Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Ernest Besig Interview
Narrator: Ernest Besig
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-bernest-01-0002

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EO: So then you've now come, come up to San Francisco.

EB: No, I didn't come up to San Francisco until 1935 and I came up here for thirty days. There was a lumber strike in Eureka, the Holmes-Eureka lumber mill was on strike. And they had goons protecting the place. And three people were killed and eight were wounded and no lawyers in the area would represent the, the people who were arrested. And so I said to the San Francisco group that I would come up for thirty days. But I was having a good time in Los Angeles and I didn't want to stay beyond that period. But then there was a lynching in Yreka, and from Eureka I went over to Yreka and a man who had committed an offense had been seized from the, from the jail and strung up on a tree. He was a bad character, no doubt, and would have been punished properly, but they, some of the locals weren't willing to wait that long. So I'd say, his body was hung up. And that isn't due process under the Constitution. So I protested to Governor Merriam and talked to local people, a priest. I wasn't welcomed, I assure you. And I made public statements. Finally, since we couldn't find out who did it, I left, and I left just in time for another incident, the Holmes-Eureka lumber strike. Not Holmes-Eureka -- I beg your pardon -- the "tar and feather party" at, in Santa Rosa. And there, several people had been seized from their homes and were taken to a hop warehouse. They had helped to organize strikers and they were accused of being left-wingers. They were taken to this hop warehouse, made to kneel down, kiss the American flag, and some material was put on their heads, and then they were run out of town at the head of a mob. As a matter of fact, you can still find the newspaper reports on this subject. They took photographs and ran them in the newspaper up in Santa Rosa. The ACLU, which I was just, I was up here for thirty days, you understand... objected to what had gone up in Santa -- gone on in Santa Rosa and it meant that there'd have to be some legal action. These various incidents resulted in my staying here for not only thirty days but thirty months and over thirty years. And here I am... and here you are to interview me.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.