Do you remember the Palmer Raids? Me and my girl, Rachel, sure do. The whole thing was set in motion by U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer (below) during the “Red Scare,” and it played out in cities across America. In Detroit, on January 2nd 1920, innocent people were rounded up and imprisoned in the downtown Federal Building without being charged. Those people were detained for days in a windowless enclosed corridor. There were anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people caught up in the Detroit raid, but I only cared about one: Rachel Roth. She was never the same after the raid, nor was I. Now you may ask, Why would an innocent girl be hauled away in the middle of the night and locked up? Well, a lot of people were asking questions like that during the Palmer Raids, and there were no good answers forthcoming. People were arrested because they “looked like radicals.” Many of those targeted were Jewish immigrants. It is also interesting to note that the raiders predicted they would uncover a huge cache of arms and explosives in the various union halls and apartments they stormed. In the end, all they recovered were three pistols. Regarding Heinrich Ford’s role in the Palmer roundups, the papers never reported on it but I learned through my own digging that there were spies based at the Ford plants who reported directly to the Justice Department (which authorized the Palmer Raids). At one time, up to 100 members of the American Protective League (a group that watched for “un-American” activities and reported to Justice) were based at the Ford Highland Park plant. I should mention, because it is most definitely relevant, that among those being watched at the Highland plant was one Rachel Roth. If you’re wondering what happened to Rachel after the raid, well it went from bad to worse: From that dark and airless room in the Federal Building, they moved her to a place called Eloise—Detroit’s old and notorious “Crazy Hospital,” built over a massive pig farm. I got her out of that place, eventually. But she returned to me a different person, and that is a story in itself.
Click below to explore more of the Purples' world: *
Arthur Nix • Back stabbings • Elvis Presley • Good old Detroit • Harry Riley • Henry Ford • Mazel tough • Saying bad things? • Speakeasy queen • The babies • Why purple? • WWJBD? • Buy the book