Inland Northwest History and Culture  >  Indian-White Encounters  >  Spokane: 1877-1890

Editorial on Mob Law

Source: The Evening Review (Spokesman), June 27, 1885, page 2

Subject: Editorial on Portland News Coverage of Geiger Murder


Some party in this city has sent a dispatch to the Portland News regarding the recent murder in which the following paragraph appears “The community feels a deep interest in the capture of this Indian, and are determined to accomplish it and bring him to justice; but the efforts of some of the newspapers and correspondents to induce the belief that mob law will be invoked if captured, is not a true expression of public sentiment.” The News, of Portland, is conducted on as fair and honorable a system as any newspaper in the country.

We always recognized that fact, and now have greater proof and it is therefore not to blame for this correspondent. This special was received from some one not a regular correspondent, or other reports of the killing would have been sent by some person at an earlier date. It is plain as the hand-writing on the wall the only object of the sender was to make it appear that “some of the newspapers” of this city was expressing opinions at variance with “public sentiment.”

There are two papers here, and “some of the newspapers” must mean one or both. In our article, written shortly after the dastardly murder, we made use of the expression that if the Indian had been caught he would probably go to the happy hunting grounds by fast express.

That was the only hint, we believe, of mob violence, and it was said in the heat of indignation over the cruel and unprovoked crime. We will say this for the benefit of the News correspondent: We have talked with scores of gentlemen in this city on the subject and we have yet to meet a single individual who does not express the opinion that had the Indian been caught last Saturday night he would have been summarily dealt with, and the opinion is echoed in one voice, irrespective of social standing, that such a fate was deserved and should have been meted out.

We are not an advocate of mob law, as a rule, but when the law’s delay is considered; when we weigh the dreadful character of the murder, and the bad effect that the escape of the Indian might have upon other Indians, we believe that this murderer’s death would have been beneficial.

If the murder of whites by Indians is to go unpunished, the correspondent who represents himself as knowing the drift of “public sentiment,” very probably, is never taken into the confidence of any member of the community, to become conversant with “public sentiment,” is just as liable to be killed as any other man.

Indians, when in the murdering humor, are not particular as to their game, and if this fellow may at any time be exposed, be made a mark of. It is in bad taste to try to use the columns of a great newspaper to vent spite against the smaller fry, and when “public sentiment,” is entirely one way, it result is a decided failure.


Transcribed by: Troy Kirby, Graduate Candidate, Department of Physical Education, Eastern Washington University, December 2005