100 Years of Class Struggle and Fighting for Free Speech in San Diego


100 years ago San Diego was a much different place. Not yet a military stronghold, the population was just 60,000 for the county. The namesake areas we know today were millionaire investors then, Marston, Spreckels, Scripps, developing their large properties and controlling the local media and government.

The working-class people of San Diego spent much of their time in the Stingaree district downtown, surrounding what is now 5th and E St. Wobblies, organizers and members of the revolutionary anti-capitalist, anarcho-syndicalist union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), were having trouble organizing in San Diego due to their meetings getting busted up by the police or vigilantes sponsored by business interests. They claimed the Stingaree streets as their organizing grounds.

"Fellow workers," Wobblies would proclaim from soapboxes, "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. "

Wobblies spoke of the need for all workers, across race, ethnic, gender and nationality, to organize as one big union of the working-class, take control of the means of production and abolish the wage system. They got the attention of the workers they wanted, but also got the attention of the business elite who wanted to silence the Wobblies.

After a couple years of illegal attacks on meetings and soapbox speakers from police and vigilantes, San Diego Common Council passed Ordinance No. 4623 on January 8, 1912 legalizing the repression of free speech practitioners within a 49-square block radius in the heart of the city of San Diego. "Soapbox Row" and the entire Stingaree district was now a restricted zone. --Read More--
IWW Free Speech Fight Anniversary Events Jan. 6 - San Diego Free Speech Fight 100-Year Anniversary Exhibit Opening Event|| Jan. 20 - Dr. Emily Hicks performs "1938: A Year in the Life of Three Women, Anarchists, Prostitutes" & "The Wobblies" Movie Screening || Jan. 26 - San Diego Free Speech Fight 100-Year Anniversary Celebration || Feb. 8 - San Diego Free Speech Fight Commemoration || Feb. 20 - San Diego Free Speech Fight Forum