Jack Green

Jack Green

Jack Green was a young Santa Rosa sign painter, activist and ACLU member. In the summer of 1935, during the San Francisco dock strike, Jack Green and fellow ACLU member Sol Nitzberg worked together in labor organizing efforts of the apple pickers and cannery workers of Sonoma County. On the day before the hop harvest was to begin, the labor organizers secretly distributed leaflets calling for a strike. That night a group of 300 vigilantes conducted a nighttime raid to roust the suspected union leaders. Green was in his studio when the band broke in and seized him.

Green was used as bait to find other organizers. The enraged crowd drug Green, Nitzberg and others to the courthouse steps. Someone produced an American flag. The men were ordered to kiss it. Green refused and was beaten until he complied, stripped of his clothing, covered with red paint and hot tar and feathers. He was dumped across the south county line.

The next morning Green showed up bruised and bandaged at the District Attorney’s office. The DA refused to press charges, but the Attorney General did. With the aid of the ACLU, Green had his day in court. The trial attracted statewide press and the attention of human rights and labor organizations. The defendants were acquitted. Green did not win.

The trial and struggle for justice marked the beginning of the ACLU’s fight for civil liberties in Sonoma County.

Source: Gaye LeBaron’s Notebook/ACLU of Northern California

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