1929 August 3

Stromberg Arrested for Violating California Red Flag Law


The San Bernardino, California, District Attorney and members of the American Legion raided the Pioneer Summer Camp, a left-wing-oriented camp for young people, and arrested 19-year-old Yetta Stromberg and four others for violating the California Red Flag Law. The law made it a crime to display a red flag as a “symbol of opposition to organized government.” Children at the camp began each day with a ceremony with a pledge, “I pledge allegiance to the workers’ red flag.”

The Supreme Court overturned her conviction, in Stromberg v. California, on May 18, 1931, in one of its first decisions expanding the scope of the free speech clause of the First Amendment to protect the advocacy rights of radical groups and individuals.

In the pivotal decision in Gitlow v. New York, on June 8, 1925, the Supreme Court for the first time incorporated the free speech and free press clauses of the First Amendment into the Fourteenth Amendment, making it applicable to the states (although it upheld Gitlow’s conviction and the constitutionality of the New York Criminal Anarchy law). The incorporation doctrine was key to the court’s invalidating the California red flag law in Stromberg’s case.

The California law outlawed display of: “a red flag, banner or badge or any flag, badge, banner, or device of any color or form whatever in any public place or in any meeting place or public assembly, or from or on any house, building or window as a sign, symbol or emblem of opposition to organized government or as an invitation or stimulus to anarchistic action or as an aid to propaganda that is of a seditious character . . . .”

Read the 1930 ACLU pamphlet on the case: http://debs.indstate.edu/a505c3_1930.pdf

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!