Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “How Anarchy Should Be Watched”
Author(s): Schuettler, Herman F.
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 15 September 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 258
|Schuettler, Herman F. “How Anarchy Should Be Watched.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 15 Sept. 1901 v60n258: part 2, p. 13.|
|anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (personal response).|
|Leon Czolgosz; William McKinley; Justus Schwab; August Spies.|
A photograph of the author accompanies this editorial on the same page.
“By Herman F. Schuettler, Captain of Police.”
How Anarchy Should Be Watched
NOW that anarchy has broken out again in violence striking at the President
of the United States, the question is being agitated as it was after the Haymarket
riots: “How can the Anarchists in their secret societies be watched so that
the authorities can know in advance when they are plotting such crimes and so
prevent them?” The following suggestions in this regard are made with a knowledge
of the cult and of the methods of its followers gained in a close surveillance
of them in several years following the uprising of 1886.
In the first place I take it as already conceded by the great majority of readers that some sort of control ought to be exercised over these people. The assassination of Mr. McKinley has shown us too plainly that though they talk of peaceful changes and of philosophical anarchy they are ready at any time to startle the world with most horrible crimes against society. The manner of this control is hard to prescribe, because these people, most of them talking only tongues little understood by educated Americans, are able to conceal their meanings and purposes even when publishing them in their papers. Their meetings are secret and are informal and hard to locate, and they are so suspicious of strangers and spies that whenever any one is among of whom they are not absolutely certain they at once become non-communicative or speak of every day affairs. To have definite knowledge of them it is necessary to maintain a system of espionage which they cannot detect. And this is difficult, because most of them are men of attainment—at least the leaders are—and they are not easily fooled. Yet such a system should be established, and it is my belief that to have it of real benefit it should be established and maintained by the general government and should cover all large towns.
When the world had been startled by the Haymarket crime I was detailed by the Chief of Police to establish such a system in miniature in Chicago at the city’s expense. I had already had considerable experience with the Anarchists, have been employed getting the evidence against the plotters. For me to secure directly information concerning them or their plans was manifestly impossible. In every walk of life, however, there are men whose aid and interest can be secured by money and strategy, and by using these we had little trouble in securing regular information from prominent members of the organization. Some of our informants even were Presidents or other officers of the groups. If a strange Anarchist visited the city I had prompt warning of it and of his business here, and if any violence was talked of I knew it at once. If that system had been maintained it is possible that we would have known in advance even of the Paterson plot. But in 1890 I was told that there was no longer any need of any such espionage, and to call the men off. That step, I think, should not have been taken.
It is some such system that the general government should establish, and if the federal government does not the city or State should. It should be under a head man, who knows how to hold his councils, and he should be able to choose his men where he would. He should employ as agents in every city men who are tradesmen or mechanics, who have a means of livelihood, that will allow their living among Anarchists without exciting suspicion. These workmen must be absolutely reliable and men who are able to keep still. They must be able to go for years among these people as agents without even telling their wives what they are doing or dropping a suspicious word. Such men are rare, and they deserve good pay. Yet they must not be paid too highly, for the receipt of too much money would cause them to be noticed. Then there must be some method for these men to communicate their information to a second party, who, in turn, is not known by anybody to be connected with the central authority. These men must not be known to each other. Such services are dangerous, for the fate of a detected agent is apt to be death. Yet the Anarchists will not be apt to detect a careful man for the reason that should information obtained in this way be so used as to make them suspect a spy is among them they will lay the blame on some talkative man—some fellow like Czolgosz, who “wants to kill somebody.” The quiet, conservative, steady-going man is never suspected.
Anarchists are not apt to think up a plot to kill and go do the act without talking it over among themselves. They ask each other’s opinion about it and tell about it. So an agent in Chicago is apt to hear what is going to happen in any other city, and by going at once to the second man and telling him he can provide that news will go to the other city in time to head off the execution of the plot. Even if he does not know just what is going to happen he will hear that “something is going to happen in such a place.” That will be enough to set the agent there looking for it. And even should anything happen of which the agent was not forewarned it will be discussed later and he will be able to furnish evidence as to the guilty parties. Such evidence is an absolute necessity for court action.
It is some such system, I believe, that must be established before we are safe from the perils of plotting anarchy here. The cult cannot be stamped out, it can only be watched and controlled. And when the time comes to strike it the courts will demand evidence, and that evidence only men who have been among the Anarchists can give. It will be a system of considerable expense, but it will be a saving in the long run. Had such a system been in vogue Czolgosz when he visited Chicago would have been heard to declare for murder, and even if there was no plot formed in this city to kill the President the man who wanted to do some such deed would have been watched and we might now have evidence to bring his advisers to justice. Wherever he went the agents would have kept close watch of him, and when he appeared in Buffalo in the same city with the President he would have been shadowed and prevented from accomplishing his end. The Haymarket horror was allowed to slip out of our minds. Like everything else, no matter how horrible, time blotted it out. Today even the monument that marked the spot where the defenders of the city were slaughtered is carried to a place where it has no significance. The Anarchists, knowing themselves unwatched, began to plan what they could do next.
Today there are various groups active in the city. Of the Anarchists prominent at the time of the Haymarket some were induced to change their views by the heavy hand of the law then laid upon them. Others who have acquired property have become less rampant. Some left Chicago, because they found the law was strong here. But we have begun to replace the old ones. Now and then a so-called “philosophical Anarchist” comes to the city. He is only a philosophical man when he is making speeches in public. But what a difference in the circle meetings! Spies, Schwab, and their ilk claimed to be of this class, but police investigation following their tracks found dynamite bombs in thirty-five houses where their words had fallen as seed. Only by eternal watching can we keep track of them and be safe.