“For the good old American life: For the money, for the glory, and for the fun… mostly for the money.”
-Bandit (Burt Reynolds), Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
RIP, Burt Reynolds.
On this date in 1876, the infamous James-Younger outlaw gang attempted to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, MN. When some of the local citizens saw what was going on, they armed themselves and confronted the gang. A gun battle ensued, leaving two townsfolk and a couple gang members dead. The remainder of the gang fled, and several were captured a few days after the attempted robbery. Frank and Jesse James managed to escape, but the Northfield raid was the last hurrah for the James-Younger gang.
Every year, the city of Northfield holds a celebration called The Defeat of Jesse James Days.
Minnesota Historical Society: Northfield Raid & the James-Younger Gang
Wikipedia: James-Younger Gang
On this date in 1901, US President William McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. President McKinley died eight days later from his wounds. Czolgosz was subdued at the scene by the crowd and taken into custody. He was tried in NY State court and convicted of murder. He was executed in the electric chair at Auburn Prison on October 29, 1901.
This video is of a reenactment of the execution of Leon Czolgosz. The original film was shot by Thomas Edison in 1901.
University at Buffalo: The Legal Aftermath of the Assassination of William McKinley
Wikipedia: Leon Czolgosz
On this date in 1975, Manson family member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was arrested after pointing a gun at President Gerald Ford in a park in Sacramento, CA. The gun, a .45 automatic, was found to have four rounds in the magazine and none in the firing chamber. Fromme later claimed she had intentionally removed the round from the firing chamber, and that she had gone to the park to alert Ford about the plight of California redwood trees.
Fromme was charged and convicted for the attempted assassination of the president. At the sentencing hearing she threw an apple at the prosecutor, striking him in the face. She was sentenced to life in prison. (Apparently the apple-a-day thing doesn’t work on lawyers.)
Lynette Fromme was granted parole in July of 2008, but was not released until August 2009 as she had to serve extra time for a brief 1987 prison escape. Upon release she moved to Marcy, NY.
Seventeen days after Fromme’s assassination attempt, Sara Jane Moore attempted to assassinate President Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco, CA.
About.com – Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme
Wikipedia – Lynette Fromme
Syracuse.com – Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme plans to live in Oneida County
On this date in 1977, a feud between two of San Francisco’s Chinese street gangs led to a slaughter at the Golden Dragon restaurant. The Joe Boys were angry over the recent death of one of their members in a gunfight with the rival Wah Ching gang. Acting on a tip that a senior Wah Ching member would be at the Golden Dragon, a group of Joe Boys descended on the restaurant armed with shotguns and semi-automatic weapons. Upon entering the restaurant, they fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Five innocent bystanders were killed and eleven wounded. The target of the hit, Michael “Hot Dog” Louie, escaped unscathed.
Police rounded up five members of the Joe Boys. They were tried and convicted in connection with the murder. A retaliation by the Wah Ching followed the massacre, which was then followed by the formation of the San Francisco Police Department’s Asian Gang Task Force. The Golden Dragon went out of business in 2006. It’s location is now the home of the Imperial Palace restaurant.
Wikipedia – Golden Dragon massacre
Found SF – The Golden Dragon Restaurant Massacre
Mister SF – Golden Dragon Massacre
On this day in 1885, white miners working at the Union Pacific coal mine in Rock Springs, WY started a riot that resulted in the murder of over two dozen Chinese immigrants.
The trouble started at the beginning of the work day when ten white miners showed up on the work site and announced that Chinese miners were banned from a more productive part of the mine (workers were paid per ton of coal they mined, making certain work locations more desirable). The confrontation resulted in a fight in which two Chinese miners were beaten. One of the beaten men later died of his wounds.
The white miners walked off the job, resulting in a work stoppage. They went into town where they gathered at local bars, and at the Knights of Labor (a union that was trying to organize the white miners). After a few hours of drinking and fuming about the Chinese miners (who worked for less money than the white miners, and were blamed by the whites for low wages), a large group of white miners headed for Chinatown. Many of the miners were armed.
In the ensuing chaos, 28 Chinese miners were killed, 15 were wounded, and 79 homes were burned to the ground. Many of the homes were looted by white miners before they were burned. At the request of the territorial governor, the Army was called in to restore order.
Sixteen men were eventually arrested, but the grand jury refused to indict them. They returned to a hero’s welcome in Rock Springs. No one was ever successfully prosecuted for the crimes committed that day.
History Matters – “To This We Dissented”: The Rock Springs Riot
Wikipedia – Rock Springs Massacre
Wikipedia – List of victims of the Rock Springs massacre
“Listen to me very carefully. There are three ways of doing things around here: the right way, the wrong way, and the way that I do it. You understand?”
-Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro), Casino (1995)