California · Massacres/Mass Murder · Political

A bomb, thought to have been set by anti-war protestors, detonates during a parade honoring the US entering into WWI

July 22, 1916
San Francisco, California
A bomb detonates at the Preparedness Day Parade, killing 10 and wounding 40

The parade was meant to commemorate the United States’ preparations to enter into World War I, and the bombing is suspected to be in protest of the nation entering into the foray. Prior to the bombing, pamphlets were distributed which forewarned of a violent protest on the 22nd “to show that militarism can’t be forced on us or our children”.

At 2:06 p.m., a time bomb detonated. The Winston County Journal (July 28, 1916), recounted the aftermath:

The street was a confused, swaying mass near the corner where the people were craning their necks to see the troops go up Market street. Out of all this brightness death leaped in the sound of a sharp explosion.

A heavy, dark smoke overhung the street as a pall. As this curtain was lifted a pitiful scene was disclosed.

Scores of bodies, crumpled, maimed, torn and bleeding, were lying there. Some were groaning, more stirring feebly and others were still.

There was one group of a mother and two children. The mother was dead or dying, judging from her appearance. A little girl lay beside her, terribly torn.
A boy was on the other side, leaning on one arm and looking at his mother, while his own hurts showed through torn and tattered clothes.

On the sidewalk lay the lifeless body of George L. Lawlor. The back of his head had been blown away. Across Lawlor’s body lay the body of H. L. Lamborn, his arms and legs torn and a great gash in his head.

Two known radical labor leaders, Thomas Mooney and Warren K. Billings, were arrested for the bombings. Tried and convicted, the pair were given the death penalty but both had their sentences commuted to life. In 1939, with insurmountable evidence of perjury against the two, both were pardoned. The true culprit or culprits have not conclusively been identified.

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