This Day in History

Aug. 15 and 17, 1973: Two Striking United Farm Workers Killed

Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Latinx, Organizing

Two striking United Farm Workers (UFW) were killed this week in history in 1973 while picketing: 24-year old picket captain Nagi Daifallah on August 15, and bracero Juan de la Cruz, age 60, on August 17.

Nagi Daifallah and Juan de la Cruz.

Nagi Daifallah was murdered for his participation in the 1973 California grape strike. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Gilbert Cooper targeted Nagi, who tried to run away. Cooper ran after him and smashed Nagi in the head with a long five-cell metal flashlight, severing Nagi’s spinal cord from his skull. Two sheriff’s deputies dragged Nagi for 60 feet and dumped him in the gutter. Deputies arrested workers who attempted to help Nagi, and he died shortly thereafter. Read more in “A People’s History of Muslims in the U.S.” by Alison Kysia.

De la Cruz and his wife were walking a picket line along the highway between Arvin and Weedpatch, California. As a caravan of non-union workers drove out of the fields, five shots were fired from one of the pick-up trucks. Juan de la Cruz shoved his wife to the ground, saving her life, but was himself struck by a twenty-two caliber semiautomatic rifle slug just below his heart.

Juan_delaCruz_funeral_byChrisSanchez NagiDaifallah_funeral_byChrisSanchez
LEFT: The funeral of Juan de la Cruz, Arvin, California. RIGHT: 7,000 mourners march with the casket of Nagi Daifallah en route to his funeral at the Forty Acres, Delano, California. Cesar Chavez stands to the left of the U.S. flag, Dolores Huerta stands to the right (in poncho). By Chris Sanchez. Source: Walter P. Reuther Library.

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