After a wave of bombings aimed at public officials, Attorney General Palmer and his young colleague J. Edgar Hoover ordered a series of sweeping arrests.
More than 5,000 suspected Communists and anarchists, many of them aliens, were rounded up in raids, often without arrest warrants. Many were beaten and detained; 556 were deported.
At first people applauded Palmer’s actions; the Communist Revolution in Russia has stirred fears here at home.
But a growing number of critics, in Congress and the country, accuse Palmer of setting aside freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. A newly formed group, the American Civil Liberties Union, is saying it’s Palmer’s “illegal” activities that are the real threat to America.