A Russian Immigrant Testifies

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The following testimony was taken by a group of attorneys who were investigating the Palmer Raids, a series of raids designed to rid America of certain immigrants, particularly eastern immigrants, many who championed the idea of socialism and communism.   But that wasn't true in all cases.

   I was born in Grodno, Russia, and am thirty-three years old and unmarried. In the autumn of 1919 I was a member of the Union of Russian Workers. I am not an anarchist, Socialist or Bolshevik and do not take much interest in political theories. I joined the Russian Workers because I was a workman speaking Russian and wanted to associate with other Russians and have the benefit of social interaction and instruction in mechanics which the society gave. By trade I am a machinist.

    On November 8, 1919, I was at a meeting of Russians in Bridgeport, who had come together to discuss ways and means of buying an automobile to be used for instruction purposes...I was arrested with all the other men at the meeting, 63 in number...No warrant of arrest was shown me then or at any other time, nor did I see any warrant shown to anyone else who was arrested.

    I was taken with the other men to the police station...and held for three days in a cell with two other men. During these three days no one gave me any hearing or asked me any questions. I was then taken to Hartford, Conn., with about forty-eight of the men, being informed that the rest of those arrested had been released.

    I was held in the Hartford Jail for six weeks without any hearing. In the seventh week I had one hearing before the Labor Department, which hearing was held in the Post Office building and I was then returned to jail.

    In the thirteenth week of my confinement Edward J. Hickey came into my cell and asked me to give him the address of a man called Boyko in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I did not know this man and I told Hickey that I did not. Hickey thereupon struck me twice with his fist, once in the forehead and once in the jaw, whereupon I fell. He then kicked me and I became unconcious. Hickey is a big man, weighing two-hundred pounds...

    In the last part of January or early February, my finger was severly infected. I asked the guard to let me have a doctor to treat the finger. They refused, and I asked again, whereupon they said to come with them. They took me to a room in the basement of the jail with a cement floor, cement walls and an iron door. The room was pitch dark and the only means for lighting or ventilating it that I could see was a small hole in the door. The floor of the room was hot and the walls were very warm to the touch. I stayed in this room for thirty-six hours. At times it was so hot I needed to remove all of my clothing...I was given one glass of water and one slice of bread. I received no other food or water...

    I was released from Hartford Jail on April 7th, having been in confinement five months, my release coming through an attorney who came to jail to see other prisoners and who, after seeing me, obtained a reduction in my bail from ten thousand to a thousand dollars, and he secured the putting up of the $1,000 bail.

    At the time of my arrest I was earning an average about $31.00 per week, including bonus and overtime. Since my release...I have been unable to secure employment, being informed wherever I apply and state my record that persons under suspicion of being bolsheviks are not desired.