Advancing History: Recalling Black Sunday
The Wallace region is rich beyond its history of having the richest silver mines in the United States, labor strikes, mining disasters, its claim that it is the “center of the universe” and his thug climate, which tolerated many human vices – bars, gambling and prostitution, to name a few.
Almost nothing has an impact on the collective memory of citizens like June 23, 1991, now locally considered “Black Sunday”. That day, more than 150 federal, state and local law enforcement officers dispersed along I-90 from west to east and raided every bar in Shoshone County. , from Cataldo to Mullan. An informal phone tree at the west end of Silver Valley quickly warned the east end that a massive raid had started. Many have fled.
The main target of the raid was illegal gambling, with slots being tangible evidence of criminal activity. Machines and money were confiscated. By the way, if a brothel was encountered, it was also closed. At the time, there were only two known active brothels in Wallace. Two hundred video game machines were confiscated and over half a million dollars in cash were seized by the government and never returned.
Arrests were made and trials followed. The sheriff was indicted and tried twice on a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charge. The prosecutor for the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Public Integrity failed to convince the jury that the sheriff was responsible for more than 100 years of gambling and prostitution. The first trial resulted in a suspended jury, the second in an acquittal.
Some say the raid ended prostitution in Wallace. Most of Wallace’s citizens say prostitution was slowly dying out due to Silver Valley’s poor economy and growing fear of AIDS. The raid served to place a final nail in the coffin.
Some Wallace citizens are still bitter about what they perceive to be the cumbersome government.
Besides the huge show of force, this Sunday’s large cast apparently made little effort to separate the criminal from the honest businessmen. Worse, there is the belief that the two-year investigation before the raid included the FBI buying a local tavern and brothel to gather information. Whether this is true or not is the question. (Author’s note: Ruby Ridge happened 14 months later.) Source: Branstetter, Heather, Ph.D. Selling Sex in Silver Valley. History press, 2017.
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The Museum of North Idaho was unable to hold its annual gala in 2020 due to the “vile virus”.
This year, the Museum wants to celebrate with our loyal members, our volunteers and the general public at Auberge Coeur d’Alene on October 16. 2.