1919 United States Anarchist Bombings - June Bombings

June Bombings

On the evening of June 2, 1919, the Galleanists managed to blow up eight large bombs nearly simultaneously in eight different U.S. cities. These bombs were much larger than those sent in April, using up to twenty-five pounds of dynamite, and all were wrapped or packaged with heavy metal slugs designed to act as shrapnel. Addressees included government officials who had endorsed anti-sedition laws and deportation of immigrants suspected of crimes or associated with illegal movements, as well as judges who had sentenced anarchists to prison. The homes of Mayor Harry L. Davis of Cleveland; Judge W.H.S. Thompson, Massachusetts State Representative Leland Powers; Judge Charles C. Nott of New York; and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, already the recipient of a mail bomb in April, were attacked in the new wave of violence. None of the targeted men were killed, but one bomb took the life of New York City night watchman William Boehner while the bomb intended for Attorney General Palmer's home prematurely exploded, killing Carlo Valdinoci, a former editor of the Galleanist publication Cronaca Sovversiva and a close associate of Galleani. Though not seriously injured, Palmer and his family were shaken by the blast, and the house itself was largely demolished.

Each of the bombs was delivered with several copies of a pink flyer, titled "Plain Words," that read:

War, Class war, and you were the first to wage it under the cover of the powerful institutions you call order, in the darkness of your laws. There will have to be bloodshed; we will not dodge; there will have to be murder: we will kill, because it is necessary; there will have to be destruction; we will destroy to rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.

The flyer was later traced to a printing shop operated by two anarchists – Andrea Salsedo, a typesetter and Roberto Elia, a compositor – who were both Galleanists according to the later memoirs of other members. Salsedo committed suicide, and Elia refused an offer to cancel deportation proceedings if he would testify about his role in the Galleanist organization. Unable to secure enough evidence for criminal trials, authorities continued to use the Anarchist Exclusion Act and related statutes to deport known Galleanists.

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