I’ve been digging around through Washington state history, whilst lamenting my lack of interest in the high school class of the same name, in an effort to learn more about our state. Up until now, I had never heard of the Everett massacre of 1916. It was a clash between unionized labor workers and “citizen deputies” that resulted in 7 deaths, several injuries, and 76 arrests. This incident is also known as Bloody Sunday, not to be confused with the 1972 tragedy in Northern Ireland that would go on to inspire U2 to write ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday.’
In 1916, members of IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), an international laborer’s union set sail to Everett as tensions had been rising for some time. The IWW was in Everett in support of shingle workers who had been striking for five months.
As the vessel approached Everett, the IWW members were met by 200 armed “citizen deputies” who were led by the Sheriff of Snohomish County. It was at this moment that words were exchanged and the union workers were informed by the Sheriff that they would not be permitted to land.
At this point, a gunshot rang out and carnage ensued. The shootout ended when the boat turned tail and headed back for Seattle. When the smoke had cleared, two citizen deputies were dead along with five union workers. In the aftermath, 76 members of the IWW would be arrested but the charges would be later dropped.