Bloody Thursday – July 5, 1934

STATEWIDE—July 2020 is almost over – our next issue of The Log will take us into August. We’re officially in the dog days of summer. The past few weeks and months have been headlined by a global health pandemic and civil unrest. This is, obviously, not the first time we’ve experienced unrest and uneasiness in the month of July. A labor strike in the summer of 1934 resulted in violence and waterfront blockages.

July 5, 1934 was known as Bloody Thursday – a day hailed by Bay Area press as “the darkest day” San Francisco experienced since April 18, 1906 (the day the city experienced a massive earthquake).

Bloody Thursday refers to the day San Francisco police faced off with thousands of longshoremen. Two people reportedly died as a result of the clash, with 32 others shot and many more hospitalized.

The San Francisco Chronicle called Bloody Thursday “a Gettysburg in the miniature.”

Longshoremen from Southern California to the Alaskan panhandle had been striking since May of that year, shortly after unionizing. Sailors, pilots, marine unions and other maritime interests also joined in on the strike, which had resulted in the closure of many ports.

San Francisco was the epicenter of “Bloody Thursday,” Ship owners reportedly tried to re-open San Francisco’s Embarcadero amidst labor disputes – first on July 3, then again on July 5. It was July 5 when the rioting took place – with the National Guard hailed in to help ease tensions.

Bloody Thursday wasn’t just limited to San Francisco, however. The ripple effects of that day were also felt here in Southern California, particularly in San Pedro. Longshoremen at the Port of L.A. were on strike in May 1934, according to a news report. They received word of strikebreakers arriving at one of the local docks. It wasn’t long before the longshoremen and strikebreakers became entangled in a violent clash.

A plaque would eventually be installed at a park in San Pedro to commemorate the strikers who died in San Francisco on Bloody Thursday.

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