South Dakota farmers and workers experienced a sample of Fascism on Saturday, August 25th, when a gang of reactionary business men and drunken hoodlums broke up a mass meeting of the farmers and workers at Britton, South Dakota, and when the same evening a larger gang of thugs, led by Sheriff Roehr of Marshall County attacked a dance held by the United Farmers League School at Clear Lake.
“The United Farmers League of Marshall County, South Dakota, together with the United Workers League of Marshall County called a meeting, to take place in Britton on Saturday afternoon, August 25th, to discuss the question of getting more relief. Nearly a thousand farmers and workers had come into Britton for the purpose of attending this meeting.
“The officialdom of the American Legion, together with some Fascist business people, had prearranged to organize a gang of hoodlums to disrupt and prevent the meeting from taking place. When the crowd had begun to gather, and about 100 farmers and workers were assembled close to the truck that was to serve as a speakers’ stand, the gangsters began their work of interference. This gathering, which was legal and peaceful, was set upon by about 50 hooligans, whom the capitalist press calls ‘indignant citizens.’ The meeting was disrupted and broken up.”
Eight carloads of the attackers, the pamphlet said, then followed the truck of the Farm School and chased it about 50 miles north into North Dakota, where it finally eluded the pursuers.
At least one man was beaten when the meeting was broken up, the pamphlet said, and later that evening, some 50 to 75 “thugs,” some of whom had been drinking, raided a dance and social that was being held at Clear Lake by the Farm School. The pamphlet says they were led by Alvin Roehr, at the time the sheriff of Marshall County, and says he had equipped them with tear gas guns and other weapons.
At least six men were captured and beaten, then taken to Britton and thrown into the Marshall County Jail temporarily.
“Several of the victims, among them Julius Walstad and Ted Sharp, were taken to the hospital, where their wounds were dressed. The Sheriff turned the keys of the jail and the victims over to the mob. The hoodlums took them from the jail to the American Legion Auxiliary room, which was used as a torture chamber,” the pamphlet says.