S.D. Civil Rights Congress Termed Front for Reds
Fourth of a Series
By EDMUND RUCKER
San Diego Union - Jul. 07, 1950
Commenting on the Civil Rights Congress, which functions in San Diego as a Communist front, the Congressional Committee on Un-American Activities said (Sept.2 1947): "(it is) dedicated not to the broader issues of civil liberties, but specifically to the defense of individual Communists and the Communist Party, and is controlled by individuals who are either members of the Communist Party or openly loyal to it."
The first public meeting of the San Diego Branch of the C.R.C. was held on the clubhouse of the Wednesday Club, Ivy Lane at Sixth Ave., on the night of Feb. 25, 1949. The speaker was Alcah Bessie, one of the 10 Hollywood writers cited for contempt of Congress. Bessie is now serving a one year jail sentence after paying a $1000 fine for refusing to answer the question, "Are you a Communist?"
A handbill advertising this meeting informed the public that "no. 3 buses now go from the Logan heights district up fifth ave. with no transfer required."
The same handbill contained this paragraph: "In San Diego, police intimidation and brutality, and frame-ups against Negroes and Mexican-Americans are an expression of more than the prejudice of a few policemen-they are an expression of segregation being conferred by the police department."
This handbill was signed by Al Zola, treasurer, and Miriam Starcevic, executive secretary, and Phil Usquiano is chairman of the San Diego branch.
Louis J. Russell, former F.B.I. agent, testified before the Un-American Activities Committee on Oct. 28, 1947, that Alvah Bessie held Communist Party card 47279 in 1944. Bessie's record covers more than five pages in the committee's investigation report. He has contributed to at least 85 articles to Communist or Communist front publications.
SOME WHO ATTENDED
The meeting at the Wednesday clubhouse was opened and presided over by Mrs. Emily Hillkowitz, a prominent officer of the International Workers. (The I.W.O. was cited as "subversive and Communist" by Atty. Gen. Clark in September 1948.
Among those at the meeting were Lloyd Hamlin, Richard Henrickson, Laura Stevenson, Bernadette Doyle (executive secretary of the Communist party in San Diego County), Berthold Dugdale, Celia Shermis, Godfrey (Jeff) Boehm, Lolita Gibson, Usquiano, Nathan and Mildred Herman, Robert Angius, Harry Shermis, Verna McAllister, Theresa Vidal, Miriam and David Starcevic, Alberta and Jay Fouts, Richard Lund, James Toback, Ilijah Gregovich, Tom Hule, Howard Gibson, Jessie Grant, Helen Van Zandt, Juanita Kizer, Carol Bayne, Viola McKern, William and Freida Jasmagy, Viada Arnold and Frank Simpson.
In his address, Bessie ridiculed those who were opposing communism. He plugged for rich handouts to the faithful.
On May 17, 1949, the congress held a meeting in the Logan Heights Elementary School. The speaker was Aubrey Grossman, of San Francisco, educational director of the San Francisco County Communist Party.
The June and July meetings 1949, were held in the Memorial Junior High School. On Spet. 1, the congress shifted to the offices of the San Diego Branch of the I.P.P. (Independent Peoples Party) at 2733 Imperial Ave.
RECEPTION FOR CROCKETT
On Dec. 1, 1949, the C.R.C picketed the San Diego Club, where U.S. Sen. Karl Mundt, of South Dakota, was speaking, Mundt was co-author of the Mundt-Nixon Bill requiring registration of Communists.
On Feb. 21, 1950, C.R.C. put on a reception in the U.S. Grant Hotel for George Crockett, Negro Communist, who was one of the 11 Communists convicted in New York of conspiracy.
On March 28, of this year, at a meeting of the congress at I.P.P. headquarters in Logan Heights, Grossman was again the speaker.
Another organization formed in San Diego in march, 1949, was a chapter of the National Council of the Arts and Sciences and the Professions. The meeting was held in Room 210 of the Y.M.C.A., Eighth Ave. at C St.
The speaker was George Pepper, of the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committe of the A.S.&P., which also has been cited as a Communist front.
It is an outgrowth of the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions.
The California Senate Committee on Un-American activities had this to day about the Hollywood outfit:
"The motion picture industry, itself a prime target for Communist manipulation and fundraising, has been victimized repeatedly by the brazen and financially dishonest Communist front organizations (like) the H.I.C.C. of the A.S.P. and scores of swiftly created and soon dissolved 'letterhead organizations,' all controlled and directed by Communists."