|Image via In These Times|
Hill is one of those heroes our schoolbook histories let us down on. He died for our freedoms much more directly than any American soldier in Iraq ever did. That's not the soldier's fault, nor is it to dismiss the heroism of those who sign up to serve, but rather to point out their service is disrespected and exploited when their efforts and their lives are put into wars that make us, and the world, less safe and serve only the interests of capital.
In 1914, Hill was arrested in Salt Lake City and charged with killing a storekeeper, allegedly in a botched robbery. Despite the flimsy nature of the evidence, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death, with the prosecutor urging conviction as much on the basis of Hill’s IWW membership as any putative evidence of his involvement in the crime. An international amnesty movement pressed for a new trial, but the Utah governor refused and Hill was executed by firing squad on November 19, 1915. In a final message to IWW General Secretary Bill Haywood, Hill urged, “Don’t waste any time in mourning—organize.”