Portland Communists, A Longshoreman Strike and the U.S. Supreme Court: DeJonge v. Oregon and the Right to Freedom of Assembly

September 28, 2015 at 7pm

On July 27, 1934, the Portland Police “Red Squad” arrested Dirk De Jonge, a World War I veteran, longshoreman, former Portland mayoral candidate, and Portland communist. The State charged him with criminal syndicalism for speaking at a meeting sponsored by the local Communist Party. The meeting was called in response to a police crackdown on striking longshoremen, who had shut down every West Coast port from southern California to northern Washington. De Jonge’s crime was speaking about jail conditions experienced by the arrested strikers. A jury found him guilty, and the judge sentenced him to seven years in prison. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction, holding that the criminal syndicalism statute, as applied to De Jonge, unconstitutionally infringed on his right to assembly as protected by the First Amendment.

Marc Brown, an appellate public defender with the Oregon Office of Public Defense Services, will talk about the history behind the case as well as its long-term significance. Marc has taught political science, criminal justice, and history at Washington State University-Vancouver.