Document 1: Excerpt from Albert F. Canwell: An Oral History

Albert F. Canwell: An Oral History (Olympia: State of Washington, 1997), 121.
Used, with changes, by permission of the Washington State Oral History Program.

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Mr. Canwell: . . . I probably told you in a discussion before, one time in Seattle, I got the word that there was to be a raid on Communist Party headquarters. Well, everybody converged there. . . .

Mr. Frederick: In that day and age, and we're talking mid—I assume—mid-'30s, what would be the pretext for that raid?

Mr. Canwell: It was just a bunch of radicals or subversives concentrating on trouble making in general and the labor waterfront activities. . . .

Mr. Frederick: Albert, I understand that. I understand that. But . . . was law enforcement involved in that?

Mr. Canwell: Oh, it was the major and the chief of police. . . .

Mr. Frederick: I was just thinking about the pretext for them to do that.

Mr. Canwell: Oh, just determination that it was time to bust them up, and that's the way they operated. It was time that things shouldn't all go one way. The comrades [communists] were pretty good at violence and the police were, too. They just had to know what they were supposed to do.

Mr. Frederick: So it was time for a little "payback"?

Mr. Canwell: Well, yeah, they evened the score. The Communists and their entire philosophy always developed a contempt for authority, a contempt for police as such. So this putting on cops was not a new thing, it was just what you could get away with. So a raid like that wasn't very well-coordinated; they just decided they were going down and put them out of business, so that's what they did. They went down there to clean their offices out and tell them they were out of business. It, of course, didn't work—they just went somewhere else.

Mr. Frederick: Would that be reported in the press?

Mr. Canwell: Oh, probably. I don't remember. I would suppose that it was. It might not have been depicted exactly the way it happened, but there probably was a news report that the police had raided Communist Party headquarters. I don't recall that any arrests were made. They threw their desk out through a window onto the street.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest