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TERRITORIES: Pistols, Rifles, Bullets

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TIME

“Pistols, Rifles, Bullets”

In a San Juan, Puerto Rico courtroom last month two middle-aged men amiably reminisced of their undergraduate days at Harvard. One was Colonel Amos Walter Wright Woodcock, onetime (1930-33) director of the U. S. Bureau of Prohibition. The other was frail, voluble Pedro Albizu y Campos, President of Puerto Rico’s small, explosive Nationalist Party. Lawyer Woodcock’s job was to prosecute Lawyer

Albizu and seven of his followers on charges of: 1) attempting to overthrow the U. S. Government by force; 2) fomenting violence; 3) trying to recruit an army of independence. As defense counsel for himself and followers, Harvardman Albizu, half-white, half-black, was out to give Harvardman Woodcock the lie. Though there was ample testimony that Albizu had, by inflammatory speeches, blown the lid off the island’s political teakettle, and indirectly provoked the murderof Insular Police Chief Elisha Francis Riggs last winter (TIME, March 2 et seq.), the trial resulted in a hung jury.

Last week, exactly 38 years after the first entry of U. S. troops into Puerto Rico, a second trial on the same charges started. Special U. S. Prosecutor Woodcock read excerpts from La Palabra (The Word), Nationalist Party organ. Sample: “Arm yourselves, arm yourselves, arm yourselves; pistols, pistols, pistols; rifles, rifles, rifles; bullets, bullets, bullets; dynamite, dynamite, dynamite; find there, Puerto Ricans, the sole truth of today and tomorrow.” Not a bit dismayed by these readings, the eight defendants blandly denied any hostility towards the U. S. But in his summation next day Defendant Albizu, overcome by patriotic fervor, suddenly declared that he was more than willing to use force if the U. S. refused to withdraw peaceably from the island. That apparently convinced the jury that Albizu was a dangerous man. Found guilty on all three charges, he was sentenced to ten years in Atlanta Penitentiary. Guilty also on all counts were the Party’s treasurer, general secretary, two others. “Down with Yankee imperialism!” shrieked a crowd of Nationalists outside the courtroom.

New York’s pinko Representative Vito Marcantonio, who has many Puerto Ricans in his Manhattan constituency, took immediate charge of the Nationalists’ appeal.

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