“Then all hell broke loose. I saw people falling. Some of them were White Star Laundry girls running past us and jump into the bay.
Some of them got shot in their back side. Some longshoremen got shot on their legs…” (Manning 2). As Manning had experienced, the Hilo Massacre was an event that had disturbed much of Hilo’s usually normally community. On August 1st, 1938, the members of Boatman’s Union (IBU) and the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) went on strike against the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company. What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration, turned violent. “We were told to take all our tools and pocket knives out of our pockets. Be sure we have nothing in our pockets except our keys and coins. This was to be a peaceful demonstration.
” (Manning 1). The goal of the members of the union wanted workers in Hawaii to have equal wages and conditions as the workers on the West Coast of the United States. They also demanded that closed shops, or union shops be accepted by company owners. The strikers went down to Hilo bay where the SS Waialeale would dock and marched. According to Puette, “Without any specific order, the crowd formed up and began to march down singing as they went, “The more we get together, together, together; The more we get together, the better we’ll be!” While in the back the women were singing, “Hail, hail the gang’s all here.
“” (Puette 16). As the marchers approached the police began to physically attempt to halt the marchers, which is when the violence began .” As the protesters arrived at the “dead line,” police threw 12 tear gas grenades into the crowd.
” (Dziedziech 2). Fortunately there was no deaths, but there was many hospitalized injuries. Some of the victims lived with bullets inside them for the rest of their life because it was deemed to difficult to take out by the hospitals. There was an investigation to possibly receive justice for police brutality. According to Menton, “A grand jury convened in September 1938 decided there was insufficient evidence to warrant any indictments.” (Menton 155).
This decision left many bitter feelings between the unions and management for many years. The Hilo Massacre shocked much of the community of Hilo as people knew each other on both sides. ” Walter Victor had a Tommy gun and he held it ready to be used. I knew Walter Victor very well. He was the head of the Eagles A.
C. (Athletic Club) I used to play basketball, softball, and I used to box for the Eagles A.C.” (Manning 2). The historical significance in this event is more than just out of respect for the early peoples of Hawaii, but with the resolve necessary to protect another generation from the need to suffer this struggle ever again.