Center for Labor Education & Research
University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu

91-1001 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, HI 96707

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The Hilo Massacre
Hawaii's Bloody Monday, August 1st, 1938

by William J. Puette, Ph.D.

book cover
click on cover for the online version

On August 1st, 1938 over two hundred men and women belonging to several different labor unions attempted to peacefully demonstrate against the arrival of the SS Waialeale in Hilo. They were met by a force of over seventy police officers who tear gassed, hosed and finally fired their riot guns into the crowd, hospitalizing fifty of the demonstrators. This is the story of that bloody confrontation and the events that led up to what has come to be known in the annals of Hawaiian labor history as the Hilo Massacre.

The account contained here is based largely on the press reports in the Hilo Tribune Herald and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, interviews with over a dozen survivors and eye-witnesses, and a new, critical evaluation of the report to Governor Poindexter by Attorney General Joseph V. Hodgson made possible by the author's recent discovery in the State Archives of Hodgson's original case files. [97 pages]

Complementing this publication, CLEAR's Rice & Roses television series produced two videos, one a dcumentary and the other a dramatization, both entitled Brothers Under the Skin which are available for borrowing from the Center's library.

William J. Puette, a former business agent with the Hawai'i State Teachers Association and the author of Through Jaundiced Eyes: How the Media View Organized Labor and A Reader's Guide to the Tale of Genji. Since 1982, he has been teaching labor studies at the University of Hawai'i's Center for Labor Education and Research, where he is now the Director.

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