October 2nd, 2015

Redstart

Neon lights, Nobel Prize

Seattle's Cannery Building started life as a 4-story building in the Pioneer Square district. This abruptly changed after the 1949 earthquake. After removing the damaged floors, however, the building contiued its life as a single-story structure.

It became the headquarters of Local 37, a labor union which fought for the rights of Filipino-American cannery workers in Alaska. Filipino-American labor activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo fought against corruption and advocated for better working conditions. They were also known opponents of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Needless to say, their work was dangerous and the two men made many enemies.

On June 1, 1981, Viernes and Domingo were gunned down in the doorway of the building. Domingo lived long enough to tell detectives who the triggermen were. Arrests were made but the story that followed traveled far beyond the murder convictions of two cannery workers and beyond the conviction of a third man, a member of a Filipino street gang, for ordering the hits. It even went beyond a union official's guilty verdict for his role in the conspiracy.

The story traveled back to the Philippines and the Marcos regime which was found liable for the murders in a U.S. federal court.

Now the building is vacant and has been as such for some time, its roof collapsed and its interior a home for pigeons. It will soon have new life, though. A 9-story building will be erected and the streetside walls and facade will be kept.

And as a matter of otherwise useless trivia, this building is kitty-corner from my workplace :)
 photo mini-cannery 1.jpg

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