Archive for May, 2011
Seattle has long been a haven for both unionism and immigrants from troubled countries across the Pacific Ocean–especially Filipinos. Both of these elements of our city’s history came together on the date in focus here in an interesting, if tragic, event that demonstrated the deep roots that Filipinos have planted here over many decades.
Two noteworthy local Filipino Americans, Silme Domingo (b. 1952) and Gene Viernes (b. 1951), were living in Seattle at the time and working as organizers for Local 37 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU), which was then focused on improving conditions for Filipinos working seasonally in Alaskan fish canneries. While working to reform Local 37–then rife with corruption and bribery–Domingo and Viernes were both shot to death inside the Local 37 offices in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle.
Viernes died immediately, but Domingo was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he spent 24 hours before dying–long enough to give clues to medics about the identities of the gunmen, which led to the arrests of two suspects the following day. The suspects, Pompeyo Benito Guloy and Jimmy Bulosan Ramil, were acquaintances of both Domingo and Viernes and had been previously dispatched by Local 37 to work in Alaska. They were both found guilty of aggravated first degree murder on September 24, 1981, and sentenced to life in prison. A third suspect, Fortunato “Tony” Dictado, was convicted on May 12, 1982, of ordering the murders and he too was sentenced to life in prison. Dictado was the leader of a local Filipino street gang named “Tulisan,” whose members were often hired by Local 37.
While it was immediately assumed that the murders were simply due to a local dispute within Local 37 (possibly involving disgruntled members of Tulisan), the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes (CJDV) eventually charged that it was Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda who had ordered the murders in retaliation for the victims’ anti-Marcos activities in Seattle in the 1970s, and a federal jury agreed with the CJDV in December 1989. On March 8, 1991, a King County Superior Court jury found the former president of Local 37, Constantine “Tony” Baruso (1928-2008)–a supporter of the Marcos regime–guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Viernes. Baruso was acquitted of a similar charge in the death of Domingo.
Using the awards won from both the Marcos family and the four convicted gunmen, the Domingo/Viernes Justice Fund was created through Seattle’s Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office (now known as LELO) in memory of Domingo and Viernes.
–Jeff Stevens. Sources: Larry Lange, “Union aide shot dead by gunman,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 2, 1981; p. A 1; Tomas Guillen and Dave Birkland, “Union official slain, another hurt; hiring dispute probed,” The Seattle Times, June 2, 1981; p. A 1; Gil Bailey, “Dying man’s clues lead to union slaying arrests,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 3, 1981, p. A 1; Tomas Guillen and Dave Birkland, “2 arrested in union shooting; second man dies of wounds,” The Seattle Times, June 3, 1981; p. A 1; William Gough, “Job dispatching hinted as death motive,” The Seattle Times, June 3, 1981, p. D 1; “Union killings are more than ‘routine’ homicides” (editorial), The Seattle Times, June 4, 1981, p. A 14; Chong-suk Han, “Unknown Heroes,” ColorLines magazine, Summer 2001.
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Was there ever a nation so marinated in hypocrisy as America? At home and abroad President Barack Obama trumpets Uncle Sam’s virtues and dispenses patronizing homilies to other nations on how to behave themselves and honor freedom and democracy. This last week it’s been Europe’s turn to hear these self-righteous preachments. A couple of weeks [...]
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A second flotilla of some dozen boats from 22 different countries will be sailing again at the end of June in the continuing international attempt to break Israel’s siege of Gaza. Four of the 50 passengers on the US boat, the Audacity of Hope, come from the Pacific Northwest.
Despite the fact that nine people were killed on last year’s flotilla, and that the Israeli government has threatened to use attack dogs this time, those fifty US citizens will be going on the US Boat to Gaza. This boat represents the efforts of several organizations, including Free Gaza, which, since 2008, has traveled nine times to Gaza by sea and entered successfully five times.
The flotilla was violently intercepted on the past four voyages, including Israel’s MAY 31, 2010 lethal attack on the Flotilla,when nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara were killed and many more injured by Israeli commandos. The Mavi Marmara will again be a part of this flotilla.
Despite the presence of several area activists in last year’s flotilla, area media coverage was negligible before Israel illegally attacked and seized the ships in international waters. Because of those attacks, and the risks of even harsher attacks this year, there may be more attention this year. However, last year, even in the massive coverage following Israel’s attack, the voices of activists themselves were rarely heard in corporate media outlets. We’ll do our best to be a corrective to what will likely be a similar omission this year.
Student activists at the University of Washington today staged a second sit-in against the UW’s Husky Stadium concessions contract with Sodexo, a corporation long known for worker rights abuses.
The UW Kick Out Sodexo Coalition staged their first sit-in on May 11, in the offices of UW Interim President Phyllis Wise. There, 27 students were arrested for trespassing, and later released. Today, at 3:45 p.m., some 21 students occupied the office of UW Athletics Director Scott Woodward. They were joined by the Rev. Richard Lang, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church.
The coalition, comprised of 19 UW student organizations, the UW student government, faculty and local community leaders, has been demanding that President Wise immediately terminate the UW’s $3.4 million concessions contract with Sodexo. Wise has refused to take such action, most recently at a meeting on Wednesday with the coalition.
Today’s sit-in was the 10th in the last month alone organized by students across the country affiliated with United Students Against Sweatshops to protest Sodexo’s practices and a range of other campus-related worker rights issues.
I am very pleased to hereby announce that today I have created a new academic discipline. It’s dedicated to deciphering what the current president of the Seattle City Council is attempting to communicate when he schedules a last-minute meeting aimed at canceling a public referendum on a highly controversial issue, then cancels the same meeting at the last minute. The new discipline is called “Conlinguistics.”
Pinko terror-symps and the “rule of law” gang may cavil and whine at the lack of legal propriety in the execution of Osama, but it’s not cutting much ice with liberal America. For long years what might be called the “progressive” segment of American voters have chafed at Republican gibes that their guy Obama is [...]
After they called the presidency for Obama, emails poured in. “You must be relieved now that the Democrats are taking over,” an old college buddy told me. “There will be less pressure on you.” That would have been nice. In the late 1990s my cartoons ran in Time, Fortune and Bloomberg Personal magazines and over [...]
May 16, 1969: USS Guitarro, a $50 million nuclear submarine undergoing final fitting in San Francisco Bay, sinks as water pours into a forward compartment. A House Armed Services subcommittee later found the Navy guilty of “inexcusable carelessness.” 1987: “Bobro 400,” a huge barge, sets sail with 3,200 tons of garbage that nobody wants. The [...]
This guy is literally responsible for thousands, perhaps even millions, of deaths, and unimaginable human misery. But he’s usually not so hands-on with his misbehavior.