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  • laborhistoryhawaii

August is the anniversary of the Hilo Massacre,aka Bloody Monday.

As I write this, thousands have been taking to the streets with leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement to protest police racism and violence. These largely peaceful demonstrations have been met with police, military, and federal agent violence. The mostly peaceful protests have been falsely labeled “riots” and protesters demonized as “violent anarchists”. I’m reminded of what is known as the Hilo Massacre or Bloody Monday, which took place 82 years ago, on August 1, 1938 on the Hilo Waterfront. On that day, more than 200 unionists peacefully assembled to demonstrate solidarity and support for the Inland Boatman’s Union and Metal Trades Council members who were striking against the Inter-Island Steamship Company. They assembled to protest the docking of the scab ship S. S. Waialeale that was arriving from Honolulu. The Hilo unionists were disciplined and dedicated to a peaceful protest. Police first attacked with tear gas, and bayonets and then opened fire! No one was killed, but 50 were injured, some seriously. We are pleased to post excerpts from our digital archive that show film of the actual shooting and feature eyewitness accounts from those who were there. Official accounts and newspaper coverage invariably referred to the protest as a “riot,” but as you will see in the footage, the attacks on the demonstrators took place while they were peacefully sitting on the dock.

For more detail, William J. Puette’s book, The Hilo Massacre: Hawaii’s Bloody Monday, may be freely accessed and read online at the Center for Labor Education and Research (CLEAR) website, click on publications.

Mahalo, Chris Conybeare Executive Producer

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