In 1915 – (101 years ago) – the Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill was executed by firing squad, in the state of Utah, for allegedly having shot and killed a grocer and his son. A jury had convicted Hill on circumstantial evidence, even though eyewitnesses could not identify him in court and the murder weapon was not found. In the weeks before his death, tens of thousands of people around the world campaigned in vain for clemency, convinced that Hill had been convicted mainly for his involvement with the Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the IWW or the Wobblies. The campaigners included labor activists, Mormon dignitaries, the Swedish foreign minister, and even US President Woodrow Wilson. On the day of his death, Hill sent a telegram to IWW leader Bill Haywood. It read, [quote] “I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste time in mourning. Organize.” Joe Hill’s body was shipped from Salt Lake City to Chicago, and he was cremated at Graceland Cemetery. His ashes were divided into hundreds of small packages, mailed to union locals and supporters across the United States and on six continents, with instructions to scatter the ashes in all corners of the world.
In 1984 – (32 years ago) – a major tank farm in San Juanico, Mexico, was rocked by a series of massive explosions that began in early evening and continued well into the next morning, consuming one-third of Mexico City’s supply of LPG, or liquid petroleum gas. The explosions and fire destroyed the tank farm and devastated the surrounding town. Some five to six hundred people died in the inferno, consumed so completely that only two percent of their remains could be recovered afterwards. Another five to seven thousand people suffered major injuries, including severe, life-changing burns. It was the worst LPG disaster in history.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi