A setting: San Francisco, one of the most fabled cities
in the world.
A period: 1916, when Europe was mired in the longest and
most destructive war in history; when Ireland was revolting against
centuries of British rule; when President Woodrow Wilson ordered
General Pershing into Mexico to chase guerilla leader Pancho Villa;
when San Francisco, in the words of journalist Ernest Hopkins, "was
a city neurotic with civic and labor strife" where "nobody
could be quite sane."
An event: The Preparedness Day Bombing, Saturday, July 22,
1916, that killed ten bystanders, wounded and maimed forty more,
outraged San Francisco, and inspired calls for Vigilante justice.
A cast of characters: two labor figures, Warren Billings
and Tom Mooney, who became symbols of something far bigger than
themselves; a corrupt, incompetent district attorney, manipulated
by businessmen who were determined to crush San Francisco's labor
unions; a popular mayor who refused to acknowledge hard facts; five
governors who did likewise; a brilliant young lawyer who took on
California's legal establishment; a relentless newspaper editor
who defied his own publisher to expose perjury and the perversion
of the judicial process; two presidents of the United States; demonstrators
all over the world.
An ending: Pardon and vindication for Billings and Mooney
after twenty-three years imprisonment.
Warren Billings, Rena (Mrs. Tom) Mooney, Tom Mooney, at habeas
corpus hearings, 1935.
All this and more will be told in the documentary The Incredible
Case of Warren Billings and Tom Mooney, a production of Ralston
Independent Works. Keep checking this site!