Police arrest vagrants in Seattle on January 4, 1901.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 8/29/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1649
In the early morning hours of January 4, 1901, the Seattle Police arrest for vagrancy 28 “suspicious characters” that “police consider a menace to the peace and safety of the citizens” in the Tenderloin district (renamed Pioneer Square) of Seattle. Most are given a choice of either leaving town or serving time in the City Jail and working on roads in the chain gang.

This was the second police raid of the Tenderloin in two weeks.

Crimeless Crime

The “suspicious characters” were “alleged highwaymen and burglars,” “petty thieves, hobos, etc.” Some had a reputation as “drunk rollers.” These professional hobos lounged in saloons and, when arrested, claimed to be seeking longshore work. They had committed no specific crimes, and were thus charged with vagrancy.

George Hart was arrested while “engaged in suspicious movements.” Hart had just been released by the municipal court in the morning of January 3 and admonished to leave town by 2 p.m. that day. He was sentenced to serve 30 days in the chain gang. Thomas Powers, recently acquitted of burglary, was another of the vagrants arrested.

Unfit for Hogs

Of the 28 arrests made, some 22 men were placed in the City Jail’s receiving cell. When Jailer John Corbett visited the arrested men in the morning, he declared that the cell was in a “filthy state, and unfit for hogs.”

Sources: The Seattle Times, January 4, 1901, p 7; The Seattle Star, January 4, 1901, p 4.

Related Topics:   Crime | Law

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