There’s a shameful, horrific piece of Bisbee’s past that residents re-enacted last year.
And documentarian Robert Greene filmed it. His movie “Bisbee ’17,” opens at The Loft on Friday, Sept. 14.
In the early 1900s, miners struck against three mining companies, including the largest, Phelps Dodge, which basically ran the town then. The strike did not go over well.
So on July 12, 1917, 2,000 citizens, deputized for the occasion, trained guns on 1,200 miners, yanked them out of their homes, and, without food or water, sent them off for a 16-hour train ride to a desolate New Mexico town. The justification: the miners were a threat to the American way of life. It’s called the Bisbee Deportation of 1917.
On the 100th anniversary, Bisbee citizens re-enacted the event. Scenes pulled from family lore were acted out — and, of course, stories about the Bisbee Deportation varied with the tellers.
Green filmed scenes with the townspeople playing the original deporters and deportees, and interspersed interviews with participants. And his movie is making waves.
Says Vox Magazine: “‘Bisbee ’17’ is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.”
And this from Vanity Fair: “Inescapably, given the subject, this is a story of how power — particularly power exercised in the name of nationalism — has often been wielded against the vulnerable, be they immigrants, the poor, laborers, or, in this case, all of the above. But the movie also smartly chronicles present-day Bisbee and the people therein, many of whom descend from both sides of this tragedy, and many, too, who’d never even heard of it.”