publications, including The Revolutionary Age, The Rebel Worker, The Workers’ World, and several foreign language radical publications.

The Lusk Committee was one part of the Red Scare of 1919-1920, which followed World War I and involved massive violations of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and due process of law. The major events of the Red Scare were the two “Palmer Raids,” in which Justice Department agents rounded up thousands of alleged radicals and held many of them incommunicado for days, preventing them from contacting family or lawyers. The first Palmer Raids occurred on November 7, 1919, and the second and larger raids occurred on January 3, 1920.

The Palmer Raids were so excessive that the provoked a backlash. Twenty prominent lawyers issued a report on May 28, 1920, documenting the raids and condemning the actions of the Justice Department.

Read the notorious report: Revolutionary Radicalism, 4 vols. (1920): https://archive.org/details/revolutionaryra00luskgoog

Learn more about the Red Scare:  http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/SaccoV/redscare.html

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