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1922. A life-long Wobbly, Phil Mellman fell victim to the Criminal Syndicalism Law passed in many states during World War I to contain the Industrial Workers of the World.
I joined the IWW in '22. I joined in California and was arrested in Sacramento that year when police raided one of our meetings. All present were tried under the California Criminal Syndicalism Act. There were no specific charges, just that we were members of the IWW - that's all. I was my own lawyer because the verdict was a foregone conclusion. At the end, the judge said, "any reason why I shouldn't pronounce sentence." I said, "The court violated every principle that is American." He said, "That's enough! That's enough!" and the bailiff made me sit down. I didn't stand up when he sentenced me, and he sent a letter to the warden that I deserve "special care." I got in trouble right away. They told me I had to work at the jute mill, and they told me how many spools l had to put up. I said my organization doesn't permit piece work. I said, "I came here because I was a Wobbly and I'm going to live by those principles." They locked me up in a small cell without hot meals. Later, they said we could apply for a pardon. I refused. I said the State of California should ask us to pardon them. I was in San Quentin three years and eleven months.