The History of Bloody Thursday.
After a quiet Fourth of July the employers' organization, the Industrial Association,
tried to open the port even further on Thursday, July 5. As spectators watched
from Rincon Hill, the police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd, then followed
with a charge by mounted police. Picketers threw the canisters and rocks back
at the police, who charged again, sending the picketers into retreat after a
third assault. Each side then refortified and took stock.
The events took a violent turn that afternoon, as hostilities resumed outside
of the ILA the kitchen. Eyewitness accounts differ on the exact events that
transpired next. Some witnesses saw a group of strikers first surround a police
car and attempt to tip it over, prompting the police to fire shotguns in the
air, and then revolvers at the crowd. One of the policemen then fired a shotgun
into the crowd, striking three men in intersection of Steuart and Mission streets.
One of the men, Howard Sperry, a striking longshoreman, later died of his wounds.
Another man, Charles Olsen, was also shot but later recovered from his wounds.
A third man, Nick Bordoise--an out of work cook who had been volunteering at
the ILA strike kitchen--was shot but managed to make his way around the corner
onto Spear Street, where he was found several hours later. Like Sperry, he died
at the hospital.
Strikers immediately cordoned off the area where the two picketers had been
shot, laying flowers and wreaths around it. Police arrived to remove the flowers
and drive off the picketers minutes later. Once the police left, the strikers
returned, replaced the flowers and stood guard over the spot. Though Sperry
and Bordoise had been shot several blocks apart, this spot became synonymous
with the memory of the two slain men and "Bloody Thursday."
As strikers carried wounded picketers into the ILA union hall police fired
on the hall and lobbed tear gas canisters at nearby hotels. At this point someone
reportedly called the union hall to ask "Are you willing to arbitrate now?"
Under orders from California Governor Frank Merriam, the California National
Guard moved in that evening to patrol the waterfront. Similarly, federal soldiers
of the United States Army stationed at the Presidio were placed on alert. The
picketers pulled back, unwilling to take on armed soldiers in an uneven fight,
and trucks and trains began moving without interference. Bridges asked the San
Francisco Labor Council to meet that Saturday, July 7, to authorize a general
strike. The Alameda County Central Labor Council in Oakland considered the same
action. Teamsters in both San Francisco and Oakland voted to strike, over the
objections of their leaders, on Sunday, July 8.